|Paper Chef 20|
Aug 7th, 2006
Paper Chef #20 is here, and the ingredient list this time is peaches, cherries, a new-to-you herb (fresh or dried), and something hot (as in spicy). If you're unfamiliar with Paper Chef, it's based on the television show Iron Chef, and challenges bloggers to come up with a new dish given a randomly selected list of four ingredients.
For the herb I used lavender, in the form of Lavender Salt. I adore my sprawling lavender plant out back, but have never used the herb in cooking. I was looking for culinary lavender or lavender sugar, but came up empty, so settled for a Lavender Salt blend from the girl & the fig.
And for the spicy hot ingredient I settled on ginger - not as blistering as the hot peppers that immediately sprang to mind, but definitely sinus-clearing when eaten in sufficient quantity.
Ingredient list selected I knew I was headed in the dessert direction, and ended up baking some peaches with a sprinkling of lavender salt and sugar and serving them with a dried cherry and ginger biscotti. I've never made biscotti before so I used a recipe for a Spiced Biscotti from The Best Recipe as my guide, adapting it to incorporate macerated dried cherries and crystallized ginger.
The peaches should really be served with some ice cream, and my plan was to make some, either vanilla or ginger, but I ended up getting the wrong thing at the store and couldn't bring myself to go back for the fifth time that day. But even without ice cream, the peaches are incredibly sweet and a bit spicy from the ginger and lavender, and the biscotti are delicious - and I'm not normally a fan of the crunchy cookies.
So I consider this Paper Chef a success as I got to cook with lavender for the first time and discovered a new love for biscotti. Here's an arty (read out of focus) shot of the finished product.
Baked Peaches with Lavendar & Dried Cherry Ginger BiscottiPeaches
One peach for each person
Ground ginger (optional)
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
1/4 cup Amaretto or Kirsch
1/8 - 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Soak the cherries in the liqueur for about an hour. Drain, and reserve the soaking liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside. Cream the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla, ginger, cherries, and about a teaspoon of their soaking liquid. Fold in the dry ingredients and combine just until the dough comes together.
Cover an oiled baking sheet with baker's parchment. With floured hands form the dough into two logs on the baking sheet, each about 13" by 2". Bake on the middle rack for about 35 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through cooking, until the logs are golden and just beginning to crack.
Remove from the oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 325°F. On a cutting board cut the logs into thin diagonal slices (about 3/8") using a serrated knife. Return the biscotti to the parchment lined baking sheet and lay them flat. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or so, flipping the biscotti over halfway through cooking. The biscotti should be dry and crunchy.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Place a slim pat of butter in the well of each peach and sprinkle with lavendar salt, sugar, and optional ginger. Bake until the peaches are soft and caramelized on top - about half an hour.
-biscotti recipe adapted from The Best Recipe