I can’t believe that it has been about a week since I have last posted a recipe. I mean, I knew that there was going to be a brief blogging intermission, due to an event that I needed to attend in New York City, which demanded my undivided attention for the better part of four days. What I didn’t realize, however, was that horrible hurricane Ike would wreak havoc on my travel plans, leaving Eric and me stranded in lovely Newark, New Jersey for a surprise extended vacation–good times.
I’m not going to disclose which Houston-based, begins with a "C" airline we were on, but I am going to think long and hard before booking a flight with them again. Although I understand that they could not control the weather issues, you would think that the gate crew would notify the passengers that our pilots were stuck in Houston prior to departure time. I don’t know–maybe they wanted to keep us on our toes. Maybe they were hoping that if they ignored the problem, a nice, shiny, uber-qualified pilot would just stride up to the gate and inquire if we happened to need a flight crew at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night. Could happen……..but didn’t.
So after the crew strung us along for three hours and the flight was finally canceled, we all had to scrambled to find replacement flights, which departed over the next 48 hours. We were then sent off without our luggage (airline policy!) to find non-paid for accommodations in the greater Newark area. The thought of making up an additional "lost" day was nothing to look forward to, but as I drifted off to sleep in my standard airport motel room, I thankfully recalled that I had decided to whip up a few recipes prior to my Las Vegas departure, so that all I would need to do is post them upon my return. Hey, after a day like this, it’s the little things that make you happy.
This is a recipe that I found in the current issue of Food and Wine, my most "dog-eared" issue in years, so expect to see a few more in future posts. The title of these savory biscotti just appealed to me. They were ideal for making ahead of time, as they freeze beautifully and do not take long to defrost. This recipe, or a variation of this recipe, would make a unique homemade gift for the holidays, or it could serve as part of an antipasto platter. Use them as a replacement for rolls or crackers when serving hearty soups, or crumble them over salads as an alternative to croutons. Here are a few extra tips for making this savory, nutty, and cheesy "cookie":
- This recipe is very versatile, so be creative with your ingredient choices. Instead of using Gouda cheese, feel free to substitute grated parmesan, fontina, sharp cheddar, or nutty Gruyere.
- Instead of using walnuts, try substituting chopped pecans, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, or shelled and salted pistachios.
- Add some finely chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, or a combination to the dough. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a bit of added heat.
- Sealed in a zip-top plastic bag, these biscotti will freeze well for several weeks. Thaw at room temperature just prior to serving.
Toasted Walnut and Gouda Biscotti
Makes about 4 dozen biscotti
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
8 ounces aged Gouda, shredded
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
6 tablespoons butter, softened
In a medium bowl, combine the yeast with 1/2-cup of the warm water and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and 3/4 cup flour to for a sponge. Cover and let stand until billowy, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour, Gouda, walnuts, salt, and pepper. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, and the butter and stir until a dough is formed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch log about 1 1/2-inches thick. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. Loosely cover with lightly moistened paper towels and plastic wrap. Let stand for about 45 minutes, until risen.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and paper towels and bake the logs for about 30 minutes, until golden and puffy. Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300F degrees and position 2 racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs on a slight diagonal, about 1/3 inch thick. Arrange the slices, cut side up, on 2 baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden and crisp. Flip the biscotti halfway through and shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and let cool completely before serving.