Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe
A holiday indulgence, if you please. In all their splendor, linked below are eight uncut, unedited, completely amateur (by yours truly) videos of our day of biscotti making with Aunt Dot. Interspersed with an intro to “The Monsta,” nuggets of family chatter and some wicked dance moves (don’t ask but do watch if you dare), you will find all of the secrets to making a perfect batch (or six if you are Aunt Dot) of Nonnie’s biscotti. Enjoy or be afraid … you decide!
I must start with the caveat that this is not actually my recipe but BD’s. And, truth be told, it’s not even his. Many years ago, when shoulder pads and perms were in vogue if unfortunate and our meeting was but a fleeting dream he could only hope to attain (my blog, my version), he found himself in a liquor store that had a Jack Daniel’s promotional recipe for this cake on a tear-off pad. He availed himself.
In the same way that peanut butter and rubber tires were great inventions born of ill-conceived projects, this soup arrived by way of a fortuitously painful batch of jalapeno beer.
The first Christmas that we spent as a family in our new home outside of Richmond, VA, Stephanie – after shopping and shopping … and a bit more shopping – came up with the perfect gift for Ryan: Mr. Beer, a kit for the novice beer home brewer. After stinking up the house with a lager brew session followed by a chocolate stout, Ryan branched out, one might say way out, with a jalapeno beer. His “recipe” consisted of making one of the kit beers and throwing in “a few jalapenos” for flavor.
There are few things that universally say “Christmas!” to our extended family like Nonnie’s biscotti. Not to be confused with our Nonnie (queen of the pasta fazool), this nonna is my mother and her siblings’ grandmother. Lucy Vitiello Polvinale aka Old Nonnie (or Nonnie from Florida if she was within earshot) was a pistol of a lady. Though vertically challenged to the tune of 4 foot nothing – give or take – she could whip up a feast for the hordes while telling fabulous stories in her wizened old Italian-accented voice, barking orders at Cizzie (the Florida Cizzie, not to be confused with present day Aunt Dot Cizzie) and encouraging the feeble attempts of any protegee, young or old, who thought it wise to belly up to her counter to roll gnocchi or simply bask in her wonderful presence.
Growing up, Christmas Eve was a crazy day. Much like a regiment on the move, we were put through the paces: Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning… followed by more cleaning! Then just when you were convinced all the work had surely squared things with Santa, it would all just stop. Magic! The late afternoon saw showers for all, a single gift opened which was generally a new outfit for church, the now infamous potato soup dinner, and then off to Christmas Mass. Returning home, we’d get in our pajamas, hang our stockings and be sent looking for sugarplums for the night.