Sunday, February 20, 2011

President's Day Celebrating Italian Style

Presidents' Day (Monday Feb 21st) is celebrated in honor of two of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. For many years, Americans celebrated both Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday separately. Beginning in 1971, Congress combined these celebrations into "one holiday, Presidents’ Day" which now honors all past presidents.
As an Italian American, instead of traditional Cherry Pie, I would like to honor our President’s with a recipe called Biscotti that originated in the city of Prato, Italy.
Biscotti is the only traditional name, which in the Italian language is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning " twice-cooked/baked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Being very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink, into which they may be dunked. So make a cup of tea, a pot of coffee, or pour a glass of sweet dessert wine and enjoy your Biscotti in honor of our Presidents. Here is a wonderful tasty recipe made with dried cherries and pistachio nuts. Hope that you enjoy the long weekend and the Biscotti.

Biscotti with Cherries and Pistachios


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried sweet cherries chopped

Directions:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and dried cherries.
Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes.
The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in re-sealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.


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