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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Biscotti Binge - Gluten Free Biscotti Recipe

So, in 2015 my mother started making biscotti at home. In recent years, free from her days of preparing meals for her hungry brood, her culinary endeavors have become more and more creative and delicious (a far cry from the days of shake & bake, and steamed broccoli, but I mean she was raising 5 hellions, what else do you want?!?!).  As a hungry epicurean I am often initial critic and ultimately beneficiary of her experimentations and efforts. Among the  successes like toasted granola that I can’t get enough of, fruit jams and pickles that fill my refrigerator, it is her biscotti that is, by far, the standout. Her flavor combinations are unique, interesting and most importantly delicious.

Sweet Varieties
Her philosophy behind the flavors she chooses is that ‘good things come in threes’. Now I know that idea is a little cliché, but honestly I think it’s a good mantra for showing restraint and being highly intentional in her selections. Just last year she expander her offering to include both Gluten Free and Vegan varieties, her empty nest allowing her the time to devote to perfecting ratios and choosing the most reliable ingredients. She was so successful that I was able broker her first commercial sale to a local coffee shop here in Baltimore, for which she produced over 100 individual portions across the spectrum of flavors and dietary needs. Through this transaction I came into possession of a few dozen of my favorite varieties, which I clearly went through in a matter of days, it was the beginning of an addiction.

Savory Biscotti - Parmigiano, Herbs & Garlic
It’s been a few months now since my last shipment, and the demands of life have made visits home challenging but I have found myself craving her biscotti more and more frequently.  With no alternative biscotti craving solution on the horizon, and despite my distaste for and general lack of baking talent, I decided to attempt to recreate her biscotti myself.

I decided I would create both sweet and savory varieties, and gluten free of course (here’s looking at you MDW). The sweet would clearly contain chocolate and would be perfect for ice cream of coffee related consumption. The savory would be feature the like of garlic, herbs, and cheese, and would be a perfect complement to charcuterie or antipasti.

The process was rather simple, but lengthy. Biscotti must be shaped, brushed, baked, cooled, sliced, and bakes again. What on paper looked like an easy hour or so, easily took up my entire evening – and I only got through my sweet creations on my first attempt! In just two days I devoted over 6 hours to the baking process (I won’t admit how long it took me to eat them all for fear of reproach), but in the end this biscotti binge was totally worth it, and not likely to truly end any time soon. They are just so simple, methodically satisfying to prepare and there are myriad different concepts and combinations to try.

If you couldn’t tell already, I can’t seem to get enough of these buttery slices of biscuit heaven. In fact, I think these biscotti are one of the best gluten free baked goods I have ever had. Perhaps it’s the natural density of biscotti, the twice-baked method that helps the GF flour perform like its gluten-full relatives, or the care that has gone into crafting this particular recipe (I tend to think the latter) but you’d really never know they’re Gluten Free. The beauty of this recipe is that if you stick to the rule of 3, you really can’t go wrong. Simply replicate the basic dough, be thoughtful about your add-ins, follow instructions and you’re bound for success.


“Good Things” Biscotti – Recipe Courtesy of Dolores Guerin



  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 eggs + 1 for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-2 cups mix-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc – but remember, ONLY 3)
  • For this preparation these are my combinations:
    • Dark Chocolate, Chopped Hazelnuts, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
    • Dark Chocolate, Cardamom, Dried Sour Cherries
    • Parmigiano, Italian herb (Rosemary, Basil, Oregano), garlic




Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium

speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes (Note: you can use  a hand mixed as I did , but that means you need to use a very low speed and add the eggs earlier as the butter will clump). Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in mix-ins.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Snape each piece into a log across the

width of the pan. With the palm of your hand, flatten logs slightly. Transfer to parchment paper baking sheet. Beat remaining egg well, and Brush over surface of the dough logs.

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until logs are slightly firm to touch and turning golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place logs on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-3/4

inch-thick slices depending on your preference.  Arrange slices back on parchment paper, cut side down. Bake for 30

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Brunch Werk - "Torta Española" Recipe

I have been working on a little side project involving brunch recently which has been a welcome respite from the 9 to 5 rat race. More to come on that at a later date, but it has got me thinking beyond the composed dinnertime  realm for recipe ideas, and more along the lines of breakfast and day time dishes.

Eggs are always one of my favorite foods, and I will honestly eat them any time of the day, but I often struggle with how to elevate them when it comes to serving them to guests.

It goes without saying I love brunch, being gay and all, but I don’t often find egg dishes super exciting or memorable when looking over a menu. I mean I’ll order a benedict or a shirred egg when out to brunch, but I usually end up feeling like I could have done it better at home by the time I am done. So, when looking for brunch project inspiration, I avoided my Sunday dining references, and  started to think back to some of the time I spent in Europe while I was studying abroad in Rome.

One of my favorite dishes,  one perfect for a poor college student country hopping on a shoestring budget, was Tortilla Española. Whether it was late night in a tapas spot in Madrid, a café in Barcelona or a beach bar in Malaga, I could always count on finding the eggy, starchy and sometimes cheesy hybrid of a quiche and an omelet at a reasonable price and in good supply. It was this reminiscing that led me to attempt my own twist on the classic Spanish dish as a part of developing a brunch menu.

I decided for ease of prep, storage, and service, this would have to have a crust, and therefore part from Spanish tradition and lean more toward the quiche end of things. Beyond that, I wanted to pump up the flavor and decided my version would most certainly contain salty, nutty Manchego cheese and a savory, piquant chorizo. I debated how I would incorporate the requisite potato, without which I could reasonable even reference the Tortilla Española name, and vacillated between attempting to avoid injury on the mandolin by thinly slicing the spuds and simply grating them and mixing freely with the eggs. I decided on the latter, as I figured it would offer a lighter texture since the “Torta” as I was now calling it, already had a starchy crust, layers of potatoes would just be far too heavy.

I whipped it all together one morning and ended up adding a healthy dose of oakwood smoked paprika (My fave brand found here), a minced white onion, and generous garlic powder, salt and white pepper. I lined by deep pie pan with crust and simply filled it in with the wet ingredients, topping it off with more paprika just for color. It took slightly longer to cook than I expected but the result was golden-red and delicious. I ended up serving it at an impromptu day time champagne kiki (A kiki is a party, look it up) I held for one of my friends celebrating a birthday and in from out of town. It was a boozy brunchy hit!

My “Torta Española” will most certainly take a top spot in my emerging brunch repertoire.


  • 10 eggs
  • 1 white onion – finely chopped
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups grated/shredded potato (you can use frozen hash brown)
  • 8oz Chorizo - diced
  • 2 pie crusts – homemade or frozen
  • 6 oz Manchego cheese, crumbled or roughly grated
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon oakwood smoked paprika + 1 teaspoon for finishing


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, half and half, and spices. Beat until evening incorporated (I use an immersion blender on low to speed things up). Place one pie crust in the bottom of a large pie pan. Cut the other pie crust into a long strip and work around the edges of the pan for a strong side crust and edge. Add the onions, cheese, and chorizo to the egg mixture and mix well. Pour slowly into the pie pan. Sprinkle teaspoon paprika over top for color. Bake for 35-50 minutes depending on your oven until the center is set and the crust is golden brown. Let stand for 20 mins or chill and serve.