recipe for biscotti et al. was: RE: Saffron

Jim McKenney
Mon, 31 Oct 2005 15:10:00 PST
Roger, the 1 ounce tin of saffron I bought is Spanish saffron, whole style
(in at least two senses of the word) saffron, and does not contain any
macroscopic adulterants. It's the real thing, no different in appearance
than that which I harvest from my own plants. 

The one ounce mass is roughly the size of a big lemon. And for me, it's
probably a life time supply.

I would never buy powdered saffron. 

I'll skip the recipe for the ambergris, but if you have one for assafoetida
I'm interested. Although I've known about assafoetida for decades, not only
in its stand-up-comic manifestations and in its culinary manifestations but
also in its botanical manifestations (the genus Ferula contains some
striking plants), only very recently have I run across this astonishing
assertion: apparently to some people assafoetida tastes like truffles (I'm
not sure if black truffles or white truffles are meant). So, I'll be trying
it soon. 

And now I'll be wondering if that inexpensive truffle oil in the stores is
really assafoetida oil!

When I said that saffron was introduced as a coloring agent rather than a
foodstuff, I had in mind the often cited story that saffron was brought to
Italy to be used to color the glass in cathedral windows - the culinary uses
only being developed later. I see the problem with that story myself:
saffron has probably been used in what we now call Italy since ancient
times. So let's say that the modern re-introduction of saffron, after they
turned the lights back on after the Dark Ages, was initially for
non-culinary purposes. 

Here's a recipe for the biscotti:

2 cups of all purpose (i.e., no particular purpose) wheat flour
about 1 cup of sugar
two teaspoons of baking powder
two or three tablespoons of aniseed

1/2 cup of butter
the zest of one orange

two large (in the USDA sense) eggs
the juice from the orange

about a cup of golden raisins
about a cup of toasted whole almonds

Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and aniseed; mix thoroughly.

Add the butter and orange zest; mix thoroughly.

Add the two eggs, slightly beaten; add the orange juice.

I do all of the above in the food processor. Now transfer the dough to a big

Now work in the raisins and whole almonds. 

This should produce a very heavy and fairly stiff dough.

Divide the dough into two portions.

Roll out each dough portion into a log about eighteen inches long and about
1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.

Place the logs on a baking sheet (or if you are the think-ahead type, roll
the logs out on the baking sheet in the first place).

Bake the logs at about 350 degrees F until they are slightly tan - about a
half hour.

Cool the logs. When they are cool, cut them diagonally to the long axis into
pieces about 3/4 inch thick and as long as your angle of cut allows. Be sure
to use a sharp knife because of the whole almonds.

Now bake them again (this is why they are biscotti) for about a half hour at
a very low temperature - no more than 250 degrees F to dry them out. 

Store them dry.

Then, the next time the sun comes out, fix an appropriate beverage, find a
nice spot in the sunshine, relax and enjoy life. 

If you are smart, you will not let anyone else taste these. Otherwise,
importunate mendicants will materialize as surely as the delicious, enticing
fragrance of these biscotti cooking wafts throughout the house and

As you enjoy these, remember me and forgive me for all of my transgressions
in the conduct of my PBS rants.  

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I've been told that
these biscotti are wonderful with a good Sauternes. 

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