Biscotti anyone?

“Biscotti” is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked/baked.” It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Non-perishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman Legions.

Through Middle French, the word was imported into the English language as “biscuit”, although in English as in Italian “biscuit” does not refer specifically to a twice-baked cookie, but applies to any type of biscuit.

In North America, where “biscuit” has taken on other meanings, twice-baked cookies are known as biscotti.

Today the regional variations of the original are still adhered to, but the modern mass-manufactured biscotti are in actual fact closer to cantuccini, variations of biscotti.

As a result, modern biscotti recipes often contain nuts (traditional almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios) or spices such as anise or cinnamon. Following twice baking (once in long slab form, secondly in cut sliced form), the biscotti may be dipped in a glaze, such as chocolate.

Chocolate Biscotti Recipe:

2/3 cup (4 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 – 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan & set aside. In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar; add vanilla & chocolate mixture. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Divide dough in half. (Add additional chocolate chip morsels if desired.) Form each half into log 3-1/2 inch X 9 inch and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 25 minutes. Reduce oven to 275 degrees F.

Allow ‘logs’ to cool and cut into about 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange on baking sheet and bake additional 20-minutes. Store in air-tight container.

Enjoy!

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Red Currant Jelly

Earlier this week I made red currant jelly. I used my recipe/notes from an old SURE-JELL insert from several years ago. Funny, new boxes of SURE-JELL no longer lists/includes CURRANT jelly-making instructions!?

HOW-TO:

You’ll need about 7 lbs or 10 pints of currants. I cull ALL the stems…we think they add an unwanted grassy flavor to the juice. It’s a lot more work, but well worth the final flavor. Discard stems and slightly crush currants. Place clean currants in large saucepan and add 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Place three layers of damp cheesecloth/jelly bag or use a food mill and collect juice. Measure 6-1/2 cups juice into large saucepot. Add up to 1/2 cup water to get exact amount of juice needed.

Measure 4-1/2 cups sugar into a bowl. Remove 1/4 cup sugar and mix with 1-box SURE-JELL pectin into a small bowl. Stir pectin/sugar mixture into juice (you may add 1/2 tsp butter or marg to reduce foaming – I don’t). Bring mixture to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir-in remaining sugar all at once. Return to full boil and boil exactly one minute. Remove from heat and place into clean/prepared jelly jars, filling to within 1/8-inch of tops. Wipe jar rims/threads clean and cover with 2-piece lids/screw caps, tightly. ***The lids should be soaking in HOT water to soften the rubber seal.***

Place filled jelly jars into canner; water must cover jars by 1 to 2-inches. Cover pot and bring to gentle boil. PROCESS jelly for 5-minutes. Remove jars and place on a towel to cool. Lids will ‘pop’ (indicating a good seal) as they cool.

Just for fun, here’s a vintage ‘free’ red currant jelly label…for you to download.

 

I think I’ll infuse herb – a little mint or sage or maybe lemon thyme – into my next batch…?

Happy jelly-making!

Flea Market Finds

I hope you all enjoyed Memorial Day Weekend and flew the American flag as I did! We’ve been enjoying incredibly warm (record-breaking!) weather for southeastern Michigan. Farmers are already harvesting first cutting hay!

On the home front, we planted most of our veggie garden ~~~  just in time for Monday’s rain showers. But, I also discovered I ran out of seeds for my green beans. EEK! I had a taste of my farmgirl friend Teemie’s (of Teemie’s Country Blooms) pickled green beans. Let me tell you ~~~ lip smack’n YUM! I hope she’ll share the recipe? So, I’ll need to do a double-check on my seed inventory (I usually do sequential plantings) and make a quick trip to the store – before the veggie seed inventory is depleted!!

I did manage to sneak a quick trip to our local Armada Flea Market this past Sunday. It’s difficult to get away with A.M. milking chores & bottle feeding babies. If you can’t arrive at the flea market by 7:30 A.M. – FORGET IT! The crowds and PARKING are intolerable…for me anyway! 

 

I managed to make several purchases for a total $5 investment including a new cook book “Patricia Wells at Home in Provence” which explores French countryside cuisine. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes!!! YUM again! I also found a silver plated candle stick ~ that I’ll use for a ‘sheepy’ make-do pinkeep perhaps? The last item is a ‘poker’ or prodding tool with a wonderful wood engraved handle ~ something handy for my craft room? 

I also made my first batch of Chevre goat cheese since the girl’s freshening this Spring. I used fresh herbs from the garden to season the cheese to produce a little variety…a ‘gift’ to my daughter’s math teacher at the Academy. Apparently she has fond memories of eating fresh goat milk cheese made by her grandparents from the old country. I wonder if this will earn Katie extra credit?  LOL 

I also made a batch of Feta yesterday to accompany the basil pesto linguine and garlic toast for dinner. This is one of Katie’s favorite meals! Another YUM! I’m inspired to write a quickie how-to goatie cheese making and recipe booklet! Hmmm…perhaps I’ll start with drafting an outline? 

Happy week everyone!