Nutty Bitters Biscotti

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Cravings: eager desire or yearning.

We all have them, food addictions or cravings.

Some cravings are constant. For example, I can’t see tiramisu without my mouth-watering and I can think of nothing else until I have some. So why torment myself? And I crave my coffee in the morning. Without it, I’m useless.

Some cravings come and go. Like a favorite dish at a restaurant or ice cream during the warm summer months. Maybe it’s some weird food during a pregnancy or perhaps it’s the undeniable urge for salty snacks.

Maybe it’s not what you eat but when you eat. Maybe late-night food cravings drive you to pillage through the cupboards while everyone else is asleep.

Right now we are addicted to Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts, from Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all.

These nuts are amazing, best served warm, and the entire four cups never last more than two days in our house. I fear we may all actually turn into nuts at the rate we are shoveling these into our mouths, just like Burger Boy who will only eat burgers, eventually turns into a burger, and is chased all over town by people who want to eat him. I wonder who would want to eat us if we turned into nuts? We have plenty of squirrels in the backyard…I think that is a children’s book just waiting to be written.

While these nuts taste good on their own, we thought they might taste just as good in biscotti spiced with some additional Bitters and rosemary. We were right!

Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

4 cups unsalted and raw nuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, and walnuts

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (We used dried rosemary, cut and sifted.)

1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (We used only half this amount to keep it tolerable for the kids.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Angostura bitters

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

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1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes (shake the nuts around on the pan halfway through.)

3. Combine the brown sugar, butter, rosemary, cayenne, cinnamon, honey and bitters in a large bowl.

4. Add the nuts to the bowl and mix thoroughly so they’re nicely coated.

5. Add the salt and mix again.

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Nutty Bitters Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

1  ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons dried rosemary, cut and sifted

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon Bitters

1 teaspoon Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and rosemary.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and Bitters.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends # 83: Keep them in a bag, close at hand, and hide them to satisfy your next craving!

Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti

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“Fuhgeddaboudit!” A phrase that is most commonly associated with a dialect spoken by Italians in New Jersey and New York.  According to the Urban Dictionary online, fuhgeddaboudit obviously means to “forget about it – the issue is not worth the time, energy, mental effort, or emotional resources” or “the subject is unequivocally excellent; further thought and analysis are unnecessary.”

The characters in The Sopranos are known for a “fuhgeddaboudit” or two. You can go online to order t-shirts and hats. And there is even a New Jersey Style Deli called Fuhgeddaboudit.

As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I think if she had inserted a “fuhgeddaboudit” or two in that quote it may have had wider appeal. These Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti make us feel free to experiment and throw caution to the wind.

Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti are a tradition in our house. Our son and daughter each pick two ingredients from the Biscotti Bin and then we fuhgeddaboudit! We never really know how they are going to turn out, but that is half the fun. A true experiment in creativity.

For our latest version of our Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti, our daughter picked peanut butter baking bits and banana chips. Our son choose roasted almonds and sassafras hard candies. Interesting combination right? But that’s the fun of it. No recipe, no set of ingredients, and no inspiration, other than the choices they make themselves. While we enjoy making these, the kids may enjoy practicing “fuhgeddaboudit” in their best Italian accent even more.

While you may not have all the ingredients to make our latest Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti, create your own! And don’t forget to practice your “fuhgeddaboudit!”

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Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ packed brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup banana chips, crushed

½ cup whole roasted almonds

10 hard sassafras candies, crushed

¼ cup peanut butter baking chips

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites and vanilla extract.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the banana chips, almonds, sassafras candies, and peanut butter baking chips. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #82: “Fugeddaboudit!”

 

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

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“Mom, what are butt boosting jeans?” The first of many questions that our kids asked me as we found ourselves lost in the Bronx. There were countless others that followed throughout our time in New York.

“Why does she have ‘I heart NY’ on her butt?”

“How does he get his hair to stick straight up like that?”

And perhaps my favorite I overheard in the back seat. ”WOW! Look at that cool playground.” To which our daughter replied, “Buddy, that’s not a playground. That’s a fire escape.”

These little conversations are important ones, the ones we’ll remember and laugh at for years to come. I often find myself wishing I carried a tape recorder or wrote down their words more often than I do.  Yet, seeing things or a place through a child’s eye makes me realize how much of our understanding of the world we take for granted.

We posed for pictures in Grand Central Station, saw the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, rode the Staten Island Ferry, browsed the books at The Strand, grazed the food trucks parked on Union Square, and spent plenty of time on the subway, which also provided plenty of opportunities for questions.

“What if someone gets sick on the subway? Do they have doctor’s down here?”

“What if I fall through that hole?”

And after hearing the public announcement about reporting sexual assaults witnessed or experienced on the train, our daughter turns to me and asks, “What’s an assault?”  The women next to me, who had been listening to their barrage of questions, smiled and says,” I want to hear you explain that one.”

So I explained that assault is very similar to being bullied. If you see someone being bullied or see someone getting hurt, you should always tell an adult. The same thing is true on the train.

The women next to me smiled again and offered up a “very well done,” which gave me a boost of confidence to get through the remainder of the day and know that I could safely return us to our beds that night, unscathed but with stories to tell. Now that I’d answered those questions, I only had to worry about getting us all off the train without one of them dropping through that little hole between the train and the platform that they each found so fascinating.

The little things like the silly putty that our friends gave us during our visit (thanks Patrick!), which kept the kids occupied for hours but are now a petri dish for every conceivable germ known to man, or our new favorite road tripping song, “Say Hey (I Love you)” by Michael Franti & Spearhead, which our son is still singing to himself, surely made the trip memorable.

The little things are important. Little things like almonds for example. Have I mentioned I love almonds? They are my comfort food of sorts. So after a long few days on the road, I was happy to find myself alone in the kitchen and whipped up one of my favorite combinations, Amaretto Almond Biscotti. It’s a classic combination and won’t disappoint!

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 1 egg white

1 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup Amaretto

½ cup whole almonds

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, almond extract, and Amaretto.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the almonds. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #80: Pretend the ends are microphones while singing along on your next roadtrip.

 

Lemon Dill Biscotti with Almonds

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A work in progress. That is how I often describe us and the myriad of unfinished projects we have around the house. Whether it’s a home improvement project, a decorating project, or some kind of craft project, you can generally find us in the middle of something. We are either contemplating how to finish it, evaluating our options, or debating how it should be done.

There is one project that our daughter has been “reminding” me we have not finished and questioning exactly when we are going to get to it.

For the last month my sewing machine has been taunting me from our dining room table. I’m not a sewer.

My mother taught both my brother and I the basics of how to sew and read a pattern while we each made our names out of letter pillows. Although I can’t remember what fabric I used, I remembered I loved them. After I got married my mother bought me a sewing machine. I’ve taken it out of the box now and again over the years, but it is generally an exercise in frustration. The bobbin doesn’t wind properly, the needle breaks, or the tension is off.

Last summer I told our daughter we could make aprons. I took her to the fabric store and we found a “Sew Easy” pattern (that is a misnomer…there is nothing easy about it), picked out fabric, and some ribbons for embellishments. We took our supplies home, cut out the patterns pieces, and dug out the sewing machine from it’s box in the basement. And there it sat, mocking me like a schoolyard bully every time I walked past it. When I was finally determined to start sewing, the tension was off and I couldn’t fix it. I promised our daughter that I would get to it.

But eventually the sewing machine made it’s way back into the box in the basement. The patterns and fabric made it’s way into a plastic bag that was stowed in the box with the sewing machine. And for a while it was all forgotten.

For a while she was distracted by other projects and goings on. But soon again the “reminders” to finished the apron surfaced and after a year I realized that if we didn’t get her done, it would probably be too small for her when he did. So this past weekend, I finished it.

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And while she loves it, I know that the stitches aren’t even. If you look closely you’ll find plenty of mistakes and lose strings. I didn’t follow the pattern exactly. I basted when I should have hemmed. I folded instead of surged. But overall, it at least looks like an apron. I make everything with a bit of “character” as I like to call it. Nothing ever comes out perfectly. It is a sign that it has been handmade…at least that it what I tell myself.

In order to commensurate the completion of such a monumental task, our daughter suggested we make biscotti. She desperately wanted to wear her smock, as she calls it. So, we decided on Lemon Dill Biscotti with Almonds. The dill is from our garden. We left it out to dry on the counter overnight before adding it. We used an Asian lemon oil, which would also work well with basil rather than dill if you prefer one over the other.

As we were mixing and kneading, our daughter looked down at her apron and then up at me. “Can I get it dirty?” she asked. I laughed. “Of course. That is the sign of a good cook!” I think it will be used a lot.

The pattern was for matching aprons. Luckily she hasn’t asked yet when I am going to finish mine.

Lemon Dill Biscotti with Almonds

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the topping

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 heaping tablespoon chopped dried dill

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon lemon oil

zest of one lemon

½ cup roasted and salted almonds, chopped

lemoncello

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and dill.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, lemon oil, and lemon zest.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the almonds. Sprinkle your hands with lemoncello and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in thirds.  Form three logs, approximately 2 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Sprinkle to top of each log with a generous helping of sugar.

8.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

9.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #79: Use the ends to help hold your fabric in place on your next sewing project.

 

Hibiscus Biscotti

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Have you eaten any flowers today?

On most days, we could swiftly answer “no.” But today would be a different story. While perusing the isles at our local Wegman’s, we found these candied hibiscus flowers. We were intrigued, but couldn’t be sure how they would taste. They looked like miniature scarlet jellyfish. We thought they might be good in biscotti, so we added them to the cart.

Hibiscus comes in many forms, wild hibiscus flowers in syrup for cocktails, hibiscus flower powder for baking, and dried hibiscus leaves for tea. Hibiscus are also showing up in recipes like hibiscus flower enchiladas, Moroccan mint tea and hibiscus flower granita, and strawberry hibiscus champagne jam.

These Hibiscus Biscotti were simply inspired by one gocery store find. We added a few healthy ingredients to even out the sugary coating on the hibiscus flowers and were pleasantly surprised. Our miniature jellyfish tasted fantastic dunked in some hibiscus tea.

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Since we were baking with hibiscus, we thought we’d plant a hibiscus tree this spring. The flowers are beautiful, but what we are really wondering is if we can eat them.

 

Hibiscus Biscotti 

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar, additional for the topping

3 tablespoons honey powder

½ cup almond meal

2 tablespoons chai seeds

3 tablespoons flaxmeal

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one lemon

½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

½ cup almonds

¾ cup chopped candied hibiscus flowers

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, honey powder, almond meal, chai seeds, flaxmeal, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the pumpkin seeds and almonds. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7. Coat the top of each log with light brown sugar.

8.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

9.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #75: Use the ends to evenly space your seeds when planting your vegetable garden.