Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I love biscotti - sometimes called Cantuccini - those very dry, hard Italian biscuits that you have to dunk into dessert wine or a cup of tea or coffee otherwise you can break your teeth!

They are very easy to make and last an age in a tin, and my children love them! They also contain no fat, for what that's worth!

For me they conjure up sitting in an Italian piazza, watching the world go by, and savouring delicious coffee. On the other hand, my children just love to stuff them down without caring about dental bills......

(Makes about 20)

100g almonds
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
250g plain flour (Italian 'OO' flour is authentic)
225g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g pistachios (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/Gas Mk 5. Flour two baking trays.

Lightly beat the eggs and yolk with the vanilla, then sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the almonds and pistachios (you can use your imagination and add chocolate chips or walnuts or raisins, etc.) and mix to a very stiff dough.

Turn out on a floured surface and roll into a log shape. Cut in half and place the two halves on the centre of each of the baking trays and bake for 15 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 150 degrees/Gas Mk 2. Remove the biscotti from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Cut the logs into 1cm slices and place these flat on the baking trays. Return to the oven and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until golden and crisp.
Cool completely and store in an airtight jar.

What I have been cooking:

Last night I was organised, for once! With various after-school appointments, I actually had something ready in the oven when we all arrived home. My auntie Barb from the US gave me this recipe for Baked Ziti. Ziti is the equivalent of penne here, but I use any pasta shape that can hold some sauce.

Baked Ziti (Serves 6)

500g pasta
1 tub ricotta cheese (or Philadelphia)
1 egg
25-50g cheddar, grated
1 ball mozzarella, cubed
Tomato pasta sauce or Bolognaise sauce

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mk 4. Cook the pasta as the instructions. Mix the ricotta, egg and seasoning in a large bowl. Drain the pasta when ready, tip into the bowl and mix thoroughly.

Tip the pasta sauce into a casserole dish. Pour half of the pasta on top and sprinkle with half the cheeses. Tip in the remaining pasta and top with the rest of the cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes until golden.

Serve with fresh bread and a green salad. As my Aunt would say, 'Enjoy!'

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