Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mama Metafora's first post

Hi and welcome to Mama Metafora’s Market!
This site is mostly about food – food as a metaphor: for health and love, for hospitality and comfort and much much more. The negative aspects – junk food, bad food, etc. – won’t be engaged here. Other goodies will appear, since this is a “market:” some book and film reviews and whatever seems interestingly strange or beautiful.
Papa Metafora and I (pictured above in 1965 and 2010) hope to include here a collective lifetime of cooking experiences, how over the years our tastes have simplified to a healthier and increasingly more vegetable-based cuisine than we ate at the beginning of our marriage, over 45 years ago.
I have been a chef, a pastry chef, a caterer, and the creator, chief chef, and bottle-washer of a Biscotti company in the 1980s and 1990s. “Mama Metafora” is the copyrighted name for that biscotti company, which made those wonderful twice-baked, long Italian cookies (with no butter), made for dipping in coffee or wine (or milk, too). I’ll start with my original recipe, made with lots of almonds or other nuts – Warning: these biscotti will be quite crispy, not like American “nabiscotti” as I call them. Every week, we hope to offer a post with new recipes, etc.
All my best from J.M., Mama Metafora

This recipe yields about 36 biscotti. Ingredients: 2 cups flour; 2/3 cup sugar; ½ teaspoon baking soda; 1/8 teaspoon salt; 3 large eggs; 1 cup whole roasted almonds (with skin). [To roast almonds, place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until aroma is released, basically 10 or more minutes – be sure to check them, for nuts burn easily. Let cool a bit before using.]
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet (or use parchment or silpat). In a mixing bowl, whisk to mix dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs and mix with a wooden spoon or hands; then, mix in the nuts. Divide the dough in half, and shape into two logs approximately 10” long by 3 1/2” wide. Bake for 20 minutes, turning cooking sheet after 10 minutes. Cool slightly, and then slice each loaf into 18 slices. Place slices upright (bottom of the cookie down) leaving at least half an inch between slices (this eliminates the unnecessary step of turning the cookies over half way through the baking process). Bake for 20 minutes, again turning around the cookie sheet after the first ten minutes in order to ensure even baking. Biscotti – meaning “twice baked” – can vary in the time of this second baking (according to taste and elevation). Probably the most difficult part of biscotti is the judgment call about when it is done. I like mine crisp, others softer; you will want to do a bit of testing for best results. Cool on rack.
Here is a simple tasty dish to enhance any meal – a SAUTÉD CARROTS recipe:
We first tasted these deliciously simple carrots when we lived in England for a year and visited friends the Hagopians in Branbury Cross near Oxford; the recipe stems from their teaching days near Paris in the decade after World War II. Green beans are also excellent cooked in this way.
Ingredients: 1 pound fresh carrots, peeled, halves or quartered long-ways (depending on size of carrots), and cut into 2 or 3 inch lengths; 2 cloves of garlic, squeezed or minced; 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
Steam the cut carrots for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how firm or tender you would like them. When done, heat oil and garlic together in a frying pan, under high heat. Add the carrots and stir fry until the edges of the carrots show small signs of browning, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
IN MY NEXT POST, I’ll offer recipes for a wonderful Ribolitta Soup and for great Light Oatmeal Cookies.   

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