For days now I have had an uncomfortable feeling inside. I don’t know why or where it comes from except maybe I have been reading too much of the newspaper or afraid that I am not doing all that I need to do to the best of my ability, but whatever it is, it’s like one of those colds that sits in your chest and won’t leave you alone. Everything slows down. I remember another time like this when I thought I might just take up a career of sitting and I would go everyday to a little coffee shop called Taylor’s in the West Village that had baked goods in the windows that looked like home. I didn’t do anything for weeks, but work and then go and sit on a stoop with a cup of coffee and a muffin. I love coffee and a muffin for the excuse it gives you to take time out and time away. The warmth that goes into your hand the steam that warms your nose and the little bit of flour and sugar and fruit that somebody put their heart into for a minute.
These cookies are perfect for that. A man called Lino Tagliapietra, a glass blower from just outside Venice came through the small town where I was living about a million years ago, and made my day by giving me the recipe for his mother’s grappa biscotti.
1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 cup sugar, 4-6 eggs (enough to make a dough the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough), 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 stick of softened butter, 1/2 cup of raisins softened in boiling water (soak and drain off the water) and then soaked with 1/4 cup of grappa (pour all grappa and raisins right into the batter). Beat the butter with the sugar and the eggs. Add the vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients together and then combine with the wet. Add the raisins along with any remaining grappa. Form into logs and bake on a buttered cookie sheet at 350 degrees. Cool a bit. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and then bake again until just golden brown, about 10 minutes.
If you are hungry for dinner, saute a few whole cloves of garlic in your best olive oil. Throw in a pile of baby arugula or spinach. Season with salt. Slice a long piece off of your favorite French or Italian baguette. Slice down the middle, and brush with your favorite olive oil, or spread with butter. Cover with the greens, a few slices of roasted eggplant, sundried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, or just the greens and a few slivers of your favorite cheese.