Radish Roses and the Meaning of Life

My mother learned how to cook  from the women in the Jewish community in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

While there were many excellent cooks in that generation of  immigrant and first generation women, not just in Halifax  but throughout North America, those Haligonian women elevated plattering and plating food to a high art form. The combination of great Lithuanian Jewish cookery and English influenced  (fine china, silver and napery) serving modes made for delicious and elegant meals.
My mother learned that every meat dish needed to be garnished by pillows of parsley sprigs and then punctuated by a bouquet of radish roses.
My dear friend, S, born and raised in Halifax has invited us for Thanksgiving.

She has entrusted me with the task of radish roses.
It’s a bit of a joke between us. We both get how entirely silly this nearly lost skill is. And yet we  both love this wink to the lost world of elegant entertaining.
By tomorrow, my radishes will be nicely bloomed and ready to garnish the turkey.
I was also asked to make some small desserts.
Whities, as they are known in my house. Made large as per my hostess's request. (My mother likes them made small.)

And Chocolate Biscotti.
I mostly followed this recipe. I added an array of spices, because chocolate always tastes better with some cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and allspice. I substituted almonds for the hazelnuts and switched out almond extract for hazelnut extract because that’s what I had.
The one think I kept thinking as I formed the biscotti logs is that it is a good thing that I spent so much of my childhood making mud pies.  The dough feels exactly like dirt, and uses many of the same  skills I developed as a pre-schooler in my many hours digging in my back yard and the other back yards on my street.

My mother used to remind me that in forming the logs it helps to dampen your hands to help with the shaping. That is good advice. Mario Batali suggests slicing the biscotti on the diagonal. This too is good advice.
One of the things that I like about this biscotti recipe is how well it pairs with whitie making. The biscotti call for 3 whole eggs and three additional egg yolks. The additional yolks provide the fat for the biscotti ( Hurray it’s parev!)
The 3 extra egg whites go into  the whities.  The biscotti are toasted at 300 degrees after their initial baking.  I started beating up the egg-whites for the whities as the biscotti were cooling.  The whities went into the oven with the toasting biscotti slices. If you need to make two desserts for a meal , these biscotti and the whities are a perfect pairing.


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