Tag Archives: pistachios

Pistachio & chocolate biscotti

23 Apr

I’ll be traveling back to Italy in a few weeks, which means that I can stock up on a few items that aren’t so easy to find here at home. One of those things is Bronte pistachios, from Sicily. The reason I’ll need to stock up is because I just used up the last of my pistachio stash making these biscotti.

Bronte pistachios are the world’s most prized, and most expensive. They grow on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, in volcanic soil that’s believed to enhance both the seeds’ flavor and bright green color. Bronte is an actual town, largely rural and reliant on farming. Its pistachios are produced in roughly 7,400 acres on the active volcano and are harvested only every other year, further enhancing their demand.

That’s not to say you have to score yourself some Brontes in order to give these biscotti a try. Any good-quality pistachios will do just fine, and the biscotti themselves are pretty easy to pull off.

Hell, I’ve been working with a bum arm for months now, and had no trouble with these at all.

Buona fortuna!

Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

Zest of one large lemon

1 1/4 cups raw and unsalted pistachios, lightly chopped

1/2 cup sugar

3 extra large eggs

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Egg wash

In a large mixing bowl incorporate the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest and pistachios. 

In a separate bowl add the sugar and eggs (I also added a tablespoon of Amaretto; why I couldn’t tell you). Using an electric mixer, mix at high speed for around 5 minutes, until thick.

Fold the egg mixture into the flour mix by hand. When they are thoroughly incorporated add the melted unsalted butter and mix by hand.

Roll the mixture out onto a work surface and knead for a minute or two, then form a single ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour. During this time preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces, then form logs that are around 2 inches high by maybe 10 inches long. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, brush on a light layer of egg wash, and bake for around 20 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan once during that time.

When the logs are golden remove and allow to cool for around 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Cut the logs into slices that are around an inch thick, line them on a baking sheet, and return to the oven for around 20 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from the oven, allow the biscotti to cool to the touch.

Melt around half a pound of semi-sweet chocolate and dip each biscotti into it. Place the biscotti on a sheet of wax paper (I also sprinkled some finely chopped pistachio on top of the melted chocolate, which is just an option) and allow the choclate to thoroughly cool.

Place the biscotti in an airtight container and — this is very important — forget that you even baked them. Seriously. Biscotti always taste better after they’ve rested a couple days. Don’t ask me why.

Two or three days later feel free to have at it. You’ll be very glad that you waited.

Stuffed veal breast

5 Jan


I won’t lie to you. This takes a bit of doing.

Just getting your hands on a proper veal breast requires planning—better still, close proximity to a good butcher. I needed to order this one through friends who own a restaurant here in Maine; they had to get it from a supplier that’s two hours away, in Boston.

So, you’ve been warned.

If you live in a place like New York or Philadelphia or Boston there’s likely a butcher nearby who can set you up quick, fast, and in a hurry. Otherwise you’ll need to strategize a bit, that’s all.

You won’t be sorry, though. Few things are as satisying as a well-prepared stuffed veal breast. Before we became legally conjoined My Associate, a finer cook than I’ll ever be, prepared for me some very fine ones, and in a kitchen no bigger than a broom closet. I would be remiss to not mention her able assistance in this, my first attempt at stuffing the breast.


Saute a couple of onions and as many celery stalks in olive oil until softened, then set aside and allow to cool thoroughly. (You may be interested in this two-part video from a Julia Child show; what I’ve done here is follow much of the technique and some of the recipe, altering things as I saw fit.)


For the stuffing I went with a mixture of ground veal and pork (1 lb. of the veal, about 1 1/2 lbs. of the pork), then added 1/2 lb. of diced mortadella and 1/2 cup of raw pistachios.


Then went in 3/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/2 cup grated Pecorino, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, a healthy dose of chopped thyme, marjoram and sage, salt and pepper to taste, a few dashes of nutmeg, plus the sauteed onion and celery. Mix it all up and—this is very important—fry up a little bit and taste the mixture to make sure it’s to your liking. Now would be the time to adjust the seasonings before moving forward.


Layer the bottom of a large roasting pan with carrots, the cloves of an entire head of garlic, some shallots (or onions), leeks and plenty of fresh herbs.


Lay your veal breast over the roasting pan so that you can determine how much of it will fit into the pan. The veal breast that I scored from my friends was nearly 20 pounds and so I had to cut several ribs off and save them for another day. (Tip: When ordering a veal breast make sure to tell the butcher what you’re planning on doing with it. You don’t want a breast that’s been trimmed too close to the ribs because that will make it difficult to pull this off; it’s important to have a good layer of meat on the bone.)


Using a sharp knife carefully cut along the ribs to create a pocket for the stuffing. Make sure to cut along the entire length and depth of the breast so that the stuffing can fill as much of the inner surface area as possible. Stop cutting around half an inch from the edges so that the stuffing won’t escape from the pocket while the breast is cooking.


Liberally salt both the inside and outside of the breast, then fill the pocket with the stuffing.


Tie the breast with butcher’s twine, place in the roasting pan and put it in an oven that’s preheated to 400 degrees F, uncovered, for 30 minutes. This will allow the breast to brown just a bit.

DSC_0006 (1).jpeg

Remove the breast from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees F. Add a bottle of white wine (I used an inexpensive Trebbiano) and around four cups of stock (I used chicken stock).


Cover tightly with foil and return to the oven. After four hours check to see that the meat is super tender. It should be. At this point remove the foil, raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F, and return the breast to the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes. This will allow the crust to brown a bit more.


This is pretty much what you’ll be looking at when you’re finished. Plenty of liquid will remain, which can be strained, de-fatted and ladled over the meat before serving.


Speaking of serving, you can either slice off individual ribs and serve with the bone and all. Or, just pull the ribs away from the meat and stuffing and slice portions of whatever thickness you like.


It all worked out pretty well.

For a first timer.

Pasta with fresh fig and pistachio

25 Jul

When life hands you fresh, sweet summer figs …

These are the first of the season, and they came from a fig tree that I have been nursing back to health for more than two years.

I was only cooking for myself last night (Mets and Braves game) and so all I sliced was one of the (very large) figs. The handful of unsalted raw pistachios came from a stash that’s always on hand in the freezer.

First I sauteed the pistachios in a mixture of butter and olive oil, but quickly and only to lightly toast the nuts.

Then the figs went in. (I should probably mention that this concoction was not planned and that the ingredients came together on a whim, and on the fly.)

The figs only cooked for about a minute at medium-high heat.

As soon as the pasta was cooked I tossed it in a bowl with some of the (well-salted) pasta water, more butter and a whole lot of Romano cheese.

Then mixed in the figs and pistachios, and added more cheese and some freshly ground pepper.

A little on the quirky side, but not bad.

And I’m pretty sure it’d have tasted even better had my Mets not gotten clobbered by the Braves whilst I was chewing.

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Pistachio cookies

27 Dec

Still into the whole holiday baking routine? Allow me to throw another idea into the mix.

Basically all I did was take my pignoli cookie recipe and turn it into my pistachio cookie recipe.

Who knew this baking game was so simple!

You get yourself a can of pistachio paste, see. Then empty it into the food processor and add sugar and a couple egg whites.

In about 30 seconds your dough is done.

Pinch out some dough and form a cookie, then top with three or four raw pistachios.

Line them up on parchment paper and toss in the oven at 300 degrees F for around 25 minutes.

And that is that.

This batch is on its way to Shyster Jersey Lawyer Friend. Who, coincidentally, left a batch of very fine pignoli cookies at my front door only yesterday.

Thanks, Shy! See you in a bit.

Pistachio Cookies
Makes about a dozen cookies

1 11-oz can pistachio paste
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tbsp flour
2 extra large egg whites
unsalted pistachios

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
In a food processor, crumble the pistachio paste, then add the sugars and flour and mix until fine
Add the egg whites and mix until dough forms
Scoop out small amounts of the dough (wet hands help and so I keep a bowl filled with water on hand), then press three or four pistachios on top
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes
Rotate the sheet and bake another 10 minutes
Allow to cool, give a light dusting of confectioners sugar and serve