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Amanda Hesser's Warm Chicken Salad


Chicken salad always seems to be the most impossibly chic and yet dated thing to eat on a warm day. I imagine monochromatically-dressed ladies sitting daintily at their Upper East Side luncheons, nibbling discreetly from heavy china plates and sipping iced tea from tall, thin glasses. I don't know where I got the impression that chicken salad was a very rich woman's version of diet food, but with Amanda Hesser's appealing insistence that chicken salad could be something much better, I'm glad to have been proven wrong.

Ben and I spent the weekend on our bikes - cycling from downtown to uptown and back, whizzing through some sections of Central Park, and huffing and puffing our (er, my) way through others. The fresh air and exercise was like manna to our office-drone bodies - being bone-tired after days like that is the best kind of tired. But when the time came for dinner, I couldn't bear to be too close to the stove. Luckily for both of us, I found respite in a recipe for chicken salad (I suppose, technically, it's more a salade composee than the more plebeian-sounding chicken salad that conjures up visions of highway rest-stops and squishy bread - at least for me) that Amanda wrote about to pair with Valpolicella.

You drop a few pieces of raw chicken into simmering water that's been flavored with salt and garlic. While the chicken poaches gently, you throw together a salad of lettuce, radishes, green beans and mint. The still-warm, sliced chicken is placed on top of the greens, and the whole thing is dressed with a tangy, well-flavored dressing that has hints of both France and the Middle East in its composition. I had to amend our version of the recipe (see below) due to supermarket constraints, but it still turned out to be a thoroughly delicious and restorative meal.

I loved the dressing: Dijon mustard, vinegar, orange juice for sweetness, pepper and cumin for heat and warmth, chopped tarragon for earthy elegance, and yogurt to round everything out into a mellow yet vibrant sauce. The crunch of the radishes and romaine lettuce was so refreshing after a hot day outside (fresh mint leaves would have really dotted the i) and the just-cooled chicken was delicious in its barely-clad state. We munched our way silently through the salad - far too exhausted to talk about anything else but the good nourishment in front of us. This was temple food, indeed.

You would be well-served to reserve some of the (undressed) lettuce and radishes, a spoonful or two of dressing and a piece of chicken, because the next day you could slice open a piece of baguette and create a little sandwich - almost Banh-Mi-like - of cold chicken, greens and sauce. It's a pretty fabulous lunch - even for a leftover-shunning creature like me. This recipe is getting laminated for posterity.

Warm Chicken Salad
Serves 4

Kosher salt
1 clove garlic
4 chicken thighs and 2 chicken breasts, skin-on (I bought skinless by accident)
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar (I used Sherry vinegar)
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used just a tiny pinch, since cumin overwhelms me)
Pinch Aleppo pepper (or, if you have none, cayenne)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt (I used 2% Liberte)
1 romaine heart in 2-inch pieces
2 handfuls of red-leaf lettuce (I left this out)
20 mint leaves (left out because d'Agostino's didn't have any... I was too tired to go to Whole Foods)
8 icicle radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 pound green beans, blanched (I used frozen, GASP, and they were fine)

1. Fill a large pan with water and season with salt. Add garlic; bring to boil. Place chicken in water and simmer gently until cooked through, 20 minutes. Transfer to plate.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, orange juice, mustard, tarragon, cumin and pepper. Season with salt. Gradually whisk in olive oil until smooth, then whisk in yogurt.

3. In a large, shallow bowl, toss romaine, red leaf, mint, radishes and beans. Sprinkle with additional olive oil and toss once more. While chicken is warm, remove skin; cut breasts into 1/8-inch slices. Pull meat from thighs.

4. Arrange chicken over greens and spoon dressing on top. Serve.

Amanda Hesser's Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies


The first summer weekend - it feels impossibly new and yet so familiar all over again. Empty avenues, packed parks, the scent of a hundred backyard barbecues wafting through the city. We did our patriotic duty and had our own barbecue this weekend - with a dubious grill that needs a scrubbing like nobody's business, I might add. While others took care of the hamburgers and grilled corn and salads, I busied myself with dessert. It might have been insanity to turn the oven on on the first weekend of summer, but with the kind of recipe challenge I had in front of me, could you blame me? Hardly.

Back in January, Amanda Hesser printed three recipes for chocolate-chip cookies in the New York Times Magazine. She had covered what arguably might be called the three "Schools of Chocolate-Chip Cookiedom": Thin-and-Crisp, Flat-and-Chewy, and Thick-and-Gooey. Along with the recipes came an admonition and a plea: "I'm sure that there are least five subschools that I've missed, and you can let me know about them. These recipes were each tested more than a half-dozen times, so please grant us some generosity". I must admit that I felt like I was being spoken to directly. A glove was thrown! I would have to accept.

I chose Flat-and-Chewy for my Saturday night barbecue, for no real reason, really. The batter came together swiftly, as cookie batter usually does. I stumbled over only one thing: the entire tablespoon of kosher salt called for. Ben watches his sodium, and I've become a bit of a watchdog on this matter, so I cut down the salt to a single teaspoon. I did think that I'd need to adjust the baking soda as a result, but I didn't know how to regulate the proportion and so I just let it go, keeping the same amount of soda despite getting rid of most of the salt. The cookies baked up just as promised - flat and chewy and with that glorious age-old cookie scent that no one ever tires of.

In our group of seven testers, everyone raved over the smell and taste. Ben found them too salty - but still managed to eat several and blissfully at that, while everyone else liked the occasional kick of salt (though I really cannot imagine what these would have tasted like with an entire tablespoon. And I'm not trying to be ungenerous here!) and the way it brought out the caramel tones of the brown sugar and chocolate. As I chewed contentedly on a cookie, though, I found it slightly bitter. Was it the chocolate (by the way, I used Ghirardelli chips instead of block chocolate)? No...I realized it was the baking soda. I don't really know if I could have gotten rid of the bitterness by using less soda or by using more salt. I'll have to go pore over Mcgee or Corriher to find out, I suppose.

Lest Amanda thinks (you like how I assume that she might be reading this?) that this is a critical post, I should note that all but four cookies were gone an hour after they emerged from the oven (one of our dinner guests even said she loved the bitter soda taste). We happily ate the remaining ones for breakfast the next day. I can't wait to try the other recipes (Thick-and-Gooey is next, I think). But the truth is that at the end of the day, if you asked me what my favorite chocolate-chip cookie recipe was, I'd still say it was Debbie's.

Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (chunks and shavings)
2 cups chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2. Cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and nuts, if using. Chill the dough.

3. While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll 2 1/2 tablespoon lumps of dough into balls, then place on baking sheet and flatten to 1/2-inch-thick discs spaced 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack.

Simone Beck's Bread Pudding with Prunes and Apricots


I am of the school that finds bread pudding to be one of the world's most perfect desserts (since you can also eat it for breakfast or as a midnight snack and don't we all know that that kind of versatility is what makes a dessert an Important Dessert?). Stale bread, light custard, a few flavorings: this is nursery food at its best. And this bread pudding might be one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. It doesn't necessarily photograph well to show off its full splendor, but it is Out Of This World. I made it to follow our slightly ascetic meal of vegetable soup the other day, which was smart thinking, because I was able to eat an entire plate (dessert plate, but still) of the stuff, quite unencumbered and happily indeed.

If Simone Beck's name seems familiar to you, it's because it has for decades followed the more famous name on the spine of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julia Child befriended Simone Beck along with Louisette Bertholle when she lived in Paris as a young woman. Together these ladies founded a cooking school and then went to be immortalized on kitchen shelves everywhere. Simone Beck wrote a book of her own in the early 80's, and it was from this book that Amy Scattergood pulled the bread pudding recipe published in an article on dried fruit in the LA Times in February.

There are a few amendments I have to make to that recipe, the most important being to cut the sugar in half because good God, I can't imagine the sweetness if I had used the entire cup. And I have a sweet tooth, people. So, I cut the sugar in half, totally forgot about the cinnamon and added an ounce of bittersweet chocolate that I'd chopped into a pile of shavings and rubble (because nothing - but nothing - makes prunes more delicious than a little bit of chocolate. Or?).

Thanks to Balducci's on 8th Avenue, I used dried Blenheim apricots instead of the regular Turkish ones, and I tell you, they may be the very things that transport you straight to heaven. Their cost is proportional to their incandescent taste, but it's money well-spent, especially since we good-fruit-starved East Coasters have to go to extreme measures to acquaint ourselves with the kind of produce those darn Californians can enjoy by just going down to the farmer's market. One last thing: if you make this, do yourself and your guests a favor and chop those pitted prunes up a bit. Left whole, they overwhelm each serving. The apricots do a better job of melding into the fabric of the pudding.

Served fresh and warm, the pudding was creamy, tender, resplendent with flavors and textures. Aromatic orange peel, rich chocolate tones, barely-there custard with supple bread suspended amongst the soft, zesty apricots and moist prunes. The few almonds on top added texture to the glorious spoonfood below. Eaten chilled the next day, the pudding had firmed up a bit, but the deliciousness was in no way diminished. The flavor almost reminded me of Panettone eaten on holidays, but it was even better that that - richer, fruitier, creamier. Perfection.

Bread Pudding with Prunes and Apricots
Serves 6

1/2 pound pitted prunes
4 ounces dried apricots
1 cup good red wine or strong tea (I used tea)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I left this out)
4 ounces fresh white sandwich bread, crust removed, and broken into small pieces
2/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons dark rum (optional - I used 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. To plump the prunes and apricots, place them in a medium saucepan with the wine or tea and cinnamon. Cover and simmer until the fruit is very tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Soak the bread briefly in the milk, then add it to the pan, off heat, along with the sugar, butter, orange zest, eggs and rum, if using. Stir gently to combine.

3. Turn the mixture into a well-buttered 1 1/2-quart Pyrex casserole or a medium-size oval gratin dish and bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 minutes.

4. Sprinkle on the sliced almonds and continue baking for another 15 minutes, or until the pudding is firm and the almonds are nicely browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Ed Doherty's Feta Cheese Crisps


Would you like to know what disaster looks like? This is what disaster looks like.

Those shredded bits of feta and herbs were meant to bake up into crispy brown rounds to be nibbled on with a glass of wine as an appetizer at an easy Sunday dinner last night in Queens. Instead, I found myself gingerly lifting liquefied blobs of cheese off my baking sheet with a metal spatula yesterday afternoon and breaking out in an angry sweat when I realized that I'd have to trash the entire lot. All of it - the greasy, sweaty, herbed-up cheese - got dumped into the bin.

So much for the Feta Cheese Crisps expounded on by none other than Greek cooking authority Diane Kochilas in a New York Times article about that famous cheese. Kochilas got the recipe from Doherty, a chef in Philadelphia who is developing a "Greek-inspired" restaurant there. I can only hope that the Feta Crisps won't be featured on the menu, or that perhaps some recipe testing is included in the development of that restaurant.

You're supposed to pulse together rinsed and drained feta with some grated pecorino, thyme, oregano, nutmeg and black pepper and then drop spoonfuls of this mixture onto a baking sheet. The cheese dollops are baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. You're then supposed to transfer the crisps to a wire rack to cool. I assume Doherty hoped his crisps would be a Greek version of the Italian frico, but I really have to wonder if he thought that simply substituting feta for Parmigiano would actually work despite its much wetter, softer consistency.

Luckily for me, I made the recent discovery of a delicious cheese called Crucolo (if you can buy this where you live, do so, please) and was able to proffer this to my hosts instead. Our meal of tuna steaks in a lovely ginger sauce followed by an incredible plum tart (a square of puff pastry covered with shredded almond paste and halved plums filled with mascarpone and dusted with cinnamon) all but made up for the earlier kitchen indignity. But still. Didn't anybody try to make this before it got published in the Times?

Suzanne Goin's Soupe au Pistou


After all that cooking and praising I did of Suzanne Goin's delicious recipes, I'm now the proud owner of her cookbook. I leaf through it from time to time, stopping to gaze at her gorgeously written recipes and beautifully-staged photographs, and I daydream about having enough time to cook everything in it. When I was given the book (thank you, Farah!), I threw out my newspaper clippings of her recipes. Well, all but one. The LA Times had written about Goin's soupe au pistou in their Culinary SOS column, but the recipe wasn't in the book. A simple Google search turned up the tidbit that Goin had found the recipe too difficult to adapt for just 6 people (the amount all of her recipes in the book serve).

Odd, because the LA Times' version of the recipe was for 6 to 8 servings (and in fact, it ended up serving only three of us last night - but when one of us is Ben, you can figure he can fit at least two or three servings under his 6 foot 5 inch belt). In any case, I was excited to try out a Goin recipe that had been published in the paper but not in her book, and got to work last night for dinner. The first thing I have to say about it is that it takes FAR longer than the recipe indicated it would (1 hour and 20 minutes). As Goin is wont to do, the soupe is made up of several different components, each of which took their good old time to be done. Making the soupe took me close to two hours.

I chopped and sauteed and stirred constantly and caramelized and blended and strained and sauteed yet again and chopped and sauteed one more time and brought to a boil and tossed and toasted. The house filled with incredible aromas: especially while making the initial broth. That part of the recipe is fantastic - it creates a deeply flavored, multi-layered broth that would be delicious as vegetable stock to make risotto with, or to simmer pastina in, or to add a medley of chopped vegetables to for a vegetarian soup that has a complexity of flavors heretofore unknown to most vegetable soups. Topping the soup with fragrant and crusty homemade croutons was a lovely touch as well (in fact, we could have nibbled on the croutons, sans soupe, quite happily, all night).

But something mucked the whole thing up, at least for me. Since my run-in with Giada's spinached version of pesto, I can't face the original stuff without my tummy doing somersaults. And I didn't realize this last night, after I dolloped our soup bowls with the pistou and sunk my spoon into the broth. Ben and Becca tucked in happily, but I found that the hard work of coaxing out all the myriad flavors in the broth and the varieties of lovely vegetables chopped and sauteed individually for the soupe was eclipsed by the strong flavors of the basil pistou. Why mask all of that vegetal goodness with the (comparatively) harsh pesto? Luckily Ben was happy to finish off my portion, and I nibbled on some cheese instead. But still, disappointment reigned supreme.

I did allow myself a few shortcuts (making the pistou in a mini food-processor, using canned beans instead of fresh; throwing the cut green beans into the strained soup to boil for a few minutes instead of blanching and cooling them in salted water). For your sanity's sake, I'd advise you to do the same. And I'd advise you not to put the pistou on the soupe and just enjoy the soupe alone with its hyper-flavored intensity. I realize that naming your unpistoued soupe a soupe au pistou sort of sounds ridiculous (as does that sentence), but trust me, it'll taste better, clearer, more interesting, without it.

Soupe au Pistou with Parmesan Croutons
Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 sprig rosemary
1/2 dried chile de arbol
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1/4 bulb fennel, roughly chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped carrot
1/3 cup roughly chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt (I only used 1 teaspoon)
1 cup chopped canned San Marzano tomatoes (about 4)
2 quarts water

1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, rosemary and chile. When the rosemary and chile start to sizzle, add the onion, fennel, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt.

2. Saute the vegetables for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until they begin to caramelize. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the water, bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then puree in a blender, in batches if necessary. Strain. Cool completely.

1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup thinly sliced basil
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1. Pound the garlic in a mortar with the salt until it forms a paste. Place in a small mixing bowl. In batches, pound the basil to a paste, transferring the paste to the bowl as you go.

2. Stir the olive oil into the basil. When the basil has all been incorporated, pound the parsley in the same manner and add to the bowl. Gently pound the pine nuts and add to the bowl. Stir; taste for seasoning.

Soup and assembly
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup diced red onion
3/4 cup diced fennel bulb
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash pepper
1 1/2 cups diced zucchini
1 1/2 cups 1-inch bais cut mixture of green and yellow beans
1/2 cup cooked fresh shelled beans (flageolet or cranberry)
1/4 pound country white bread
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 recipe pistou

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a medium saute pan over high heat for 1 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the fennel, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cook until the fennel is tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and cool.

2. Return the pan to the stove, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and quickly saute the squash over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool. Blanch the cut beans for 2 minutes in boiling salted water. Cool in an ice bath. When the vegetables have cooled, add them to the soup. Add the shell beans; taste for seasoning.

3. Cut the crust from the bread and tear the remaining bread into rustic 1-inch pieces. Using your hands, toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the Parmigiano, squeezing the bread gently to help it absorb the oil. Arrange the croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast, stirring often, 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp outside, but a little tender inside.

4. Heat the soup to boiling. Stir in the baby spinach. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of pistou and a handful of croutons.

Samuel Sewall Inn's Maple Scones

Readers of this blog know that when scones show up on the screen here, it's because I've made another batch for Ben. He's an avid breakfast pastry fan - and because I'm totally retro, I try to keep his freezer stocked, because don't we all know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? The Settlement Cookbook taught me well. When I had the maple-pecan muffin bake-off a few weeks ago, I planned on giving Ben the muffins (well, after having taste-tested one - or two - myself). But little nibbly bunnies (aka roommates) got in the way and ate up most of the entire bag before I could so.

So when I saw a recipe for maple scones in the New  York Times (and decided to substitute pecans for the walnuts called for), I figured I had no choice but to make them. Besides, the recipe provenance had a special significance. Though I met Ben in New York only a few years ago, we actually went to school together for a short time in a suburb of Boston, and the Samuel Sewall Inn, whose recipe accompanied an article on the maple syrup harvest, is in that same town. Ben and I were on opposite ends of the social strata in 7th grade: he was the popular, trouble-making newcomer, I was the painfully shy loner. It's no wonder we never even met. It's been an amazing experience in human growth to get to know and love him years later. Though it took me a while to realize just how special Ben is, I'm making up for my slow learning curve by baking my way further into his heart.

These scones have an incredible aroma - now totally familiar to my kitchen - of toasty pecans and warm maple flavor. The whole wheat flour adds a substiantial bite (and to make them even healthier, you could substitute cooked wheat berries for the nuts). The scones really are best eaten warm - if you can't serve them right away, heat them up in the oven before you do. And I promise that for the next few months, I'll stay away from the maple-pecan combination (after all, it's spring! Time for berries and joy!). But while rain and gray skies still threaten our city, we're curling up together to munch our breakfast with milky tea and I'm reveling in my good fortune to have landed such a scone-loving sweetheart.

Maple Scones
Yields 8 scones

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk or as needed

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine both flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, or two knives scissor-fashion, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.

2. Add nuts. Stir in the maple syrup and egg and just enough milk so that dough leaves side of bowl and forms a ball. Turn dough onto Silpat-lined baking sheet and pat (with floured hands) into an 8-inch disk; cut into wedges, but do not separate.

3. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet and carefully separate. Serve warm.

Michaela Rosenthal's Ginger-Sour Cherry Biscotti


I'm not partial to cookies that look like their creator suffered an attack of ADD whilst putting them together: stuffed to the gills with all sorts of nuts and chips and nuggets and chews. Maybe it's why I've never wanted chopped nuts sullying my chocolate chip cookies (or brownies, for that matter), or feeling overwhelmed when attempting to eat and actually taste the competing flavors and textures in this much-lauded creation (which actually IS pretty good - but I made a batch only once and for a long-ago boyfriend, shortly before we parted ways. And now that cookie is now pretty much off-limits for my kitchen ever again. You know?).

So when I set out to make these biscotti (courtesy of an LA Times piece in the 2001 holiday season about home-made presents), I already had a bit of a prejudice going. To add insult to injury, I was instructed to fashion the dough into logs, slice them, and (under)bake these up into biscotti - chewy biscotti, at that. Now I hate to get all high-and-mighty about cookies, for crying out loud, but biscotti (snappy and crisp) are an entirely different animal than just cookie dough shaped into logs and twice-baked. Especially (totally dry) cookie dough that is so chockful of ingredients that shaping it into a cohesive log is an exercise in utter futility.

This particular dough would have worked so nicely just rolled into small balls, dipped in sugar and baked up into simple rounds. If you feel a hankering for these cookies, take my advice, I beg of you, and go this route. Otherwise, you will find yourself standing over your Silpat-lined cookie sheet, chanting incantations at the over-stuffed cookie dough and willing it to stay stuck together as you massage it into pliancy. Then, when you've somehow managed that (nigh)impossible feat, you'll be wielding a serrated knife like a banshee gone berserk, doing your best to slice the half-baked logs into neat little shapes without them crumbling all over creation and having your precious ingredients spill out like the innards of a slaughtered pig (did I go too far? I think I might have).

But after all that bitching and moaning and self-righteous muttering, these cookies were actually quite nice. Although the cookies looked monstrous - with dark cherries bulging indecently out of the sides - the amiable aroma of molasses and spices had strangers coming up to me in the post office (of all places) to ask about them, and the eyes of my hostess at dinner last night widened sweetly when she saw what I'd brought her. I substituted sliced almonds for the hazelnuts, because they go better with spice cookies studded with translucent cubes of candied ginger, and I let the biscotti dry out a bit in the oven for a crunchier result.

I still think I'll stick to my simpler cookie tastes, in which only one ingredient has the starring role, but these gussied-up, role-playing "biscotti" really weren't half bad. I kind of wish I hadn't given them all away.

Ginger-Sour Cherry Biscotti
Makes 24

1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped peeled hazelnuts
1 cup dried sour cherries
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the oil, molasses, sugar and egg.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet. Stir in the nuts, cherries and crystallized ginger.

3. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Press down on the dough to flatten slightly. Place the logs on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

4. Cool the logs for 5 minutes, then cut them on the diagonal with a serrated knife into 3/4-inch thick slices. Lay the biscotti on their sides (on two baking sheets) and bake until they are still somewhat soft to the touch but dry, another 15 minutes. If you want crisper biscotti, leave them in a bit longer.

5. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.