It was our Schools Dinner a week or so ago. That is, a lovely free dinner provided by college in the handsome surroundings of the SCR, and a chance to say goodbye to the tutors who have put up with us for the last three years. Obviously, it seemed appropriate to give some kind of gift. My gifts are always food-based, and I figured some nice biscuits would not go amiss - who doesn't like biscuits? I always think a home-made present is much nicer and has more soul than something from a shop, especially if it's taken some amount of effort to produce. I thought it might be nice to combine my twin passions, literature and food, in present form.I turned to Ottolenghi's first cookbook for baking inspiration, as it is full of mouthwatering delights, and the only thing I have baked from there - a chocolate fudge cake - was absolutely divine. Fortuitously, I already had all the ingredients to bake both a batch of cranberry, oat and white chocolate cookies, and a batch of pistachio, orange and ginger biscotti. The cookies were straightforward, and the biscotti quite fun because I'd never made them before. Biscotti literally means "twice-baked" in Italian (just as biscuit means "twice-baked" in French) - you make the dough, roll it into a sausage, bake it for a short amount of time until just set, allow to cool, slice widthways into finger shapes and bake again until crunchy. I nibbled some of the remnants just to check the quality - delicious. I might make these again to have with my tea. It's always nice to have some form of biscuit to dip into tea.
I wrapped them in cellophane and tied it with red ribbon, and put a different label on each - all four labels had quotes from literature relating to food, so my Medieval tutor had something from Chaucer, my Shakespeare tutor something from The Winter's Tale, my tutor who has written a book on Virginia Woolf had, naturally, Ms Woolf, and my tutor who taught me the 17th and 18th century had a quotation from Richardson's Pamela. I thought they looked quite lovely and hopefully tasted good too.