For the love of Cookbooks

I love Cookbooks. I read them like novels, each recipe is a new chapter . Usually I am not a fan of cookbooks that don’t have pictures but there is one exception – “The New Baisics Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo, former owners of the Silver Palate Deli. This cookbook was given to Mammy by a close friend about 30 years ago in America. The spine has fallen off and it the book has divided into about four different sections. Pages that have fallen out are stapled back on other loved recipes are stained from eggs and cake batter. To make matters worse it smells of old, damp paper but despite all its faults Mammy refuses to replace it. I recently went to visit the giver of the book  in the States I discovered her book had, had a similar fate. I was delighted to discover that she had the third book by the “Silver Palate Girls” “The Good Times Cookbook”. Shelia Lukins and Julee Russo, who co-owned the small deli in  Upper West Side New York, were my heroes when I was little. The Whenever we had  a dinner party there book was referred to for the famous “Chicken Marbella ” which has become Mammy’s signature company dinner. At Christmas it was there “Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies” that Santa enjoyed and there brownie was served on our table long before it became popular this side of the Atlantic. In this new book I stumbled upon a recipe for biscotti or more correctly known as biscotti de Prato. I was never a huge fan of the very hard twice baked biscuit I found it almost impossible to eat but decided to give it a try .  This recipe the biscuit is a little bit softer than the traditional biscuit but the flavour is really good what can go wrong with hazelnuts and chocolate

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti

makes 20

Adapted from “The Good Times Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo

2 eggs

50g of dark chocolate chips

50 g of hazelnuts toasted, skinned  and bashed with a rolling pin

50g of sugar

20ml of vegtable oil

1 tsp of vanilla extract

150g of white flour

60g of wheat bran/wheat germ or a combination

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

Preheat the oven to 190C

Beat eggs and sugars in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add oil and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Whisk flour and wheat bran/germ, baking powder and salt together in another bowl; add to sugar mixture. Mix until blended; stir in nuts and chocolate.

Briefly knead the dough. Firmly shape into a log 3 inches wide ( be sure to make the loaf compact. Pat it solidly, so when you cut it into slices, the cookies won’t crumble). Place log on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut log into slices about 1/2 an inch thick. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes on each side (longer if you want them crunchier). Leave to cool before serving they last up to a week in an airtight container but can be frozen for as long as three months.

Variations: You could change the nuts to pistachio, almonds ect. Dried fruit could replace the chocolate. The original recipe is Apricot and Pistachio which sounds like a really nice combination. The biscuits could be drizzled with melted chocolate after cooking. Or if you are not a fan of whole meal or don’t have wheat bran white flour or ground almonds could replace it. If using the ground almonds replace the vanilla with almond extract for extra flavour.

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