Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Years ago, after having lunch at Biba in Sacramento, our waitress asked me if I would care for dessert. I was stuffed, but I looked over the dessert menu anyway. "No thanks" I said, "Everything looks too rich. It would be nice if you had something tiny to nibble on" I just asked for a cup of coffee.

"I found you something!" she said when she returned a few minutes later. On the saucer next to the coffee were a couple of small biscotti. The were not on the menu, but clearly hand made. They were just very simple cookies with bits of almond and a hint of anise. Perfect.

They were not the big frosted logs that you find at Costco or Starbucks, they were small, just sweet enough to be considered a cookie and a perfect compliment to a cup of coffee.

You very seldom find good biscotti out in the wild, thats why I like to make them at home.
From My Recipe Wall of Fame

One of the tricks of making biscotti is getting the right dimension on the loaf for the first bake. ( They are baked as a loaf, sliced and baked a second time)
From The King Arthur Flour Website...Duh!

This Christmas, I received a biscotti pan from the King Arthur Flour Company. (Actually it was from Debbie, who got it from them.) It may seem silly to have a special pan for biscotti, but it helps make a consistent size cookie. It's a product of USA Pans who make some of the best pans I have used. I have their Pullman loaf pan, and their "New England Style" hot dog bun pan, that I will write about in a few days.

Here's my favorite Biscotti Recipe. It's even better with hazelnuts instead of almonds.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

1/2 cup butter, softened 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup dark brown sugar   
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder  
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
2 eggs  
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup roasted almonds  
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with a spoon until light and fluffy.Gradually stir in cocoa and baking powder and keep at it for 2 minutes. 
2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, add vanilla. Stir in flour. by hand. Mix in the almonds 
and chocolate chips. 
3. Cover dough, and chill for about 10 minutes. 
4. While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375F. 
5. Divide dough into two parts, and roll each part into a 9 inch long log. 
Place logs on lightly greased cookie sheet, about 4 inches apart. Flatten slightly. 
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool for one hour. 
7. Cut each loaf into 1/2 inch wide diagonal slices. 
8. Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 325F for 9 minutes. 
9.Turn cookies over, and bake for another 7 to 9 minutes. 

10. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Viva Pupusa

This is a simple version of the pupusa, the El Salvadoran cousin to the gordita.

Unlike the classic street food, my version does not include cheese or other fillings cooked into the dough. 

Pupusas are simple to make, requiring much less skill than corn tortillas. The other night I had piles of leftover beans and shredded beef, but not a lot of time or ambition. Pupusas were the ideal way to make leftovers palatable to a houseful of people.

My illustration is an even less traditional application, This was lunch the next day. A leftover pupusa stuffed leftover pork chops and rice. 

There are tons of pupusa recipes out on the web. I adapted mine after reading a half dozen variations.

Here's my version: 

1 cup Corn Masa
2 Tbs fat (shortening, butter, lard)
3/4 cup warm water or chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt

Place Masa in a bowl and add salt and fat. Cut in with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal.

Stir in liquid until a moist (but not sticky) dough forms.

Knead for a couple of minutes until dough becomes smooth.

Form into four balls, cover and allow to rest for five to ten minutes

Working the dough between your hands form into thin patties.

Cook on an ungreased griddle or skillet,  until dark brown patches form, about 3 minutes per side.

Cool slightly and split with a very sharp knife.

Stuff with cheese, meat, etc.