Biscotti – Italian Cookies
A Book Review
“We decided early on that our biscotti would be piccolini – small – like a great Roman espresso…” – Mona Talbott
Good things come in small packages. Cookies and books. This diminutive book, by chefs Mona Talbott and Mirella Misenti, is the first in my series of suggestions for Christmas giving. The recipes come from the kitchen of a most unique school, The American Academy in Rome.
Each year, through juried competition, up to thirty scholars are invited to Rome to pursue studies in the arts and humanities while cocooned in the timeless elegance of the Villa Aurelia. With their hunger for knowledge sated by independent study, the students’ temporal hunger is relieved by the Rome Sustainable Food Project, a groundbreaking program in institutional dining introduced in 2007. Menus are based on traditional cuisine made from sustainable, organic food. Pastry chef Mirella Misenti, a native of Melilli, Sicily contributes the dolce to the project, bringing Sicilian flair and tradition to dessert.
This book is packed like a Christmas stocking with classics such as Cantucci di Prato, Italy’s twice baked almond and cornmeal cookies, Lingue di Gatto, delicate cookies, long as a cat’s tongue, and Biscotti Lucia, made of almonds, sugar and egg whites. You’ll also find pine nut studded Pinolate, “ugly but good” Brutti ma Buoni, and Biscotti Regina, Sicily’s famous sesame seed coated cookies. Along with Italian favorites are modern interpretations of classics from other countries, Blondies, Anzac Biscuits, and Mary Pat Walsh’s Ginger Molasses Cookies, each with its own new Italian name and accent.
Through the eye of photographer Annie Schlecter the reader gains entry to the beauty and elegance that is the American Academy in Rome and the sweet delights of Ms. Misenti’s cookies.
The holidays will soon be here, and with them it’s time for cookies – tins for giving, to keep on hand for guests, to nibble at midnight and for cookie exchanges. This book will keep you busy, ready and full of ideas, come what may. If it’s a gift you are after, whether the intended recipient is a seasoned cook or a Cookie Monster new to baking, Biscotti will be a welcome addition to any bookshelf.
Recipes and Ms. Schlechter’s photos reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of The American Academy in Rome, The Rome Sustainable Food Project
Series: Rome Sustainable Food Project
by Mona Talbott & Mirella Misenti
Foreword by Alice Waters
Hardcover: 140 pages
Little Bookroom; First Edition (October 12, 2010)
Note: You can click on any picture for a slide show!
Villa Aurelia photo courtesy The American Academy in Rome
I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.