August 22, 2011

Chez Panisse Biscotti to celebrate the 40th Anniversary!

It is not a secret that I love Alice and all that she has brought to our table. She is a true visionary and been unwavering in her quest for good, clean, fair and delicious food for first her friends and then those who could afford to eat at her legendary restaurant Chez Panisse, and now for us all and especially our children.

It is really hard to believe that it has been 40 years since she wanted to bring her friends around the table to cook for them and support herself doing it. I can relate.

As it happens, my Husband's job was eliminated at the end of July, so we really cannot afford to participate in any meaningful way in all the events going on this month in benefit for The Edible Schoolyard Foundation, but I decided this afternoon, we would do my small bit to join in, and I think that it is so simple and delicious, that Alice would really approve.

I decided to bake the famed Chez Panisse biscotti from Alice and Lindsey Shere's book to celebrate on our own. Published in 1985, Chez Panisse Desserts is a classic, but not dated. The recipes are timeless and the results delicious. See for yourself. THe recipe says that it makes 4 1/2 dozen biscotti, but all said I had three dozen when I was done. I didn't have any grappa in the house, so I used up the tiny bit of madeira left in the bottle from V. Sattui Winery. The original recipe calls for anise extract and anise seed....both of which I did not have on hand, so I added 2 tsp of almond extract to enhance the almond flavor. I also only had salted butter in the house, so I used it. The recipe below reflects my substitutions, but it maintains the integrity of the original recipe "Aunt Victoria's Biscotti" on page 199. I think that Alice and Lindsey would approve and agree that the results are delicious.

Almond Biscotti

1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely
1/2 cup Strauss Family salted butter
3/4 cup organic sugar
2 free range, organic eggs
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp maderia, V. Sattui makes an excellent local one
2 cups organic white wheat flour
1 1/2 baking powder

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream the softened butter by hand until lightened. Add the sugar, a little at
a time beating well after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the madeira and almond extract, beating well.

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add into the wet ingredients a little at a time until just mixed. Stir in the chopped, toasted almonds.

On a lightly floured board, make two logs of dough equal size and approximately the length of the cookie sheet that you have lined with parchment. Lay each long log carefully onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake about 25 minutes, until just barely browned on the bottom and the logs just set.

Cool the logs on a rack for 5 minutes and then with a bread knife, slice the logs diagonally about 1/2 inch thick, carefully laying each slice back onto the baking sheet.

Return the sliced biscotti back to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to continue to bake until very lightly browned. Turn the slices, then turn off the oven and let the slices dry for another 5 minutes before removing the sheet to a rack to cool completely.

Store in a tightly covered container if you can keep from eating them all immediately!

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