Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crunch all around... from sweet to savory!

Another round of baking today for the weekly Wednesday Treat Day we have started at Jeff's new office. We've done some heavy items for the past couple of treats, so I thought we would go a little lighter with some crisp biscotti.

For this recipe, Lemon-Ginger Crunch Biscotti, I wanted to add another layer of texture to the dough so I added in some stone-ground yellow cornmeal. As with most of the other biscotti recipes we use, this had no addition of butter, so they come out with a bit more crunch. I found the lemon colored dough to be a little sticky, so I ended up having to dust a little more heavily with flour to be able to roll them into logs. These biscotti have an enticing lemon flavor as two full tablespoons of fresh zest along with a tablespoon of juice are added in. Finely diced pieces of crystallized ginger are found throughout each piece which bites back with a gentle sweet heat. Since I'm a sucker for lemon and white chocolate, I added a drizzle of some melted chocolate on top after they cooled - just enough to tantalize the tastebuds!

Tonight's dinner, Basil and Three-Cheese Thin-Crust Pizza, has quite a few steps and requires some pre-planning - but you could easily do some of the steps ahead of time. To start the pizza off, we had to get to work on making a Spicy Pizza Sauce. This recipe will replace any other sauce I used before - I will have to find a reason to make it again... and soon! Onions and minced garlic start the base flavors and are enhanced with a bit of white wine. Hearty tomato paste, oregano, black pepper, crushed red pepper and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes are mixed in and allowed to simmer until thick. When removed from the heat, a small shot of balsamic vinegar is added which intensified and brought a rich depth to the spicy sauce.

The dough is then made by hand and allowed to rest in the refrigerator before using so it can be stretched thin without tearing. Since the dough can get quite thin, a thicker rim of crust is made by turning over a small amount of the edge onto itself to hold in the sauce. Olive oil is brushed on to give the crust a little richness - I made sure to give the rim a good brush to help the golden color come out and get crisp. The dough is then slid onto a firey hot pizza stone and quickly pre-cooked before adding the toppings. After a generous layer of the spiced sauce, a cheesy combination of mozzarella and ricotta is scattered on top - this does get a little messy though, as it is more of a wet mixture. A shower of nutty Parmesan is then added before the return trip to the oven. The dollops of cheese melt together and the crust turns a rich color with a snap to it. Right before serving, slivers of just-picked basil leaves are scattered on top for a burst of freshness. While I loved the texture of the dough, I thought it could been a bit more flavorful - though, I'm used to our favorite nutty whole-wheat pizza dough so I shouldn't compare. Sadly, there will be no leftovers for lunch tomorrow as there was no way Jeff and I were going to leave any pieces of this awesome pizza behind!


  1. That pizza loves divine!! My daughters would love it.
    So, how's country life?

  2. Hi Joe, your biscotti looks amazing - I'm such a fan of the the lemon-ginger pairing - I'll definately have to try making them! And the pizza looks fantastic as well!

  3. The Pizza looks amazingly good! Yummm!! I guess I should make that sauce soon, everyone is raving anout it, must be really good!

  4. Looks fantastic! And thanks for the spicy pizza sauce recipe as well as the clue that the base should be par-baked before topping with ingredients! Will have to give this a try on the weekend :)

  5. That pizza looks great (and the biscotti too) - I can never motivate to make pizza; it's just too easy to pick up a slice here in NY.

  6. I love biscotti and have not made them in a while...may have to try again soon!

  7. Oh- both look delicious- can't wait to try that pizza. I adore thin crust pizza!

  8. Tammy - So far, so good... though the big lawn mower is giving me headaches!

    Whersmymind - spicay and so good!

    Gilly - Thanks!

    Ana - the sauce is really worth it! Pretty easy to boot.

    Ellie - Let me know if you try it!

    Mebeth - But, homemade gives much more satisfaction since you do it yourself!

    Claire - Take a peek at the list of biscotti recipes we have done and you will find we love them too!

    Tokyoastrogirl - Thanks!

  9. Oh how I feel your lawn mower woes. My husband has this big mower with these strange "handles" and I tried once to mow the lawn and after sitting on the back deck, laughing himself silly at me, hubby finally kindly told me to get off as I was much too slow for his liking....I felt like I had been in a car wreck after only a few rounds of mowing!
    I hope it improves soon for you!

  10. Tammy - It went better today now that the seat is fixed!