Seasons by the Sea: Recipes 12.08.11

    This recipe is adapted from an old issue of Food and Wine magazine. It will make enough to flavor 10 bottles of Champagne or white wine.

6 large oranges
21/2 cups sugar
31/2 cups fresh orange juice
4 cloves
pinch salt
750 ml. bottle brandy

    Remove peel from oranges, making sure not to get any of the white pith. Bake the peel in a 200-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until it is brittle. When peel is cool, place it in food processor with the sugar and blend until it is finely minced.
    Place orange sugar in bowl, add the orange juice, cloves, pinch of salt, and stir until dissolved. Add the brandy. Pour bischof into bottles, seal tightly and store in dark, cool place for about a week. You can either strain the bischof into bottles or simply strain it as you serve it. Serve about two tablespoons of bischof for each glass of wine or Champagne.

Alice Threadgill’s Cheese Crackers
    This recipe comes from an old neighbor in Texas, Alice Threadgill. Feel free to fool around with it. Sometimes I add some chopped rosemary and a bit more cayenne.

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup flour
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

    Combine in mixer or with hands. Roll into golfball-size pieces. Place on cookie sheet two inches apart. Press with fork to flatten in crisscross pattern, similar to peanut butter cookies.

    Bake at 350 for approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until golden on bottom.

Ginger Cookies
    This recipe for ginger cookies comes from the Stars Restaurant cookbook. You can roll these into ginger boys and girls.

    Makes three dozen.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 oz. butter, softened
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
21/4 cup flour

    Beat one-half cup granulated sugar with brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg, then molasses. Beat well, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Turn mixer on low and add dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated.

    Chill dough for about 30 minutes.

    Roll dough into three-quarter-inch balls and roll in remaining granulated sugar. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper, about two inches apart. Flatten slightly with fingers or bottom of glass.
    Bake for about 12 minutes at 325 degrees until golden brown and set around the edges but still soft inside.

Spiced Nuts
    This recipe is more of a guideline than recipe. Use any kind of nuts you like. I like to use almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and pistachios.

11/2 lb. mixed nuts
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary
    Bake nuts on cookie sheet until golden, about 10 minutes at 350, tossing occasionally.
    In a bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and chopped rosemary. When nuts come out of the oven, toss them in melted butter mixture and let cool.

Peppermint Bark
    This is another recipe that’s more of a guideline.

1 lb. good quality dark chocolate
1 cup chopped candy canes or any hard peppermint candy
1/2 lb. white chocolate
1 cup crushed chocolate wafer cookies, optional

    Melt dark chocolate. Fold in about three-quarters of the peppermint candy bits and cookie crumbs, if desired. Spread the chocolate onto a Silpat (silicone) mat on a cookie sheet. Let cool.

    Melt white chocolate and spread it gently on top of dark chocolate. Sprinkle with remaining peppermint candy bits. Let cool and break into chunks or cut into neater pieces with sharp knife.

Cherry Orange Pistachio Biscotti
    This is one of my own recipes for biscotti. It makes a big batch, perfect for shipping or freezing.
    Makes 10 logs or about 240 cookies.
12 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
7 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. orange zest
3 cups pistachios
21/2 cups dried cherries or cranberries

    Whisk eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Sift next six ingredients together and add to eggs. This will be a sticky, messy dough. Add pistachios and dried cherries.

    Separate dough into 10 blobs. Have a mixture of equal parts flour and sugar on countertop. Roll each blob into a log and set aside, or roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    Bake logs, about four inches apart (they will flatten a bit while baking), in a 325-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until top feels slightly firm. Cool.

    Slice logs into whatever thickness you like your biscotti to be, then bake in a 300-degree oven until dry and firm, about 25 minutes.