Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And a Happy New Year's Feast

For every action, as I unaccountably remember from high school science class (you see, Mr. Clarke, I was listening), there is an equal and opposite reaction. Which, roundly translated to life right now, means that plunged into expansive, hospitable holiday mood I issue to each and every one of my friends a warm invitation to lunch -- only to sit slumped, head in hands, as I wonder how I'm going to feed them and hold on to my sanity. This season is fraught with contradictions: it's a time when you feel friendly, want to see people, indeed want to sit eating and chatting with them, but what with having the children home from school needing to be entertained at all times and in the aftermath of frenzied, family-wrought Christmas activities, you do not always have the energy for the follow-through.
I have to applaud anyone with even the idea of a New Year's Day lunch in their planning. I do not have to worry about feeding all my friends on New Year's Day because I already know my plans for that day. I cook a New Year's Eve dinner of something luxurious for the family and then we play board games and watch movies until midnight. After which we sleep late and goof off all the next day ... except for making it to Mass which is a holy day of obligation celebrating Mary, the Mother of God.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Little Useless Information

The largest item on any menu in the world is probably the roast camel, sometimes served at Bedouin wedding feasts. The camel is stuffed with a sheep's carcass, which is stuffed with chickens, which are stuffed with fish, which are stuffed with eggs.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Today is Boxing Day

No, don't get the gloves out. If you have read as many old British mysteries as I have then you have come across Boxing Day. If not, then here's the scoop.
The tradition of Boxing Day began in 19th-century England under the reign of Queen Victoria, although the exact origin of its name is unclear. One theory connects it to the tradition of clergy opening the alms boxes on the day after Christmas to distribute money among the poor. Another suggests that the name came from the practice of merchants handing out boxes of food or clothing to their apprentices the day after Christmas as a sort of Victorian-era bonus. In any case, the tradition of charity remains at the heart of the holiday. It's celebrated each year on December 26 -- unless that date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case the holiday takes place on the following Monday.

Many modern Brits associate Boxing Day with yet another tradition -- Christmas leftovers and family gatherings. This custom, too, can be tied to Victorian England,when servants worked on Christmas and headed home to their families the following day with boxes of the upstairs family's leftovers
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Eating Tips

This was all over the internet last year but I haven't seen it around lately, so without further ado...
Holiday Eating Tips

  1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

  10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Strada a la Noel!

From my dear friend, Marcia. This looks so good! I notice that Marcia and I both make sure to have mimosas on Christmas morning. Do we know how to celebrate or what?

2 3/4 inch slices of baked ham (usually purchased from deli)
6 English muffins
1 can evaporated milk
1 can artichoke hearts drained
8 eggs
grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 bunch of chopped green onions....tops too!
minced taste

Butter 9 x 13 baking dish. Slice and quarter in dish.

Cut ham into 1/4 in. little squares and scatter over muffins, also the chopped green onions, chopped artichokes, and minced garlic.

Scramble eggs with milk and pour evenly over entire dish. Salt and pepper. Grind just a little nutmeg, or sprinkle regular ground, and finish with grated parmesan on top.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or for at least a few hours...I usually do this the morning before, then the next morning bake in a 375 oven for 45-60 min. uncover the last few for a little browning. Cut into squares. Enjoy!!!!

We have a few mimosas to accompany this dish...maybe that's why it is so good!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Separating the Sheep From the Goats

I have said all along that this is not a true cooking blog, being more of the back room for my main blog.

If I ever needed proof of that, all I had to do was read this rant excoriating food sections for using stock photography and praising food blogs for doing original photography. Whatever. Because original photography makes the blog credible? To me it's about the writing not the photos. I wouldn't care if food blogs never had photos frankly.

In fact this little bit may have been about this spot.
UPDATE: I now know of one food blog that also uses stock photographs. I won't mention their name or URL here. I will say that it's not one that get's mentioned a lot.
Very polite and nice not to name me, if so. And if this isn't that blog, well, then there are two people who don't care to take home photos of their food when a stock photo represents something just as well.

Here's the deal. It's very freeing having no street cred anyway with the food bloggers. So I use stock photography when I even remember to put up a photo. They're the sheep. I'm a goat. That's ok. They care. I surely don't.

Just another brick in the wall that means this is not a true cooking blog.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Makar Sankrat/Pongal

This January 14 Hindu holiday celebrates the new solar year, considered to be the beginning of the new day for the gods and the end of their six-month night. It is observed quite differently in each region and has a different name depending on where it's celebrated -- Pongal in the south of India and Makar Sankrat in the north. But most festivities include a common theme of ceremonial cleansings, offerings, and celebrations of the harvest, and food plays an important symbolic role.

Pongal, which means "to boil over," refers both to the concept of bounty and to the traditional dish of rice boiled in milk, which is given to the gods as an offering. Sesame seeds, or til, are looked upon as a symbol of health and friendship. Sweets made from sesame and jaggery -- a special kind of sugar -- are exchanged on the holiday along with the saying, "accept these sweets and speak sweet words." The tradition reminds people to resolve past quarrels so that friendship can thrive.
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Chocolate Mint-Filled Cookies

I cannot for the life of me remember where this recipe came from. I only know it is simple, a fantastic combination of chocolate and mint, and an easy way to make sandwich cookies. It has occurred to me that if I needed chocolate cookies for making a crumb pie crust and couldn't find those Nabisco cookies that these would be a good substitute.

Rose made these yesterday to add to our Christmas array.

Step 1:

2/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar

Cream butter and sugar.

Step 2:
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 egg
6 ounces melted semisweet chocolate

Add corn syrup and egg and blend. Add chocolate.

Step 3:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine flour, soda and salt and add, beating well. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or put in the freezer for 40 minutes.

Step 4:
1/3 cup sugar

Form dough into 1/2-inch balls (about 96) and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake an even number at a time, 12-15 minutes at 350.

Step 5:
48 chocolate covered 1-1/4-inch wide thin mint patties (we use York peppermint patties, sometimes whole, sometimes halved, depending on how accurate we are with the cookie size)

Remove half the cookies from the sheet. Put a mint patty on top, top with another, and press together firmly with spatula so the melting patty spreads. Cool on the rack. They become crisp and hard.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Happy Holidays in Iran: Shab-e Yalda

An interesting feature by Cooking Light featured other holidays held around this time of year. I was surprised to see many that I hadn't heard of so am going to share them with y'all here.
In Iran, the winter solstice, which falls on December 21, is hailed with Shab-e Yalda -- the birthday of the sun. It's a celebration of the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. It is thought that on the longest night with evil at its zenith, light needs help to overcome darkness, says Najmieh Batmanglij author of New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. Therefore, Shab-e Yalda is traditionally celebrated with the family building a bonfire outside and gathering around a brazier inside until sunrise. They entertain one another with dancing, poetry, and storytelling. Food also plays an integral part.

In Iranian culture, certain nutritional properties of foods are considered hot and others are considered cold (regardless of temperature or level of spice), much like Chinese yin or yang. Balance between the two is important. Summer foods are preserved throughout the year for the Shab-e Yalda feast, where they mingle with the foods of winter "to symbolize the balance of seasons," Batmanglij explains. Saffron and carrots, for example, are warm foods and are served during Shab-e Yalda to overcome the cold of winter.
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Holiday Eating Myths: #3

Myth: Great cooks and festive parties place our willpower at risk.

Reality: Research indicates that it's not the parties that prompt us to eat, but being around friends and family that may lead to diet missteps. In a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, researchers found that dining in a group causes the average person to eat 44 percent more calories than they normally would eating alone.

Strategy: Mindful eating is the key to maintaining your equilibrium during social situations ... try taking a smaller serving. Make a conscious effort to balance your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies, and a healthy portion -- about three to four ounces -- of protein .... Also take a second to look at every bite before you eat it. This psychological connection will help you keep a mental checklist of how much you're consuming.
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holiday Eating Myths: #2

Myth: Eat a lot of turkey and you'll be snoozing shortly.

Reality: Studies have linked L-tryptophan -- an essential amino acid found in cooked turkey -- to a feeling of sleepiness, but it's unlikely that eating turkey during the holidays will have a sedating effect... In order for L-tryptophan to cause sleepiness, research has shown that it needs to be eaten alone, on an empty stomach... The real reason a nap is so appealing after any big meal is the large amount of energy required to digest it...

Strategy: One way to avoid a post-meal energy drain is to approach a big dinner with an appetite that's in check. Avoid eating smaller-than-normal portions for breakfast and lunch, which may leave you feeling ravenous at dinner and prompt you to eat more than normal...
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005
This myth-buster has been all over the news lately. I think they are also forgetting the large amount of energy required to get the meal ready! Naturally, everyone needs a little nap later on.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Holiday Eating Myths: #1

Myth: Most people put on five to seven pounds during the holidays.

Reality: The average weight gain during the sis-week span from Thanksgiving to New Year's is just under one pound, according to a yearlong study of nearly 200 people published in The New England Journal of Medicine ... "The weight increase isn't dramatic -- but the research did reveal something significant -- study participants did not reverse their gains during the following months," says Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D. ... This has led obesity experts to speculate that the small weight gain from year to year, contributing to the more substantial gains many people experience as they age.

Strategy: ... Sneak in a little physical activity every day to burn off additional calories and benefit from the stress-reducing effects of exercise. Also remember, if you want to avoid overindulging with a food you really love, this is not the only time of year you can eat it.
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005

Christmas Ideas

Nothing is easier than giving a magazine subscription and often it is the introduction to new and enjoyable reading, as my husband found when his parents began giving him Invention and Technology.

I would recommend:
As Chow tells you themselves, they put the fun back into food. I have never cooked a recipe from this magazine but it is consistently entertaining and informative.

Fine Cooking's articles are all done by chefs, cookbook authors and the like. However, they still are very practical and useful. I particularly like when they will do a master recipe such as for baked pasta, giving a basic formula and then provide various examples as to how to change it up.

Cook's Illustrated is well known for testing every recipe over and over and over. Undeniably it does get good results. However, Christopher Kimball annoys the heck outta me and I really dislike their habit of putting extra recipes on their website with limited access. Most of the time by the time I get around to remembering to look for that great sounding variation the time limit has expired. However, it is a reliable publication. You can trust their recipes to do what they say.

Cooking Light really does have recipes that taste like good food while being healthier ... except that I always have to add more salt. Their editorial content has been getting better and better also. For example, the December issue had a feature about other cultures with holidays in December and it was fascinating because I hadn't heard of over half of them. They also had an article about the process they go through to get an issue ready, including recommendations for their preferred food publications. Now that's something you don't see every day.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Thought for Food

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C.S. Lewis

A Little Useless Information

Beethoven who was a coffee lover, was so particular about his coffee that he always counted 60 beans each cup when he prepared his brew.

Weekend Joke

Early one spring morning, Papa Mole decided to check out the sounds and smells of the new season. He traveled along his burrow until he could stick his head out and survey the area. It was such a beautiful morning, he quickly called to Mama Mole to come join him.

Papa Mole said, "It is such a beautiful spring morning. I hear the birds singing and I smell ... bacon ... yes, someone is frying! It smells so good."

Mama Mole said, "It is indeed a beautiful morning and ... why, yes ... I think I smell someone cooking pancakes. Yes, delicious buckwheat pancakes! Come quick, Baby Mole, you must experience these delectable sounds and smells!"

Baby Mole raced along the burrow but could not squeeze past his parents.

Mama said, "Do you smell those delicious smells of breakfast, Baby Mole? Doesn't it make you hungry and happy that spring is here?"

Baby Mole replied, somewhat disgruntled, his voice a bit muffled as he tried to squeeze past his parents again, "I wouldn't know. All I can smell is molasses!"

Friday, December 09, 2005


I just noticed the hits jumping and found out that my mother's Amaretti recipe was a winner in The Domestic Goddess' and Al Forno's Cookie Swap. Woohoo!

It is so nice of them to have hosted this swap and to give out a prize. That is the great thing about food blogs. They don't just award winners ... they have real, honest-to-goodness prizes! Very exciting!

Thanks to all who voted for it and I hope that you enjoy making those very easy cookies. I tried them yesterday using pecans and vanilla instead of almond extract and they were delicious that way also. So it is a versatile recipe too.

Pecan Butter Balls

Or as they are known at our house, Mexican Wedding Cakes, since my mother first made this cookie from a Mexican cookbook when I was young.

This version, another from our favorite, never-fail cookie book,
Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri, is the best I have ever had.

The only changes I made were to use the mixer for the entire process (Malgieri calls for mixing the flour and nuts in by hand) and to double-roll the cookies in powdered sugar; once when they come out of the oven and once when they are cool. Malgieri calls for rolling them only when they are cool. If you don't have a mixer, of course, all this can be done by hand.

Makes about 50 cookies

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water (or dark rum, bourbon, or brandy)
2 cups flour
8 ounces (about 2 cups) pecan pieces, finely chopped, but not ground
1 cup confectioners' sugar for finishing

2 cookie sheets or jelly roll covered with parchment or foil

Set a rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together on medium speed the butter, granulated sugar, and salt until soft and fairly light, about 3 minutes.

Beat in the vanilla and water and continue beating until smooth.

On low speed, mix in the flour and pecans just until the dough holds together.

Use a small ice cream or melon ball scoop to separate pieces of the dough for the cookies. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to make a ball and place on the baking pan leaving about an inch around each. They don't spread, but they do puff slightly. Repeat until all the dough has been used.

Another method is to roll pieces of the dough under the palms of your hands to make a cylinder about an inch thick. Cut off 3/4-inch pieces of the dough and roll as above.

Bake the cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are firm and golden. Cool on racks (this is when I roll in powdered sugar the first time and then put them on racks to cool).

After they are cold, sift the confectioners sugar into a shallow bowl and roll the cookies in it.

Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Getcha Hot Links Here

Here are the winners from The Dallas Morning News' annual Christmas cookie contest (free registration required). check out the Decadent Cookies, Bar Cookies (where the Heavenly Apricot Cobbler Bars and the Chocolate Topped Rum Bars caught my eye), Family Recipes, Easy Cookies (here the Nutella Nuggets and Choco-licks caught my interest), and Decorated Cookies.

If you're from Dallas, that's all you need to hear to head down to the rebuilt Jimmy's Place where it's better than ever.

Best Wine Book Ever says SlashFood.
Stocking Stuffers recommended by Cook's Illustrated (via SlashFood).
Food Markers are food coloring in a marker for those decorating moments that require a fine touch.

What the heck is breadfruit anyway? I remember reading all about it in the Nordhoff and Hall books about the mutiny on the HMS Bounty but never knew anything about it. Melissa De Leon has the scoop.

Chicken With Fresh Mushrooms

From my favorite Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo, this is a light stir-fry that goes well over rice. I had thought of making Moo Goo Gai Pan since I had chicken breasts and mushrooms to hand but it turned out that I didn't have enough other ingredients to make me page through the book for options. I'm glad I did. This simple dish was delicious. I made the variation with broccoli stems.

I didn't have time to let the chicken sit for the requisite half hour for velveting but knew that the recipe would need the chicken to be mostly cooked. I simply brought a few cups of water to a boil and dropped the chicken slices in. They turned white almost immediately and I emptied the pot into a strainer. Although not as soft as the velveted chicken would have been, they were just fine.

1 pound sliced chicken breast, velveted
1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
4 tablespoons oil
2 quarter-sized slices peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons chicken stock or water
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Velvet the sliced chicken breast. Rinse and drain the sliced bamboo shoots. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel (I wash them with a soft brush under running water); dry and slice them.

Heat a work or large, heavy skillet over high heat until hot; add 2 tablespoons of the oil, swirl, and heat for 30 seconds. Scatter in the bamboo shoots and stir rapidly for about 1 minute to evaporate their moisture and eliminate the canned odor -- lower the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove to a plate.

Dry the pan, add the 2 remaining tablespoons oil, swirl, and heat over dry heat until hot. Toss in the ginger slices and press them against the pan. Add the mushrooms and stir and flip them rapidly for about 30 seconds, until their color brightens. Add the bamboo shoots and the salt and stir briskly with the mushrooms for 1 minute. Then add the chicken and stir to mingle well; add the soy sauce and stir briskly to season evenly. Pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir until the contents are smoothly coated. Add the sesame oil, flip the contents a few times, and pour into a hot serving dish.

Instead of fresh mushrooms, well-drained canned button or straw mushrooms may be substituted. And instead of bamboo shoots you could use fresh snow peas or peeled broccoli stems to give some green color to the dish.

If you use snow peas, string and rinse them briefly. Dip them in boiling water for 10 seconds and drain. Use 3 tablespoons oil to stir-fry the mushrooms; then add the snow peas.

If you use broccoli stems, peel and cut them on the slant into thin slices. Add them when the bamboo shoots would have been added.

Master Recipe for Velveting Chicken

This is from my favorite Chinese cookbook, the Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo (my review). Velveting ensures not only tenderness but also imparts a velvety texture to meat, chicken and seafood. Kuo is the only person I have seen consistently mention that you can velvet in water as well as oil. I usually velvet in water. If you have time to do it,velveting makes an amazing difference in texture.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into the size and shape needed for your recipe

Velvet coating:

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon oil

2 cups oil

Put the cut meat into a bowl, add the salt and sherry, and stir. Beat the egg white only until the gel is completely broken -- it should not be frothy, lest the coating to puff and disintegrate upon cooking. Add this to the chicken, sprinkle in the cornstarch, and mix well. Add the tablespoon of oil and stir until smooth. Let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so that the coating has time to adhere to the meat.

Velveting in Oil
Just before velveting the chicken, assemble everything you need: a wok or deep skillet on the stove, a strainer set over a small pot, and a pair of chopsticks, wooden spoon, or spatula. Do not use sharp implements such as a fork for turning the meat in the oil.

Heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat until very hot; then turned to medium, add 2 cups oil, and heat for about 40 seconds until it is very warm, about 275 degrees, or until it foams a cube of bread or piece of scallion very slowly. Give the coated chicken a big stir and scatter in the pieces; quickly but gently stir them to separate them. The oil should cover every piece. Lower the heat immediately if the chicken begins to sizzle; hot oil will make velveted chicken yellow and hard.

When the meat turns white, which takes about 30 to 45 seconds only, immediately pour both oil and chicken into the strainer, reserving the oil. The chicken is now velveted, ready to be stir-fried. When the oil is cool, strain and rebottle it.

Velveting can be done well before the stir-frying. If you are going to use the chicken in an hour or so, do it in oil as above; do not refrigerate the chicken, however, or it will harden. If you do want to refrigerate or freeze velveted chicken, you must use water instead of oil.

Velveting in Water
Bring 1 quart water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon oil to "grease the liquid," and then lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Scatter in the chicken, stir to separate, and keep stirring gently until the coating turns white. Then immediately pour into the strainer to drain.

As the name "velveting" implies, the coating is white and fluffy and the meat is as soft as velvet. While the oil method gives the meat a firmer texture, the water method produces a softer coating. In either case, the meat is on the verge of being fully cooked, which is the ideal for the process of stir-frying.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

From our favorite, never-fail cookie book, Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri. I made these delicious, chocolate packed cookies yesterday to freeze for Christmas.

These are a snap except for one bit ... when you are mixing the egg mixture with the flour mixture about halfway through you begin to think that you will never be able to do it. There really is very little liquid to mix in, but if you keep working at it all the ingredients gradually become incorporated.

Also, I know the different chocolates are "added for a subtle richness" but ... since I am lazy and don't care about those subtleties ... I use a 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. And they are still quite delicious.

Makes about 60 biscotti
(I have never gotten more than 40)

1-3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1-1/4 sugar
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 ounces milk chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cookie sheets or jelly roll covered with parchment or foil

Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; stir well to mix. Stir in the sugar and chocolates.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla and using a large rubber spatula stir the eggs into the flour mixture to form a dough.

On a lightly floured surface, press the dough together -- it will be sticky. Flour your hands and the surface lightly, but do not add any more flour to the dough. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log the length of your pan (14 to 18 inches). Place the logs on a pan, making sure they are not too close to each other or to the sides of the pan. Press down gently with the palm of your hand to flatten the logs. (Use a dry brush to remove excess flour if necessary.) Bake for about 30 minutes until they are well risen and have also spread to about double in size. The logs are done when, pressed with a fingertip, they feel firm. Cool the logs on the pan.

Reset the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the baked logs diagonally about every 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Return the biscotti to the pans, cut side down, and bake up to 20 minutes longer, or until the biscotti are dry and crisp.

Cool on a rack.

Store the cooled biscotti between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight fitting cover.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cookie Swaps and Secret Cookbook Santas

Find these in today's Blogging Around over at my other place.

Weekend Joke

Did you hear that in New York the Stop and Shop grocery chain merged with the A&P?

Now it's called the Stop & P.

Thought for Food

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
M. F. K. Fisher

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cranberry Nut Bread

We had this every Christmas when I was growing up. Somehow it is a bit different (and, of course, I would say better) than the usual cranberry bread one finds. I haven't made it for years because of the general lack of interest in cranberries around my household ... but I may try it this year and just freeze slices for myself.

Step 1:
2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
1 cup sugar
¼ cup shortening

Sift all together. Cut in shortening.

Step 2:
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup orange juice
2 cups cranberries
¹⁄₃ cup chopped nuts

Add eggs and juice, stirring only until mixed. Add nuts and cranberries.

Bake at 350° for 1¼ hours. Cool well before removing from pan. Let stand overnight before slicing. Very crumbly. Be careful slicing.

Classic Christmas Candy

You can't go wrong with Hammonds Candies. Begun in Denver in 1920 they've been making candy the old fashoned way ever since. I usually have an order of candy canes in the very least coming from them at Christmas. It really is some of the best candy ever and worth the price.

Thought for Food

Is there no Latin word for Tea? Upon my soul, if I had known that I would have let the vulgar stuff alone.
Hilaire Belloc

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Is Nothing Sacred Any More?

I guess we all know the answer to that. But I am so naive that I was shocked when I saw this at a site that specializes in Chocolate Deities. Via Slashfood.