Saturday, January 30, 2010

The vegetarian project - day #30

My first month as a vegetarian is coming to an end, and I have to say, it's been pleasant so far.
I did forget about the entire vegetarian project one Saturday morning when I had toasted bagels with salmon and creme cheese, and then there was the four meatballs at the party last weekend, but all in all, it's been easier than I imagined.
I have to add that I have eaten most of my meals at work or at home, but the few times I have eaten out, I have been lucky to find vegetarian options on the menu.
That said, I'm not very impressed with the restaurant menus. I regularly eat out with friends and co-workers who are allergic to gluten and dairy, and the options aren't very many on the average restaurant menu. One should think, that in this time and age when allergies are common, that restaurants would have a more versatile menu. In restaurants, I have come to rely on soups and salads. Most restaurants can come up with a leafy green salad and a vegetable soup on relatively short notice.
But I recommend calling a restaurant in advance if you are going out for dinner in the evening. Usually restaurants are crowded that time of day, and I don't think it's fair to the cook to come up with something on such a short notice. Especially if you go out with a larger crowd.

I decided to celebrate my first month as a vegetarian with Italian biscotti. I love, love, love biscotti.
I also make them because so far in my life, I have had no luck in making cookies. I can't make a chewy cookie to save my life. They all come out hard as stone - and believe me, I have tried e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g - so I took the easiest way out and opted for biscotti (they are dried after they are baked to make them really hard. In other words, they fit my cookie personality like a glove!)

These biscotties are my favorite. They are made of saffron and chocolate, my two favorite ingredients. They also contain orange zest which gives them a slight edgy taste. I think they're perfect, and I hope you like them too.
The recipe is from a magazine named Saveur.

The reason I baked so many is that I'm going to a friends house for dinner tonight, and I plan on bringing her biscotti as a hostess gift. I mean, I would love it if anyone did that for me.

Saffron Chocolate Biscotti

Saffron Biscotti

3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup sugar

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 tbsp. orange zest

1 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3.5 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
Pearl sugar, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 325°. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat together sugar, butter, orange zest, and saffron* until pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add milk and mix until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions; mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate, then transfer dough to a work surface.

2. Quarter dough, transfer each quarter to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, and form each into a 12" x 1" flattened log; sprinkle each log with 1 tbsp. pearl sugar and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake 1 sheet at a time until lightly browned around edges, 30–35 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes; repeat with remaining dough logs.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 300°. Transfer each log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, slice the logs into 1"-thick slices. Return slices to the baking sheet, cut sides up and spaced evenly apart, and bake 1 sheet at a time until light brown and dry, 15–20 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely before serving.


* My biscotti didn't come out as yellow as I wanted them to be (the saffron contains a strong color that make the biscotti turn yellow-ish) so next time I make these biscotti, I'll try to dissolve the saffron in the milk before adding the milk to the dough to bring out as much color as possible.

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