Friday, February 4, 2011

The "S" Word

Superbowl Sunday.  Packers vs. Steelers.  Whoop-de-doo.

You'll notice I did not punctuate that with an exclamation point. 

That's because I could care less about football.  I don't want to hear any grief about it, either - that's just the way it is.  I know many of you ladies out there LOVE the game (more power to you), but not me.  The same holds true for baseball, as evidenced by the fact I once gave away my ticket to a World Series game because I had no interest in going.  To this day, Henry is still in disbelief over that one.

I would admit to the fact that I watch the Superbowl  for the ads alone, but then you will think I am shallow, so I'll just keep quiet and tell you that what I really like about Superbowl Sunday is cooking for it.  What are you making this Sunday?  Guacamole?  Chili?

Fortunately for Henry, we've been invited to watch it with a group of friends, so he will have the luxury of being around people who actually like football.  And yes, chili is on the menu and no, I don't have to make it.  Instead, I'm working on what to serve alongside it.

Cornbread is an obvious choice and yes, I went there, baking up three separate batches of it today.  I'll post those results shortly.  But I also wanted to push the envelope a bit and come up with something a little less traditional.  That translated into Savory Cheese Biscotti.

These are crunchy, savory little bites that go well with chili but would be equally good as an appetizer with a nice glass of wine (or two).  You can make them several days ahead or you could even shape the dough and freeze it unbaked.  No need to thaw before baking, either.  It can go straight from freezer to oven.  How forgiving is that?

SAVORY CHEESE BISCOTTI (adapted from "The Minimalist" Mark Bittman)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Place eggs in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes.  Change to the paddle attachment and blend in grated cheddar.  Add dry ingredients and blend just to combine.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until mixture comes together.

Divide dough in half and shape each into a 10-by-3-inch log.  Flatten tops and even out sides.  Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Brush logs with the egg/cream mixture then sprinkle the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly over the top of each log.  Bake for 30 minutes until just lightly browned, but not baked completely.  Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes.

Slice logs into 1/2-inch slices.  Place slices on the baking sheet and return to the oven.  Bake until firm and lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.  Cool on a rack before serving.

Yield:  3 1/2 to 4 dozen pieces

I'm writing this right now and I know there is a bag of these tightly sealed up, stored in my pantry, just waiting for Sunday.  Think anybody will miss just one???????

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