Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti

This recipe came to me from my friend Joe, via a friend of his. The recipe was originally from Gourmet magazine, but I upped the cheese content a bit to compensate for using a milder American produced parmesan, rather than delicious but spendy improted Parmigiano.
1 1/2 T whole black peppercorns, ground in pepper or spice grinder
4 c flour ( plus some for the board)
2 t baking powder
2 t salt
6 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (1/4 c reserved)
3/4 c cold unsalted butter, cubed
4 large eggs
1 c whole milk

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir flour, baking powder, salt, cheese, and pepper in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat 3 eggs with milk, stir into flour mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured bread board and divide dough into 4 pieces. Flour hands and form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log about 3/4 inch high. Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets.

Beat remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

Yum.  Great with a white bean purée.

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Almond Toffee

Almond Toffee

2 1/2 c whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 T light corn syrup
1/2 t sea salt
1 t vanilla
8 oz. Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips

Finely chop 1/2 cup of the almonds and reserve.

 

Lightly oil a 15” x 10” jelly roll pan (I used non-stick foil).

In a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan combine butter, corn syrup and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally as sugar dissolves. Boil, stirring occasionally, until thermometer registers 300°F, or until the mixture is the color of dark peanut butter. Quickly stir in almonds and immediately pour mixture into baking pan. With a spatula quickly spread toffee in an even layer.

Let mixture stand 1 minute (it will still be very hot) and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Let chips melt and with spatula spread chocolate evenly over toffee. Quickly sprinkle reserved finely chopped almonds evenly over chocolate. Allow to cool, then chill toffee until chocolate is firm, at least 2 hours, and up to 2 weeks, covering tightly after 2 hours. Break toffee into bite-size pieces and keep chilled to prevent chocolate from melting.

Alternately, allow toffee to cool. Melt chips, reserving a few to add once all the chocolate has melted (to help the chocolate re-firm). Stir in the reserved chips until melted, then spread on toffee with a spatula. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and allow to cool. Break into pieces and store out of the tempting line of sight!

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds

Christmas Cookies part 2

The ginger cookies were a bit fussy to make, requiring a saucepan to heat the brown sugar, molasses and spices together, but are very good, and the dough is very easy to work with, although I was initially concerned with would be sticky. The only change I might make is to add 1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper, or up the ginger a bit, but they are pretty good as is!

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 T ground ginger
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground allspice
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 c unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt

Bring molasses, brown sugar, and spices to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up), then stir in butter 3 pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next, until all butter is melted. Add egg and stir until combined, then stir in 3 3/4 cups flour and salt.  Preheat oven to 325°F.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Halve dough, then wrap 1 half in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Roll out remaining dough into a 14-inch round (1/8 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies and transfer to baking sheets.

Bake cookies until edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes total.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

These sugar cookies are my favorite for decorating cookies, but of course I love citrus as a flavoring.

Citrus Sugar Cookies

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt (scant)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 1/4 t lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 t orange zest
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl; set aside. Beat butter and zest in large bowl until light. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients and stir until soft dough forms. Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll out one disk of dough on well-floured surface to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cookies and bake on ungreased cookie sheets until cookies turn brown on edges, about 15 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Frost with my favorite Citrus Frosting.

Christmas Cookies

This is Mrs. Barbarossa’s recipe for Christmas Cookies. These are Dan’s favorite cookie, Italian cookies, so-called because as a kid, his family was good friends with an Italian family, the Barbarossas.  It makes a HUGE batch….

ITALIAN COOKIES

8 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
4 t baking powder
9 eggs
1 lb of Crisco*

Cream the Crisco and sugar. Add eggs, beating after each egg. Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing well. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Roll out about 1/2” thick. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  Cool, and frost with Citrus Icing or Royal Icing.

*I’m not a Crisco fan but in these cookies, butter does not substitute well.  I’ve tried.  Sigh.

CITRUS ICING

This recipe makes about three cups of icing.

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup milk
6 to 8 cups powdered sugar

Assorted food colorings (the gel colorings work best)

Combine lemon juice and milk in large bowl. Whisk in 5 cups powdered sugar. Gradually whisk in enough remaining sugar by 1/2 cupfuls to form icing stiff enough to pipe (mixture will resemble stirred sour cream).

Divide remaining icing into zip-loc sandwich bags, one bag for each desired color; mix food coloring by drops into each bag, tinting icing to desired shade. Carefully knead bag to mix. To decorate, cut a tiny bit off the corner of the bag, and squeeze frosting through.

As I’m making the cookies tomorrow, I made the Italian Cookie dough tonight, as it needs to chill thoroughly for best cookie cutting. This year, made with our own Henbogle eggs, the dough is much more yellow than it has been in the past… I wonder what the cookies will look like when baked?

Broccoli deliciousness

Cream of Broccoli Soup

This makes a big pot of thick, delicious soup.  It’s a great way to use up some cream left over from other cooking projects.  It is loosely based on Molie Katzen’s Cream of Broccoli Soup recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook.

2-3 T butter
1 large onion, diced finely
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
10 c chopped broccoli (peel & slice stems if using, reserve some small florets for the finished soup)
1-2 c water or broth of choice
2 +/- c milk or cream
½ t thyme
2 bay leaves
2 t dried parsley
dash or tamari or soy sauce
ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in large soup pot.  Add onions and bay leaves to pot and sautee onions gently in melted butter until softened.  Add celery and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.   Add broccoli and enough water or broth to almost cover the broccoli –don’t forget to reserve some of the florets.

Cook broccoli until tender.  Remove bay leaves.  Blend until very smooth.  Return pot to heat, add thyme, parsley, tamari.  Add broccoli florets, cook until just tender.  Add 2 cups of milk or cream.  Heat to just below boiling, remove from heat.  Adjust amount of milk or broth to suit your taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious add-ins:

Shredded cheddar cheese, added when the cream is hot.
Shredded carrots and/or diced sweet red pepper, added with the broccoli florets.
Sub leeks for the onion.  Oh. my.
Sneak in some shredded zucchini to add subtle vegetable flavor and body.
A dash of your favorite hot sauce for some subtle background warmth
A bit of buttermilk with the cream or milk
A dollop of sour cream or yogurt when serving