Friday, September 24, 2010

Skillet Lasagna

Who doesn't love a good lasagna?  Who has the time to make one during the week?  It has been a low energy week and pasta was in order and I was craving lasagna.  I just needed some carbs to help boost me out of the doldrums and I'll tell you what, this pasta dish made me and Ole Sweetie-Pi smile big!  Even after the dishes were put away, he was remarking how much he liked this; so this is going to be a keeper. 

The recipe describes itself as a skillet lasagna, and I can understand the designation, but to me this is more an Uptown American Chop Suey (or Goulash, depending on where you live). I think I just like to see my lasagna in nice layers, cut in even squares, smiles. Whatever you call it, it is good, filling, and makes enough to feed a small community.

What drew me to this recipe is that the raw pasta is cooked in the juice from the diced tomatoes.  The tomato juice was absorbed into the pasta as it cooked, giving additional flavor and nutrition, no tomato juice tossed down the drain, no waste.  I loved the big pieces of tomato in this.  The other surprise for me was the red pepper flakes.  I don't know if I've ever used red pepper flakes in a tomato sauce, but they added a bit of welcomed heat and flavor. 

Cook's Country Skillet Lasagna
( )  

1 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes plus enough water to make one quart

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
salt to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef **
10 curly edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces **
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce **
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
ground black pepper to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Pour tomatoes with their juices into 1 quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 1 quart. 

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Scatter pasta over meat but do not stir. pour diced tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes. 

Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve.

Recipe says this serves 6, but I think it could easily serve 8, especially if you're serving with a nice salad and garlic bread.

**Okay, now my changes.  I used 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (skins removed and meat broken up; I think the sausage adds a lot of nice flavor.).  I didn't have lasagna noodles but I did have bow ties.  I had about half a box left so I used whatever was remaining in the box.  I didn't have tomato sauce, so I substituted with 3 tablespoons of  tomato paste, which, to me, gave a deeper tomato flavor, as well as helped to thicken the sauce, and it's a substitution I will do when I make this again. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Date Nut Bread

When was the last time you made a really terrific date nut bread?  For me it has been ages and then it was from a boxed mix (blushes), probably Dromedary (do they even make that anymore.  I haven't even thought to look).

It was pure happenstance while perusing the Boston Globe's food section that I saw this recipe for Date Nut Bread.  I had some dates left over from an earlier enterprise (The Wedding Appetizers, see previous posts), and it was about time, I decided,  to try making date nut bread again.  The author  of the article persuaded me when she stated this is a family favorite, and I can, without hesitation, confirm that it is now a family favorite here as well.  This moist,  sweet ( from honey and brown sugar),  chewy (from the dates), crunchy (from the nuts) delectable bread is my go to date nut bread. 

Date Nut Bread
(From the Boston Globe)

1/2 cups chopped, pitted dates
1 cup boiling water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts

Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan and set aside.  Preheat your oven to 325* Fahrenheit.

Place your chopped dates in a large bowl and pour the hot water over the dates; let sit for 2 minutes.  Add the butter, honey, and brown sugar, and mix gently until the butter is melted.  Mix in the lightly beaten egg and the vanilla.

In a separate, smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the date mixture and stir until just blended.  Mix in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and place in the preheated oven.  Bake at 325* Fahrenheit for about 65 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove from the pan to a cooling rack to finish cooling. 

**Note:  My loaf was was not done at the end of 65 minutes.  I had to cover with aluminum foil and bake for another 12 minutes.  Even then I thought the loaf was still a little too moist, so I shut the oven off, left the aluminum tent on the loaf and let it sit in the cooling oven.  After about 20 minutes or so, I checked on it again, and the loaf was cooked perfectly. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wedding Appetizers - Part IV

Well, this is the final installment of the Wedding Appetizers.  When I was preparing all this food, it didn't seem like a lot, but in retrospect WHEW!  No wonder it has taken me a week to recover (smiles) but it was all worth it.

Bacon and Tomato Cups

One thing I learned while researching appetizers is that if you have one of those mini tart pans, wontons and/or a reliable biscuit recipe and a wooden tart tamper, there are innumerable appetizers that you can make.  I saw a hundred good ideas from mini tacos, lasagnas, pizza, salads, mousse, pates, you name it or if you can dream it, you can have an appetizer tray that will leave people talking and eating and wanting more. 

I chose these for a couple of reasons.  I wanted to have diversity in the color, shape, and ingredients in my appetizers.  Also I thought they would work well served at room temperature (they were good but warm would have been better, I think) and because I wanted to avoid the sog factor (remember I had to travel three hours from my house to the wedding destination). 
Bacon and Tomato Cups

8 slices bacon
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise **
1 teaspoon dried basil
Your favorite biscuit recipe or 1 (16-ounce) refrigerated biscuit dough**
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a mini muffin or mini tart pan.  (I used baking spray).
In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until evenly brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Crumble the bacon into a medium bowl and mix with remaining ingredients.

Separate the biscuits into halves horizontally and place each half into the cups of the prepared tins.  Fill each half with the bacon mixture.
Baked for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Made 24 mini tarts.

**As luck would have it, I did not have an ounce of mayonnaise in the house so I used an equal amount of  ricotta cheese.

**I'm not a big fan of refrigerated biscuit dough so I used a single recipe of  my favorite homemade biscuits and used a walnut sized piece of dough in each mini tart opening.  The wooden tart tamper is a wonder for this!  If  I remember correctly, the time was a little short, and I ended up cooking these an extra 3 or 4 minutes to get a desired level of golden brown on the biscuit.  

Meatballs in Wonton Cups
No real recipe here, more of a how-to. 
Have ready your favorite meatballs, rolled into mini size,  all cooked and waiting.  

Place wonton skins in each cup of a mini tart pan. (Or you could use biscuits again, yum!)  You'll probably have to ruffle them in to make them fit into the cups, but that only adds to their appeal.  

Place a meatball into each cup.  Add a couple of teaspoons of your tomato sauce, a sprinkling of cheese, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes or until the wontons are nicely browned.  I confess, these did not travel well; the bottom of the wontons were a little soggy by the time I served them, but guests were delighted to see something they recognized and there weren't any left.

I confess, I loved this!  As a matter of fact, I love it so much that I made it again after I came home so I could have a bowl of it all to myself; Ole Sweetie-Pi doesn't like cranberries so I this is all for me, smiles.  If ever you want something special to serve on bagels, this is it.  I can't stay away from it.

However, regrettably this did not go over well at the reception.  Perhaps it's because it's a spread and people didn't want to have to stop and fuss with it, perhaps it's just not good with crackers, perhaps because it's a little on the sweet side and doesn't go with alcohol, perhaps because it something that folks  didn't recognized (like onion dip)  and they were reluctant to try it.  Whatever, the reason, I had almost half of it left over.  Oh, well, live and learn.

Cranberry Delight Cream Cheese Spread
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons concentrated orange juice, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1 orange, zest only **
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (can be omitted if you want it less sweet)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix cream cheese, juice concentrate, cinnamon, and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Fold in the orange zest, pecans and cranberries. Cover and refrigerate.

**I didn't have  fresh orange zest, but what I do keep on hand is the dehydrated orange peel you can find in the spice section of your grocer's shelves.   I added 1/2 teaspoon and it was delicious.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wedding Appetizers - Part III

Here's the third installment of the wedding appetizers I brought.  I hope you find something you'll like and enjoy for your own gatherings and celebrations.

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

I'm an avid fan of Ann of  Thibeault's Table.  Really, have you ever seen her photos?  Magazine quality all of them.  And her food...well, let me tell you, I drool every time I visit there.  I've had this recipe bookmarked almost a year, waiting for an occasion worthy enough to make them, and they were worth the wait.  These worked up so easily, I'm not going to wait another year to make them. I made the dough up ahead of time, wrapped in waxed paper and wrapped again in aluminum foil.  I double the batch and made four rolls of dough, squaring off the edges.  These aren't crispy like Cheese Nips, for example, more cookie-ish in texture, but perhaps it's because they were frozen and defrosted. 

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 cup  butter
3/4 cup  grated aged cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper (a couple of good twists)
cayenne pepper (about  a 1/4 teaspoon)
mustard powder (about a 1/4 teaspoon)
4-6 tablespoons cold water as needed to make the dough come to a ball

Heat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix by hand or add flour and butter to food processor and pulse to cut in butter.  Add seasonings and pulse until just before dough comes together.  Add cheddar cheese and pulse again; add water one tablespoon at a time, processing in between until dough leaves the side of the processor bowl.  Roll dough out to desired thickness.  about 1/8" for crackers, 1/4" for cookies.

Cut into squares or rounds.  Bake until golden approximately 15 minutes. (I turned mine over partway through baking to brown both sides of the cracker.)

Makes about 3 dozen crackers.

Cheddar Cheese Thumbprints with Hot Pepper Jelly

Now this is another keeper recipe from Megan's Cookin'.  I swear, I just love her cookin'!  The minute I saw these I knew I had to try them.  I didn't get to try one of these, a fact which greatly aggrieves me, but I know that those who tried them loved them.  I made two different flavors for the center, sweet hot red pepper jelly (but I bought that jelly) and I made an apple-jalapeno jelly, which is a long time favorite of mine. 

Cheddar Thumbprints with Hot Pepper Jelly

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/3 cup hot pepper jelly

Place cheese and butter in a food processor; add flour and process until the mixture forms a soft dough. Gather up the dough and divide into two flat disks. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until chilled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat to 400° Fahrenheit.

Using 1 teaspoon dough for each, roll the dough into small balls and place 1 inch apart on  parchment-lined sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using the handle of a wooden spoon,  poke an indentation in each cookie. Place 1/4 teaspoon of the jelly in each indentation, or enough to fill.

Return to the oven and bake, switching the positions of the sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking, until the tops are very lightly browned, about 10 minutes. (Cookies will continue to crisp as they cool.) Transfer to racks and cool completely. Recipe makes about 20 cookies.

Can be baked up to two days ahead. Store at room temperature in an airtight container and separate layers with wax paper.

Jalapeno-Apple Jelly
Hot and sweet,  yet cool and creamy. I love this jelly!  I can't tell you how many times I've made this over the years.  It's always a favorite.

I used this jelly to fill a second batch of the cheddar thumbprints, above.  I had visions of drippy jelly on dress clothes, so I chose not to use it as a dip this time.  However, the first time I had this jelly, it was served on cream cheese and buttery crackers and it is delicious! 

You can make the jelly hotter by leaving in some (or all if you really love hot stuff!) of the jalapeno seeds.  I think I probably left in about one-quarter of the seeds and it was plenty spicy hot for me. And remember to wear gloves when working with jalapenos.  I didn't and my hands burned for several hours afterwards.  Not fun!

Jalapeno Apple Jelly
5 cups sugar
2 cups water
8 large tart apples -- chopped (I always use Granny Smiths)
15 whole jalapeno -- chopped (and seeded, if desired)

Pour sugar into a heavy 5 quart  pot; stir in water until well blended. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Pare and core apples; cut into small chunks, to make about 8 cups.Thinly slice or chop the peppers. Add apples and peppers to sugar-water mixture. Cook (boiling gently) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes or until preserve is thickened and apples are translucent. 

Meanwhile, prepare 6 half-pint canning jars (sterilize according to standard canning directions). Fill jars to within 1/8 inch of rim. Wipe clean and place lids and rings on screwing on as tight as comfortable. Let cool on a towel out of a draft; then press lids with your finger. If they stay down, they're sealed. Label and store in a cool, dark area. If not sealed, store in refrigerator. 

Makes 6 half pints

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wedding Appetizers - Part II

Now's here's a couple of appetizers that I didn't try but only because I rarely eat fish, and when I put on my big girl pants and try again, it's merely to take a sample to ensure reaffirm, yep, I don't like fish.  However, because I'm that kind of girl, I will prepare fish and seafood for others but I have to rely on the taste buds of others to tell me whether or not something is good.  Hence, and (formerly Recipezaar) have become a valued resources for me in trying new recipes.  People can be pretty honest in their opinions if a recipe is delicious or not.  Here are two that were very well received, definite 4 star if not 5 star quality.

Salmon Dip

2 cans shrimp **
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, plus 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon horseradish
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons dill weed

Prepare one day in advance:  In a medium sized bowl combine all ingredients. (The original decorations don't say to, but I roughly chopped the shrimp.)    Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Ordinarily, I think this dip is probably served with crackers, but I wanted something a little more festive looking and I didn't want the guests to have to scoop and possibly spill.  As a base for the dip, I used English cucumbers, sliced about 3/4 of an inch thick and dolloped a good teaspoonful or so of the dip on each slice, topping with a whole piece of shrimp.  In retrospect, I think it would have been nice to slice the cucumber peel off in strips, to add just a wee bit more color and visual appeal, and perhaps a sprig of fresh dill as well. 

**I don't like the flavor of canned shrimp so I used a one-pound bag of frozen baby shrimp and eyeballed the amount to use, reserving perhaps one quarter of the shrimp to use as a decorative touch.

This had to be the prettiest of the platters that was put out.  Ole Sweetie-Pi's oldest daughter Erin was the artist for this platter, and when she was done we all oohed and aaahed over it.  The colors completed each other, the presentation was appealing and delicious looking; this platter was among the first to be emptied.

Smoked Salmon Spread

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened **
12 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 drops hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
2 tablespoons chopped green onion

At least one day ahead, in a medium bowl, stir cream cheese until it is no longer in a hard form. Add salmon, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, dill and onion; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.  Typically served with crackers,  I served this in  baked wonton cones.

**I reduced the amount of cream cheese in this to one 8-ounce package but followed the remainder of the recipe.  The salmon flavor really stood out, but you may want to add more cream  cheese for your tastes.

The baked wonton cones are pretty easy to make with a little time and patience.  Purchase a package of wonton wrappers (usually found in the refrigerated vegetable section of your grocers, with tofu and such) .  Preheat your oven to 350* Fahrehenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place a wonton wrapper on a work surface with one corner facing you,  roll into a cone.  Gently stuff a ball of crumbled tinfoil into the open end.  Place seam side down and bake for about 15 minutes, checking maybe at 12 minutes to see how they're coming along.  You can also use those fancy metal cone molds used for Italian pastries, or even paper cones.  The cones are fragile but can be stored a couple of days in an airtight container until ready to use.

The Elsea Family Salami Roll-Ups

I should be ashamed of myself for including this appetizer at Liz and Jerrad's wedding.  Liz had given everyone dire warnings about "no redneck" foods and these salami roll-ups easily fall into that category.  However, these roll-ups were a favorite of the matriarch of the family and have been included in nearly every family event since the 1960's when they were first introduced to the Elseas; on tradition alone these could not be omitted.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) jar sweet red pepper relish
1/2 pound (or so) sliced hard salami

Mix the cream cheese and about three-quarters of the sweet pepper relish together until well combined.  The mixture will be lumpy but try to make sure that there aren't any big lumps of cream cheese remaining.  Spread the mixture onto a slice of  salami and roll up as a jelly roll.  Hold together with a toothpick. 

Thank you, Sweet Erin. Your gracious help was invaluable!  Hugs!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Appetizer Wedding

My, my, my.  It has been quite some time since I've been here. However, Ole Sweetie-Pi's youngest daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, Jerrad, had a breathtaking  wedding vow commitment ceremony (they had eloped some 3 months earlier, little sweetie rascals!)  in the seacoast town of Cape Neddick, Maine, that I was honored to be asked to participate in. Would I make cold appetizers, Elizabeth asked.  I would be honored! I answered.

From that moment,  I had spent every available minute (and brain cell, it seems) in scouring the internet and my cookbooks for delicious, unique, and portable appetizers.  I was challenged by distance (3  hours travel time one way) and not having  the comfort of my own kitchen for last minute preparation work. A flurry of support, encouragement and ideas from my long-time dear friend Jane, and blogging friends, Coleen of Coleen's Recipes, Ingrid of 3B's...Baking, Baseball and Books and Rhiannon Nicole of Hey Gorgeous poured in and kept me sane.  Thank you, ladies, I owe my success in large part to you!  Hugs!

So where to start.  I brought eight items; some where more favored than others (which always happens doesn't it) and a couple where a surprise it.  I'll break these down into two or three posts to keep them reasonable short.

This was a huge surprise.  I made the bacon-wrapped dates more as an afterthought because I thought I hadn't made enough food (!) and wanted something quick and easy.  Little did I know just how delicious they are.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Dates wrapped in bacon.  No recipe really needed for these, just an explanation of method.  Take a whole pitted date (I made a mistake of buying dates with the pits still in them, but they were still wonderful) and wrap half a slice of bacon around the date.  Place the wrapped dates on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 350*F oven for about ten minutes, seam side down, turn the dates over, and bake further until the bacon is cooked, turning as necessary.  Be careful, these get mighty hot and should be served barely warm or at room temperature.  I think with a  pound of bacon I made 32 wrapped dates, but I could have done another whole batch and I believe all those would have been eaten as well. Guests were just in awe of these sweet and salty morsels.

Chevre Cheesecake with Biscotti Crust
(from my esteemed blogging friend, Megan's Cookin')

If you ever want a unique and elegant appetizer, you must try this recipe!  Oh my gosh is it lovely.  When I explained to guests that this is not a sweet but is a savory cheesecake, (savory is so much nicer with champagne, grins) they couldn't wait to try it, and this rich cheesecake enthralled those who tried it.  I made this in two 11 x 7 inch pans because that's the pan sizes I have.  Megan makes hers in a tart pans, which I think is a much prettier pan, but in my little country city (an oxymoron!) tart pans of this size are not available. We don't have an Italian bakery here, so I made the biscotti from scratch (that recipe to follow).

6 ounces soft butter
1-1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup biscotti crumbs
1/2 cup ground walnuts

2 cups cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup goat cheese (chevre)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat over to 325 degrees. Place butter, confectioners' sugar, flour, walnuts and biscotti crumbs in a 5-quart mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.

Press the dough into pan(s), being careful to press the dough evenly on the bottom and sides of pan. Place pan(s) in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the dough to set.

Place cream cheese and goat cheese in a 5-quart mixing bowl with paddle attachment and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add eggs one at time until incorporated. Add sugar, rosemary, and salt. Mix for one minute.

Remove pan(s) with crust from the refrigerator and pour the batter into the pan(s). Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester. The toothpick will be clean and the cheesecake will not be fluid. If the batter is still runny, turn the oven off and allow cake to remain in the oven until firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Two Kinds of Biscotti

It seems I forgot to take a picture of the finished biscotti, so I can only provide you with a picture of part of the baking procedure. Here I had baked it once and sliced it in readiness for the second bake. I made two different kinds of biscotti, one for the crust for the chevre cheesecake, and the second to dunk into coffee or wine, or simply to enjoy.  The biscotti, though different,  looked similar, so I never did take a picture of the second recipe.  Here are the recipes.

(King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook)

This recipe is the first biscotti I ever made and is still my favorite and is the recipe I used for the Chevre Cheesecake, above.  

1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (1 ounce) bottle (equals 2 tablespoons) anise extract
3 eggs
 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, plus 1 teaspoon water (beaten together for egg wash)

Preheat your oven to 325* Fahrenheit.

Combine the sugar, baking powder, butter and eggs.  Blend in the entire bottle of extract and then the flour, one cup at a time. Remember that flour can absorb whatever moisture is in the air so on a humid day you may have to add a little more flour to your dough.

Spoon the dough onto a greased cookie sheet (I use parchment) to form two longs 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch high.  to shape the logs, wet your hands and pat the top and sides of the dough.  Brush the logs with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and cut the logs diagonally into slices, 1 inch thick, to produce cookies.  turn the cookies on its side and rebake at the same temperature for an additional 15 minutes.

The second version of biscotti I baked is a recipe I found on  It contains brandy and almonds, and is definitely a more "grown up" biscotti.


2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brandy
1 1/2 teaspoons anise extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almonds
2 tablespoons anise seed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.

In large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine brandy, anise extract and vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Alternately add dry ingredients and brandy mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the almonds and aniseed.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto prepared sheet, forming two 2 x 13-inch long strips on each sheet. Smooth dough into logs with moistened fingertips.

Bake about30 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Place cookie sheets on racks and cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Cut cooled logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick slices using a serrated knife. Place slices on cookie sheets.

Bake for about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes, until dry and slightly brown. Remove to a rack and cool.