Swedish Biscotti and a Movie Star Cardinal

img_7166I’m trying to ease myself back into the new year, and having overdosed on rich Christmas fare, I’ve been looking for a cookie that’s tasty, but light. Right on cue, I ran across a basic biscotti recipe on allrecipes.com that looked promising.

The recipe worked well, with an easy-to-mix dough that baked up nicely. The biscotti itself was crunchy, not rock hard. But the flavor and appearance of the cookie were a little plain and sad. So I switched from anise flavoring to a brighter lemon flavor, and topped the cookie with a shiny egg glaze and a sprinkling of Swedish pearl sugar. A pinch of salt also helped. Bingo! A Swedish biscotti! This is a light, crispy, crunchy, toasty biscotti, a perfect go-with for a cup of coffee or even with a glass of chilled Prosecco. Here is the recipe.

Swedish Biscotti

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3-1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
one beaten egg for glaze
Swedish pearl sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs and lemon flavoring. Beat vigorously with a big spoon for about two minutes. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir this into the egg mixture, mixing with a spoon at first, then kneading by hand. The dough will be a little crumbly, but will come together. Divide into two parts. Shape each part into a roll about twelve inches long. Flatten the roll so that it’s about 2-1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Using a pastry brush, spread the beaten egg over the top of the rolls, and then strew with the Swedish pearl sugar.

Bake for about 25 minutes. The bottoms should be golden. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for about ten minutes. Don’t turn off the oven. Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut the baked cookies at a diagonal, about 1/2″ thick. Place the slices onto the baking sheet, cut side up. Put back into the oven, and allow to toast for about 10 minutes. The edges should turn light brown. This made about 32 biscotti.

Baking notes: Don’t hesitate to knead this dough until it’s smooth. The cookie will be crunchy, not tough. You could use any kind of coarse sugar for this to add crunch and sparkle. Also, I added a little speck of yellow food coloring to make the biscotti more golden.

Below: ingredients, the mixed dough, and the dough formed for baking.

Above, cutting the baked biscotti.

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The toasted biscotti.

Movie Star Cardinal

This cardinal landed at the feeder the other day, and I was immediately struck by his movie star good looks. His feather cap was sleek, his eyes soulful. What movie is he starring in? I’m thinking the next Star Wars movie, playing the avian co-pilot of a Wookie. Who knows?

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After the election, many of us have wondered what to do to resist the incoming administration. One way: shop local. Rather then sending your money to factory farms and industrial-sized feedlots who then ship food back to us using lots of gasoline, buy from your local farmer. I was at the Geneva Green Market, in Geneva, Illinois, this Saturday, and for under $25 purchased organic chicken (enough for four), a beautiful loaf of bread, a French cheese, a dozen organic eggs, some pea shoots for a salad, a head of purple garlic, a crispy apple, and some turnips. (See below.) I loved handing my money to the actual farmers and their families. Google “local farmers markets,” to find a market near you.

Peace to you. Fran

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