Last Sunday one of my clients who has a place on the beach threw a "Welcome Back to LA" cocktail party and I was so thrilled to cater. Cocktail parties are fun and easy to enjoy because once all the food is prepped and presented, you can relax and enjoy the crowd. And in this instance the view. Summer usually means lots of parties on the beach in Malibu so my work is exponentially more enjoyable when I'm surrounded by surf, sand and sunshine. Fortunately for me and my lovely host, Andrew, June gloom took what appears to be a permanent hiatuus and the sun shone spectacularly all day bathing our guests in a warm glow.
I was aided and abetted as usual by my zany cohort, Karin, who makes every job we work on together feel like an episode of "I Love Lucy." She's truly demented and brings out the best in me even when I'm feeling pressured and pinched.
In addition to the standard fare of an abundant crudite which by the way morphed into containers of the best chopped salad the next day perfect for drizzling with olive oil and a little sea salt for a crunchy healthy snack, crostini bar with toppings, cheese platter, brandied chicken pate on toasts and some beyond fantastic guacamole, chips and manga salsa, I made dozens of homemade biscotti I'm becoming famous for...
The biscotti I make are studded with slivered almonds, orange cranberries and lemon zest and scented with almond extract. They are laborious. I will not mislead you but so worth the effort when you bite into a cookie that flavorful and a true dance of textures between the soft center and crunchy crisp edges. Once the dough is prepared they are rolled into symmetrical logs and baked for forty minutes until they are golden brown.
Once they are removed from the oven they must cool for a good half hour before they can be sliced on the diagonal and returned to the oven for another fifteen minutes so they can achieve their drier texture.
They do expand quite a bit so give them plenty of room on the cookie sheet. And when it's time to cut them on the diagoal, coax the knife along as you don't want them to fall apart and crumble under the pressure. When all goes according to plan you'll get the perfect biscotti great for dipping in wine, milk or coffee.
The day after the party I woke up and realized I had nary a single cookie, just a bite here and there and a crumb or two. Friends showed up the night I made them and ate the dozen I spared for the kitchen. And I guess at the party my lovely assistant and friend managed to divvy them up between she and my client and left me with lots of crudite. So while I munched on chopped salad this week, Karin is enjoying biscotti on the beach in Tahoe. Well at least my figure thanks her.