dark chocolate biscotti

Dark chocolate biscotti

These last few days of the year are ones I look forward to most; when we can unplug from our usual routine and just focus on relaxing with family. To me that means lots of cooking, feasting, wine-drinking and wood fires in the fireplace. But it can be hard not to get caught up in all that holiday scurrying – shopping, wrapping, decorating…I find myself wondering Am I done yet?

I managed to accomplish some holiday baking this year, and somehow it turned out there wasn’t enough chocolate in the assortment. These biscotti seemed like the missing link. It helps that biscotti are the perfect cookie for packing up in bags for last minute gifts because they’re not fragile or fussy.

The biscotti recipes I like best use butter. Some traditional biscotti are made without it, but I think they can be tooth-breaking hard. The ones here have a nice ratio of crunch, chew and deep chocolate flavor.

I chopped some extra chunks of chocolate to melt and drizzle over the biscotti, and I sprinkled a little flaky sea salt over some of them, too.

Dark chocolate biscotti

Dark chocolate biscotti

Yield: about 30 biscotti

Keep the biscotti in a covered container for up to a week.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup dark chocolate baking chunks or chips

Instructions

  1. Arrange baking racks to the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  4. Beat the butter in an electric mixer until fluffy; add the sugar and mix at high speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl if needed, then beat in the eggs. Lower the mixer speed to stir in the flour mixture and mix until just combined; stir in the chocolate chunks.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half on a lightly floured counter into a log about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Arrange the logs on the baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake 30 - 40 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch. Cool on a rack 10 minutes.
  7. With a large, sharp knife, slice each log into ¾-inch wide slices on a slight diagonal and put them cut side down on the baking sheet.
  8. Lower oven to 325 degrees. Bake 5 minutes, then gently turn the biscotti unto the other cut side and bake for another 5 minutes.
  9. The biscotti are great plain or dip them into some chopped, melted chocolate if you like.

Notes

Based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine

http://familystylefood.com/2012/12/dark-chocolate-biscotti/

rosemary Lemon Polenta Cookies

Rosemary lemon polenta cookies
My go-to holiday cookie recipes are the ones that are the most unfussy. As much as I tend to be all hands-on in the kitchen, I possess a serious lack of patience when it comes to decorating food. Especially cookies, cakes and other sweet things- it’s just not my style. People who can spend hours on the finer details of beautiful desserts – I am in awe of them.

I’m pretty sure that same impatience gene seeps into other aspects of my life, but I’ll skip that story for now. All I can say is that yoga breathing is something I’m grateful to know and practice. Even with those deep breaths going in and out, I don’t see a future designing wedding cakes.

However, I do love to share some baking during the holidays and that’s why these cookies are a favorite. They have that rustic crunch from the cornmeal, an amazing lemon scent and a hit of piney-fresh rosemary.

Rosemary lemon polenta cookies

Rosemary Lemon Polenta Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

10 tablespoons butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

2 eggs, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

¾ cup coarse ground cornmeal (polenta)

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus a few sprigs for garnish

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ cup pinenuts, plus extra for garnish

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Beat the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium high speed. Add the lemon zest and the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Stir in the lemon extract, if using.
  2. Mix the flour, cornmeal, rosemary, baking powder and salt in a bowl until blended together.
  3. Add the dry mixture to the butter on low speed in 2 parts, just until the dough comes together. Stir in the pine nuts. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour or two, until the dough is firm and scoopable.
  4. Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Scoop the dough into tablespoon-sized balls (I like to use a cookie scoop) and arrange on the cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and slightly golden on the edges. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze, stir together the powdered sugar, cream and lemon juice until smooth. Spread some glaze on each cookie; put a few rosemary sprigs and a pine nut on the top.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/12/rosemary-lemon-polenta-cookies/

italian spritz cocktail

Italian Spritz cocktail

I made this little drink. Well, truth be told I’ve been making it (and ordering it at bars) quite a bit recently. I wanted to raise a glass especially to say cin-cin as I celebrate a new look for familystyle food and the Spritz seemed a perfect choice.

I’m smitten with the new cookbook from the restaurant of the same name; Polpo, “A Venetian Cookbook of Sorts”. It’s got everything I want in a book, cooking related or not: great stories and photography, maps, and a really stunning design. I’m in love with the book’s Japanese-style exposed binding, which looks strangely sexy to me. Like a 19th century woman stripped down to nothing but her corsets and crinolines….oh, wait, I’m getting off topic.

Polpo: A cookbook of sorts

I meant to say I’ve been flipping through the book, getting hungry and wanting to buy a trip to Venice. The recipe for a Spritz in the book – the way they do it in the Veneto – is made with white wine and soda water. It made me thirsty, but I like mine with Prosecco because the wine and bubbles are all in one.

I also like Aperol in place of the more usual Campari, but that is a personal choice. Aperol has a tiny bit less bitterness.

Giving this blog a facelift has been on my list for a long time. But life, work, fits and starts complicated the process a bit.

I finally found a perfect fit with Katelyn Baird and Smitten Designs – I’m so, so happy I did. I’ve become a fan of Katelyn’s blog Katelyn Brooke too..she shares smart, savvy ideas about design, life and style.

A simplified, clean layout and way to print recipes was my main agenda, but I also updated my logo with Katelyn’s help. I hope you’ll come and visit me here often. I promise there will be drinks. And lots of good things to eat.

Salute!

Check out:

Aperol Spritz Cocktail at The Italian Dish

Venetian Spritz at Coco & Kelley

italian spritz cocktail

Yield: makes one drink

Ingredients

Ice

1 slice of lemon

3 ounces Prosecco or sparkling wine

2 ounces Aperol or Campari

Instructions

  1. Fill a small rocks glass with ice. Squeeze in the lemon. Pour in the wine, followed by the Aperol or Campari. Garnish with additional lemon slice and drink.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/12/italian-spritz-cocktail/