Thursday, November 02, 2006

Crunchy biscotti and a hearty dinner...

If everything goes right, it looks as if the kitchen will be pretty much finished up this weekend and we will be able to get the before/after pictures up! I'll be happy that the front door will not be constantly revolving with strangers coming and going to get the work done! It did end up taking a bit longer than planned, but what remodel doesn't?

Early this morning it was pretty quiet, so I took advantage and made one of our favorite snacks - biscotti! We have quite a few recipes posted already and today's version of Chocolate-Cashew Espresso Biscotti ranks right up there with the others. Made in a similar manner as the rest, this version does include a couple tablespoons of butter that most of our other recipes do not. This gives them a little softer texture, but they are still able to keep their much desired crispness for dunking. The espresso powder gives them a subtle coffee background, but we found the natural cocoa tempered any bitterness. You can pretty much use any nuts that you desire, but the salty cashews used here were a great match to the mild chocolate flavor. Before baking, a shower of raw sugar on the dough adds a crunchy sweetness to the top. I did use a blend of white whole-wheat flour and all-purpose flour in the recipe - I found the dough easy to work with and not too sticky as some biscotti can be. To jazz these up and turn them into a holiday gift, add a drizzle of dark or white chocolate (or both!) to the cut slices and wrap them up inside a fun coffee mug!

Dinner tonight, Cheesy Baked Rotelle with Sausage, used a bunch of ingredients from the pantry and freezer that were looking to get used up. While the rotelle cooked, we browned hot Italian turkey sausage and chopped some fresh basil left over from the tomato soup we had earlier in the week. We opened a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and added some minced garlic, the fresh basil and a dash of crushed red pepper. When the pasta was ready, half was scattered in the bottom of a large baking dish. Half of the spicy sausage, chopped fire-roasted red bell peppers, sharp Parmesan, the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are then placed on top and the layers are repeated filling the dish almost to the top. This is baked until the cheese on top melts into a golden crown covering the filling that is hot and bubbling.

This was cheesy, thick and hearty, but I would probably add a bit more liquid next time - maybe a smaller can of diced tomatoes to add a bit more juice to the dish.

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