Okay, I admit it. I spend way too much time online. Like, I should be packing (for college, you know) or doing laundry or researching the books I need for class or doing any number of more productive things than refreshing Facebook and ogling Photograzing and Tastespotting.
Haven't heard of these websites (hopefully you've heard of Facebook, if not then, well...)? Photograzing and Tastespotting are the best thing that ever happened to the Internet.
Since that's not a very great description of the service that these sites offer, let me paint you a little picture. Imagine all the best photographers in one place. Now imagine these photographers are also bloggers. Then imagine that they are food bloggers, not to mention really great cooks. And these really great photographers who are also really great cooks take lots of photos of the delicious things they make and then post the pictures for you to see, with links to their blogs where you can gawk at more yummy meals they've made. Essentially, this is Photograzing and Tastespotting. While Tastespotting is larger than Photograzing (an entity of Serious Eats), they both showcase fabulous food that is appealing to the eyes and, more importantly, the taste buds.
And that is where I found both of these recipes. For my sister's final meal before moving clear across the country, I had to come up with something seriously delicious for dessert. Enter Strawberry Basil Frozen Yogurt and Lemon Biscotti.
Both of these recipes were wonderful. The frozen yogurt has a strong (but not overwhelming) basil flavor that is complemented perfectly by the sweet berries. And the yogurt adds a nice tang to balance out the flavors. My favorite part about the recipe was the ease of its preparation. I'm a huge fan of Philadelphia-style ice creams and frozen yogurts that don't require that fussiness of a French-style custard ice cream.
As for the biscotti, this may be my new favorite biscotti recipe. It was the first biscotti dough I'd ever tried that did not include butter but only eggs. Traditional Italian recipes actually don't include butter at all, and I may begin to do the same. These biscotti are minimalist, save for some lemon zest and chopped nuts, but they have a wonderful sweetness to them with hints of vanilla, citrus, and almond. Alongside the tart yogurt, these are a perfect match and a fun, dressed-up version of cookies and ice cream.
Strawberry Basil Frozen Yogurt
From Dishing Up Delights
This recipe has balsamic vinegar in it, but to be honest I could not detect any sort of balsamic flavor in the final product. However, I love the taste of balsamic with strawberries and basil. I might try a balsamic syrup to pour over the yogurt the next time I make this by combining 2 parts balsamic vinegar and 1 part sugar in a saucepan til it gets nice and drizzly and syrupy. Yum.
Yield: about 1 quart
1 1/2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
8 ounces strawberries, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
In a large bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and balsamic vinegar until well combined.
In a food processor, pulse the strawberries until pureed. Add the basil and pulse until the basil is chopped but not entirely pureed. You should still see bits of green in the mixture. Add the strawberries to the yogurt mixture and refrigerate for at least an hour until chilled.
Transfer the mixture to the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze for another 2 to 4 hours. Before serving, remove the frozen yogurt from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until it is scoopable.
Lemon Nut Biscotti
Adapted from The Ivory Hut
The original recipe used orange instead of lemon, but I thought the lemon flavor would work better with the strawberries and basil than the orange. Nevertheless, this is an extremely adaptable biscotti recipe. You could easily switch up the zest flavor and nut combination. Dried fruits like cranberries or cherries could also be added; other mix-ins like chocolate chips or crystallized ginger would also be delicious. Be creative! On a more technical note, this dough is very sticky. It will inevitably stick to your hands. I baked these on a Silpat baking mat and I suggest you do the same (or invest in some because they are awesome). The original recipe also called for a "scant" cup of sugar. While I really dislike measurements like that ("heaping" is another pet peeve), I ended up using probably what amounted to 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons, or 7/8 of a cup.
Yield: about 24 to 30 cookies, depending on how thickly you slice them.
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon (about 3 to 4 teaspoons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 scant cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup combined almonds and pecans, toasted and chopped
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan with a silicone baking mat (or with greased parchment paper).
In a small bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a larger bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, using a spoon first and then using your hands. The dough will be very sticky and tacky. Stir in the nuts.
Transfer half of the dough to the baking sheet and shape into a log approximately 12 inches by 4 inches. Repeat with the other half of the dough, spacing the two logs about 4 inches apart (the logs will spread as they bake so make sure they have room to do so).
Bake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the logs (still on the silicone mat or parchment paper) to a cooling rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees.
Transfer the logs back to the baking sheet. Use a serrated knife to slice the logs into about 1-inch thick slices. Turn the slices onto their side (cut-side down) and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and (carefully) flip over the biscotti onto their other side. Bake for another 12 to 15 minutes. The biscotti will be crisp and golden brown when they are done.
Let the biscotti cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.