I was going to do a big shopping on Sunday, because I usually do a big shopping on Sunday out of habit. But a glance at the vegetable bin revealed lately dug up carrots and beets (Hazel Blue Beet Salad), freshly picked and still delicate green beans (Green Beans Tossed with Toasted Pecans & Dill), two heads of just pulled romaine lettuce (Buttermilk Caesar Salad), bundles of Swiss chard (Tarted Up Chard), oodles of summer squash (Patty-Pan Ratatouille) and unbelievably, four lemon cucumbers (a rarity, as this is The Boy’s favorite vegetable, which he usually eats immediately upon picking).
A freezer count revealed 11 salmon (Peppered Wood-Plank Salmon) and a wheel each of cheddar, blue and Gouda Farm House cheese, bought at the actual Farm House during last week’s Agassiz road trip (also purchased: 12 pounds of 12 varieties of hardneck garlic from The Back Porch and 10 pounds of just picked hazelnuts from Canadian Hazelnut).
I then remembered the blueberry bushes in the front and immediately woke up The Boy to demand he pick a pound or two. (Self-defense: it was 10 am, and we did negotiate that he could do it within two hours and that I’d make Blue Cobbler with Cookie Topping.) The Girl texted at this point. She was riding by on her horse and called dibs on the fourth apple from the right on the far left branch of the tree in the middle of the center bed. Uh, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.
Glancing out the kitchen window, I noticed that we still had a few peaches (Peachy Ice Cream) ready to pluck on the back fence espalier. And the tomatoes were ripening so quickly that there were probably enough for gallons of tomato soup (Tomato Soup Worth Freezing). The Italian parsley was beginning to bolt, too, which could only mean one thing: more pesto.
As it turned out, all I really needed was milk. And during the time I saved not shopping, I made Irresistible Chocolate Biscotti—the kind that’s gone after a day due to out-and-out deliciousness.
I’m posting the biscotti recipe now; the other recipes will be featured in the next few posts.
Irresistible Chocolate Biscotti
Please note that the better the chocolate and cocoa powder you use, the more the biscotti will taste like a revelation. This recipe is mostly Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours; it’s got a few modifications.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder)
2 tbsp instant espresso powder (optional)
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup unbleached sugar (you can use the regular stuff, too)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp hazelnut extract or ¾ tsp almond extract
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped or 1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (I use Cacao Barry Tanzanie Chocolate, which is 75% cocoa and comes in pistoles)
Unbleached coarse sugar for dusting
- In a bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully blended. (If it’s easier for you, sift it, but the sifter and I have had a tumultuous relationship over the years and we’ve reached an agreement: no cocoa sifting. Ever.)
- In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together till pale (according to Dorie, about two minutes, but it’s usually shorter for me). Add the eggs plus vanilla and hazelnut or almond extracts, then beat for another two minutes. The mixture might look curdled. But do not worry.
- Continue by adding the dry ingredients slowly, and with the mixer speed on low. Mix only until dough forms. DO NOT OVERMIX. Stir in the hazelnuts or almonds and chocolate by hand. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead in any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.
- Divide the dough in half, rolling each into a 12-inch-long log. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are about 1 inch high, 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then lift the logs onto one baking sheet. Sprinkle each one with a little of the coarse sugar (the bigger the sugar crystal, the nicer it’ll look).
- Bake the logs at 350º for about 20-25 minutes, or until slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack—they’re supposed to. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and put it on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes, but leave the oven on.
- After the rest period, use a serrated knife to cut each log into slices between ½ to ¾ inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet and rebake for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a rack to cool. Then eat, preferably with a cuppa tea or coffee.