Sunday, March 1, 2009


(sung to the tune of Home on the Range, preferably with a banjo strumming along)

“Oh, give me a home
where my Furkids can roam
and where I can stay cozy all day.
Where the snow is up to my ears,
For 10 months of the year,
And the sky rains Biscotti all day.

Home, home on the range
Where Ira and the cats love to play,
Where the cupboard is packed, with good things it is stacked
From my good friend who’s so far away…”

In the past several months, I have made a handful of very close friends via the internet, a Sisterhood of like minds, passions and cravings, fueling laughter and calming tears. I find it difficult to believe that I have not always been friends with these bright, funny, caring women.

One of these friends is a Pioneer in the truest sense of the word; living in the snow-bound wilderness of a northern state a mere stone’s throw from the Canadian border (“I can see Canada from my house!”), huddling up at night with her pets under handmade quilts in front of a blazing fire, she grows her own food, chops her own firewood, builds her own furniture, shoots and skins moose with her bare hands… uh, no, sorry, that last one is someone else (well, you-know-who would have made a much better choice if he had chosen my friend for VP).

Completely self-sufficient, more than a little stubborn, she refuses failure and would rather do things by herself or at least do things her own way. And once she starts something, there is no turning back. Car broken? She walks or bums rides from her neighbors (but only if she must) until she can buy the piece and fix the damn car herself. Or she doesn’t go anywhere. Need shelves? Firewood is chopped, measured, cut and fit. If she needs something, whatever she needs, she learns how to make it herself.

She is an outdoorswoman extraordinaire, naming trees and plants, growing fruit, taming animals, hacking her way through the surrounding wilderness in summertime and battling the harsh winters using only her wits, her muscle and her hardheaded determination. And we all marvel at her gorgeous photos of the nature around her, the nature at her feet.

And she is extremely warm hearted, caring and good. Many of us have felt her reach out through her computer screen – virtually, spiritually, emotionally – offering kind words, sage advice, heart-felt encouragement, coaxing out stories and feelings in order to sooth our fears and make us laugh. She is wiser than she would ever admit to and funnier than she’ll take credit for.

And in return, she has received as she has given. I have offered what I can, sending boxes of chocolate and listening when she needs her own comfort and advice. We distract her with laughter when we know she is down and truly marvel at her many talents.

And I know her weaknesses : She loves chocolate. She loves coffee. She loves biscotti.

And if I could walk across the ocean and the miles of land that separate us to bring her these Cappuccino Biscotti, there is no doubt in the world that I would. I would fix the coffee as she stoked the fire and we would sit down together for Biscotti, coffee and a nice long chat.

Adapted from the Joy of Baking website

This is a combination of all of Pioneer Woman’s favorite things : biscotti delicately flavored with coffee and a hint of cinnamon studded with mini chocolate chips.

3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (280 g) flour
¾ cup (150 g) granulated white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Rounded ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded tsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder
Rounded ½ cup (3 ½ oz, 100 g) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the vanilla extract.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and coffee powder/granules and whisk together or beat with an electric mixer on low for 20 or 30 seconds to combine well.

If using mini chocolate chips, blend into the flour mixture now.

Gradually add in the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms. If using larger chocolate chips, stir them in now.

Turn the rather sticky dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very briefly until you have a smooth, well-blended dough. Do not add in too much flour, just enough that this sticky dough can be handled.

Divide the dough in half. With floured hands on the lightly floured work surface, form each ball of dough into a log about 10 inches (25 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Carefully transfer the logs onto the prepared baking sheet spacing them about 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart to allow for spreading.

I sprinkle the surface with granulated sugar and ground cinnamon which gives the final, crispy outside of the biscotti a sweet, cinnamony touch.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until firm to the touch : (I have found that baking them for the longer time will give you less tender, crispier biscotti. I baked mine for 35 minutes and the biscotti were fully cooked at the end but more tender than they usually are.)

Remove from the oven – do not turn the oven off – and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Transfer the logs, one at a time, to a wooden cutting board. With a good, serrated knife, cut each log crosswise on the diagonal into ¾ inch (2 cm)-wide slices. Cut slowly and carefully to avoid the biscotti breaking or crumbling.

Arrange the slices on the lined baking sheet (you can place them close together as they will no longer spread) and bake for 10 minutes.

Open the oven and flip all of the slices over, slide back into the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool. This will make 20 to 25 biscotti.

These can easily be stored for days and days in an airtight, preferably metal cookie tin.

My Taste Tester had one for breakfast the day after I baked them. After taking a bite, chewing, savoring and swallowing, he said “Really good! And Cappuccino is exactly the word for them. They taste just like a cappuccino.”

Ah! Here’s to you, my very dear friend, Pioneer Woman!


Chef E said...

I love this, did you write that poem, well at least add lib some of the lines, its cute!

Not sure you have seen I have writing and poetry blogs too, I actually keep up with six of them!y

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

I don't have the talent or determination to chop my own wood and fix my own car (I don't have a car), but I sure would love some of those biscotti too.

Jamie said...

Jessica : Can you shovel snow? Well, don't worry, I think Pioneer Woman will share her biscotti. If not, I'll make more!

Chef E : You are one amazing woman, too!

asiangrrl said...

Yes, Jamie, Ira is an inspiring woman, indeed. Like you, I am grateful to have met her on teh internets.

As for the cappuccino biscotti? I would chop a cord or two of wood for just one.

P.S. Love the ballad. It fits Ira perfectly.

Culinarywannabe said...

What a good friend. And lovely biscotti!

asiangrrl said...

Hm. Not sure why my comment didn't go through again. Censorship! I protest!

I just wanted to say that Iratwo is, indeed, an amazing and inspiring woman. I am glad I have the privilege of knowing her.

As for the cappuccino biscotti, I would be willing to cut a cord or two of firewood for just one nibble.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I wish I could write poetry but it's not in the cards for me. I love the line about it "raining biscotti all day."

Cathy said...

An inspiring woman, competent and independent. I like that.

Maggie said...

These sound like great biscotti! I like the small touch of cinnamon.

Siren said...

Jamie, what a wonderful tribute to Ira - really amazing.

I also love biscotti.

Irishgirl said...

Lovely post!

Now I'll have to try the biscotti.

dragonmom said...

Ira and Jamie, a dynamic duo, indeed.

scraps said...

I love you blog and all the special pictures you put with them. I do live in the prairie for now and love western movies. Do enjoy your recipes, thanks for writing such too articles. Makes my day.

scraps said...

should say cute articles.

Donna-FFW said...

SO love the story.. but i LOVE the cappucino biscotti even more. I will be making this, I can't wait to try it. It is now in my to try pile:)


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