Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fig & Pistachio Cornmeal Biscotti

I was at my husband's grandma's house this weekend.

First thing Jonathan notices when he walks in the door is that the kitchen table looked totally different.

Funny....because it was the same table that had been there for decades.

It's just that...well...he could ACTUALLY see it! Grandma, or "Mami" as we all call her, finally parted with the three layers of plastic and table mats covering the flawless wooden surface.

I asked her why after all these years she finally decided to do it. I mean, she's 83 now. Her response was that she figured she's going to die before the table dies, and if she dies, the table is going with her!

I thought it was hilarious. I guess this is her way of "living it up", and all the power to her because it's little things like this that make life more fun.

I used to be a big saver of things too. Jon still makes fun of me and says that I hoard stuff but that's not true! Certain things I try to save for special occasions, like a nice bottle of champagne or ice wine. Or, a new pair of socks. Ok...that's weird. Maybe I still need to work on it.

But for the most part, I try to use things soon after I receive them, whether it's a box of chocolates (gone in 60 seconds) or a new dress. Don't think of it as "waiting for that special occasion". Instead, make the day you open it a special occasion!

Go ahead. Do it today! Open your favourite bottle of bubbly, use your fancy silverware, drink water from a wine glass, open that new pack of socks, wear a dress to the mall, call your best friend and use all your daytime minutes chatting for hours, make notes all over your cookbooks with a pen, get some use out of that 5000 thread count pillow case and make (then eat) these Fig & Pistachio Cornmeal Biscotti.

Brew a hot pot of coffee or a cup of espresso and take in the morning with the incredible aromas of figs, pistachios and cardamom. It's mostly Italian with a middle eastern spin.

Use your fancy espresso cups and serve it to yourself on a saucer with a little golden spoon.

Carpe diem. You're worth it.

Fig & Pistachio Cornmeal Biscotti
Makes about 24 cookies

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (zest of about 1 lemon)
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 oz coarsely chopped dried figs (about ¾ cup)
2.5 oz shelled roasted pistachios (about 2/3 cup)
1 large egg, well beaten, for brushing
1 oz pure white chocolate, melted, for drizzling (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, cardamom and salt.

In a small saucepan, melt butter with lemon zest to infuse it with the lemon flavour and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla extract to blend evenly. Whisk in melted butter mixture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add egg mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a stiff, slightly sticky dough forms. You may need to mix it with your hands a bit to bring it together, but don’t knead it. Fold in pistachios and figs.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, divide it in half and roll each half into a 10-inch long log. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet and flatten with your hands so they are about 2 ½ inches wide. Brush tops and sides with beaten egg and bake until golden brown and slightly cracked at the surface, about 25 minutes.

Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let biscotti logs cool on pan for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Transfer each log to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice it diagonally into ½ to ¾-inch-thick slices with a gentle sawing motion. Place cookies, sitting upright, back on the baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with melted white chocolate if desired.
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