Yield: 3 dozen cookies
2¼ cups blanched whole almonds, plus more for garnishing
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
15 glazed cherries or other fruit
Lightly oil two large baking sheets; line with parchment paper. In food processor, combine almonds and 1/3 cup sugar. Process until finely ground, scraping down sides once or twice. Set aside. In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and gradually add remaining sugar. Return speed to high; beat mixture until stiff, shiny peaks form. Gently fold in ground almond mixture; add almond and vanilla extracts. Roll mixture into one-inch balls, place two inches apart on baking sheets; flatten slightly. Top each with cherry or almond. Bake in 350°F oven until cookies are golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes; transfer to racks to cool completely. Store, wrapped in walk-in for several days or freeze up to three weeks. For service, re-crisp in warm oven.
Cook’s note: For Amarettini cookies (mini versions), make into ½-inch balls; reduce cooking time to 15 minutes.
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Bruschetta
Yield: about 30 bruschetta (scale up in direct proportion)
4 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained of liquid
2 cups of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried (use paper toweling) and torn
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 large French or Italian baguettes, sliced about 1-inch thick to make 30 pieces
6 cloves (about) garlic, peeled
1 ½ pounds fresh mozzarella (fior de latte), sliced a little less than ¼-inch thick
Put the tomatoes in a large bowl. Crush by hand to create a rough puree. Drain off any excess water. Add the torn basil, the olive oil, salt and pepper (can be prepped well ahead and held).
On a baking sheet, arrange the slices of bread. Toast the bread in the oven until golden brown. Rub some of each of the garlic cloves on the toasted side of the bread.
Lay a thin slice of mozzarella on each slice of bread. Spread some of the tomato/basil mixture over the mozzarella. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
To speed up the process or for a volume situation, slice a baguette or small loaf of Italian or French bread through the middle (horizontally) to form two long pieces. Toast or grill each piece, rub with garlic cloves and set aside. Brush each piece with olive oil. Set aside. To order, top each long slice with tomato/basil/cheese. Cut into individual serving portions (about 2 inches by 2 inches).
Artichoke and Smoked Bacon Pizza
Recipe courtesy of The Loop Pizza Grill
8-inch dough ball
1/3 ounce pesto
1 tablespoon Parmesan/Romano cheese blend
¾ cup mozzarella
7 Roma tomato slices
1/8 cup smoked bacon, cooked and diced
1/8 cup Portobello and white mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
¼ cup quartered artichoke hearts
1/8 cup Kalamata olives
1/8 cup roasted fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper blend
½ teaspoon basil chiffonade
Roll out dough ball. Top with pesto and all ingredients listed above except for basil.
Bake in a 550 F degree conveyor oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
Top with basil. Serve.
Yield: 4 servings
1¾ cups heavy cream, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter?
8 ½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese?
1 teaspoon kosher salt?
Cracked black pepper to taste?
Combine 1¼ cups cream with the butter in a large sauté pan. Heat over a low flame, whisking until the butter melts and the cream comes to a slow simmer. Remove the pan from the heat. Boil the pasta until slightly undercooked (it will continue to cook while you finish the sauce). ?Drain the pasta and add it to the pan (do not rinse it). Add the remaining ingredients. Heat the pasta and sauce over a low flame, tossing gently, until the cheese melts and incorporates into the sauce and the sauce thickens, about 1-2 minutes. If holding, right before service, add a touch more cream to loosen.
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