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Makes 24.

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There are the two that got a bit burnt in the oven.

The one you have to try to see if they are done.

The three with tea when Mum comes around, awww, perhaps just one more.

Go on.

There’s the one that wouldn’t fit in the biscuit jar,

and

the one that you sneak when you get home from work and can’t think of what to make for dinner.

There are three that go to work in a lunch box

and

four that are missing when you get home to find crumbs on the counter.

There are the two that were used as a little extra to make a bowl of vanilla ice cream special.

Two are dunked in hot espresso with Dad at the dining table.

Three eaten when Cate drops around unexpectedly – served on a china plate with a tiny rose buds pattern.

And then there is one.

The one that rolls around the jar with the crumbs for a week – the one that no one dares to eat.

And then it’s gone.

Makes 24.

Nonna’s kitchen: biscotti

Nonna I

Saturdays and Sundays were for visiting and visitors. And church. That’s just the way it was. Ritual, expected, understood. The cakes were baked and the tables were set. Friends and neighbours knew the rules. This is what my Nonna said. Cakes were good for visitors one expected and biscotti was good for the unexpected type.

Think about it. You bake a cake. It’s got to be eaten fresh, as close to the hour of baking as possible but biscuits… no, you could make a batch of biscuits and they would last weeks – should they need to.

Nonna’s simple biscotti has a firm place in my childhood memories. A constant place. Ever present. Always in the cupboard and always on the table at any gathering. They aren’t fancy and that’s what makes the perfect kind of unexpected visitor biscuit. They aren’t intimidating or show-offy. They are the perfect accompaniment with tea or coffee and people don’t feel decadent in eating one or three.

Nonna II

Watching Nonna’s small capable hands make them is a privilege. Watching her get out the special board to roll them (probably not necessary but that’s the way it’s always been done). Listening to her tell me that the dough reacts differently in different seasons. In summer you need to work quickly and in winter she would work in the warmest part of the day. It’s imperative that the dough is very soft – she uses butter in summer and margarine in winter.

Attempting to understand and learn how to roll the correct thickness of dough and then shape them into and S or a bow. Adding the egg wash so that they come out of the hot oven shiny and golden. These are important things. Very important things.

This is her recipe.

Nonna IIII

Biscotti con vino dolce/ Sherry biscuits 

250g burro/butter or margarine (summer/winter)

1 tazza zucchero/cup sugar

2 uove/eggs

50 ml vino dolce (Sherry) or 2 cucchiaini vanilla/ 20ml Sherry or 2 tspn vanilla

1 tazza corn fleur/cup corn flour

600 – 800 grammi farina /4 cups of self raising flour

Heat oven to 180 degrees

Sift three and a half cups of plain flour and cornflour into a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar, add sherry or vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time.

Fold in flour until it forms a pale dough.

Kneed the dough well on a smooth surface . Add the second half a cup of flour.

The dough must be soft.

Form the biscotti and lay on baking trays. They will rise a little so don’t put them too close.

Glaze generously with a beaten egg or two.

Pop them in the oven for 14mins fan forced.

 Nonna III

Songs I cook to …

Songs to cook to

1. Cler Achel,Tinariwen from Aman Iman: Water is Life

2. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go, Madeleine Peyroux from Careless Love

3.Roll River Roll, Richard Hawley from Lady’s Bridge

4. Bach: Cello Suite #1 In G, BWV 1007 – Praeludium, performed by Truls Mørk

5. Boquinene, Ibrahim Ferrer from Buenos Hermanos

These are my five choices for the RN First Bite programmes ‘Songs to Cook To’ comp.

It wasn’t hard to come up with five. My kitchen activities whether they be meal making, baking or simply doing the washing up are always accompanied by a soundtrack. This could be a podcast or a digital radio tune in (BBC Radio 6 Music is such good fun) or a selection of music from Spotify.

As I was compiling my list however, I had the recurring thought that it’s actually whole albums that I enjoy listening to rather than a ‘playlist’ of individual tracks. Listening to an album in its entirety is such a joy. It as though you are being personally escorted around an artist’s gallery by the artist themselves. Albums ebb and flow and beckon you to follow them on to the next audible treat.

Go have a listen to some of the tracks on the expanding playlist.

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, Rufus Wainwright, Lilac Wine, Nina Simone, Return Of The Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons, Banana Boat (Day-O), Harry Belafonte …. there are some odd ones.


What would you add?