Any time I hear something with the number ‘2’ at the end (à la ‘Biscotti 2’), I think of all the over-used movie sequel titles, and want to tack ‘The Revenge’ or ‘This Time it’s Serious’ on the end. So – pick your favorite bad subtitle for this post from the above. And now why there is a part 2: I’ve been going a little overboard on making biscotti since my Chocolate Almond Biscotti post at the beginning of the month. But it’s just so easy (waiting time aside) and delicious that I kind of can’t stop.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I’ve made several different flavors with varying amounts of success. The batch of cherry biscotti I made (after tediously reducing the juice from puréed bing cherries (laboriously pitted by hand)), were disappointingly uncherry-flavored. The vanilla with yogurt chip biscotti were good, if overly sweet. But the coconut biscotti were outstanding, and the pumpkin pie spiced chocolate chip biscotti was given the stamp of approval by several of my friends.

Coconut Biscotti

Coconut Biscotti

For the pumpkin pie spices, I ground fresh spices for all but the ginger. Using whole spices and grinding them adds extra intensity to the flavors, so I try to do that whenever I can (or whenever I have the energy)). All you have to do is use an old burr coffee grinder, and shake it with the lid held tightly closed to ensure all the spices are well ground.

Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Allspice

Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Allspice

I actually used a very fine grater for the nutmeg instead of the coffee grinder, and was surprised to see the inside of the leftover nutmeg afterwards – I had no idea how cool looking nutmeg was!

Cool-looking Nutmeg Insides

Cool-looking Nutmeg Insides

Over the past eight batches or so of biscotti, my husband and I decided that we actually like biscotti a little less dry than is standard. Sometimes it’s kind of nice to be able to eat a biscotti in your cubicle at work without having to dunk each bite in coffee so that you don’t disturb your coworkers with reverberating crunch noises. (Honestly, I made one batch that really was that hard – I kind of felt like I should apologize for breaking people’s concentration).

Coconut Biscotti
makes 18-24

1+3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c erythritol*
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c low-fat shredded coconut
1/4 c applesauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1+1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut flavoring
1 egg + 2 egg whites

Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chip Biscotti
makes 18-24

pumpkin pie spices (you’ll use about half of this)
3 tsp cinnamon
1+1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1+3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c erythritol*
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c chocolate chips
3 tsp pumpkin pie spices
1 egg + 2 egg whites

* Erythritol is usually about 70% as sweet as sugar. If you want to use all sugar instead of a mix, try 3/4 cup of sugar. I haven’t done this ratio, but I don’t think that the missing 1/4 cup of sugar texture would make too much difference since this is basically a quick bread.

Directions for both types:
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil, and spray well with cooking spray.

In one bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. In another bowl mix together all the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs. Taste and adjust as desired. Next add the egg and egg whites. Gradually add the flour mixture (in about 3 batches), combining well.

Divide the dough in half, rinse your hands in cold water and just shake (but not dry) them off. Form two skinny loaves between 2-3 inches wide and about 12 inches long. (The dough will spread a bit as it bakes.)

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until it has the consistency of a loaf of bread (just a tiny bit of give when you touch the top). Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. As soon as you remove the biscotti, decrease the oven temperature to 275.

Slice each loaf diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Wipe the aluminum foil with a paper towel to get rid of excess cooking spray, then arrange the slices on the baking sheets, and bake until the biscotti are dry – anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes (seriously, it’s a crazy range, I have different results with basically the same batter as near as I can tell. The pumpkin will probably take a bit longer since I used a lot of pumpkin to get a bold taste). Remove from oven, and cool on a baking rack.

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A Farm Dinner with Pizza!

September 21, 2012

I love farm dinners, but they tend to be fairly expensive, so we usually limit ourselves to one or two a year. But when I happened upon a link to a farm dinner at Lone Hawk Farm featuring pizza baked in a portable wood-fired grill for just $40 a person, it seemed like a no-brainer – I immediately sent an email asking if there was still space.

Lone Hawk Farm is west of Longmont in a very picturesque landscape. Produce is sold at the farm, and space is available for weddings and special events, as well as horse boarding. It was in the 50s and rainy the evening of the dinner, but the hosts were gracious enough to let us dine in their home in a wonderful room with picture windows on two sides. The area is very secluded, so it feels quite pastoral (and the peacocks wandering by the window at one point certainly reinforced that feeling).

Crust Mobile's Wood Fired Oven

Crust Mobile’s Wood Fired Oven

The food was orchestrated by Crust Mobile, based in Nederland (but portable!), using several ingredients from Lone Hawk Farm and other local providers. A few of us headed out to look at the oven and talk with Dawn, the owner. The oven is a gorgeous clay creation from France, covered in copper from an artist in Maine. The temperature used for making pizza is around 750 to 800 degrees, and they fire it using hardwood, which burns hotter, cleaner, and for a longer time than softer woods. Dawn told us that most of the wood they would be using during the evening (which was a pretty small pile) was fruit wood, obtained from a friend who is a tree trimmer. (Great reuse!) They use Colorado milled organic flour, pepperoni and sausage made in Denver, and local produce when it’s in season.

Crust Mobile's Wood Fired Oven

Close-up of Crust Mobile’s Wood Fired Oven

After we headed back in, a stream of fairly substantial food appeared at regular intervals through the back door. We started with a nice bowl of tomato soup finished with olive oil – perfect for a cool, rainy evening.

Tomato Soup finished with Olive Oil

Tomato Soup finished with Olive Oil

Following that we had a salad of field greens with local cantaloupe, walnuts and orange thyme vinaigrette.

Farm Fresh Green Salad

Farm Fresh Green Salad

And then began the pizza courses. I think the unanimous favorite at the table was the Apple Bacon pizza with mascarpone, bacon, Lone Hawk Farm apples, blue cheese and maple syrup drizzle. The sweet mascarpone and maple syrup, the tart apples, umami blue cheese and salty bacon were phenomenal together.

Unbelievably Amazing Bacon, Marscapone, Blue Cheese and Apple Pizza

Unbelievably Amazing Apple Bacon Pizza with Mascarpone, Bacon, Lone Hawk Farm Apples, Blue Cheese and Maple Syrup Drizzle

Next was Adult Pepperoni: Il Mondo Vecchio hand-cut pepperoni, Lone Hawk Farm peppers, crushed tomatoes (canned at Lone Hawk), and mozzarella. Since it had peppers and pepperoni I started referring to it as pepper2oni (that was your bad math joke for today, and I apologize profusely (but I’m going to leave it in anyhow)).

Pepperoni & Pepper Pizza

Il Mondo Vecchio Pepperoni & Pepper Pizza

Third up was Squash-Room: Hazel Dell crimini mushrooms, herbed ricotta, Lone Hawk Farm squash, roasted garlic, and fresh thyme.

Squash, Mushroom, Mozzarella, Ricotta and Pumpkin Seed Pizza

Squash, Mushroom, Mozzarella, and Ricotta Pizza

And the final pizza was a simple, classic, and totally delicious Margherita with crushed tomatoes and basil from Lone Hawk Farm, and fresh mozzarella.

Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza

Then, as if all of the wonderful pizza wasn’t enough food (there were second pieces had by all (thirds by some)), we finished with an outstanding apple cake made with Lone Hawk Farm apples.

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

If you’ve wanted to try a farm dinner, but have been put off by the steep prices, I highly recommend checking out a dinner at Lone Hawk Farm!

Sometimes I’m just not up for the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning – either it’s too hot (I start to wilt when it’s over 82 degrees without a breeze), I don’t feel like being in a crowd, or I was incredibly lazy and didn’t get going until early afternoon. But never fear – there are lots of farm stands around the area where you can stock up on a variety of vegetables for the week. Many farm stands are open seven days a week, from morning to early evening, so you can stop by on the way home from work, or head out on the weekend.

Peaches, Peppers, Potatoes, Eggplant and Green Beans at Munson Farms

Overall, I think my favorite farm stand is the one at Munson Farms. Located at 75th and Valmont, there is ample parking, a great selection of produce, reasonable prices, and always friendly service. I had the opportunity to talk to Mike Munson the last time I was there, and got the chance to ask a few questions about the farm. It really does make you feel connected to the area when you meet the people who grow your food.

Tomatoes Galore! – Munson Farms

Munson Farms specializes in sweet corn in the summer, and squash in the fall. But you can also pick up some tomatoes and basil for a caprese salad, bell peppers, onions, potatoes, and lots of other items.

A small preview of Munson Farms’ fall squash supply

I had to include the following picture, since it’s one of my favorites. I took this last fall at Munson Farms – it’s a great display of each type of winter squash they grew last year. If you’re in the market for pumpkins or winter squash, Munson Farms is THE place to go.

Squash Display at Munson Farms

Squash Display at Munson Farms

One of my favorite farms at the Boulder Farmers’ Market is Red Wagon Organic Farm. They have quite a large farm stand at 95th & Arapahoe in Lafayette, with a pretty vast selection of produce.

Onions, Apples and Pears at the Red Wagon Organic Farm Stand

As we found out at a farm dinner at Red Wagon a couple of years ago, they like to try different varieties to explore which ones taste best and grow well locally. This makes checking them out at either the Farmers’ Market or their farm stand a rewarding endeavor.

Summer Squash and Onions at the Red Wagon Farm Stand

The Red Wagon Farm Stand also has produce from other growers in Colorado, which reinforces the cooperation and respect among local farmers I’ve noticed when I’ve heard them talk about their businesses.

Beets, Peppers, and More Peppers at the Red Wagon Farm Stand

The are lots of other farm stands to check out in the area in addition to Munson’s and Red Wagon:

The Addictive Blog Award

September 14, 2012

As I was checking my blog statistics for the day (I’m an engineer – it just happens subconsciously), I clicked on a referring link, and was surprised and flattered to see a nomination from The Fearless Cooking Club for The Addictive Blog Award! I hadn’t ever heard of this, but what a great idea for getting the word out about blogs you enjoy reading, and a nice way to complement those who write them.

Addictive Blog Award

Addictive Blog Award

The Addictive Blog Award rules are as follows:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog: A huge Thank You to The Fearless Cooking Club for nominating me – I am truly flattered.
  • Share a little bit about why you started blogging: A little over a year ago I found I was trying a lot of new recipe tweaks and trying to cook more from scratch using local ingredients, but wasn’t really documenting my efforts. So I would have a record of what worked and what didn’t, I decided I would start a blog. I didn’t really plan to publicize it, but once I told a few people and they they expressed interest, I got the blogging bug.  Now I love that it’s part of who I am.
  • Copy and post the award onto your own blog.  Check (see above)

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

September 2, 2012

When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate biscotti. I always thought of them as ‘the disappointing cookie’ (kind of like oatmeal raisin, when compared to chocolate chip). But then one day I decided to give them another try, and found that I actually really like them. And of course they’re perfect with coffee (one of my big passions!)

A while ago a friend of mine mentioned that she had a biscotti recipe, and told me about the double-baking process used to make them. Before that I hadn’t ever thought about how they were made, but that sounded intriguing. So I decided I needed to make some biscotti. I was having trouble deciding on what flavor to make, though. Should I do citrus? Something with nuts or dried fruit? Given that when I was ready to start, I still hadn’t made a decision, I went with the default — chocolate.

I glanced at a few recipes for a baseline, and then just started throwing stuff in. I went with some really good ground cocoa (Dagoba), almond and vanilla extract, and just a touch of espresso powder. I used a smaller amount of fat than most recipes called for, and supplemented with a bit of applesauce. As with most of my baked goods, I replaced a large amount of the sugar with erythritol to cut down on calories. The baking process wasn’t too difficult – they took a lot longer to ‘dry’ in the second baking than all the recipes I looked at, but they eventually did. And the taste? TURBO chocolatey!

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

makes about 20

1+3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c erythritol
1/4 c sugar
3 T olive oil
3 T apple sauce
5 T cocoa powder
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp espresso powder
1 egg + 2 egg whites

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil, and spray well with cooking spray.

In one bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. In another bowl mix together the erythritol, sugar, olive oil and applesauce. Add the cocoa powder, almond extract, vanilla extract, and espresso powder. Next add the egg and egg whites. Gradually add the flour mixture (in about 3 batches), combining well.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti Dough

Chocolate Almond Biscotti Dough (really more of a dough/batter hybrid)

Divide the dough in half, rinse your hands in cold water and just shake (but not dry) them off. Form two skinny loaves between 2-3 inches wide and about 12 inches long. (The dough will spread a bit as it bakes.)

Biscotti Loaf Ready for First Bake

Biscotti Loaf Ready for First Bake (No, not very attractive at this point, but keep going – it’s worth it!)

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until it has the consistency of a loaf of bread (just a tiny bit of give when you touch the top).

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. As soon as you remove the biscotti, decrease the oven temperature to 275.

Sliced Biscotti Loaves

Sliced Biscotti Loaves

Slice each loaf diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Wipe the aluminum foil with a paper towel to get rid of excess cooking spray, then arrange the slices on the baking sheets, and bake until the biscotti are dry. (Most recipes I looked at online indicated this would take about 8-10 minutes. But it seriously took a full 30 minutes for mine to be *mostly* dry). Remove from oven, and cool on a baking rack.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Nutritional Information:
per biscotti: 73 cals, 2.7 g fat, 2 g fiber

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