Oh please!! Before the cold weather prohibits, can’t I have just one more night on the patio – my favorite place to dine and sip?? Is there a better place to ponder the pairing of Tuscan Sunsets and Stinky Cheese?
I don’t know about you, but when the summer heat finally breaks in Atlanta and the fall breezes usher in a flow of bronze tipped leaves, I head for the patio to experience the perfect autumn nights that nature has provided. What better way to celebrate the season than with a cocktail that reflects the early evening sky in beloved Tuscany and some savory bites to accompany. May I suggest my Tuscan Sunset Cocktail and Gorgonzola Biscuits? Both are easy to make and sure to win favorable comments.
These Gorgonzola Biscuits (my nod to Stinky Cheese) contain two ingredients high on my list of indulgences: pistachios and candied orange peel. Candied orange peel is very often used in Italian dolci and desserts. When I was a child and hadn’t yet developed an appreciative palate, I would pick the candied orange peel out of my dessert and leave a pile of the sweet morsels at the side of my plate. Alas, wasted youth! I have since learned a secret!! There is nothing quite so ambrosial as homemade candied orange peel! I am now a fan of both the sweet citrus flavor and the process to achieve it. You can purchase it at your grocer in the fall when the seasonal candied fruits abound, but there is just no contest with the homemade. I have a difficult time finding new hiding places where my husband, Tom, will not find it!!
May I recommend the best recipe for candied orange peel that I use often from none other than The Food Network ? It takes a few minutes but is soooo easy to make and fun as well. It fills your kitchen with a sweet essence of orange. Try adding a cinnamon stick or some ginger to the cooking liquid and give the peel an added twist! The recipe makes a good quantity and keeps for several weeks in your pantry. You can have so much fun with the extras by dipping pieces in dark chocolate and serving with espresso or adding them to enhance so many dishes. The recipe suggests reserving the final cooking liquid sweet with sugar and laced with orange for iced tea. I have made my iced tea this way with amazing success. It can also be added to mixed drinks requiring a simple syrup or that special martini! A little tip – we’ll be talking about and using candied orange peel as the holidays approach. So make some now and be prepared! It keeps a long time.
Feeling a thirst coming on, let’s make that Tuscan Sunset Cocktail !
You’ll need a chilled bottle of Prosecco (sparkling Italian wine – very much like champagne but lighter on the tongue and on the pocketbook!) and Orangecello also chilled. (Orangecello is made by the same folks who make Limoncello and is fairly easy to find at your liquor provider.)
Place a Mandarin orange slice in each champagne flute. Add 1 oz. Orangecello to each flute. Top each flute off with Prosecco to about 3/4 full. Garnish each with a fresh orange slice. Cin-Cin! (to your health!)
(with candied orange peel and pistachios)
Makes 3-4 dozen
1 1/2 c. flour
1 stick butter – break into small pieces
6 oz. Gorgonzola Piccante – break into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper – about 4 turns of the grinder
1 clove fresh garlic – chopped
1/2 c. candied orange peel – chopped
1/2 c. coarsely chopped shelled pistachios
About 1/2 c. whole shelled pistachios for placing in the center of the biscuits
Mix flour, butter, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic in a food processor and use pulse (on/off) mode til the dough just pulls together. Notice that the dough has a grayish-green cast from the mold in the cheese. The biscuits will not be green! Add the orange peel and pistachios and use pulse mode again for a moment to just work into dough.
Turn out the dough onto lightly floured surface and work into a ball. Divide ball in 1/2 to form 2 balls. Take each ball and form into long rope around 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick squeezing and rolling with hands.
You can wrap the ropes in plastic wrap at this point and refrigerate (or freeze) to finish later or proceed with making the biscuits.
Cut the rope into 1/2 in. pieces and press them into rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.
It is important for best results to use the lining so that the biscuits have a little cushion.
Place a whole pistachio in the center of each biscuit. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden on bottom. Do not over bake or they will be dry. Remove and cool completely. Place in sealed container. Will keep about 2 weeks at room temperature or freeze and defrost as you care to use them.
These are great to pull out for drinks when that unexpected guest comes calling — but — served best as a companion to the Tuscan Sunset Cocktail.
Parla Come Mangi!
Reminder: Be sure to visit my website,Linda’s Italian Table, for the new Recipe Of The Month!
Food Photos by Tommy Hanks Photography