All Posts By: NANCY DeLUCIA REAL

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Nancy’s Lebkuchen (German Spice Cookies)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On December 12, 2017 0 Comments

Lebkuchen are sweet, spicy cookies that pop up during Christmastime. These cookies derive from a honey cake dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Today’s lebkuchen were invented by monks in 13th-century Franconia, Germany. Image.Lebkuchner1520WikipediaA Lebküchner from a manuscript c. 1520, in the Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg

Although lebkuchen are baked in a variety of shapes, round is most common. These cookies are made with honey, molasses and spices, including nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts) or candied fruit. They are then frosted with a lemon glaze and decorated in a festive manner.

The coolest thing about my recipe is that it contains no white sugar & you can prepare the dough a day ahead and refrigerate it. The next day, just cut and bake! Enjoy the lebkuchen with coffee, tea or eggnog during the Holidays!

Note: Lebkuchen in photograph are made without almonds and candied fruit.

Active Prep time: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep time: 2 hours to overnight (refrigeration of dough)
Bake time: 12 to 14 minutes
Makes: 20 cookies

Ingredients for the Cookies:
3-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1/2 cup candied fruit, finely chopped (optional)
vegetable oil, to coat dough prior to refrigeration

Ingredients for the Lemon Glaze:
1 large egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions for the Cookies:
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, brown sugar, molasses, butter. If using the almonds and candied fruit, stir them into batter and beat together.

3. On a lightly-floured board or surface, gather the dough into a smooth ball and dust off the excess flour.

4. Lightly oil the dough, cover and seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate it from 2 hours to overnight.

5. After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 400°F.

6. Grease and flour two baking sheets measuring 12 X 18 inches. Alternatively, line the sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

7. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to 1-4-inch thickness.

8. Using a 2-inch, round cookie cutter (or other shape), cut out rounds from the dough. If you do not have a cookie cutter, use the rim of a glass, turned upside down.

9. Place the cut rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spaced 1-1/2 inches apart.

10. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until firm to the touch.

11. After 12 minutes if lebkuchen are too soft, bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

12. Cool lebkuchen to room temperature.

Directions for the Lemon Glaze:
1. In a small bowl, stir together the beaten egg white and lemon juice.

2. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.

3. Lightly brush the glaze over lebkuchen and immediately decorate with green and red crystal sugars.
Text & Green/Red Lebkuchen Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Roasted Butternut Squash, Parsnips & Shishito Peppers

In Meats On November 21, 2017 0 Comments

This side dish of roasted butternut squash, parsnips and shishitos is perfect for Turkey Day!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
12 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large parsnips, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
8 Shishito peppers, sliced lengthwise, seeds discarded & flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together.

3. Transfer tossed ingredients to a 16 X 12-inch rectangular baking pan.

4. Bake/roast for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes, toss all ingredients.

6. Place roasting pan with ingredients 6 inches away from top oven broiler element.

7. Broil for approximately 5 minutes or until roasted vegetables look golden brown.

8. Serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Organic Homemade Ketchup

In Meats On November 7, 2017 0 Comments

Lately, I’ve been craving ketchup – without Monsanto corn syrup and other artificial ingredients.

Here’s my organic, homemade ketchup – you won’t believe how DELICIOUS this is!

The gourmet flavors of this ketchup depends on high-quality tomatoes. I use Bionaturae Organic Strained Tomatoes (available at Wholefoods, Bristol Farms & Gelson’s supermarkets):
Image.TomatoesOrganic

Yield: 2 cups ketchup

Ingredients:
24 ounces Bionaturae® or Mutti® Organic Strained Tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup organic agave nectar
1/2 cup organic, pure maple syrup
3/4 cup distilled, white vinegar
1/2 brown or white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, heart removed & discarded & flesh finely minced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Pour ground tomatoes into a crockpot.

2. Swirl 1/2 cup water in empty tomato container and pour the mixed liquid into crockpot.

3. Add agave nectar, maple syrup, vinegar, onion, garlic, salt, mustard powder and cayenne pepper.

4. Whisk all ingredients to combine.

5. Cook on high, uncovered, until mixture is reduced by half and very thick, 8 to 10 hours.

6. Stir every hour or so.

7. Let ketchup cool to room temperature.

8. When ketchup has cooled, it will be thick with small bits of cooked onion running throughout mixture. If a smoother consistency is desired, transfer ketchup to a blender and puree about 20 seconds.

9. Transfer ketchup to a 2-cup jar. Seal jar tightly and refrigerate up to 4 weeks.

10. Use ketchup as needed.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Spider-Web Biscotti

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On October 16, 2017 0 Comments

Biscotti (Italian, for “twice-baked) are Italian cookies that are baked as logs on a cookie sheet. After cooling, they are cut and baked once more – this makes them dry and crunchy.

Make these Spider-Web Biscotti by frosting them with swirly lines. Kids of all ages will love’em. Happy Halloween!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes: 22 to 24 biscotti

Ingredients for the Biscotti:
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Cocoa® preferred)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Dash ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsweetened butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup roasted, slivered almonds (optional)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for the Orange Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
4 drops yellow food color
1 to 2 drops red food color

Preheat Oven & Prepare the Cookie Dough:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Line one 18 X 12 baking sheet with parchment paper. Alternatively, butter the baking sheet, add 1 tablespoon flour; shake off excess flour and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract; stir in the almonds and chocolate chips.

6. Gradually (a little at a time) beat in the flour mixture until all ingredients are amalgamated or uniform.

7. Shape dough into one ball. Divide the ball in two smaller balls.

8. On a lightly-floured surface, gently roll out one ball until it forms a log, measuring 14 inches long by 1-3/4 inches wide.

9. Gently lift and place the log on the baking sheet – about 1 inch from the long edge (this ensures that there is room for the next log).

10. Repeat rolling instructions for the remaining log and place it about 3 inches away from the first log.

Bake the Cookie Logs:

1. Place the baking sheet on a rack positioned in center of oven.

2. Bake the cookie logs for 25 to 30 minutes or until they spring to the touch.

3. When cookie logs have baked, transfer the cookie sheets to a rack or a counter.

4. Leave cookie logs on sheets to cool for 5 minutes.

Cut & Bake the Biscotti:
1. After 5 minutes, gently transfer one cookie log on a cutting board.

2. Using a serrated knife, cut DOWN into the log in this manner: You will cut 3/4-inch wide biscotti by positioning the point of the knife at top edge of the log.

3. In one motion, bring the knife down and cut through the log.

3. Cut the remaining biscotti into 3/4-wide slices.

4. Carefully place the biscotti, cut-side down on the baking sheet.

5. Bake 5 minutes per side. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside on a counter – let biscotti cool completely.

Prepare Frosting & Decorate the Biscotti:
1. In a 3-cup mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the water. If the mixture is too dry, add about 1/2 teaspoon more water. It should not be too runny nor too hard.

2. Add the food color – you may need to adjust the tone by adding 1 more drop yellow or red food color.

3. Transfer the orange frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip.

4. Lay out the cooled biscotti on a baking sheet and drizzle the frosting over each one, creating a web-like pattern.

5. Serve biscotti immediately or store them in a tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Tagliatelle Bolognese

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On September 16, 2017 0 Comments

It’s time to forget our summer salads and make great comfort food – try Tagliatelle Bolognese!

Prep time: 30 minutes (Bolognese Sauce) & 10 minutes (Tagliatelle)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white or brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & carrot finely chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled & stalk finely chopped
1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground, dark turkey meat
1 cup white wine
One 32-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes (pureed in a blender)
2 bay leaves
Dash grated nutmeg
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon granulated sugar or agave nectar
1 pound tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta variety
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions:
1. In a 6-quart saucepot, heat the oil.

2. When oil is hot, add the chopped onion, carrot and celery.

3. Stir-fry on medium high heat for about 2 minutes or until onion is translucent.

4. When onion is translucent, add the ground turkey meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

5. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until meat has turned gray -stir occasionally.

6. When meat has turned gray, stir in the wine & cook for an additional 5 minutes or until wine has almost evaporated in its entirety – you should see some liquid at bottom of saucepot.

7. After wine has evaporated, stir in the pureed, peeled tomates, bay leaves & nutmeg.

8. Cook/simmer the Bolognese sauce on medium heat for about 20 minutes – stir occasionally.

9. After 20 minutes, add salt and ground black pepper, to taste.

10. Cook for an additional 3 minutes and then taste the sauce. If it tastes acidy, add the sugar or agave nectar. Taste the sauce again. Adjust seasonings, to taste.

Prepare the Tagliatelle & Serve:
1. Bring a 4-quart sauce pot of water to a boil.

2. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water and 1 teaspoon salt.

3. Cook on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is “al dente” (crunchy-tender).

4. Drain the pasta in a colander; return fettuccine to the sauce pot.

5. Gently stir desired amount of Bolognese sauce into the tagliatelle.

6. Immediately serve the tagliatelle in individual portions and top with a half-ladle of Bolognese sauce.

7. Ask guests to add their own grated cheese to the tagliatelle.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real