Sunday, 13 December 2009

Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti... and a declaration of love

A few weeks ago, having some well deserved time off, E. and I decided that we would finally go to Ottolenghi for lunch. It is something we had been saying we should do for ages and either due to being busy or more accurately lazy we had just not got round to it.

You see, I love Yotam Ottolenghi! I have been a fan for quite some time, regularly following his column The New Vegetarian in The Guardian, drooling over the wonderful recipes both sweet and savoury on an almost weekly basis. So last year for my birthday E. got me the Ottolenghi cookbook -and I didn't even have to drop any hints. The recipes are beautiful and I have to say that the hazelnut cupcakes have made me very popular at work and of course with E.

I have often passed by the Ottolenghi café in Islington, barely able to resist pressing my face against the windows. Cakes and meringues piled high take centre stage against the minimalist backdrop of the white walls and blackboard menus.

I don't know how it had taken us so long to visit but it was certainly worth the wait. The lunch menu, mainly a selection of interesting salads with a choice of main dishes, was fantastic. E. had seared beef with a broccoli & chilli salad. I stuck with the selection of salads and although I loved the roast beetroot with quince, my favourite was the wild rice with pistachio and cranberries. We both felt so fulfilled with our lunches that we decided to give the desserts a miss -we'll save them for another trip.

Eager to try the wild rice, pistachio & cranberry salad at home I started searching the Ottolenghi cookbook to see if the recipe had been included. Sadly it was not but I did come across a recipe for Pistachio & Ginger Biscotti, which I thought could easily be adjusted to include cranberries. 

This recipe is quite different from most biscotti recipes that I have tried in that the dough is quite soft and you need to scoop in onto the baking sheet.  A bit more difficult to work with but absolutely delicious. These are perfect for dipping in coffee -or tea in the case of E. He finished off the entire batch in record time.

Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti
adapted from
80 g unsalted butter
110 g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp brandy
grated zest of 2 oranges
200 g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
80 g pistachio nuts, shelled
70 g dried cranberries

In a bowl cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Add eggs one by one and then add brandy and orange zest.

Sift flour, ginger and salt in to the butter/egg mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Add pistachios and cranberries and knead into the dough. The dough will be a bit stickier than most biscotti recipes but this is because they are slightly softer than most. If you want a firmer dough add more flour bit by bit .

Scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking tray forming a log shape, sprinkling extra flour if the dough is too sticky to work with. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Now bake in a preheated oven at 170
°C for 20 minutes and then remove from oven to cool. Increase your oven temperature to 130°C. One cool slice slice the log across into 1 cm slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices on their side and return to the oven and bake for another 40 minutes. They should be golden in colour.


I am pleased to report that this story has a double happy ending because not only did I find a delicious recipe to kick off the Christmas baking season, but also I tracked down my wild rice salad with pistachio recipe (just replace dried apricots for dried cranberries).


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