My two granddaughters, the youngest is 14-months, had no problem devouring their pasta e fagioli. In fact, I sent the leftovers home with them. This is a traditional Italian pasta dish that could be made relatively inexpensively and my grandmother could feed her family of seven in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Are you hosting or possibly attending a brunch or cocktail party this holiday season? I tweaked a recipe for bacon cheddar scones to make it more elegant by incorporating Alexian Pâté’s Wild Forest Mushroom Pâté into the dough. I experimented doing these two different ways. The first was to encase a small piece pâté in the middle of the scone. The other was to partially freeze the pâté and gently grate on the coarse side of box grater. The latter proved the way to go. The scones were delicious and each mouthful contained pâté. Can you imagine nibbling of these while sipping a glass of Pinot Noir or Burgundy wine? Also, brunch will never be the same as you set the bar that much higher.
Recently I was in a conversation with someone regarding baking with honey. I mentioned that I had a biscotti recipe with honey by pastry chef, Nick Malgieri. I first became familiar with Mr. Malgieri from his appearances in the early days of the Food Network on the show Cooking Live hosted by Sara Moulton, former executive chef of Gourmet Magazine.
Mr. Malgieri is the former executive pastry chef at Windows on the World. He also founded the baking program at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School, which is now the Institute of Culinary Education. I participated in a one-day biscotti baking class with Mr. Malgieri that was awesome. I came away with great baking tips and a packet of wonderful biscotti recipes that I’ve been making ever since.
The recipe I shared was Biscotti Napoletani (Honey, Almond, Cinnamon Biscotti). For this recipe you’ll need all-purpose flour, sugar, whole almonds, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, honey and water. This is an easy recipe to make and yields approximately five dozen cookies. I tend to bake more biscotti’s during the holidays as I find they’re less work and yield a great number of cookies. However, one must make sure that any biscotti you make must be sufficiently baked the first time to avoid under cooked, heavy centers.
You’ll find this biscotti has a nice crunch, has a bite that gives a bit from the moisture provided by the honey and is not very sweet. I love to sit down in the evening with a cup of chai tea and dunk a few biscotti. Traditionally, biscotti are served for dessert with a glass of vin santo wine. For my gluten-free friends, I’ve included a version for them.
Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta and Beans
Naples at Table, Arthur Schwartz © 1998
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus ¼ – ½ cup more to make the Hot Pepper Oil*
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 canned and peeled plum tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
2½ – 3 cups cooked cannellini beans, with enough of their cooking liquid to barely cover them
6 ounces large tubular pasta, such as zitoni or rigatoni, or a wide, flat pasta, such as mafaldine (manfrede in Neapolitan or fettuccia riccia, or pasta mista (mischiata), or ziti, penne or ditali
Hot pepper oil
To reheat: Pasta and beans can be reheated in a covered casserole in the oven or in a microwave.
Various herbs might be used to flavor the dish. Add a coupe of bay leaves and/or sprigs of rosemary to the pot of simmering beans, or cook one, the other, or both in the oil with the garlic. Sage is also an excellent seasoning for beans, but it is not a favored Campanian combination.
Cubes or slices of potato are also sometimes cooked along with the pasta, then combined with the beans.
Hot Pepper Oil
Break whole small dried chilies into extra-virgin olive oil, seeds and all, let them infuse the foil with their sting. You can also use red pepper flakes depending on their quality, can work well too. It takes just several hours before the oil is peppery enough for use. Proportions aren’t important, if it’s too hot, add more olive oil.
Arthur uses extra-virgin olive oil and notes it will not last as long as unflavored oil.
Cheddar and Alexian Wild Forest Mushroom Pâté Scones
Adapted by Donna’s Daily Dish November 1, 2021
from King Arthur Baking Company’s recipe for Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones
Prep: 20 minutes
Bake” 22 to 24 minutes
Total: 44 minutes
Yield: 8 scones
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (14g) baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons (57g) cold butter
1 cup (113g) very coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup (about 14g) snipped fresh chives
1 package Alexian Pâté’s Wild Forest Mushroom, freeze for 15 minutes
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (198g) heavy cream or whipping cream, or enough to make the dough cohesive
HONEY, ALMOND AND CINNAMON BISCOTTI
By Nick Malgieri ©1998
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup whole, unblanched almonds, finely ground
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup whole, unblanched almonds
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
Be careful with the first baking of these biscotti. Even though they are baked a second time after being cut, if they do not bake sufficiently the first time, the biscotti will have a hard, heavy core.
Mix flour, sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and whole almonds in mixing bowl 1 to 2 minutes. Add honey and water and stir until firm dough forms.
Remove dough from bowl and divide in half. Roll each half into log about 15 inches long. Place logs, well apart, on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until well risen, firm and dark golden color, about 30 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool logs slightly and place on cutting board. Stad up biscotti on baking sheet 1/4 inch apart and bake until lightly colored and dry, 15 minutes.
Makes about 5 dozen biscotti.
“Biscotti: twice baked and ready for dunking,”
By Nick Malgieri, Los Angeles Times Syndicate
Sunday, December 3, 1995
2 cups whole, unblanched almonds
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A wheat- and gluten-free version of Biscotti Napoletani, these biscotti are delicate and crunchy. Be sure to let them cool after the first baking or they will be difficult to cut into individual pieces.
Grind 1 cup almonds in food processor fitted with metal blade by pulsing repeatedly until almonds are fine. Mix well in bowl with remaining 1 cup whole almonds, cornmeal, cornstarch, baking soda and cinnamon.
Beat egg in separate bowl and whisk in sugar, honey, butter and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula to form stiff dough. Scrape dough onto baking sheet lined with buttered parchment. Press with palm of hand into even layer about 1/2 inch thick, completely covering bottom of pan.
Bake at 350 degrees until well risen and firm, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then invert onto cutting board and cool completely. Cut into 3 (3x13-inch) strips. Cut each strip into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange biscotti on baking sheets and bake about 15 minutes longer.
Makes 6 to 7 dozen biscotti.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.