I realized this morning that I was starting to forget what it felt like to post a blog entry. And that that was probably not a good sign.
I don’t really know what to say about it. I mean, it’s the strangest thing. Over the last few weeks, I’ve made homemade chicken stock, chicken and rice soup, homemade puff pastry (adapted from this great version at Not Without Salt), goat cheese tarts, pistachio biscotti, roasted vegetables, pizza. In almost all cases, I’ve taken no photos, I’ve planned no blog posts, I’ve just made and eaten and moved on.
Who am I?
Maybe it was finishing Project 365: marathon runners get to rest for a while, right? Maybe it was starting a new year. Maybe it was being busy and feeling like simplifying my to-do list meant cutting time here.
Whatever the case, hello again. I’ve missed you.
So let’s catch up a little. I spent the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 out of town, in Nashville—a place that just may become my new home if I can work out a living arrangement sometime soon—and on the first of the year, we drizzled chocolate onto anise biscotti that looked just like these (but were not, actually, these, as I didn’t even bring my camera on the trip).
I just read that last parenthesis and shook my head.
You know that law about how objects in motion tend to stay in motion? I guess objects not in motion, well, let’s just say it’s easy to not blog when you haven’t been blogging—kind of like it’s easy to not clean the bathroom when you haven’t for a while, or easy to not pick up the phone when you’ve forgotten for a few weeks, or easy to stay in your pajamas on a Monday morning at 2:30 PM because you’ve gotten caught up with work on your computer and you’re in the flow of things and time just flies by.
Reading this post is starting to feel like a giant sigh.
But the good news is, just because it’s easy for things to stay a certain way doesn’t mean they have to. I mean, look, here I am writing a post! There you are, back at work in January! So it’s possible to do something different—to work out this afternoon instead of staying in your pajamas for example, or to go bake biscotti like you’ve always thought you should.
I’ll even help you with that last part.
This version, which I ended up making all over again last week, a few days after ringing in the new year, because seriously I enjoyed them that much, are packed with that unmistakably licorice flavor of anise, an ingredient I don’t get enough of. We made all kinds of modifications to the original recipe, halving it and swapping brandy with yogurt and adding spices and extra anise seed, and the result is really incredible: crunchy, sturdy enough for dunking in a hot drink, slightly sweet, and virtually irresistible every time you walk into the kitchen and see them on the counter.
Of course, you could resist them if you really wanted to—just like I’m forcing myself to get out of bed once I click publish. But you know what I mean.
Adapted from All Recipes
Makes about 25 biscotti
A word about anise seed: When I say I don’t get enough of it, I mean I never bake with it. Ever. So instead of buying a whole container of it for close to $10 when I wanted to make these biscotti, I went to those handy little bulk bins in the beauty section at Whole Foods, spending under a dollar for just enough in a little plastic bag. Things like this make me very happy.
1 cup of sugar (I used Sucanat, just under a cup)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cup flour (I used white spelt)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/6 cup yogurt (I actually mixed it with water)
3/4 teaspoon of ground anise
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg
1 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons of anise seed
Optional: a 3.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In large mixing bowl, beat sucanat and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, combine yogurt, crushed anise, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a third bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Alternately add dry ingredients and liquids to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the almonds and aniseed.
With wet hands, form the dough into a long, wide log diagonally across the baking sheet.
Bake about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Place cookie sheet on rack and cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F.
Cut cooled logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick slices using a serrated knife. Place slices on cookie sheets.
Bake for about an hour, turning after 10 minutes, until dry and slightly brown. Remove to a rack and cool.
Optional: After the biscotti have cooled, melt chocolate pieces in a double boiler and drizzle over the biscotti as you like.