Recipe Hub: Some Pepper Biscuits For The Old Italian Person In Us All
I am back in Chicago now, but I spent nearly a whole month back in Rochester, NY visiting my family, on account of how they are all super great and I love them. The only downside to this, of course, is that being back home always means my father following me around with my Nonnie's recipe for pepper biscuits (also known as "taralli" or "biscotti di pepe") and casually asking me if we have all the ingredients for said pepper biscuits. Because boy does he love his damn pepper biscuits.
I'm not going to lie to you all: I do not like pepper biscuits. They have pepper and anise in them, and I do not mess with anise, or licorice or anything with that general flavor profile. Fennel is acceptable in pepperoni. But the people who like them really like them (clearly!). When I talked about making them last June on Twitter and referred to them as a thing "only 70-year-old Italian dudes eat," I was surprised to find that many people who were not, in fact, 70-year-old Italian dudes, felt that this was something they would definitely be into. So, because I made them last week, I figured I'd put the recipe up here!
To be clear, when I say biscuits, I'm not talking about American-style biscuits. Not so much full-on cookies as a not entirely unbreadstick-like-thing that you eat with coffee or wine. You get it.
You will need!:
- 4 cups sifted flour
- 1 yeast cake (a packet of active dry yeast is fine, it's what I use, I have no idea where to even get a yeast cake)
- ½ cup oil
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon pepper
- pinch of anise seed
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and sift all dry ingredients. Then, add your oil and yeast and a little more water to make a stiff dough.
Knead on a lightly floured board, and let it rise until its size has doubled. When that's done, you can shape it into twists or donuts or whatever, at whatever size you want them to be (they're gonna stay the same size).
Boil a pot of water on the stove. Traditionally, I take this as an opportunity to choose to scream into a pillow for a few minutes, smoke a cigarette, fix myself a glass of wine and make solemn vows to never marry an Italian man. Some people find baking calms them. I am not one of those people.
Once the water is simmering, drop the biscuits in, and then take them out once they rise to the top and put them on a sheet of absorbent paper. Then put them on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 450° for 20-25 minutes.
And that's it! Someday I'll put up the recipe for wine biscuits or egg biscuits, which I actually do like (and don't mind baking because they don't have the whole weird boiling step). But if you are a person who likes anise, you will probably like these a lot. For now, though, this is your open thread! Talk amongst yourselves!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse