Food

In My House: Cooking Shows

One of my guilty pleasures is cooking shows.

Although cooking is not my favorite thing to do, it turns out I’m a little bit of a foodie. I love trying new cuisine, pairing interesting food and wine, and fantasizing about going to dinner at Ina Garten’s house (see below).

Here are three of my favorite cooking shows:

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(I could definitely eat this entire dish.)

(Image from realgirlskitchen.com)

The Real Girl’s Kitchen (on the Cooking Channel): This show is hosted by Haylie Duff. You might know her as Summer from Napolean Dynamite (or at least that’s how I knew her). She is also sister of Hilary Duff, who, sorry to say, has always annoyed me, but luckily Haylie is pretty laid back and cool. Recently she made a baked brie with honey and thyme that had my mouth watering. She also made a version of s’mores in a waffle cone. You put marshmallow, chocolate, bananas, and other yummy treats in a waffle cone that you then wrap in foil and place on a campfire. What?! Genius.

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(When I watch these shows, what I really want is for the hosts to just bring the food over to my house. Like this ham quiche prepared by Damaris Phillips.)

(Image from foodnetwork.com)

Southern at Heart (on Food Network): Host Damaris Phillips was a winner of Food Network Star and brings some new and interesting approaches to southern cooking. I never really fancied myself a southern food fan. Maybe because fried food sometimes turns my stomach and I am a wimp about spicy cuisine. Damaris is a likeable, friendly host.

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(My girl Ina’s lemon chicken. I have actually cooked this many times but I’ll leave the food photography to the experts, at least for now.)

(Image from barefootcontessa.com)

The Barefoot Contessa (on Food Network): I have been watching this for years. I own four of her cookbooks and my girl Ina really inspires me to cook something decent now and then. I make her tarragon potato salad regularly and I often turn to her lemon chicken recipe. I fantasize about being invited over to Ina’s for a dinner party. I about died when I saw the scene from 30 Rock where Ina visits Liz Lemon in a dream and says: “Hello, neighbor! My husband Jeffrey is out of town and I have this platter of bruschetta and a bottle of wine I need to share.”

Food

Toasted Almond Biscotti with White Chocolate

I am the first to admit I am a wreck in the kitchen most of the time, mainly because of a serious lack of patience when it comes to cooking and baking. Every now and then I take a stab at baking.

My husband and I love biscotti. Because it is a cookie that is supposed to be hard and crunchy, I thought it might be something I could handle. I was so pleased when it came out looking and tasting like actual biscotti!

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This recipe begins by toasting slivered almonds in the oven which makes the whole house smell divine.

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I looked at several recipes on AllRecipes.com and came up with my own variation, which you will find below.

No need to alter for high altitude (this applies to me as over mile-high altitude has wreaked havoc on a few recipes I have tried, especially homemade bread).

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The flavor is simple, yet so tasty. Just almond extract and vanilla, but you could switch it up with basically any flavor you like. Maybe orange? Yum.

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Forming the actual loaf made me a little nervous. Rest assured that other than puffing up just a bit, the loaf will remain about the same size after baking. So keep that in mind when deciding what size and thickness you want your end result.

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Above is the loaf right out of the oven. This part made me happy. I know some of you probably have success with every recipe you try, but I do not, so I was ecstatic that I made it to this point in the biscotti-making game with no blunders.

Cutting the biscotti with a serrated knife was simple. I opted for about 1-inch pieces. Then it returns to the oven for more baking.

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The I melted white chocolate and spread it on one cut side of the biscotti. You could be fancy and use a double-boiler to melt your chocolate but my buddy Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, does hers in the microwave so of course I follow her lead on that (and all other aspects of life). You simply put it in a microwave-safe container and microwave it for 30 seconds, then stir, then 30 seconds more, then stir, until you get the consistency you want.

I wrapped these individually in cellophane so my husband and I can easily grab one with our morning coffee (or in my case, Diet Pepsi) on the way out the door. It would be cute to include a nice little bow or raffia if you’re giving them out, say, at the holidays, which I intend to do. I love how versatile this could be and I am excited to experiment with other flavors.

Recipe:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, almond extract, and vanilla in one bowl and mix flour, sugar, water, and baking powder in another.
  • Combine the two mixtures and beat with an electric mixer. Do not overbeat.
  • When the almonds are done, lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  • Gently mix the toasted almonds into the dough.
  • Flour your surface and turn out the dough. Form a loaf (see my picture above). Bake it for 30-40 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch strips, depending on how thick you want your biscotti. Bake cut side up for another 18 minutes. Then flip over and bake another 18 minutes.
  • Let the biscotti cool before melting some white chocolate and spreading it over the biscotti.