My biscotti are ready!

December 10, 2009

Pistachio, almond and chocolate biscotti.

Yesterday I went out on my mission to find pretty boxes to hold my biscotti. These are the home-made Christmas gifts I will be giving to my family this year. I found these lovely medium size take away style polka dot boxes in John Lewis for £1.50 each. I also purchased some cream tissue paper to wrap the biscuits in which cost pennies. So its easy to make your home-made presents look  beautiful!

On with my recipe.

After a bit of experimenting this is what I came up with and its delicious!

Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Biscotti.


makes about 20

175g Plain Flour

1tsp baking powder

125g Caster Sugar

2 eggs

25g Pistachios

25g Almonds

25g Milk Chocolate

a few drops of Almond essence

  • Pre heat the oven to 160c/gas mark 3
  • grease an oven tray with butter or line with baking parchment.
  • Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Stir in the beaten eggs and almond essence until the mixture looks clumpy.
  • Now knead together till all the flour disappears, if its too sticky flour your hands and the dough.
  • Pour over the chopped nuts and chopped chocolate, kneed it into your dough evenly.
  • Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll them into sausage shapes about 20cm long and place on the baking tray with a good distance between them (this is because the dough melts and spreads out).
  • Bake for 25 mins, the dough will still look pale. Gently place the 2 pieces on a cooling rack till they are cool enough to handle.
  • With a serated knife carve into the dough at an angle to make chunky little biscuit slices.
  • Place all your pieces back on the baking tray and return to the oven for 10-15mins or until golden.

The biscotti will be nice and crunchy, they will keep for 3 weeks in a sealed container, ready to be given away (or eaten at home with a cup of tea).

The finished gift will probably cost no more than £2.50 including the box containing about 15 biscuits. I saw a similar box in the shops for about £6.00 or £10.00 for a large box. If you can get hold of a tin then the tin can be kept after all the biscuits are eaten.

Happy biscuit making and eating.


Making your gifts yummy!

December 9, 2009

After an unsuccessful Christmas shopping trip to Palmerston Road yesterday I returned empty handed. I did however return with lots of ideas, Knight and Lee department store was filled with lots of beautiful things but all too expensive. Its only half way through December and we are on our weekly budget of benefits.  My husband works full time but his wages cover our mortgage and bills and my carers benefits see us through week to week so we are on a pretty tight budget! If I had the money I would love to bestow all my family with beautiful things.

I saw some pretty tins of Italian Biscotti, hard sweet dipping biscuits, I received some last Christmas from a family member who was living near Milan at the time. I was won ever and couldnt beleive I had gone 25 years without having a biscotti before! They all came wrapped like little sweets in a bright red tin. I spotted some yesterday but £10 for a tin was way out of my price range. Well I could make them I decided and buy pretty boxes to package them for half the price, so thats what I’m up too. Everyone (um me) loves foodie gifts and biscotti due to being a very hard biscuit keep for a few weeks and go very well with a coffee, perfect. I also have heaps of Almonds left that my parents collected from the fields near there Andalucian home.

Making light work of the Almonds!

Almonds are a key ingredient to biscotti. You can probably find a better way of breaking the shells than us or you can buy them de shelled quite easily. I gratefully received the carrier bag of Spanish almonds I was given, never turn down free food!

So im off out to get all the things I need to make my homemade gifts. I also picked up some good real ale from Aldi and whiskey minitures for the men in our family so I can make up a hamper of food and drink for the family. Also some good ground coffee to accompany the biscotti!

Off to the shops, again!

Cold days, hot food.

December 8, 2009

Yesterday was very windy and after a hard slog on the bike along the promenade (made it as far as Southsea Castle!) my thoughts turned to what to cook this week to keep everybody warm.

This recipe is one of my own and enjoyed by everybody, it has plenty of warmth courtesy of the cumin and ginger but isnt spicy hot so its ideal for children. Although you can add chilli if you like. It’s a Moroccan style Shepherd’s Pie with a sweet potato, squash and mash potato topping.


serves 4-6

For the topping you will need,

Small Butternut Squash

2 Sweet Potatoes

5 Lge Potatoes (I like Maris Piper’s)

For the filling you will need

300g of Lamb mince

1 medium onion

1 teaspoon of ginger

a small bunch of chopped mint

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 tin chopped tomatoes

250ml beef stock from cube

1 green pepper and 1 small augergine

  • Pre heat oven to 220c, gas mark 8
  • Chop and peel your potoes and squash and add them to a pan of boiling salted water, cook for 8-10mins or until soft.
  • Drain and mash, you can add some butter, milk and seasoning if you wish. Set your mash aside.
  • Heat a pan and add your mince plus a finely chopped onion (you wont need any oil as the fat from the lamb will cook your onion). When the onion is going translucent add the cumin and ginger, keep stirring to coat the meat in spice, do this for 2-3mins.
  • Now its time to add the liquid, pour in your tomatoes, beek stock and stir. Sprinkle over the sugar and chopped mint, keep stirring till the mixture bubbles.
  • Finely add the chopped pepper and aubergine, turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering and pop a lid on the pan for 10 mins or until the vegtables are cooked.
  • Pour the lamb and sauce into an oven proof dish, top with your mash and place in the pre heated oven for 25 mins or until the top is browning nicely.

You can serve the pie on its own or with a salad.  A glass of Rioja goes well with it too!