Posted by hsimpsongrossman on January 10, 2014
Please repeat after me: “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR”! Again. And again, please.
One would think that intelligent adults, in their forties, parents to a number of young children, risk managers by occupation and by nature, would count till ten (at least) before saying something they might gravely regret later.
Specifically those of us who barely a week ago read to their kids the tale about the Fisherman and His Wife. Please forgive me but I must digress. We brought back with us from New York the book Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, by the controversy Philip Pullman (a wonderful book in which Phillip Pullman retells 50 of his favorite Grimm tales). In his version of the Fisherman and His Wife, Pullman transforms the piss-pot to a nice cottage, then to a palace, then, as the wife wants to be king (!) into a palace twice as large. The wife fancies being emperor whereby the palace becomes even higher, yet the poor guy barely spends two minutes in “his” new abode and she already sends him back to order the flounder to make her Pope, and the castle turns into an immense church. Alas (or not), upon the fisherman’s request for her to be God, she’s back to the piss-pot.
Well I’m heading for something almost as bad. I’m headed for Tignes, France. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against neither France nor Tignes. I have never been to either of them. In fact, I’m sure France is beautiful. I love French food and French fashion. France is on my to-do list. In the summer! Not in January when it’s below freezing point over there in the French Alps! I can’t cope with cold whether!
Honestly, what on earth was I thinking of when, half-jokingly, I told Better Half, upon hearing that his ski group’s usual chef can’t make it, that I can join them and take care of cooking? For 27 people? Rushing back from the slopes, at the end of a full day of skiing, starving? Well, to my defense, I didn’t, not in my wildest dreams, think they might actually take me on my offer and fulfill my (death) wishes.
Unlike like the fisherman’s wife, I was consciously making impossible demands – “I will gladly do it if you pay for my flight”. “Oh, but His Royal Highness will have to tag along” (I couldn’t possibly leave him behind barely a month after returning from NYC, could I?). “Oh, and come to think of it, how will I manage to cook if he is with me all day? I will need Princess to come and be my babysitter and su-chef. Assuming she agrees.” Genius, I was complementing myself. This is a win-win situation: You offered to help but there is no way they’ll take the three of us at such short notice. Little did I know..
That was on Friday afternoon. A few minutes after haphazardly making that suggestion I completely forgot about it. Shabbat was barely over and Better Half was on the phone with his buddy, the one inflicted to the same severe degree with the ski malady and the guy in charge of this ski group. A minute later Better Half was jumping up and down, giving me the thumbs up signal.
Thank God I am such a perfectionist. Since failure is something I hate more than snow and I love a good challenge, I gathered all my mental strength and smiled. And started working on my lists. Better Half hasn’t stopped grinning since. He has been dreaming of me going skiing with him for ages. As much as I enjoy complaining about those trips of his, I enjoy baking goodies for him and his friends. One item he will not leave the country without is these Breakfast Biscotti , from Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, by Alice Medrich, my chocolate Goddess (I can’t afford digressing again so I will save at least one post especially for her). They are comforting, not overly sweet and loaded with good stuff-oats, whole wheat flour, nuts, sesame seeds and flaxseed meal (I went for her suggested upgraded version). They keep you going for hours and keep fresh for more than two weeks. The perfect snack for athletes (or busy moms).
I used old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking) and substituted flaked, unsweetened coconut for the hemp seeds in the original recipe. And I always prepare double the amount.
Breakfast Biscotti on the Spot: Combine flours, baking powder and salt. Mix the brown sugar and oats. Heat the milk and butter, combine with the oat mixture and let stand. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the nuts and cranberries. Form a loaf and bake. Slice and Bake again. Voilà!
Adapted, with minor changes from Alice Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. Ingredient, for about 20 biscotti:
2/3 cup (3 ounces/85grams) plain flour
2/3 cup (3 ounces /85grams) whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder Generous
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2-2/3 (3.5-4.6 ounces/100 –130 grams) brown sugar
11/3 cup (4.6 ounces/130 gram) old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup (2 3/4 fluid ounces/80 ml) milk
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60 grams) melted unsalted butter (or safflower or canola oil)
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (3/5 ounces/100g) pecan or walnut pieces
1/2 cup (2/5 ounces/70g) dried cranberries
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 table spoon unsweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius).Position a rack in the center of the oven.
Grease or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk or a fork. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar and oats.
Heat the milk and butter in a small pot or microwave-safe bowl until the milk is hot and the butter is melted. Combine the hot milk with the oat mixture. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the nuts and cranberries. The batter will be very thick and sticky.
Scrape the batter onto the prepared pan. Spread it to form a 5 x 12 inch (12 x 30 cm) rectangle about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until firm and starting to color around the bottom edges. Rotate the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pan on a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on, lowering it down to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius).
Transfer the loaf carefully to a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife and a sawing motion, cut the loaf crosswise into 1/2-inch (a bit less than 11/2 cm) slices.
Transfer the slices back to the baking sheet, standing them at least 1/2 inch (11/2 cm) apart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes to toast without overbrowning, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time.
Set the pan on a rack.
Cool the biscotti completely before wrapping or storing.
These will keep well stored in an airtight container for at least two weeks.
Filed under Cookies