Monday, February 21, 2011

CHARMING ALMOND COOKIE PART 2

THIS JUST IN FROM THE FOLKS AT ALMONDINA

I love these Almond cookies so much and the owner of Almondina is so proud of the company that he has offered a sampler package of Almondina to one lucky participant.
To claim your cookies-send me one idea or recipe using Almondina cookies (I came up with the Nutella one already)and send me your email and the Almondina folks will have your package in the mail.

Let's say you come up with your idea by March 15 and your Almondina are as good as in the mail.

CHARMING ALMOND COOKIES


I rarely get excited about products on the market-especially cookies. When you are a chef, you tend to make everything yourself and only purchase raw ingredients, not packaged foods.

Well, that has all changed now. I recently tried Almondina Biscuits and I cannot stop eating them. I must admit I was a little iffy on the product at first, with its unusual name and modest packaging, but now I am hooked. Not only am I hooked but I got my son and husband onto the Almondina habit as well.

Last Shabbat I opened up a package and spread it on a plate and started munching and crunching my way through a very satisfying treat. The biscuits are mildly sweet and generously adorned with enormous almond slices-like a cobblestone pavement of almondy goodness. These biscuits/cookies are a bit of a problem. I simply cannot stop eating them.

Sure, they are good on their own-all crunchy and delicious. But, I found that they make quite the delicious confection when schmeared with a little jelly, peanut butter and my favorite, nutella. I must confess that after a while I stopped schmearing the nutella on them-I just used the Almondina as chips and had myself a little chip and dip party.

My husband called from the car last week and between loud crunching noises-let me know that he had just scarfed up an entire package of the Almonduo with chunks of almonds and pistachios.

Yesterday we took a little road trip and almost simultaneously announced that we wished we had some Almondina with us. So, not only am I unable to stop eating these biscuits when I have them-but now I am craving them.

Almondina are kosher,low fat and extremely crunchy. They have no artificial or ersatz ingredients in them (my pet peeve) and I think that is part of their appeal. You feel pretty good about them and are quickly seduced into thinking that no harm done here with this low fat, chock full of almond treats and before you know it-you have decimated an entire package.

So, I have a new product to add to my list of ready to eat things I buy-I love these charming biscuits but can we do something about the name and the packaging?

DELICIOUS AND GOOD FOR YOU TOO!


Kale 101

Kale is the new darling of the vegetable world. While kale is not a recently discovered leafy green, it is getting a lot of attention which in part is due to its nutrient density and to the fact that it is versatile and tasty.

My favorite varietal is Dinosaur Kale or Laciniato which looks rich and heavy- and dark greenish-blue or black. The leaves have huge scale like indentations (thus the nickname Dinosaur Kale) that promise enormous amounts of fiber and vitamins. It’s just got to be good for you!

I love the stuff. It is the kale for kale and non-kale lovers alike. It is mild tasting without the bitterness of some of its other cabbage cousins. It also, despite its scaly appearance, has a soft pleasant texture that cooks up quickly. Kale pairs well with other vegetables and is delicious tossed with pasta, added to soups or paired with chicken, beef or fish.


KALE CHIPS
A good for you chip!

Kale can also be an amazing snack that has to be tried to be believed. The kale becomes crispy in the oven and takes on the flavor of the olive oil. The crunch chips are addicting and really good for you.

I bunch kale, stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
Olive oil
Sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350

1. Make sure the kale is dry or it will not become crispy. Place the pieces on the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the kale lightly with olive oil and sea salt. Bake to about 15 minutes. Every oven is a bit different.
2. The kale should be slightly dark in color and beginning to crispy up. Remove from the oven-the kale will continue to crispy up once it cools off.



SAUTEED KALE

Olive oil
3 shallots, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
6 tightly packed cups of Kale, cut into ½ inch wide strips
1/4 cup white wine
¼ water
½ cup golden raisins
salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until they are very soft and fragrant but not browned (about 10 minutes).
2. Add the Kale. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the white wine, water and raisins. Place a lid on the pan and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is very soft and limp about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated.
3. Place the kale on a serving platter or bowl and lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve the kale with fish, chicken, veal or toss with pasta.

Monday, February 14, 2011

COVERED IN CHOCOLATE

My Favorite Obsession

The average American consumes over 20 pounds of chocolate annually. Chocolate is a psychoactive food that contains a virtual apothecary of feel-good chemicals with life extending and aphrodisiac effects.
Long touted for its affect on stamina and arousal the Italian libertine Casanova ate chocolate before bedding his conquests. While the jury is still out on the possibility of chocolate being a sexual enhancer-we do know that chocolate tastes great. Just the mention of warm-luscious chocolate lights a fire in most chocolate lover’s hearts.


Chocolate Truffle Cake

The soft warm center of this cake is as decadent and luscious as it is easy to prepare. This is a great do-ahead dessert. The cake can be assembled and kept un-baked in your refrigerator or freezer and then at the magic moment-popped into the oven and enjoyed.
11 ounces unsalted butter
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4. 5 ounces confectioners’ sugar
3 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 ounces cake flour
8 4 ounce ramekins, buttered generously
1. Melt butter and chocolate.
2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs and vanilla over a hot water bath until the eggs are just warm.
3. Add the warm eggs to the melted chocolate and whisk until combined
4. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix thoroughly.
5. Add the flour at once and mix until just combined-Do not over mix or the cake will be tough.
6. Divide the batter between the buttered cups and cover each cup with parchment or plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Before serving-preheat oven to 350