Karen writes: I promise readers I am not “taking the biscotti” this week I have got a recipe for you. I know I have been procrastinating each week, but I have made a couple of batches and they are all bagged up now ready to give away as little gifts.
Biscotti are an Italian biscuit and the word comes from the Italian for “twice baked”. Biscotti are very hard biscuits because they do go in the oven twice and become crunchy and dry. In fact, I don’t recommend eating them without having a drink to hand to dunk them into first to soften the biscuit. As a rule, I am not a biscuit dunker, I hate the bits of biscuit residue that end up in the drink and I like my biscuits crisp but I do make an exception with biscotti. A cup of coffee or as its nearly Christmas a glass of sherry would do very nicely.
The biscotti are so easy to make I would say its child’s play. In fact, my three-year-old granddaughter Silke gave me a hand making mine last week and they turned out perfectly. The basic ingredients are plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder and eggs. The fun bit is choosing what to put in with that. It can be anything, but some ideas are dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, orange zest, cherries. I like to put a teaspoon of almond essence in too for a very Christmassy taste.
350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp almond essence
Any combination of the above, I used flaked almonds, chocolate chips and orange zest.
Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough. Divide into four and shape into four sausages about six inches long. Place on greased baking sheets and into a preheated oven 180 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes then remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 140 degrees. Cut the biscotti into slices about an inch thick and put back into the oven and bake for a further four minutes on both sides. Cool on baking trays and then put into airtight container or into little cellophane bags ties with ribbon. The biscotti keeps well for a few weeks.
So here we go, we are into Advent. On Sunday, December 1 I went to a Macmillan Christmas afternoon at my friends Lyn and Glenn Woods' house. It was a fundraiser with cakes on sale and a raffle. The house was looking so festive, warm and glowing it certainly has got me into the Christmas mood, especially as my husband John won a hamper in the raffle and it is chock full of treats. This has come in very handy as we are having a final fling of the year away in our caravan this week and we can take some with us and leave some at home for our house sitter. There is something very cosy about the prospect of a little break in the caravan before Christmas and the site we are going to is one of our favourites the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site in Brighton, so excited!
To get ahead with my food prep for Christmas, yesterday I made my stuffing and stock for my gravy. I have frozen them both. The stuffing is one of those put anything you have handy into it.
This is what I did. I finely chopped an onion and cooked it very gently in a knob of butter until it was translucent. I added a couple of chopped cloves of garlic and a red chilli. While that was cooling, I blitzed up a couple of slices of bread and some fresh sage in the food processor. I took a pack of pork sausage meat and massaged the onion mixture and the breadcrumb mixture into it. I then put in a handful of chopped nuts, a handful of dried cranberries, the zest and juice of a clementine and a teaspoon of nutmeg, salt and pepper. The final addition was a beaten egg.
This mixture will come out of the freezer on Christmas Eve ready for baking in the oven or stuffing into the turkey on Christmas Day. It feels great to be ticking off my to do list!
Readers farewell for another week, take good care and enjoy your biscotti!
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