Biscotti – My New Best Friend

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Recently I’ve been making Biscotti until everyone in my family feels I’m becoming a little obsessed. Fixated I may appear to be, but really I’m just thrilled to find something that takes me back to Venice, drinking coffee in a sunny piazza, watching the glamorous world go by, or where I can pretend I’m hanging out in Bar Italia in Soho, so part of the cool crowd.

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And the great thing about Biscotti is it’s just so easy to make. Mix up the dough, chuck it in the oven. Slice up the baked bread and bake for a second time. That’s it. Nothing fiddly, no kneading, no waiting for the dough to rise. And even better, everyone seems incredibly impressed by it. Package it up and give it as a present and you’ve become a Domestic Goddess in your friend’s/Mother-in-law’s/Boss’s eyes.

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But of course, you don’t just have to drink this with coffee. A small glass of Masala or some cool Vin Santo is the perfect accompaniment, especially when you are sitting on your terrace in the Tuscany hills, soaking up the sun. Well… I can but pretend in my garden in Wiltshire.

Pistachio & Lemon Biscotti

This recipe has been adapted from one by the fabulous Ruby Tandoh in her book Crumb.

Makes approx. 12

125g/4 ½ oz Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch Salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
85g/3 ¼ oz Caster Sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
50g/2oz Pistachio kernals (unsalted)
50g/2oz Currants
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, currants and pistachio nuts and mix in. Add the egg & milk mixture and combine with the dry ingredients until you get a slightly sticky dough.

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Shape into a rough log shape approx. 25cm long and place onto the baking tray. Cook in the middle of the oven for 35 mins. Take the dough out of the oven and carefully cut into 2cm slices with a serated knife. Take care as if too rough you can cause the dough to crumble.

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Reduce the temperature of the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/Gas Mark 2. Lay the slices back onto the baking tray and bake for 10 mins, turn over and bake for a further 10 mins.

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Once cooked leave to cool on a wire wrack. Keep in an airtight tin.

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Megeve Market – A breath of fresh air

 

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In my last post I talked about coming out of hibernation and looking for some colour, trying to get away from the drab browns of winter. So I’ve been to France for a week, the place that shows off its food better than any country I’ve been to.

Not far from where I was staying is the chic ski resort of Megève, knee deep in fur coats and Pekinese dogs. But the biggest attraction for me was the Friday market. This is not a market for tourists, this is a market for the locals , a market for everyday food shopping.

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We arrived early, in bright sunlight but freezing temperatures, to be greeted by a 7m long fish stall bursting with vitality, beautifully laid out and smelling so fresh those fish could have jumped straight out of the sea. Put simply, this was food that was seducing its customers.

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Ten minutes later we were still marvelling at the sight in front of us. Of course, it was to be fish for supper; that display had made our minds up for us.

The French know how to entice the customer. Their ability to display their produce is second to none.

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We spent ages gazing at the sights, buying far more than we needed, excited by the food laid out before us.

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Maybe it was the mountain air, maybe the bright sunshine, but I found myself drooling over these seven cauliflowers, thinking up the best ideas for cooking with one.

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There were a myriad of presents to bring home…

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…and presents for my hosts.

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Markets like this cheer me up, make me feel better about life. This is my kind of pick-me-up, my tub of ice cream on the sofa in my PJs, my happy music. British markets don’t have such a good reputation as the French, but now I’m home I’ll be making a visit to my local Farmer’s Market to see if I can top up my dose of happiness.

So I’ve come out of hibernation and my foodie enthusiasm has returned.

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