Nonna’s Biscotti

biscottiPassed on from one nonna to the next, this biscotti recipe perfectly balances the sweet with the savory and the softness with the crunch. The resulting treats make the perfect accompaniment to an espresso, something Italians drink from 11am-on into the afternoon and evening.

Yield

About three dozen cookies

Ingredients

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 C brown sugar

1 C white sugar

zest of one orange

1 t almond extract

1 t vanilla extract

1 t orange extract

4 C white flour

2 t baking powder

2 C almonds, lightly toasted and chopped coarsely

1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

pinch of salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Beat the eggs with mixer to medium fluff (no peaks). With the mixer running on low, add the oil, sugar, zest, and extracts. Slowly add the other dry ingredients while continuing to beat on low.

Turn the resulting dough out onto a flat surface, adding additional flour if it’s sticking.

Separate the dough into six even parts, then roll each one out into a log. Flatten each log into a slightly oblique shape about a foot long and two inches wide.

Transfer onto two cookie sheets, three logs per sheet, and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, removing when golden brown.

Allow to cool enough to be handled with bare hands, but while still fairly hot, cut the logs on the diagonal into even pieces about 3/4″ wide.

Now, lay each cookie on its cut side and bake again at 350° for about six minutes, only until golden brown. Then flip and repeat for another six minutes. Transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack when finished.

In an airtight container, the biscotti will last at least a  week, but Nonna Bucchere says they’ll be long gone before any chance of spoilage.

Italian Beet Salad

For this week’s peek into the Bucchere Family “cookbook,” I’ve adapted and hybridized both my grandmothers’ recipes to create this simple, refreshing beet salad. I often serve it with other simple things like sandwiches but, with its mild sweetness, it also serves as a great accompaniment to a savory meat or fish course.

Golden Beet Salad with fresh oregano from my deckGolden beet salad with fresh oregano from my deck

Yield

2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 lb of fresh yellow or red beets (but not both together, because the colors bleed when they touch)

A few sprigs of fresh oregano, stems removed and leaves chopped

2-3 T of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 oz of goat cheese (optional)

Instructions

Wash the beets, but do not peel them. Drop them into boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. You can roast them instead in a jellyroll pan at 400° for 10-20 minutes (again with skin on). I’ve found that how you cook the beets doesn’t change the taste of this dish, so it’s entirely up to you.

Once cooked, let the hot beets rest for another 10 minutes (or so) until they’re no longer too hot to touch. At this point, the skins should just fall off. Once you’ve removed all the skin, slice the beets up into bite-size chunks and place them in a serving dish. Add the olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to coat.

And . . . you’re done.

The dish can be served as is at room temperature or allowed to chill for up to three days in the fridge.

Optionally, you can crumble goat cheese on top. If you do, wait until right before serving. Unless you like pink goat cheese, that is.