Friday, January 16, 2009

Leaning a little bit one way or the other

I think it's fair to say that people are generally divided between those who prefer sweet treats and those who reach for the salty snacks. I mean, of course there are those of us who like both -- often switching from sweet to salty and then back to sweet during the same snacking session -- but given a choice, we all have a preference. Or at least we're leaning a little bit one way or the other. Ask yourself: Oreos or Baked Ruffles? Ice cream or pretzel rods? Chocolate chip cookies or olives? Hunk of brown sugar or chunk of aged cheese?

For me -- except in the notable case of the brown sugar vs. cheese, as I have always loved eating brown sugar out of the bag, ever since I was a tot, so much so that one memorable day Mom poured the sugar into a bowl, handed me a spoon and said, "Here. You like it so much? Have at it." I think I was supposed to learn a lesson, but instead I just ate a bowl of brown sugar -- I lean savory. As much as I love baked goods, 9 times out of 10 I'm going salty. It must be my body chemistry or something. It's a powerful force.

Now, I enjoy biscotti. Especially homemade biscotti, especially homemade biscotti like the chocolate-peanut butter biscotti Sister made at Christmas. But I seldom, like, die over biscotti. (Except for the chocolate-peanut butter biscotti Sister made at Christmas.) Every so often, though, I see a recipe for savory biscotti and my eyes widen a bit. Like when I spied this cheddar-Pecorino biscotti.

These twice-baked treats are cheesy, replete with extra-sharp cheddar and Pecorino, and studded with toasted pine nuts and tiny pieces of jewel-red sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe states that one should "keep a stash of these savory biscotti in your desk drawer for a quick snack." Though I initially laughed at this suggestion -- mostly because of how random it is, really? your desk drawer? next to the paper clips and file folder labels? -- I now think maybe it's not such a bad idea to hide a few of these away at the office. Snacking on homemade biscotti certainly sounds like a better idea than snacking on the dregs of the cookies that someone in marketing made last week.

Maybe someday soon I can convince Sister to share her chocolate-peanut butter biscotti recipe with me, so I can post it here for you sweet-snack-lovers. But today, it's biscotti for the savory set.


Adapted from "Cooking Light"

You could, of course, substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for the Pecorino, as the original recipe calls for it. However, whenever given the choice, I roll with Pecorino. I can't help it. I am putty in Pecorino's hands. You can decide for yourself, and tweak according to your own taste.

2 3/4 c. flour
Heaping 1/2 c. (about 3 oz.) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 c. Pecorino cheese, grated
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (get the dried ones that come in a bag, rather than the ones packed in oil)
3 T. yellow cornmeal
3 T. pine nuts, toasted
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. dried basil
1/3 c. skim milk
1 T. olive oil
2 large eggs
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and the next 8 ingredients (through the basil). Stir with a rubber spatula to combine. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, olive oil, eggs and egg white. Whisk to combine. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring with the rubber spatula until well blended (the dough with be crumbly and slightly sticky; you might have to use your hands to bring it together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead 7-10 times.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into an 8-inch long roll. Place the rolls 6 inches apart of the baking sheet, then flatten to a 1-inch thickness. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool the dough for 5 minutes on a wire rack.

While the dough is resting, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut each roll diagonally into about 12 slices, each about 1/2-inch thick. Stand the slices upright on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for 25 minutes. Cool biscotti on a wire rack.

Makes 24 pieces, each of which fits conveniently in a desk drawer.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Savory biscotti? Yum! In the salt-sugar divide, I'm firmly on the salt side. But I'll follow cheese anywhere....

Anonymous said...

Those look delicious! I think I am more of a salty snacks person, especially when spicy flavors are involved, although with the examples you provided I was divided exactly 50% salty, 50% sweet.

Sue said...

I will guest-blog the choc-pb biscotti!

Dianne said...

Sue, you must!