It seems like practically every day another must have or must be on technology pops up. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr (apparently omitting the “e” makes an app much cooler) and whatever is next create a vast social network ensuring that not a single thought, impulse, picture or embarrassing moment passes without memorializing it in the cyber-universe. That’s all fine, often fun and sometimes even useful in our daily lives. But when you factor all this technology into the art of dating, it opens up a Pandora’s Box of new rules to abide by. And if you learned the old rules when push-button phones were the height of high-tech and cellular phones the size of briefcases, well, let’s just say it causes one to pause and think a bit.
I know when to give out my phone number and how much to reveal in those first nervous online exchanges. Divulging my last name, my personal email, my dating history, the timing of those are easily discerned once you meet. I’m familiar with the basic timeline for the appropriate date to ask someone to meet at your door or up for a drink. But just when do you give them your URL? Let’s face it, when you write a blog or provide commentary through other means online, you create the manifestation of how your mind really works for all eyes to see. How early do you release that on an unsuspecting suitor? I suppose if you are lucky and the date evolves into a relationship you’ll get to it all eventually, but with the advent of instant internet access, the whole enchilada is out there the minute you hand over your .com or hashtag. And with that comes a whole new set of propriety barometers to get tangled in. If I let him see my tweets too early, does that make me easy? How do you casually broach the subject? Is it “I’ll show you my blog if you show me yours”, or do you just slip your .com address into their pocket when they’re in the men’s room. Or maybe you treat it like a homework assignment after the second date: “Here’s Karin in 52-plus pithy posts over the past year. Please review and prepare comments for discussion.”
Ah well, I suppose in the end it’s all a good thing if it helps you get to know them, and them you. I just wonder if Barrett Browning were alive today, would she write “how do I love thee, let me tweet the ways…”
It’s nice to know that even with the advent of the digital into dating, some things still remain a simple and effective way to woo. Like a nice glass of wine, a cozy spot and a little something to nibble on… Now before your mind goes there, remember, this is ultimately a blog about food. So to keep company with that wine, how about some Parmesan Fennel Biscotti. These savory cookies get a little bite from black and cayenne pepper, a little anise-sweetness from fennel seeds, and tangy richness from a combination of parmesan and pecorino. They are lovely with a glass of wine, aside a bowl of soup, or as a nice addition to any breadbasket, and make the perfect little something to nibble on. What else you nibble on after that, well, I’ll leave that up to you. But please, DON’T post it on YouTube…
Savory Fennel Parmesan Biscotti
Makes about 40-50 biscotti
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, plus 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on your taste
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Put the nuts in a shallow pan and roast until fragrant, about 7 minutes, tossing them occasionally . Keep an eye on them – they go from toasted to burned quickly. Let cool and finely chop.
In a medium bowl (or bowl of electric mixer), combine the flour, ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, cornmeal, Pecorino Romano, fennel seeds, salt, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, black pepper and cayenne. Stir in the chopped nuts. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the egg. If you are making by hand, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the buttermilk egg mixture into the well. Stir with a fork until crumbly dough forms. If using the mixer, add in the wet ingredients with the mixer on the lowest setting, then mix a little faster until the ingredients just come together.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth but still slightly sticky. Divide the dough into four parts and cover with plastic wrap. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time and keeping the rest tightly wrapped, roll the dough into a 1-inch diameter (about 14 inches long). Repeat with the remaining dough. Put the logs on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake on the top 2 shelves of the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. As the logs bake, the tops may split down the middle. Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 200° F. Transfer the logs to the work surface, and using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, slice the logs into 1/3 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices cut side up on the baking sheets and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes** (see note below on baking times below) until hard to the touch but not browned. Turn the biscotti over, sprinkle with the remaining 2 TBSP Parmigiano, and bake 40 minutes longer until they are dry and crisp. Set the biscotti aside to cool and dry further several hours or overnight. The biscotti will keep several weeks in an airtight container.
**Note on baking times: You can also bake these less time on the second baking for a softer cookie, about 20-25 minutes per side. They will have a texture closer to the wine biscuits you find at wine tastings. I like them either way.
Calories: approximately 50 per cookie