Coconut or Cappuccino Biscotti

>> Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Biscotti - Scrumptiously Fit Food

Like peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese or green eggs and ham (ok, maybe not green eggs and ham), biscotti and cappuccinos just go together in my books. I could have my cappuccino without biscotti, but it just doesn’t seem right and most definitely not if I just have biscotti on its own, although I have tried (many times).

Biscotti is named such because of the baking process, where it is baked, cut in to individual slices and baked again, hence the bi- in the biscotti name. Due to its double baked nature, the cookie is harder and allows it to stand up well against the cappuccino. Since the biscotti requires the toughness in order for it to be dipped in caffeinated beverages, butter is not used as an ingredient thereby making it a “healthier” cookie option (but it still doesn’t justify wolfing down a whole lot of these).

The main reason I love biscotti is because of the mixture of espresso that it holds on to and the resulting crunch that ensues after each dip. I wanted to share that experience with you all, but not just the traditional biscotti recipe, which normally consists of almonds, but different things that I thought went well with coffee. I also found a great website, Joy of Baking that had a bunch of different biscotti recipes to try. Here are some of my favourites that I’ve adjusted to my own tastes, let me know what you guys think!

Biscotti Loaf - Scrumptiously Fit Food
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For Coconut biscotti:1 cup unsweetened coconut

For Cappuccino biscotti:
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
2 tbsp espresso, cooled
1/2 tbsp milk

Biscotti Baking - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Preparation:1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

2) Combine the eggs and vanilla extract together

3) In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients (baking powder, flour, sugar)

4) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mix until it’s all combined.

5) Split the dough in to two even parts, to one part add in the coconut, to the second part add in the cappuccino biscotti ingredients. (If only making one flavour double the ingredients for that specific flavour, feel free to add in hazelnuts or almonds as well if you'd like more of a crunch or something more traditional)

6) On a lightly floured surface, roll out both pieces of dough until they’re log shaped, transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and slightly pat it down.

7) Bake in the oven for 30 mins, remove and cut each log into 2-3 cm pieces.

8) Place them back individually on the baking sheet and bake for another 10 mins

9) Rotate the pieces and bake for another 10 mins

10) Once they’re finished baking on both sides, remove them from the oven and let them cool. Store them in an air tight container and they can be stored for up to a month!


Restaurant Review: Charcut Roast House

>> Friday, April 23, 2010

Charcut Roast House

Meeting up with friends should be considered an easy feat. Determine time and place and voila, right? Wrong. One of my good friends and I have been trying to get together for the last four months, since the beginning of January and time after time we have had to postpone our dates due to conflicts in schedule, whether it be for work or life’s normal little curveballs (so you can imagine my excitement of finally deciding on a date that didn’t change last minute). Initially our plan was to meet at a familiar restaurant, have a nice dinner and call it a night, but since our plans took four months to firm up, we both noticed that a few new restaurants have popped up in around town, namely Charcut. Being the foodie that I am (and so is she), we had to go. The only thing that could stop us was another change in date, which lucky for us, didn’t happen.

Atmosphere: Dim lighting and the contemporary styled space gives it a nice casual laid back feel without losing its elegant flair. Great setting for a nice dinner or just to kick back and have a glass of wine paired with some charcuteries of course.

Price range: Mid $20s

Pig Head Mortadella and Brassica Mustard
Food and Wine: Charcut is all about promoting fresh produce and locally grown Alberta beef by utilizing flavour combinations that are meant to allow that freshness to come through on every plate. We started off the night with a complementary chef sampler of Pig Head Mortadella and Brassica Mustard, which is featured on their Charcut Board, almost swaying us away from ordering the mains and possibly just noshing on the charcuteries all night. Somehow we found the will power to start with the light Arugula and Tuna Conserva instead, which utilized the licorice taste of the anise to highlight the natural texture of the tuna. After that first dish, I couldn’t wait to dig in to the savoury Bone Marrow au Gratin, a toasted garlic brioche that was a great companion to the buttery taste of the bone marrow.

Bone Marrow au Gratin
For our mains, we were informed by our server that not only is their beef from local farms around the city but it is also prepped and aged in house for the most succulent flavour and tenderness, so it made my decision simple, who wouldn’t want to try a tender Prime Rib done to perfection? While my dinner companion decided on the Manila Clams served over pea risotto. I know what you’re thinking, roast house for seafood? The flavouring of the risotto and the clams were perfect and paired exceptionally well, I personally would order it again the next time I’m back.

Prime Rib
As for the wine, like several other restaurants around town, Charcut also offers 2 oz sampler sizes for a selection of their wines to allow the diners to taste a few different offerings before selecting their favourite for the evening (or if one would like, to continue tasting different wines all evening!). As stated in my previous posts, I believe wine samplers are a great idea for any restaurant because it allows the diners more flexibility to try different wine varieties or types, which can invariably allow them to move beyond their comfort zones.

My Picks: Bone Marrow Au Gratin and the Manila Clams!

Manila Clams
Overall: Just the thought of supporting our local farmers and eating fresh, is enough to warrant coming to try the food at Charcut. Now coupled with locally known chef John Jackson, it’s enough to want to set up the next visit back. If only it would be so easy to pick a date to meet up with friends.

Charcut Roast House
101, 899 Centre Street SW
(403) 984-2180

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Holy, it's Chicken Mole!

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicken Mole - Scrumptiously Fit Food
When one thinks of chocolate, what pops to mind is a dark molten chocolate lava cake or a delicious chocolate soufflé, the perfect desserts to end that great meal. I do admit that they sound delicious, but I really wanted too look at the savoury applications of chocolate, utilizing its bittersweet flavour characteristics to create an indulgent recipe (plus, dark chocolate is heart healthy!).

It just so happened that while I was watching Food Network (when am I not watching Food Network?) the other day, I caught Tyler Florence from Tyler’s Ultimate making mole. A little more research led me to the definition of mole (or mole poblano as it’s called in Mexico), a traditional Mexican dish from Oxaca, which uses chocolate as its main ingredient. I had to try it and couldn’t run fast enough to the nearest supermarket to buy my ingredients. Tyler’s recipes uses a couple of different chilli peppers to get the spicy flavouring of the mole and since its not always easy to find dried chilli peppers at your local supermarket, I had to improvise…and so started my search for a more simplified version of the mole poblano recipe. I didn’t have to look far, thinking back to the recent book that I’ve just finished reading (A Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz) I knew I had what I was looking for.

Off I go melting the chocolate and blending away, at this point all I had to go on was what I thought the dish would taste like and the instructions given to me by Tyler and David (notice how we’re on a first name basis now?). As I added the chocolate and threw in my chiles, I was a little sceptical since everything looked an odd brown. I tried not to think about it and forged ahead with the excitement and anticipation of trying something truly different. Once everything was all blended, I added it to the chicken that was cooking over the stovetop (you can also use turkey which is considered more traditional in Mexico, since turkey was known to have been in the country before chicken was introduced) and viola! I could barely wait for the chicken to cool down before cutting a piece and sampling the creation, W-O-W and giddy joy was all I could remember from that first bite, but my second thought was…I have to blog about this. So here you go, my take on David Lebovitz’s Mole recipe, inspired by my food networkaholic watching ways.

Now you can tell all your friends that instead of just having your (chocolate) cake and eating it too, why not also enjoy your chocolate entrée as well? Delicious!

Chicken without the Mole sauce
5 dried ancho dried chiles (or if you can’t find dried chiles, I used fresh jalapeno peppers along with 1 tsp of cayenne pepper)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup raisins or diced prunes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, chopped (I used 2 because I love garlic)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp powdered cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to tastefreshly ground pepper1 cup water (depending on the blended mixture, it could be more or less)
1 oz (28g) melted unsweetened chocolate (or dark chocolate)

Mole Sauce:
1) If using ancho chiles, soak them in hot water until they soften, roughly 30 minutes.

2) Heat some oil in a small skillet, once pan is hot, sauté the onions until they’re translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.

3) Turn the burner to low-med heat. Add in the spices, herbs and stir until it’s mixed well, you might want to add some water to prevent the spices from sticking to the pan.

4) In a blender, add in all the above ingredients except the ancho chiles. Puree until smooth.

5) Remove the seeds and stems of the chiles and push it through a strainer. Add the paste to the puree and mix well.

6) Mole sauce is ready for use.

Chicken Mole:
1) Place a pan on medium heat and add a little canola oil. Add chicken to pan and let it sear until both sides are slightly crispy.

2) Add in the mole sauce until it just covers the chicken, put a lid on the pan and let it cook for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken looks just about done throughout.

3) Remove the pan lid and let the sauce reduce, if chicken starts to look over cooked, remove the chicken and reduce the sauce only.

4) Pour sauce over chicken and serve over rice or other grains, I preferred quinoa for the nutty taste. Enjoy!

Chicken Mole - Scrumptiously Fit Food


David Lebovitz's Upside Down Banana Cake

>> Thursday, April 15, 2010

David Lebovitz - Upside Down Banana Cake

Soon enough Calgarians will have to pay more for bananas and my blog will have to be renamed to Scrumptiously Fit Bananas because at the rate I’m going through them, the prices are guaranteed to increase. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t seem to stop finding recipes that I want to try which utilizes bananas as the main ingredient (it could also be due to the fact that I personally can’t get over eating them either).

Nutritional Tidbit: On the plus side bananas are truly healthy and nutritious for you (and I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it before). It is loaded with potassium, which is required by our bodies to remain at homeostasis and have been found to be good for our hearts through the lowering of blood pressure. Bananas also contain a high amount of Vitamin B6, which our bodies use to help maintain our blood glucose level within a normal range, not to mention a good amount of fibre.

Those are the reasons I’m using for why I’m baking so much with bananas, plus I really wanted to try a recipe from David Lebovitz. Readers of this blog know my infatuation with his blog, his books and most importantly his desserts! I’ve followed his recipe fairly closely since it was a pretty healthy recipe to begin with (it was written for a health magazine afterall), the only difference is the chocolate. Since I enjoy my bananas anything without too many additional ingredients I tend to keep it pretty simple and plain, but feel free to add it back in since chocolate after all is also healthy for you!

1/3 cup & 2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp water
3 ripe bananas (you could use 4 if your pan required so)
Lemon juice

1½ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt (you can omit this if you’re using salted butter)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs (or 1 egg and 1 egg white)
1 cup banana puree (roughly 2-3 mashed bananas)
½ cup low fat yogurt or sour cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (optional)

Bananas - Scrumptiously Fit Food
For the topping:
1) Mix the brown sugar in hot water and wait until it dissolves. Pour it into an 8 inch cake pan.

2) Slice the bananas and place them on top of the brown sugar mixture, slightly overlapping each other.

3) Squeeze a couple drops of lemon juice on top of the bananas.

For the cake:
1) Preheat the oven to 350ºF

2) Put all the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, sugar in a bowl, lightly mix them until all the ingredients are blended together.

3) In a second bowl, combine the butter, eggs, bananas, yogurt and vanilla extract, mix thoroughly.

4) Slowly pour the dry ingredients in to the wet mixture until it’s all combined.

5) Carefully add in the chocolate if doing so.

6) Pour the mixture carefully over the bananas and lightly spread the batter until it evenly covers the pan.

7) Put it in the over and let it bake for 40 – 50 mins. You can test it with a toothpick and if it comes out clean then the cake is done.

8) Let the cake cool and slowly run a knife along the edge of the pan to help separate the cake from the pan.

9) Invert and serve with ice cream, frozen yogurt or whip cream! Best served warm.

Banana Cake - Scrumptiously Fit Food


Sun Dried Tomato Chicken with Orzo

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

Sun dried tomato chicken with orzo - Scrumptiously Fit Food

The stove is always working overtime from testing new recipes on the weekends. All four burners are on with different pots boiling away and all the aromas mixing gently together and floating all over the house. Of course the oven can’t be made to feel left out, so some sort of dessert is baking away, most likely something to do with cinnamon (because I can’t get enough of that stuff). All these recipes causing my stove to work incessantly are usually collected throughout the week while I’m flipping through magazines, searching the net or just from some of my outlandish cravings that have been building up as each long laborious weekday goes by.

This weekend I found myself attached to orzo, which looks like a grain of rice, but is actually made with semolina flour and therefore is considered pasta. Cooking orzo is like cooking any other type of grain, where you introduce 2 cups of water to 1 cup of said grain. Let it boil and simmer along until all the water is taken up and you just lightly fluff with a fork (not like regular pasta where you dump it in salted water and drain, but you can if you’d like).

Orzo - Scrumptiously Fit Food
I found a healthy recipe on the Eating Well magazine site that consisted of sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts served over orzo, which sounded quite intriguing, plus it only took up two burners, allowing me to stew up some Vietnamese beef noodle soup for dinner the next night and you can’t forget the cinnamon banana cake baking in the oven!

8 ounches orzo, preferably whole wheat
1 cup water
½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (not oil packed), chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
1 (or 2) clove garlic, diced
3 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts (or 6 thighs)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 can of artichoke hearts
½ cup of shredded Romano cheese

1. Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling water just until tender and fluff with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, place 1 cup water, ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, plum tomato, garlic 2 tsp marjoram, vinegar and 2 tsp olive oil in a blender and blend until a few chunks remain.

3. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown outside. Transfer to plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

4. Pour blended tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out ½ cup to a small bowl and save for later. Add the remaining ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes to pan along with orzo, artichoke hearts and 6 tbsp cheese. Cook, stirring until heated through. Divide among 4 plates.

5. Place the chicken on top of the orzo, you may slice the chicken if you wish. Top each portion with 2 tbsp of the reserved sauce and sprinkling of cheese.

6. Serve and enjoy!


Restaurant Review: San Remo - McKenzie Towne

>> Wednesday, April 7, 2010

San Remo - McKenzie Towne - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Never would I have realized how much we enjoy going out for dinner if it wasn’t for all the pictures and notes I’ve jotted down about all my experiences every time we’re out. Then the sad realization of me falling behind on my restaurant reviews kicks in, so I figured it was about that time again for me to dig deep and find the inspiration to write a review. Since I was back logged, why not focus on a restaurant that I’ve enjoyed eating at for a while now and consider a hidden gem, since its location is outside of the downtown core. Because it’s in the deep far south of the city, most people don’t realize its existence or the fact that there’s more than one of them (the second location is on the west side of the city) – enter San Remo – Innovative Italian Cuisine!

Atmosphere: A casual and trendy atmosphere, with some rustic flare by utilizing a cozy fireplace and chandeliers.

Price Range: Mid $20s - $30s

Tomato and Arugula Salad - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Food and Wine: From the sun dried tomato butter that’s served with their bread to each of the following courses presented, San Remo doesn’t disappoint. The menu changes frequently and new creations like the Lamb Osso Bucco or the Veal Involtini, makes my mouth water just by reading them. They also have daily features which include freshly caught seafood or a chef’s feature. All of the above is enough to entice me to drop by frequently just to see what’s cooking in their kitchen! Plus they have a variety of wines that pair well with their dishes and the waiters are more than willing to provide suggestions.

Ciopinno - Scrumptiously Fit Food

This time we started off the evening by ordering the Lobster Bisque and the Tomato and Arugula Salad. Both were a delight but nothing compared to our main dishes, where I got the daily special of Artic Char served over roasted peppers and herbed aioli and he ordered the Ciopinno with green pea risotto and toasted crostini. I had a taste of the ciopinno with the perfectly cooked risotto and made a mental note to order that next time (hopefully their menu doesn’t change before I get a chance to do so!). My dish was extremely flavourful and the contrast of the aioli to the peppers rounded out the dish very well. The portions are quite sizeable and left me stuffed beyond belief, but having one peek at the dessert menu and seeing my favourite Toffee Bread Pudding, let’s just say, that was the end of me and my resolve. Of course all the desserts sounded divine and again I found myself mentally making room in my calendar to see when I can come back to test them all out!

Artic Char - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Overall: I remember the first time I walked in to San Remo. I had no expectations, seeing it as a chain restaurant, but after experiencing the different flavour combinations created by the kitchen, I left feeling extremely satisfied and have been impressed every time I go back. Now I expect nothing less than exceptional and will be heading back again and again (there’s that mental calendar reminder going off).

San Remo Menu - Scrumptiously Fit Food
McKenzie Towne
500, 25 McKenzie Towne Gate SE
Calgary, AB T2Z 0NZ
(403) 251-0998

Garrison Woods
3574 Garrison Gate SW
Calgary, AB T2T 6N1
(403) 685-5727


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Quinoa Tabouli Salad

>> Monday, April 5, 2010

Quinoa Tabouli Salad - Scrumptiously Fit Food

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has gained a lot more attention as of late, due to its healthy and nutritious qualities, not to mention its delicious nutty flavour and versatility in recipes. Since it’s similar to couscous, it can be used as a side to accompany entrée dishes, in risottos or even in salad.

Nutritional Tidbit: Quinoa contains a high level of protein (~16%) and since the amino acids contained in Quinoa are very well balanced, it becomes a complete protein source. It’s almost a meal in itself due to the combination of carbohydrate and protein content.

The cooking of quinoa is very simple, for those who have a rice cooker, you just put in one part quinoa to two parts water and let it cook until it stops. For those that don’t, it really isn’t that much more complex. Again with one part quinoa to two parts water, put it in to a pot and allow the water to boil. Once it does, turn it down to about medium heat and let it simmer for 15 mins or so. When the water boils off, keep the lid on the quinoa until you’re about to plate it, then fluff it using a fork. Don’t be alarmed when you see little rings all around your pot, I was curious what I did wrong the first time and you could imagine my shock when I opened up the lid and little white rings appeared everywhere. I wondered where they all came from, but they’re no more than the husks of the grain and are definitely edible! Plus over time you learn to realize that they add a bit of piazza to your dish. =)

Since quinoa has a nice nuttiness to it, I enjoy using it for Mediterranean dishes such as tabouli (tabbouleh for some). The parsley, along with the mint and citrus really gives off a complex taste, plus it’s quick and easy to make, you have got to love that. Most tabouli recipes use tomatoes, but since I was at home and didn’t feel like making a trip out to the supermarket, peppers was my way to go, which turned out just as delicious and gave it some texture as well.

Parsley - Scrumptiously Fit FoodIngredients:½ cup Quinoa
1 cup water
1½ chopped parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro
¾ cup chopped mint
½ cup chopped scallions (green onions) or regular onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers (or tomatoes)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp allspice
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper

Place quinoa and water in a pot and boil for roughy 15 mins on medium heat, turn off heat and keep the lid on until ready to be added to rest of the ingredients.

Mix parsley, cilantro, mint, scallions, peppers, lemon juice, cayenne, allspice, olive oil together. Add in quinoa and mix well, add in salt and pepper to taste.

Plate and serve! This dish is delicious served with warm quinoa or even as a cool salad with grilled chicken. Enjoy!


Oatmeal Cinnamon Banana Muffins

>> Friday, April 2, 2010

Oatmeal Cinnamon Banana Muffins - Scrumptiously Fit Food

Due to my recent

banana bread craze, my freezer found itself still hiding some of the left over fruit and being inspired by David Lebovitz (which I’m a devote blog follower of his) to never throw anything away, I figured it was a good time to put some muffins to the test!

Since my aforementioned banana bread is very similar to muffins, difference in the form of loaves versus tiny cakes, I figured it would be a good idea to add more ingredients to the muffins to change things up a bit. I like my banana bread plain with no added nuts or spices, so why not throw in some cinnamon and oatmeal for the muffins, which works well with the recipe I had in mind. Apparently changing the shape of the baked treats opens up my imagination to limitless opportunities (if you worked at a 9-5 job, your imagination needs to be stimulated somewhere).

The recipe that I followed, found on the Best Health Magazine
website, is healthy due to its low fat and high protein content, however substituting the recommended oat bran for oatmeal does lower the protein down a bit, but definitely doesn’t change the flavour. I actually believe that using oatmeal instead of the oat bran makes it more moist and fluffy. Let me know if you do decide to try the original recipe and what you think of it!

Nutritional Tidbit: Both oatmeal and cinnamon are extremely healthy ingredients. Oatmeal has been proven to lower bad low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol because of its high concentration of soluble fibre. Adults should aim to get 25-35g of fibre a day and oatmeal contains roughly 5g of fibre in one serving (equal to ½ cup). Cinnamon on the other hand is full of antioxidants, which prevent free radical damage and has also been shown to prevent type II diabetes and lower blood pressure. Both are great additions to any type of cooking!

Source(s): Mayo Clinic, McCormick Science Institute

Muffins - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Ingredients: (Makes 12 muffins)
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup skim milk
3 bananas
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking powder


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Oil muffin tray or line tray with paper muffin cups.

Mix oats with skim milk and let soak while preparing other ingredients.

Peel and mash bananas, add brown sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and egg, mix well and add in rolled oats mixture. Sift whole wheat flour, baking powder and cinnamon in to a bowl and slowly add in to wet ingredients.

Spoon mixture in to paper cups (or well oiled muffin tray). You can sprinkle with cinnamon and additional brown sugar on the top of each muffin if you would like a little more texture and sweetness, but that’s optional.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool and serve! Can also be kept in a tight container and frozen for up to a month.

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