spicy scampi with rosemary cannellini

spicy-scampi-cannellini-recipe

What’s your back pocket way to put dinner together when life has been too hectic? You know those days; when there’s no plan, not much fresh stuff in the refrigerator and hardly any energy left to think about cooking.

I can hear someone saying “I order takeout” – and I get that. I do too! After long days cooking for other people during my other job, there are many nights when I’m perfectly happy to leave dinner in the capable hands of Someone Else.

spicy-scampi-rosemary-cannellini-recipe

But there’s still something a lot more satisfying about cooking at home, creating a simple meal from what’s on hand. I rely on some basics to carry me through those days. I keep shrimp in the freezer, and along with a few other pantry staples - including cannellini beans, tomatoes and dried pasta or rice, dinner is served.

Defrosting the shrimp in a big bowl of water takes less than 15 minutes, and if your shrimp happen to be already peeled and deveined the rest of this recipe will take barely 15 minutes more.

Otherwise, if you’re able, make cooking a collaborative effort and employ a (hungry) kitchen helper to do the peeling while you open a bottle of wine and chop some rosemary.

Rosemary will keep in your fridge for a week or more and can survive indoors as a houseplant during the colder months, which in my book makes it a staple. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to smell and to cook with.

spicy-shrimp-cannellini-recipe

spicy scampi with rosemary cannellini

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound jumbo (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  2. 1 tablespoon crushed garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
  3. 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
  4. ½ - 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  5. Kosher salt
  6. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh rosemary and Italian parsley
  8. 1 cup cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained
  9. ¼ cup canned tomato puree or passata; such as Pomi
  10. 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the garlic, fresh and dried chili, ½ teaspoon salt and the olive oil.
  2. Place a medium (10-inch) skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the shrimp mixture in one layer. Cook 1 minute; turn the shrimp over and toss in the herbs and cannellini. Stir in the tomato puree and ¼ cup water; bring to a simmer cook a few more minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and the sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Add the butter and swirl until it melts into the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  4. Serve hot over cooked pasta or rice.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/spicy-scampi-with-rosemary-cannellini/

chocolate madeleines

chocolate-madeleines

So, you’re in the mood for chocolate (just in case you haven’t noticed: I am) but not sure whether you want to indulge in cake or cookies? Chocolate madeleines are a happy cross between the two; with a thin, crisp crust on the outside and a moist, melting chocolate crumb on the inside.

The method is pretty basic, but in order to achieve the characteristic domed, scalloped shape of these little French cakes you need to chill the batter for an hour in the baking pan – and yes, to make this recipe you will need a madeleine pan.

Madeleines are delicious at room temperature, but especially good slightly warm from the oven.

chocolate-madeleines-recipe

chocolate madeleines

Yield: 2 dozen madeleines

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon melted butter
  2. 10 tablespoons butter
  3. 6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate; chopped
  4. 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  5. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  6. ½ cup cocoa powder
  7. ¼ teaspoon salt
  8. 6 egg whites

Instructions

  1. Brush a madeleine baking pan with the melted butter.
  2. Put remaining butter and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (be sure the water doesn't touch the bowl). Heat until chocolate and butter are almost melted; remove from heat and stir together until smooth.
  3. Sift sugar, flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl.
  4. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer or by hand until frothy. Stir in flour mixture until combined; add chocolate mixture and mix until blended.
  5. Portion batter into pan; chill in the refrigerator one hour. If your pan makes only 12 at a time, chill remaining batter in bowl and bake in batches.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake about 12 minutes, or until madeleines are springy to touch. Cool in pan 1 minute; unmold madeleines onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/chocolate-madeleines/

cookie kisses: chocolate hazelnut baci

chocolate-hazelnut-baci-cookies-recipe

I think the first time I tasted the perfect-for-each-other combination of chocolate and hazelnuts was at my grandmother’s house. It was probably around the holiday season, where I’d find pretty little boxes of Italian sweets like torrone and bowls of multicolored foil milk chocolates to explore.

I unwrapped what looked to me like a Hershey’s chocolate kiss and popped it into my mouth, only to be surprised that the crunchy nut under the chocolate shell wasn’t a peanut – as in an M & M – and the creamy nougat was unlike the inside of my favorite 3 Musketeers candy bar.

That was my introduction to Baci, the Italian chocolate kiss made by Perugina., and I fell right then and there. I learned that Baci were a special treat, and hard to find if it wasn’t Christmas or Valentine’s day. I had to grow up before I discovered Nutella was what European kids had on their sandwiches instead of peanut butter and jelly -really?! By then I was ready and waiting for anything with the flavor combo of chocolate and hazelnuts, also known as gianduja.

chocolate-meringue-kisses-recipe chocolate-hazelnut-baci-cookies-recipe

I have to confess that these days I find Nutella is a bit too sweet, and not as deep, dark and chocolately as I want. It must be that this 90 percent dark chocolate I’ve grown to like has changed my tolerance level; it has so little sugar that all you taste is the roasted complex notes of pure chocolate.

You can find the combination just about everywhere now – even Jif is marketing a version. I like to make homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread - it doesn’t much resemble the commercially made kind. It’s a bit rustic with its tiny bits of hazelnuts, but so rich in flavor it’s like tasting the essence of the ingredients.

chocolate-hazelnut-baci

I love looking at the food blog What Katie Ate, and her post on Chocolate Ganache Meringue Kisses inspired me to make baci, remembering my first Italian kiss.

chocolate-hazelnut-baci-meringue-kiss-recipe

cookie kisses: chocolate hazelnut baci

Yield: about 1 dozen baci

Ingredients

  1. ½ cup granulated sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  3. 2 egg whites
  4. 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  5. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 cup homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread or prepared spread such as Nutella

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees and arrange an oven rack in the middle of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the sugar and cocoa in a bowl.
  3. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.
  4. Gradually sprinkle the sugar mixture into the egg whites at medium-high speed, then continue to beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy; 2 – 3 minutes.
  5. Scoop and drop the meringue in small blobs onto the baking sheets 1 inch apart, using (1-1/2 –inch) cookie scoop or 2 teaspoons.
  6. Bake about 1 hour, or until the cookies are no longer tacky, but feel dry and firm to the touch. If necessary, lower the oven temperature to keep them from browning.
  7. Turn off the oven, prop the door open and cool the cookies for at least 30 minutes. Peel the cookies off the paper.
  8. Spread one cookie with some chocolate hazelnut spread and sandwich with another; repeat until all the cookies are matched. Any odd cookies are the baker’s treat.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/cookie-kisses-chocolate-hazelnut-baci/