Let's talk savoury. I'm talking beyond crackers...this is about biscotti. Being Italian, I think it's part of my genetic make-up that I love the twice-baked cookie in all its many wondrous variations. There is nothing wrong in having a couple with an after dinner espresso or vin santo. In fact, I encourage such behavior. But there is also nothing wrong with having savory biscotti as part of your antipasto platter or cheese plate.
Keeping with (recent) tradition, living on antipasti for days on end, I wanted something a little more substantial than pita chips or crostini. A biscotti recipe is a very forgiving thing. I've said it many times, I love a recipe that can be adapted to more than just its original incarnation. It is the test of a great basic recipe if you can make changes by adding or subtracting and have a winner more times than not. Think of it this way, thousands of Italian nonne can't be wrong. I slice them thinner than sweet biscotti, making them more user-friendly when you have it topped with a white bean garlic dip or my current favorite, Sweet Tomato Marmalade (compote, jam, what-have-you).
The two current winners are Parmesan-Fennel and Sundried Tomato-Cracked Pepper. I'm going to give a Gorgonzola biscotti a try and perhaps basil or oregano. If they pass muster with the secret taste-testers, they'll go in the 'Win' column.
Sundried Tomato-Cracked Pepper Biscotti
(Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious)
Makes one loaf--about 24-30 biscotti
2 cups flour
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
6 tbsp butter, cold, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped roughly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, pepper, baking powder, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until mixture resembles large crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add slowly to dry mixture, incorporating liquid into dry. Gradually add sundried tomatoes and mix until well combined.
Turn dough out onto a floured board and form into a log shape, about 4 inches wide and 12-14 inches long. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. When initial baking time is up, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 300 degrees. Transfer log to cutting board and cut into slices, about 1/2 inch wide. Lay biscotti back onto baking sheet and bake again for 40-45 minutes, until crispy. Turn biscotti over half-way through second baking time. Cool on rack when finished.
Sweet Tomato Marmalade
(Makes roughly one cup)
1 1/2 dry pints of cherry or grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar, dark or light
1/3 cup honey
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Wash, dry, and halve tomatoes. In a deep skillet, over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add tomatoes and garlic. Lower heat and saute for 8-10 until tomatoes start to break down. Add honey, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Keep heat low and let tomatoes reduce. Stir frequently. Let cook for about 20 minutes, until juices are syrupy.
If this lasts longer than an hour or two (there's a good chance it won't), store in refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before eating.
|At the start|
|A jar full of goodness|
|Parmesan-Fennel Biscotti with Sweet Tomato Marmalade|
|Sundried Tomato-Cracked Pepper Biscotti|