December 19, 2012

Rosemary Orange Cranberry 
Vegan Biscotti

No eggs? No butter? No problem. Make Biscotti, the twice baked Italian. No two biscotti are ever alike. Every home cook has his or her favorite family recipe. This one is light, crunchy and a little dry, perfect for dunking in sweet wine or strong coffee. It's made with olive oil, rosemary and orange, but feel free to vary the flavors -- lemon and thyme; lavender and vanilla; dry and crystalized ginger.

6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Grated rind of 1 medium orange
juice of 1 medium orange
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup flour, plus a little more if needed
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, baking powder, salt, sugar, orange zest and juice, and rosemary. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough adding a little more flour if needed. Then work in the cranberries.

Using your hands, work the dough into a log about 2 to 3 inches wide and about 8 inches long on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the log is lightly browned and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and cool. With a sharp knife, cut the log into 1/2- to 1 inch slices. Arrange these on the baking sheet and return to the oven to bake until lightly browned and slightly crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes.

December 17, 2012

little bites

Nibbles ....and more

My Aunt Jane loved to throw parties. A bourbon drinking, chain smoking, pearl draped, buxom woman, she rose late (by my mother's standards), around 10:00, took a long, rose-scented bath, donned a loose, flowered "house dress" and, in the sunny kitchen alcove, sipped coffee and finished the crossword puzzle. Those mornings I biked over, she'd offer me chocolate, dark bitter-sweet chunks. On a square white pad, she'd sketch out a menu for her next party, and oh, those plans were grand, several courses each with a different wine. But on the morning of that big big night, she'd leave the pad behind,  and race to King's Market grab "some of this and some of that" then she'd scrub, vacuum, polish, set the table and arrange flowers. Before sunset, she'd fashion a feast far different than what she'd first had in mind -- poached salmon instead of a roast beaf; or rosemary marinated lamb instead of a crown roast of pork. The woman could cook. About fifteen minutes before the guests arrived, she'd pour herself a juice glass of bourbon (neat), light another cigarette, put her feet up on the kitchen chair, and, with Cheshire smile, she'd say, "Now who in the hell invited all these goddamned people anyway?" 

I learned from Aunt Jane, that planning is fun, but there's really no reason to stick to the plan. Thinking too far ahead always confuses me. It takes just a few little plates to make a party with a little help from my friends.

Stuffed Fingerling Potatoes
Makes 6 bites

6 Russian Fingerling or small red potatoes
1/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces smoked salmon, diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with about an inch of cold water and add about 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Cut a pocket in each potato and fill with the sour cream, smoked salmon and then sprinkle with the parsley.

Sausage Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Makes 12 small bites

12 white mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
1 large Italian sausage, cut into 12 rings
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the mushroom caps on a baking sheet and put the sausage in the center of each cap. Bake the mushrooms until the sausage is fully cooked and no longer pink, about 20 minutes. Brush the top of each cap with just a little maple syrup. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve warm.

December 11, 2012

Best Biscotti - EVER

Christmas Biscotti!

Everyone needs a good cookie in the Christmas repertoire. Mine is biscotti. It is so easy to make it hardly requires a recipe. And, it's my excuse to call a friend so we can bake several batches for holiday gifts (no more scented soaps or candles). I'm always surprised by the delight such a simple present brings. For me, baking biscotti is a welcome pause in the season's hurly-burly, a chance to  gossip and chat, as the dusk dims its rosy light through the cinnamon-scented kitchen.

I started this tradition when our boys were little by trying to make Christmas cookies with their friends. But, frankly, all that mixing, chilling, rolling out and cutting, baking and decorating was too ambitious. (Rolling pins turned into swords, glue-like dough stuck to the ceiling.) Baking biscotti is a simple one-bowl process, clean-up is a cinch. 

No biscotti is ever the same. Using this recipe, I can toss in whatever ingredients I have on hand, my friend can bring what she likes, and we can dream up comb-o's on the fly. I don't feel pressured to give these cookies out right away, they keep well, and can be wrapped and distributed over time. They'll just get drier and crunchier. 

This biscotti recipe is easily doubled, or tripled without any adjustments, unlike most cookie batters. So make a few batches to last into the new year. Then call that friend back, set out a plate, and brew a pot of coffee or open that bottle of wine.

Christmas Biscotti 
Makes about 4 dozen

"Biscotti" means twice baked in Italian. This original recipe has been tweaked with just a little butter to make a tender cookie, that doesn't dry out quite as quickly. See the variations and dream up your own.

4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 all purpose flour, plus more if needed
See ADDITIONS below !

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly butter. Cream together the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs, and then the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, baking powder and flour. Add it to the batter a little at a time to make a stiff dough. (Add a little more flour if it is too wet.) Stir in the ADDITIONS (see list below).

Divide the dough in half and shape each into a loaf about 2-inches wide. Place each log onto one of the baking sheets. Bake until the loaves are golden and cracked on top. Lower the temperature to 250 degrees F. Remove and cool, then slice the logs 1/2-inch thick with a serrated knife. Place the slices on the baking sheet and continue baking until crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool before storing in airtight containers.


Cranberry Almond: 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds plus 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Chocolate Chip: 1 cup mini-chocolate chips
Orange-Walnut: 1 tablespoon grated orange zest and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Triple Ginger: Substitute light brown sugar for the white sugar, add 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon dried ginger
Rosemary-Lemon: 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped rosemary and 1 tablespoon grated orange zest.

December 5, 2012

FOOD FIGHT! Beth Dooley tosses back pizza

Peace of Pizza!

What's in a name? 
Who really owns a recipe? 

To the asshole who bought my domain name (for no apparent reason):
OK BITCH!  Give it back. You may have bought "" (and that swell recipe for the apple cake and the terrific turkey soup with Raghavan's curry). But what you will never own is Beth. Why would you want to be me anyway?

I am hungry. Always.  

You see, cooking and writing are born of hunger and loneliness. Every day, when I'm at this screen, or stirring a pot, I'm just trying to make things right, the instructions exact, nail the details down as a way into my own hearth -- that mythical place of wonderful smells and camaraderie. I'm not doing this alone, for every dish I make and every recipe I write is a conversation with the writers and cooks I admire, with the spirit of my grandmother, with my distant friends.  I want to smell the sizzling onions, whiffs of ginger, see windows glazed against the frosty black night.

Several years ago, when I taught Junior High English, one of my students refused to come to school on time. Her mother tried every morning to get this kid out of bed, her father yelled and threatened. Sometimes they just left her at home and she was absent for the day. She was an odd and distant creature, always wore a hoddie zipped up, her neon pink and green bangs flopped over her forehead. She hardly ever spoke, to the other students or me. 

One lunch break, as she unwrapped the peanut butter on white bread sandwich she brought each day, I asked her if she liked pizza and she nodded yes. I'd been working with an after school group on a cooking project and so I nipped off a little bit of the bread dough we had rising in the back and fashioned a small focaccia, showing her how to roll it to drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and coarse salt. She ate every last scrap. I told her that if she came early the next day, we could make some dough together in time to bake up a real pizza at lunch. She came in 30 minutes early with sauce and cheese, too. On Friday, we made enough pizza for the class (30 kids). When I bake this pizza, I think of her. I no longer teach but I heard that she graduated from high school.

Cooking isn't suppose to be easy. It's messy -- all those pots, all the compost. It takes time, you have to use your hands and your nose and you have to taste things. You have to be OK when your 13 year old says, "not that turkey soup, again?" or your husband tells you he's giving up bread (as you pull a fresh loaf out of the oven). These seem like such little things, but nothing is little in my life anymore. You have to be OK with failure and rejection. You have to clean up.

So go ahead, take "" ... guess what ... I'm not full yet. And for all my readers, don't worry: Beth Dooley is back .. and its .org, by the way.

Peace Pizza
Makes one 12 inch loaf

1 teaspoon dried yeast
3 cups bread or all-purpose flour or more as needed
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 to 1-1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, flour and salt. Slowly add the water to make a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough by hands until it's smooth. Grease a bowl with a little of the oil and put the dough into it. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a warm, draft free area until it doubles, about 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board to make a 12 to 14-inch pizza. Lift the dough onto a baking sheet, top with your favorite sauce, cheese, pepperoni, vegetables, etc. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake until browned and bubbly, about 8 to 15 minutes.