Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti from the new Bon Appetit

A year and a half out and I still miss Gourmet magazine.  Like a not-so-good friend, I took Gourmet for granted, thinking it would always be there for me.  Now I want to hang out and it’s gone.  The magazine’s sudden departure from the food scene hurt a little more given the publisher, Conde Nast, chose to keep their other food title, Bon Appetit, around instead.  From an advertising and overhead perspective it must have made good business sense but from an historical, visual and content perspective, there was no comparison between the grande dame, Gourmet, and it’s younger, less sophisticated relation, Bon Appetit.  In my opinion, that is.

My disappointment comes from the loss of Gourmet, not the survival of Bon Appetit and I don’t mean to pick on the latter.  It’s not that Bon Appetit’s recipes are bad; in fact they are generally good and reliable.  But a food magazine should be enticing and Bon Appetit underwent a redesign a few years back that I found unappealing enough to cancel my subscription.  Starting on the cover, the food was often shot close up with harsh lighting, sometimes in a messy, half-eaten state - the culinary equivalent of a mug shot.  I’m pretty sure it was meant to be modern, edgy and cool, but in the end it was plain unappetizing!

Unappetizing is not how I would describe this month’s newly redesigned Bon Appetit.  Adam Rapoport was brought over from GQ to be the editor-in-chief and he has given the magazine a more natural, hip look. The articles and recipes are interesting and accessible. The photography is lush and ironically (or not), more Gourmet-like.  I find the graphics too busy for my taste, but I’m from the less-is-more school so don’t mind me.

My first impression is the new Bon Appetit looks and sounds too similar to other food magazines to truly stand out but, like a new restaurant, it’s only fair to give it time to find its legs.  For now, there's an improvement and I’m rooting for it to succeed.

The May issue is all about Italy, a safe bet for a re-launch because, well, who doesn’t love Italian food?  Inside I found a biscotti recipe from Tribeca's Locanda Verde that made a terrific housewarming gift for a friend who had recently moved to a new apartment.  The distinctive combination of flavors in this classic Italian cookie - pistachios, cherries, orange, lemon, and oats - made for a memorable sweet treat and hopefully eased the turmoil of her move just a bit.

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Using anything but olive oil in an Italian recipe seems wrong so I swapped out the vegetable oil for a mild olive oil. 

Don’t have almond extract on hand?  Neither did I.  Add that much more vanilla extract instead.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.  Blend on low speed for 30 seconds.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and next 5 ingredients.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture; beat until combined.  Fold in cherries and pistachios.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide in half.  Using floured hands, shape each dough half into a 12” long log.

Brush off excess flour; transfer logs to prepared sheet, spaced 5" apart.  Flatten each log into a 2” wide strip.  Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until browned and set, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a rack, let cool for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven to 250 degrees and arrange 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third.

Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.  Transfer biscotti to a work surface.  Using a serrated knife, cut each strip diagonally into 1/3”-thick slices.  Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking sheets.

Bake biscotti, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 40 minutes.  Transfer baking sheets to racks; let cool.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen

No comments: