Friday, November 5, 2010

And then there was winter. And hunting season.

I’ve been so busy calling restaurants and sending out Thanksgiving Dessert Menus that I missed the memo about winter. The fall is over as the once beautiful and colorful leaves are all but shriveled brown wafts drifting through the woods. It’s been lightly snowing on and off every morning with morning temperatures in the 20s. The mountain has a fairly thick coating of snow on the trails and highest peaks, and I’m sure cars will soon be heading to the mountain toting skis on the roof.

Along with this chill also comes bow-season for the hunters. I went home to Massachusetts for a mere four days, and during this time hunters must have noticed the house was shut up and the cars gone. My neighbors spotted a van driving out of our driveway with a deer on the roof. This isn't the first time my house has been used as a shooting range for hunters.

Unfortunately, they aren’t breaking any laws. Hunters are allowed to hunt on any private property as long as there isn’t a no hunting or trespassing sign posted. I hadn’t put ours up yet, not realizing hunting season had begun. The signs are all up now, and the hunters haven't been back.

Unfortunately, hunters aren't all the deer must look out for. Last week I left the house for an early morning run only to come across a dead deer on my neighbors front lawn. Apparently it was hit by a car the previous night and dragged onto the grass. As if that wasn't enough, this very morning I came across an intact deer leg and a tangle of the rest of the deer by my mailbox. It must have met something hungry in the night.

Deer are such animals of grace and beauty, and it deeply saddens me to watch these natural yet unfortunate events happening right on my own property.

So, nothing like a hot cup of tea with crunchy biscotti to lift spirits and warm cold fingers and toes?? I think so.

Honey-Lavender Biscotti with White Chocolate Drizzle.

If you’ve ever ordered a cup of coffee or tea after dinner in an Italian restaurant, you’ve probably encountered biscotti. Biscotti are a twice-baked cookie, baked once in a log then sliced into long thin cookies and baked again to attain their infamous crunch. They beg to be dunked into your hot drink to soak up the liquid and soften their crunch.

The hardness of the biscotti depends on the fat content of the cookie. Biscotti baked with just egg whites create a hard and dry cookie. If butter is added, the cookies are softer and closer to the pre-packaged biscotti sold in grocery stores. Biscotti baked with whole eggs, and sometimes additional egg yolks, exhibit a medium level of crunch.

To bake these honey-lavender biscotti, make sure you use a good quality honey as it greatly improves the flavor. And if like most people, you don’t necessarily have dried lavender blossoms in your pantry, don’t panic. They’re fairly easy to find at gourmet food shops. I bought mine at Marty’s in Newton, MA, but they're also easy to find online.

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 ½ tablespoons good quality honey
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon dried lavender

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Sift the dry ingredients together.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine eggs and sugar and whisk on high speed until the mixture reaches a pale yellow color. Add the honey, vanilla, orange zest and lavender and mix until just combined.

4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide the mixture in two (use a food scale to be exact if you have one). Form each portion of dough into a 13 by 2 inch loaf.

5. Place each loaf on the prepared baking sheet, about 4 inches apart. Bake the loaves approximately 30 minutes, when they begin to turn golden brown and start to crack on the top surface.

6. Cool the loaves about 15 minutes and lower the oven to 325 degrees F.

7. Cut the loaves into ½ inch slices, cutting at a diagonal to elongate the biscotti. Lay the biscotti cut side up on the baking sheet and return to the oven, cooking approximately 7 minutes on each side, until the cookies are golden on each side.

8. Optional- If you’re like me and think chocolate makes everything in the world better, drizzle the cooled biscotti with melted white chocolate.

9. Enjoy! crunch crunch crunch

(images - honey: bbcfoodfood, lavender:

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