Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowstorm Cookies

Almonds in the pre-biscotti stage

The Northeast, once again, is facing a major snowstorm. It's a once a week event lately and people's nerves are frayed.  But if you ask me, there is nothing a good cookie can't cure.  So for your reading and eating pleasure, here now Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti and Kitchen Sink Cookies.

The biscotti are from an excellent NPR story, Not All Biscotti Are Created Equal (how true). Susan Russo, author of Food Blogga, and NPR contributor, wrote a terrific article on the many faces of biscotti.  They all look terrific and I plan to try all of them, but I wanted to start with the most traditional to see if they could take me back to my Italian roots (spoiler alert: they do).

A slight difference in the baking method of these biscotti is that they don't really go through a second baking like most biscotti recipes.  Instead, after the first baking and cooling, they are cut, placed back on the baking sheets, and sent back into the turned off (still warm) oven for 30-60 minutes. 

Jam-packed with whole toasted almonds, with the fragrance of fresh orange zest, and baked super crisp, these biscotti reminded me very much of the cookies my Grandmother used to make and the ones I loved from my first trip to Italy. 

Print Biscotti Recipe Here

From delicate biscotti to hearty Kitchen Sink cookies.  As an aside, I must share with you that I really detest the name of these cookies because it conjures up visions of just throwing in whatever you've got laying around and that is so not the case.  These cookies come from the Martha Stewart cookie collection and since I didn't create them I'll just have to put up with the name.

If you don't think about it too much, you can might be able to convince yourself that these babies are actually good for you.  What with the oats, raisins, pecans, and dried apricots they are at the same time chewy, sweet, and nutty.  Throw in the semi-sweet chocolate and they become rich and luxurious.  The recipe supplies a nice variation to skip the oats and add in some coconut to transform these into tropical delights.

The recipe calls for forming the dough into 2" balls, which I did, but I felt like they were a tad too big.  I know, right now some of you are saying to yourself, "is she kidding? a cookie too big?" Yes, there is such a thing.  

A very satisfying cookie,  
oozing with chocolate, raisins, and apricots!

So I might not like the name but I really like the cookie, and I guess that's all that counts!

Bake up one of these cookies the next time you are staring down a snowstorm and you'll come through just fine.

Print Kitchen Sink Cookies Recipe Here

ZinBurger Update for Jets Fans

Attention Jets Fans of New York and New Jersey: now through February 6, ZinBurger in Clifton is featuring the "Jet Fuel" Burger.  Even though the Jets lost the AFC Championship game this past Sunday, the folks at ZinBurger wanted to offer fans a way to show their support for the Jets' valiant effort.

The Jet Fuel Burger is comprised of all New York ingredients: certified Angus beef, topped with 1000 Islands Mean-N-Nasty Cheddar, Gulden's Mustard, New York Pastrami, lettuce and mayonnaise,  The burger is cooked to order on a griddle in its own juices and served on lightly buttered, brioche style bun.

ZinBurger is located in the Promenade Shops at Clifton, 850 Rt 3 West, Clifton, NJ, 973-272-1492.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Right about this time of year, I start to feel like winter has a pretty firm hold on us here in New Jersey. What with the bone-chilling temps and the weekly snowstorms, it seems as though it will last forever.  Of course, I know that won't happen (I think...).  

So to help myself through the winter doldrums, I baked up a batch of luscious, summery Blueberry Banana Muffins. The recipe comes via the good folks over at Food52 and it is a winner!  They are not overly sweet, so you can enjoy them for breakfast (as I did several times last week). Or with a nice hot cuppa tea in the late afternoon (rooting on my favorite team).
These muffins are nicely moist, thanks to the banana and the buttermilk.  And the addition of whole wheat flour lends a healthy note.  Try them next time you need a lovely, albeit brief, respite from the howling winds.

Print Blueberry Banana Muffins Recipe Here

One other delicious item I want to clue you in on are these terrific granola bars from Nature's Path.  I make it a habit to always have some granola bars on hand for those times when I need a small snack at work or on a road trip.  I stumbled upon these at my local Costco last week and decided to give them a try.  Although intrigued by two of my favorite flavors (pumpkin and maple), I feared they'd be alot like other granola know - the dreaded cardboard. Much to my happy surprise, they are not at all cardboard-y.  They are chewy, moist, flavorful, and packed with all kinds of stuff that's good for you.  You're welcome.

Friday, January 7, 2011

ZinBurger - Clifton, NJ

Greetings, Readers!  

The Cook's Tour was invited to a special VIP preview of the new ZinBurger that opened in Clifton in December.  My review was just published in JerseyBites and I wanted to share it with you.

ZinBurger is part of the Fox Restaurant Concepts group from Arizona and ZinBurger is their first step into the northeast market.  

As you will read in the article, we were impressed with the food, beverages, and service. A well-trained bar staff keeps the waiting crowd happy with a nicely priced selection of wine, beer, and cocktails.  On Wednesdays they offer half-price bottles of wine (can't beat that!) and just this week on our second visit, we enjoyed a luscious 2006 Educated Guess cab from Napa. Rich and ripe with juicy black cherry, currants, and cassis with a lingering finish. 

It's not a large menu, but there are about 8-10 burger selections, including Ahi tuna, turkey, and veggie.  The burgers were juicy and flavorful.  Four variations of fries (I can personally attest to the delicious hand-cut and the truffle - both thin, crispy, and salty) are offered along with a few good looking salads (but let's be honest - you're here for the burgers).

Dessert is limited to shakes, floats, and good old-fashioned pie (pie is the new cupcake).  Loved the classic Black Cow Float (vanilla ice cream and Stewart's root beer)!
ZinBurger is a welcome addition to the dining scene in northern NJ.  Let me know if you've tried ZinBurger or if you have a favorite burger joint.

Zinburger on Urbanspoon