Take a tried and true biscotti recipe and switch things around to create a tantalizing summer treat, perfect for lazy Summer days that call for lemonade and lounging. Click to skip to the recipe
Do you remember that song by Harry Nilsson?
“Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime
His sister had another one she paid it for the lime
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank ‘em bot’ up….”
Well, in these lazy days of summer, that song started whirling around in my head and hello….. a cookie was born. Now, you might think this a bit strange, but if you’ve been around me long enough, you’ll know that strange is the inspiration for much of my food!
I love biscotti as a mid-afternoon snack. I make myself a latte and dip the cookie right in the cup. But, on a warm summer day, sometimes a latte can be a bit much. So, I settle for an ice coffee or lemonade. These drinks do not lend themselves to appropriate dipping.
So, I decided to summer-up my traditional biscotti. I added a bit of cornmeal to the flour to give it an earthier flavor. Fresh lime juice, zest, and thyme bring in the Italian flavors that I associate with summer. And then….Well, coconut is so tropical that I just had to throw some into the mix. Toasted pine nuts complement all the other flavors while adding richness and voila…a crisp, fully-flavored biscotti was born.
This is just another example of how you can take a tried and true recipe and switch things around to fit your mood. Give these biscotti a try and let’s see what you think.
“Put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning…. woo….”
Lime Coconut Biscotti
These biscuit-like cookies are crisp, crunchy, and full of Italian flavors. They are the perfect afternoon snack with a glass of chilled lemonade or even better…. how about as a late-night snack with a flute of limoncello!
3 ounces pine nuts, about ½ cup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Zest of 2 limes, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 stick
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice of 2 limes, about 3 tablespoons, divided
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
Yields: 3 dozen biscuit cookies
Time: 60-minute cuisine
Toast the pine nuts in a shallow skillet over medium heat until just golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep your eye on the pine nuts as once they are fragrant, they go from perfect to burnt in a nanosecond.
Place the granulated sugar, coconut flakes, lime zest, and thyme into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
Use an electric mixer to combine the butter with the flavored sugar. Mix in the eggs, vanilla, and two tablespoons of the lime juice. Stir in the flour. Add the pine nuts. Divide the dough into two halves, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Form each portion of dough into a log about 3-inches wide and 10 to 12-inches long. Place these onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until the logs are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°. When cooled, use a serrated knife to cut each log into ½-inch slices and lay cut-side-up on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back into the oven and bake until the cookies are dry and just crisp, about another 30 minutes.
Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, half-and-half, and vanilla until smooth. When the cookies have cooled, drizzle each one with the glaze.
I love it when a versatile recipe comes together, and practically forces you to eat something that you normally wouldn’t. I’m talking about BREAD! No other food has been so greatly loved (bread of life) and hated (it’s a white carb, for goodness sake!), than bread. I mean really, who partakes of that bread basket when you are dining out? I’ve notice lately that waiters offer you the basket before they bring it to the table and then, look at you with dismay if you actually take a piece. What lifestyle diet puts bread at the top of the list of approved foods for you to eat? None! What cooking school offers classes is bread baking? None! How many of your friends actually know what a dough hook is? None! I can go on….
However, there comes a time in dining, when bread is a NECESSARY part of the meal. I’m talking spaghetti and meatballs. Bread is a mighty part of the sauce slurping experience. It’s practically a utensil since we don’t always have an oversized spoon for twirling. And what makes the bread even better? Garlic, butter and cheese, of course.
So, when my sweet brother-in-law came to visit, and after three grueling days of mountain golf, when we decided to stay in for dinner, I made his favorite and ours, spaghetti with gravy. Luckily, I had a loaf of bread tucked into the back of the freezer (for emergency purposes – purely medicinal, I’m sure). I defrost the bread, split it in half and spread it with butter. I toast the bread in a hot oven until the edges begin to turn brown. Then I remove it from the oven and get down to business.
This is where it gets fun. For garlic bread, I mix together two kinds of cheese with mayo, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Spread this topping onto the toasted bread and place it into a hot oven until the ooze and bubble of the cheese, just a couple of minutes. Voila! Really good garlic bread. But, here’s where it gets FUN. You can mix anything into the cheese. You can use any cheese and add veggies like chopped green onion, diced sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped olives. You can mix cooked, diced chicken and hot sauce for an open-face Buffalo Cheese bread. Or leftover shredded pork and sautéed onions for a Southern-Style Cheese bread. How about chopped corn beef and sauerkraut for a Rueben Bread (with a side of Thousand Island, of course). I’ve even mixed in diced cooked shrimp for a cheesier version of Shrimp Toast!
But start with this carb-filled and oh-so delightful template. Haters gonna hate…but they gotta eat too!
Overhead view of a cheese grater with parmesan cheese on a rustic wood kitchen table. A plate of spaghetti and garlic bread on board are also shown.
Really Cheesy Garlic Bread
20 Minute Cuisine
Just bite into this cheesy, gooey garlicky bread and relive a childhood memory or two. It’s just that good!
12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated, about 3 cups
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated, about 1 cup
2 ounces Parmesan Cheese, grated, about 1 cup
½ cup mayonnaise
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 loaf crusty French bread
½ cup butter, 1 stick
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Preheat the oven to 425°. Stir together the cheeses, mayo, green onions and salt in a bowl.
Cut loaf of bread in half horizontally, and place onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes, being careful that the garlic does not burn. Brush the garlic butter over the cut side of the bread. Place the bread into the oven and toast until just golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Spread cheese mixture on warm loaves and place back into the oven until the cheeses melt and begin to bubble, about 8 to 10 minutes. Slice the bread into wedges and serve warm. To prepare garlicy bread in advance, simply wrap the bread in the aluminum foil and keep warm.
I have a new puppy, Brownie (obviously a food name…) who likes to wake up early! I find myself walking her at zero dark thirty in freezing temperatures wrapped in a long coat, gloves and scarf sweetly recommending that she “hurry up, good girl”. Flashback to that early Dunkin’ Donut commercial of that sweet, balding, old man waking up in the dark because it is “time to make the doughnuts!”
Doughnuts are a process. Make the dough, let it rise, cut out the circles, not forgetting the holes and frying them up in batches. Well worth the effort, yes, but what if we could short cut the procedure and have similar results?
Say, “Hello” to DOUGHNUT Muffins! I ran across a recipe in a recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine. I am a fan of their recipes because they explain the why behind the steps. It is almost a scientific approach to baking, which really helps the novice cooks. Of course I tweaked the recipe, just a bit, and will continue to do so, but for now these results are worth posting.
With the holidays upon us it is great to have an easy, go-to baked treat to start the morning off, or in my case to serve at my granddaughter’s Christmas tea party.
Let me know what you think and how you would tweak your doughnut muffins. Remember, Dunkin’ has seventy varieties and still counting!
Sugared Doughnut Muffins
Close your eyes and take a bite of this sugary, warm, light-as air treat and convince me you are not eating a doughnut! Then again, try a second one and convince yourself!
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 ½ sticks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¾ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoon butter, melted, 3/4 stick
Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray and dust each cup with flour. Use an electric mixer to cream together ¾ cup softened butter with 1 cup sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and stir in the vanilla. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and baking soda into a bowl. Do this by putting all of the ingredients into a fine sieve colander and shaking it over the bowl. It works!
Stir together the milk and buttermilk in a third bowl.
Use a wooden spoon to stir ¼ of the flour into the butter. Stir in 1/3 of the milk. Stir until the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter. Continue this process until all of the ingredients are combined. The dough will be thick and sticky.
Use an ice-cream scoop to fill each cup in the tin. Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow the muffins to cool slightly. Carefully lift each muffin from the tin to a rack to cool for at least 5 minutes.
Stir together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Brush each muffin all over with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the tops, sides and even the bottoms of the muffins. Serve warm!
Brush warm muffins with maple syrup and dust with granulated sugar.
Add chopped blueberries or other fresh fruit to the batter before baking.
Add peppermint extract in place of vanilla. Brush the tops of the muffins with butter and sprinkle with crushed candy canes or peppermint candies.
Get everyone into the act when making these doughnut muffins. Little ones can brush the warm butter and sprinkle the toppings. Older kids can stir the ingredients together and wash up the bowls!
See that iced coffee sweating in the carafe? Yep… that’s late August in Florida
With this many years in cooking and catering—and please don’t ask how many—I often get this type of question: “Jorj, what would YOU bring to an event like ______ (fill in the blank).” I have to say that most people who approach me for advice in the “provisions” department have unique circumstances; for example, it is an outdoor event and they are worried how the food will hold up, or they are going to a party full of people with special dietary needs.
In the most recent case, it was a volunteer event on a blisteringly hot day in Florida. Everyone was going to be gardening! While I would happily have steered my friend toward pastry from one of my books like Sunday Best Dishes, her gardening party was on a Sunday after all, I have shared her zip code in Florida and the heat this time of year there is UNREAL. When you work outside there are bugs to contend with and a perspiration problem that even a hundred and ten tons of Gatorade cannot cure, not to mention close to 100% humidity—these are definitely conditions where an extremely detailed, painstaking cake recipe just would not be appreciated….soooooo, I passed down a very basic blueberry cake recipe and recommended she cut slabs of cake placing them in their own portable sleeves: like clean coffee filters! I am told the volunteers at the Coral Springs Community Garden liked the cake, and it seemed to make them smile more than the Dunkin Donuts that the ants were also fighting over that day!
his recipe produces one loaf per ½ pint of blueberries—while blueberries are best April through September in places like Maine, we can enjoy them year round, thanks to imports from Chile and Argentina. I checked the facts at the Blueberry Council!
Many of us love to cook for children, for friends, and if you are like me just for fun! Our kids grow into adults with fast and furious schedules that lead to fast and furious meals. Dinner parties for friends evolve into, “let’s get together for cocktails and then go out to a restaurant.” Even cooking for hubby has its drawbacks – it’s hard to splurge on a rich red wine sauce and add in a decadent dessert on a Tuesday night!
Still, the need to feed exists and the hunger must be satisfied.
The statistics are staggering: millions of children go to bed hungry. Millions of seniors do not get enough nutrition in their meals. Many more millions of parents cannot feed their families. Yet there are cooks like you and me that have the means, the skills, and the passion to fill this need. All we have to do is bring together the cooks and the hungry to achieve lots of smiling faces and full tummies.
Let’s start with the basics, cookie baking. Home-baked cookies fill empty tummies with wholesome ingredients. It only takes a minute to think of someone who would love to eat a cookie or two with a glass of chilled milk or a cup of hot tea. The best part about baking and sharing cookies is that you can do it in minutes and it provides an abundance of smiling memories. Share with a friend whose family is coming for the weekend, or as a take-home thank you for a repairman that’s been in your home. How about dropping a batch to a busy mom, or a friend that’s by themselves? Cookies are perfect for everywhere you go and everyone you see.
I’ll start with an easy recipe for Ginger Cookies that I adapted from Chef Mary at Frederica Resort in Sea Island, GA. These cookies are wonderful to stack and pack, and nothing says comfort like a home-baked cookie.
Yields 3 dozen cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 ½ sticks
1 cup brown sugar
⅓ cup molasses
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the butter until creamy. Mix in the brown sugar, molasses, and egg. Add the flour in three additions until just combined. The batter will be sticky.
Use a tablespoon to scoop the batter into 1 ½-inch balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place onto a parchment-lined baking dish. Bake until the tops of the cookies are golden and firm to the touch, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.