Tag Archives: review

Better biscotti or bust

As mentioned earlier, I recently attempted to make chocolate-pistachio biscotti. I have always been a fan of biscotti since my friends and I would go to our local hot-spot and sip coffee and munch biscotti during high school (remember Bell’s that I mentioned earlier?), and this summer I finally tried my hand at making it. So far everything has been a success. I posted about the lemon-anise biscotti, but forgot to snap pictures of and mention the cherry-hazelnut I also made. It got to the point where the biscotti was delicious, but need a little extra something. What does one do when the usual baked goods need a pick me up? Add chocolate of course.

I searched for a good (erm, actually a ‘quick and easy’ and with ingredients that I had around the house) recipe and finally found one for chocolate-pistachio biscotti. I read other blogs as people raved about the combination of salty nuts and sweet chocolate and couldn’t wait to start my own batch. So I grabbed the recipe and headed to the kitchen.

The dough came together quickly and easily enough, but something was off. It was extremely dry. While I toyed with the idea of adding more liquid to it, I finally settled on this idea: “Kiwi, it’s a Martha Stewart recipe. Let’s trust her this once and make these exactly to her instructions.”

And so I took the very dry dough, made the log to bake for the first go round and pressed all the escaped pistachios into the dough, and there were quite a few. Then baked according to instruction, about 20-25 minutes. Now, for those of you who have made biscotti before you probably know that when the biscotti are baked for the first time they need to be rather firm all the way through so that cutting them into the usual diagonal biscotti shape is easier and the cookies don’t crumble as you cut them. Well, these were way too soft after the first baking, and I knew it, but once again that voice inside my head said “Trust in Martha”. Why, oh, why did I listen?

Oh sure, they look harmless enough, and they do taste rather good, but they are so wrong on so many levels. Notice how insanely thick they are? Yeah, that’s cause they were too soft after the first baking so when I tried to cut them they fell apart. The only way to try to keep them intact? Make them massive. Notice the holes on top where the pistachios fell off because the little buggers didn’t want to stay on? Too many nuts, not enough dough. Then, after the second baking and the cleaning of the crumbly mess in my kitchen from cutting these, the suckers (oh wait, biscotti, not suckers…the…confused cookies?) still were not done in the middle enough. I mean, they were done, it’s not like they were raw, don’t get me wrong, but they were way too soft to be biscotti. So I told the voice in my head to shut up and baked them for longer. But to no real avail. Alas: dry, giant, falling apart, but tasty none-the-less, biscotti.

Smidget attempted to console me as I was rather enraged disappointed at these biscotti, and Martha, for turning out so poorly. She said the wise words of “I’ve tried at least one of her cookie recipes myself, and I found it wasn’t that good.” So all in all, I just have to say, Martha-please take another look at your cookie recipes and make sure everything is set the way it should be.

That being said, I won’t post the recipe until I can find (and or tweak and make my own) recipe that makes the most amazing chocolate-pistachio biscotti around. Although, I’m sure you could find the recipe pretty easily, it is, after all, Martha Stewart’s chocolate-pistachio biscotti. But what to do with the recipe? I’m actually thinking this may make a good tart crust dough. Ya know, chocolate cookie crust with a layer of pistachios and chocolate ganache?

What’s the worst recipe you’ve ever followed? Or, how have your Martha experiences been?


A Homemade Life: Stories and recipes from my kitchen table

As promised, here is my review for Molly Wizenberg’s “mouthwatering memoir” A Homemade Life:

When I had first heard of this book, I didn’t remember it at all. I’m sure I had seen in on another foodie blog and passed it by, but then it appeared in a care package from home and I knew it was something I had to read right away. Sadly, I was still in school and had to focus on my studies and reading for class than what I actually wanted to be reading. So during that time I clicked on over to Orangette, Molly’s blog, and lo and behold what I found there. Nothing. Honestly, I barely read it because it didn’t interest me from a first glance. I enjoy the fun, bright blogs as can be seen by those on my list of blogs I’m addicted to, but Molly’s was very cut and dry with few embellishments, professional, but not so much fun. This worried me about the book and if it was going to be the same way, but with a huge sigh of relief I discovered I was wrong.

The book was quick, I was able to practically finish it on the flight from New York to Anchorage, so about 11 hours give or take. All I didn’t get to was the last fifteen or so pages, which were just the thing to lull me to sleep that night. Yet what I discovered within its pages was something much more than a person’s simply life story and a few recipes that I would never want to make, as I usually see in books that incorporate recipes.

Each chapter was filled with a new story or two tying food back to Molly’s life growing up at home, or in Paris, and the various memories connected to the dish. I particularly enjoyed reading about her childhood in Oklahoma and the holiday seasons and great events. I only wish I had tissues on me for the chapters concerning her father and his passing, especially because I’m sure the girl sitting next to me was getting really disturbed at the seemingly random tears dripping onto the tray table. And finally, for once in a recipe book (or one not classified as a cookbook) I have found things I want to make. I would love to try her version of french toast, the red cabbage salad that may even bring my stubborn Aunt to like cabbage, and even the classic Hoosier pie.

The book was a great success, both for my own knowledge of food and family, but also for Molly as being a published author, something that at is a large goal for many bloggers and creative writing majors, including myself. Her memoir has caused me to go back to Orangette and give it another go, while actually reading a few of the entries to see if they have the same conversational flow as the book. I am glad to report that the book is basically an extension of the blog that you can take anywhere that internet connection cannot reach. So get your own copy today, curl up on the couch with a nice cup of coffee, tea, whatever your fancy be, and spend some time absorbed in Molly’s homemade life, it is well worth it.

And I am proud to say that from now on Orangette will have its own place in my heart and on my blog, as you can access it from my Blogs I’m Addicted To list. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.