Monday, September 29, 2008

Oatmeal Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies

O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:
and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:
Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato) and include this entire text box in the post; OR If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word about the event and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. AND Then send your post url [along with a photo (100 x 100) if you’ve made a recipe] to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on September 30, 2008. We will post a roundup and announce prize winners on October 3. Prizes: 1 Recipe Prize for best “O food” concoction: $50 gift certificate to Amazon; 1 Awareness Prize for only publicizing event: Copy of Dolce Italiano cookbook. ———
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and help spread the word!
Please join us today by spreading the word about Ovarian Cancer

In honor of Ovarian Cancer month and Gina DePalma, my all time favorite pastry chef, I made the following O food:

Oatmeal Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies (recipe courtesy of Vanilla Garlic)



Ingredients
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt (regular salt will suffice)
1 cup of rolled oats
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped pistachios, raw and unsalted
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips



Method
1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugars together on high speed for three minutes.
2 Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
3 In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and rolled oats. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture slowly, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to ensure even mixing.
4 Fold in the pistachios and white chocolate chips. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets, add an extra pistachio or two on top of each bit of dough for decoration if desired.
5 Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to set up on the cookie sheets before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.
Makes 6 dozen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My 2nd Blog Award

Thanks to Nazarina over at the Giddy Gastronome who has presented me with my 2nd blog award. She has been a huge inspiration to me. Please stop by her blog when you have a chance. In the spirit of giving I'd like to pass this on to some other bloggers that have inspired me with their blogs. Joe at Italyville.com Johnny Tomatoes at Good Food and Other Random thoughts Ruth at Once Upon a Feast-every Kitchen Tells it's Story

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Arizona Restaurant Week...Ristorante Tuscany

It's Restaurant Week here in Arizona. For $29 per person select restaurants are offering a 3 course meal prepared especially for this event. It's a good way to sample food from a new restaurant or from one of your old favorites.

I've been wanting to try Ristorante Tuscany, over at the Desert Ridge Marriott, for some time now. When I saw they were offering rabbit sugo on their restaurant week menu I made reservations right away.

Four of us went for dinner this past Saturday night. We arrived promptly at 7 and were led to a large round table in the center of the main dining room. ( I know it's strange but I love restaurants that use round tables. It makes conversation with dinner guests so much easier) Our table offered us a nice view of the entire area; including the brick oven, the patio and the large fire place.

Shortly after being seated our waitress brought us a basket of bread accompanied by 3 toppings; mascarpone butter, roasted pepper spread, and warm marinated olives. We enjoyed the bread and condiments as we leisurely perused the dinner menu.

We decided on the following two appetizers from the restaurant week menu: the melon salad and the carpaccio. We also ordered the crostini sampler from the regular menu.

The melon salad was a large bowl of cubed yellow watermelon, intermixed with heirloom tomatoes, chunks of really good quality feta cheese and chopped fresh mint leaves. This salad was very refreshing and I loved the combination of salt and sweet.

The carpaccio was several slices of beef, cut ultra thin, topped with a mound of fresh arugula dressed with a light truffle oil. One bite of this salad and I was hooked.

The crostini platter included an assortment of toppings: chopped tomato with onion and basil, chickpea puree, and burrata cheese and roasted pepper. All three varieties were equally good in their own way. I honestly couldn't decide on a favorite.

My husband and I both went with the free form rabbit lasagna as our entree. I'll try my best to explain. (boy I wish I had my camera) There was layer of rosemary ricotta cheese spread thin on the bottom of each plate. Over the ricotta was a large lasagna noodle topped with a mound of Tuscan style rabbit sugo and then another lasagna noodle. All of this was covered in a bechamel sauce. I absolutely loved this dish. From the quality of the ingredients, to the mix of flavors, to the whole free form idea; it was all wonderful.

Our friend Chris ordered the veal osso buco served on a bed of risotto. If you've never had osso buco before it's basically a braised veal shank that is traditionally served with risotto. Chris's veal was fall of the bone tender, as it should be, and was topped with a horseradish gremolita. I couldn't resist a taste.

Haley went with an entree from the restaurant's regular menu; saffron pappardella with lobster. The homemade saffron pasta was cooked al dente and included several large pieces of lobster. The pasta course at Ristorante Tuscany comes in two sizes. Haley opted for the small which we all agreed was plenty big for one person.

Tiramisu was the restaurant week dessert option. Not usually my first choice (I think I've just eaten way too much of it over the years), but this was good. It was very creamy and served in a small cocktail glass. I prefer this consistency over the kind that is sliced like a piece of cake.

The evening was perfect; the food was delicious, the company was great and the waitress brought us complimentary orange filled Italian chocolates to enjoy on our way home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why Is It Called Jewish Apple Cake?

Jewish Apple Cake is pretty popular on the east coast and just about every family has their own version of the recipe. But does anyone really know why it's called "Jewish" apple?

I did some research and found that the name is derived from the fact that the recipe is completely dairy free. It uses orange juice instead of milk and oil instead of butter. Thus making it appropriate for the Jewish holiday; Rosh Hashanah.

How true this is, I really don't know, but it sure sounds good. If anyone has any other theories I'd love to hear them.

The recipe below is the one I use. It was passed on to me from my old neighbor, Lucy, who's been baking up this version for years.

Jewish Apple Cake



4eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
For the apples
2-3 green apples sliced
5 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
lemon zest
Beat eggs and sugar until combined. Add oil, vanilla, and orange juice mix well. Add flour and baking powder beating until smooth.


In another bowl mix sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest.

Grease and flour a tube pan. Pour 1/2 of the batter in and then the apple mixture. Top with the rest of the batter.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Blog is Loved

I'm so excited...I just received my first blog award. Nazarina from Giddy Gastronome has given me the "I love you this much" award. Thanks Nazarina...It's great to know my blog is loved. I'm passing this award on to a few bloggers I love reading. Chronicles of a Fledgling Home Cook Kristen's Home Cooking Bleeding Espresso Food Blogga The Adventures of Kitchen Girl

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Are You Ready To Party?

Susan over at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy is hosting a virtual cocktail party for her 1 year Blogiversary (read all about it here). We're all invited and must bring our favorite party food.
I have the perfect recipe in mind, Neapolitan Crostini, adapted from Molto Mario, by Mario Batali. I made these for the first time a few weeks ago. My husband and I loved them so much that I'm going to make them again this weekend. They're a quick easy appetizer and are perfect for a party.
Neapolitan Crostini

2 cups fresh ricotta
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs ground black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbs fresh majoram ( I used oregano)
16 slices crusty bread
3 garlic cloves
16 anchovies (rinsed and chopped)
3 Tbs olive oil

Preheat the broiler. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until light golden brown on both sides. While still hot, rub each slice with a garlic clove to impart a delicate flavor.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta, pepper, oregano and cream. Smear casually over each bread slice. Top each with a anchovy and return to the cookie sheet. Broil until cheese just oozes, about a minute.

Arrange on a serving platter, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Guess Who Didn't Come to Dinner...

That's right, our Italian guests. Insane, I know, considering this dinner was just for them. So instead of 8 we were 5 and instead of 2 lbs of pasta we cooked 1. Not a big deal really, everything turned out delicious and now we have lots of leftovers.
Rubee made the appetizers. An antipasti plate consisting of some oven roasted tomatoes, thinly sliced salami, herb marinated black olives, bocconcini, and roasted banana peppers with garlic. The star of the platter was the prosciutto wrapped asparagus with truffle butter from epicurious.com.
She also did two bruschetta toppings: Mario Batali's Eggplant Caponata and his White Bean.
The main course was a Bolognese sauce; also a Batali recipe. We changed it up slightly by adding a pound of ground beef to the meat mix. (just in case the 2 lbs of meat it already had wasn't enough)
We kept dessert simple and had some coconut macaroons and sliced peaches.
All in all the night was a success. I think our Italian visitors would've been impressed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Well you know as much as I do about some of tomorrow night's guests.  I offered to host a dinner party tomorrow night for 3 friends of friends that are here from Italy.  There will be 8 of us altogether; and the theme will be Italian.  

What was I thinking; making it an Italian theme?  Am I out of my mind.  These people are from Italy, could anything we make possibly hold up to their standards?  When I originally agreed to this dinner I thought...how exciting.  Now, after 2 days of thinking about it non-stop, I realize I'm really nervous.   Yes, we're Italian and yes we cook Italian food all the time but this is so different.

My friend Christina is doing the appetizer and Merriam the dessert. So all we really need to focus on is the main course.  We've decided to do a Bolognese and we're going to use a recipe from our favorite Italian chef Mario Batali.  The recipe claims to be very traditional.  We'll find out soon enough. 
Wish me luck. 

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Little Something Sweet...

Here's a recipe for my favorite marble pound cake which is flavored with almond and coffee. The buttercream icing is not included in the original recipe below; but just something I wanted to try. The cake is delicious both with and without it.

PS. Lillian was a woman I worked with several years ago in Philadelphia. She made this cake for all our office functions.



Lillian's Marble Pound Cake
1 lb butter

1 tbs vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 1/3 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
10 eggs
2 tbs instant coffee
3/4 cup Hershey syrup
Preheat oven to 350. Butter 10x4 tube pan and line bottom with wax paper. butter paper and dust with flour.
In large bowl cream butter. Beat in vanilla and add sugar gradually. Beat on moderate speed for 2-3 minutes scraping bowl.

Add eggs 2 at a time beat after each addition until thoroughly incorporated.On lowest speed add flour very gradually,continue to scrape bowl. beat only until incorporated.

Remove 1/2 (5 cups) and set aside. Mix the almond into the remaining and turn into pan. level top by rotating pan briskly back and forth.

Return other half to bowl and add baking soda, coffee and syrup. beat on low speed, scraping bowl. beat only until smooth
Pour evenly on top of white batter level. Cover pan with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes open door just enough to remove foil. Continue baking another 1 hour 20 minutes. Cake is done when tester is dry.
Cool for 10-15 minutes in pan. cover and invert to remove pan and paper. Invert again to finish cooling.