Well I awoke this morning to grey drizzle. I know we need the rain and I am really happy about that, but I just couldn’t help but feel a little ‘blue’ SO, I am going to revisit a recipe from a Christmas feature from 2019 and make these highly addictive biscotti with salted chocolate to cheer myself up.
I hope you all have a go and enjoy them as much as me.
Almond and salted chocolate biscotti
Makes: about 50
150g blanched almonds, toasted
250g plain flour
200g soft brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60g chilled unsalted butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
200g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180c/fan-forced 160c. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Place the toasted almonds in a food processor and blend until coarsely chopped.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Gradually work in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the chopped almonds.
Whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla essence together and stir into the crumbed flour mixture. Gently mix together with a large wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly until the dough is soft and slightly sticky, about 8-10 times. Divide the dough in half and with lightly floured hands shape each one into a 20cm log. Transfer the logs to one of the prepared baking sheets flattening them slightly into a brick shape about 3 cm wide. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top and sides of each slab with egg wash.
Bake the slabs for 25 minutes or until the top and sides are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Using a serrated knife slice the dough into 1cm thick slices. Set the slices about 1 cm apart on the 2 trays (in batches). Return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, turn the biscotti over and bake the other side for 8-10 more minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking trays, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl in the microwave (or use a double boiler) stirring until melted and smooth. Dip one end of each biscotti into the melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle one side with a little sea salt. Transfer to the wire rack and leave until the chocolate is set.
Risotto purists will be screaming abuse no doubt at this bastardised version of such a classic Italian dish, but I make no apology for taking it’s name in vain. I am a lover of a classic risotto, but this more nutty version is good too. Less creamy, yes, but I think the nuttiness and robust flavour and texture of spelt grains more than makes up for this. Widely recognised for it’s health benefits, this ancient grain is hardier and more nutritional than it’s more familiar cousin, wheat. If you aren’t so sure, give this delicious version a go.
Beetroot and Spelt Risotto with Camembert
A nutty and wholesome alternative to a more traditional risotto using pearled spelt berries
300g pearled spelt grains
750ml-1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
350g raw beetroot, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus a few leaves to garnish
125g Camembert, sliced
25g grated Parmesan
55g pecan nuts
1 red whitlof, shredded
salt and pepper
Soak the spelt grains in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and shake dry.
Place the stock in a saucepan and heat gently until it just starts to simmer.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper for 5 minutes until softened. Add the beetroot and fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the spelt and stir-fry for 1 minute until all the grains are glossy. Add the wine and simmer until reduced, about 3 minutes.
Then add half the stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the remaining stock and cook, stirring until the spelt is tender and most of the stock absorbed, about 10 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in half the Camembert and all the Parmesan, cover pan and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
Heat a small frying pan and fry the pecans for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned.
Spoon the risotto onto plates and serve topped with the remaining cheese, pecans, the shredded whitlof and a few thyme leaves.
Hello to all the followers of my blog A Food Stylist’s Blog. Firstly I would like to thank you all for following me and my posts over the last 3years.
As my life and business has evolved in France I am now finding that most of time is take up with running my Cookery School and all the spin offs from it – Come Cook In France – therefore I am now blogging directly from the website www.comecookinfrance.com
If you wish to continue following my posts and my life in France (and I really hope that you all will) please click on the link, go to the blog page and you can then subscribe there.
The first of my monthly Cook Club courses took place last week with great success. The concept of cook club is to offer people who live locally in SW France the chance to join me for a 4 hour cooking session and learn to cook dishes from around the world and craft their culinary skills with courses on all food subjects. Living here in France is great but occasionally we all yearn for something else and so we began with Asian noodles.
On the menu this week were Salmon and spring onion gyoza, Steamed scallop and chive dumplings, Green papaya, crispy pork and vermicelli noodle salad and a classic Prawn pad Thai (stir-fried noodles).We began by filling the gyoza wrappers and dumpling wrappers and made up their delicious but totally different sauces. Next came the green papaya salad which we left to one side, ready to assemble just before lunch, whilst we finished off prepping up the Pad Thai. After a full-on morning of cooking and learning about noodles we sat down together to enjoy the fruits of our labours……….. delicious!
Trim the scallops, cutting away the grey muscle attached at one side and cut into small dice. Place in a bowl with the bean shoots, garlic, chives, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil and stir well.
Lay the wrappers flat on a board and place a teaspoon of the scallop mixture in the center. Brush around the edges with a little water and draw the sides up and around the filling pressing together to seal. Transfer each one to a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Pop the base of each dumpling in a dish of oil and transfer to a medium-sized bamboo steamer. Cover and steam over a pan of simmering water for about 8-10 minutes until firm and cooked through. Serve with the dressing, garnished with shredded spring onions.
Szechuan chilli dressing
50ml sunflower oil
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
1 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon black vinegar
1 teaspoons caster sugar
¼ teaspoon Szechuan pepper
Heat the oil in a small saucepan until it just starts to shimmer, remove from the heat and stir in the chilli flakes. Set aside for 30 minutes and then strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients and serve as required.
If you are making ahead of time omit the pepper, adding it just before serving
Salmon and spring onion gyoza
125 g skinless salmon fillet, boned
1 spring onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon Mirin
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
10-12 gyoza wrappers
1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil
black sesame seeds
Cut the salmon fillet into small dice and place in a bowl. Add the spring onions, Mirin and soy sauce and stir well to combine.
Using 1 wrapper at a time, lay flat on a clean board and place a spoonful of the salmon mixture on one half of each wrapper. Dampen the edges with water, fold in half and turn edges over, pressing together well to seal.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the gyoza on one side until really browned. Add 100ml water and simmer, partially covered for 3 minutes until the water is evaporated. Fry for a further 1 minutes until crisp. Transfer to serving dishes and drizzle over the dipping sauce.
Noodle dipping sauce
Makes: 150 ml
100 ml dashi stock
11/2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
11/2 tablespoons Mirin
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
Combine the dipping sauce ingredients together and chill until required. This will keep indefinitely in a screw top jar in the fridge.
Green papaya and crispy panchetta salad
150 g dried rice vermicelli noodles
150 g pancetta, diced
150 g green papaya, peeled, halved and seeded
1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
a good handful fresh mint, coriander and Thai basil
125g grape cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced and seeded if wished
4 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon roasted rice powder
crispy fried shallots, to serve
Place the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Soak for 20 minutes until just tender. Drain and then dry the noodles on a clean tea towel and place in a large bowl.
Dry fry the panchetta in a small frying pan over high heat until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
Thinly slice the papaya and cut into long thin strips or julienne. Add to the noodles with the cucumber, herbs, cherry tomatoes and panchetta.
Whisk together the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the salad, toss well and divide between plates. Top with the peanuts and powdered rice. Serve with crispy fried shallots.
Prawn Pad Thai
90g dried rice stick noodles
6-8 medium raw prawns, peeled and de-veined
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons grated palm sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind water
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
125 g firm tofu, diced
2 red shallots
2 garlic cloves or 1 small bunch garlic chives
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon dried shrimps (see Store Cupboard ID pages)
a pinch cayenne pepper
125 g bean sprouts, trimmed plus extra to serve
lime wedges, to serve
Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes stirring to ensure they separate. Drain well. Prepare the prawns. Shell and remove the black vein from the back, wash and pat dry.
Place the fish sauce, palm sugar, white sugar and tamarind water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok, add the tofu to the pan and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until crispy. Remove from the pan.
Add the prawns (with a little extra oil, if needed) and stir-fry for 2 minutes until pink, remove with a slotted spoon.
Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and fry over a medium heat for 30 seconds and pour in the beaten egg. Lower the heat and cook, stirring gently for 10 seconds until starting to set.
Return the tofu to the pan along with the cooked prawns, dried shrimp and noodles and stir-fry over a high heat until the noodles start top brown.
Add the sauce and a pinch of cayenne stirring constantly, until everything is heated through. Stir through the half beansprouts.
Transfer to a platter and sprinkle over the remaining beansprouts, peanuts, coriander and cayenne pepper and serve with lime wedges.