Archive for December, 2011
BISCOTTI DI PRATO
I began making biscotti about 14 years ago. I can’t quite remember what prompted me to start what quickly became a favorite holiday tradition but what I do vividly recall is my then 18 month old son intently watching me prepare the biscotti with his big, round eyes.
He would ride around the kitchen on my back in a little baby-backpack while I cooked… the making of the biscotti always seemed extra special for him. This very same son, who is now 6′ 2″, still asks me when we are going to make the Christmas biscotti. I love that. Even though there is no association with biscotti and the holidays in Italy, for me there always will be.
Making them is easy. You don’t have to be a real baker for success. This recipe is for the genuine and historically correct article and are very different from the Americanized version that are widely available now in many coffee shops. These biscotti are hard- really hard. They are always served with a sweet desert wine like Vin Santo or Aleatico so that they can be moistened before enjoying.
BISCOTTI DI PRATO (adapted from a recipe of Giuliano Bugialli*)
- 2 oz blanched almonds
- 6 oz unblanched almonds
- 4 cups unbleached flour (just get rid of all the bleached flour in your house)
- 2 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of saffron (but don’t be too stingy here)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg white beaten (for glazing the cookies)
Toast all the almonds in a 375 oven for 15 minutes. Combine 1 oz of each of the blanched and unblanched almonds and grind these finely. Chop the balance of the almonds into coarse pieces. Combine the remaining ingredients, adding the flour slowly. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Add all of the almonds and knead for another 2-4 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll the parts into logs that are about ¾ inch in diameter. Brush the dough with egg white. Bake for 20 minutes at 375. Remove and slice at 45 degree angles into pieces that are about 1-2” long. Bake for an additional 35-40 minutes at 275. The biscotti will be very dry and hard, and this is correct.
STORAGE; Wait until they are fully cooled before you store them. Keep them in a air-tight container.
TO ENJOY; I recommend the tradition Italian pairing of biscotti with some Vin Santo. Dip to moisten and then consume.
*FOOTNOTE; For those of you who are not familiar with Giuliano Bugialli, he was a ‘Celebrity Chef’ before the term was coined…(at least in my family). He is widely known for his knowledge about the histories of the Italian traditions. Bugialli not only provides direction for some amazingly delicious traditional Italian fare but the background of the regional specialties being prepared.
Sunday Best – Popovers & Oranges
There is something about the approach of the holidays that trips a switch in my brain. Or maybe it’s in my heart. It was always around this time of year that my father would make his Sunday morning special, Popovers and- get this- sliced oranges with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
Stop- don’t leave- don’t stop reading!! It’s not crazy- I promise (and it is certainly not a made up recipe just to find reasons for you to order more of our Bosca Tuscan Olio Nuovo- Olive oil pressed in the month of November from one vineyard in Tuscany and rushed here in first class seats… (OK- I did make up that last part)).
I know that it sounds weird. It is weird. Even in Italy it is anachronistic, but it is a real thing from the Rome area.
If you have not had these you have missed one of life’s great eating experiences. Popovers rise magically in the oven, with a golden brown top, and a consistency that brings to mind pudding, but is really in the bread zone. Add butter and a bit of jam– STRAWBERRY is the best, but take your pick.
Ingredients & Directions;
- 1 C flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 C milk
- 2 eggs
In a bowl, beat all ingredients together gently with a fork or hand rotary mixer. Beat JUST until mixed. Too much will reduce volume. Fill greased custard cups 1/2 full. Bake at 425 for 20 min then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 15 more minutes.
Now the Oranges…
With a sharp knife cut the top and bottom to expose the fruit, and then carefully slice off the rest of the skin. Slice the orange in to thin-ish slices. Arrange them as artfully as you can (you can probably do better than I) on a plate or platter and drizzle with olive oil and grind some fresh black pepper over the fruit.
Use really good oil that will stand up to the strong taste of the oranges, but don’t worry- the round, smooth taste/texture of the oil and the bright, acidy flavor of the oranges really do work together.
I promise you won’t be disappointed when you try it!