Sunday, October 30, 2011


I did not grow up during the Depression, REALLY, I did not! But if you were to take a peek in my freezer you would think that I did because that’s where I keep all the food I don’t like to throw away. Hold on--I know what you’re thinking and I can explain...I don’t hoard SPOILED food and the like, I just cannot throw anything away when I know that I can repurpose it into something else. And correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s many a restaurant chef out there who is doing the very same thing. 
So, if you opened the door--take heed, containers and bags tumble out at a rapid pace--very often you would find plastic wrapped slabs of red stuff (tomato paste) and yellow stuff (cookie dough), brown ice cubes (coffee), and large Zip-Locs of crumbs (cookies and cake). The day before I leave for a vacation or trip I usually go through my fridge and cabinets looking for food that I know won’t make it safely by the time I get back. Large tablespoons of tomato or olive paste get spooned onto plastic wrap. Bell peppers and onions are chopped and thrown into freezer containers. Fruit is cut up and either cooked down into purees or thrown into freezer containers as is. Cookies, cakes, and any leftovers from my company (here comes a gratuitous plug): are ground up in the food processor and put into large freezer bags. Everything is then plopped into the freezer for later use. I can then go on vacation knowing that my stash in the freezer will be waiting, and that nothing green will meet me when I return.
The idea to repurpose cookie and cake crumbs was given to me by Nancy SIlverton. She has a recipe for Crumb Biscotti in her book, “Pastries From The La Brea Bakery.” I have taken her idea and incorporated it into my standard Mandelbread recipe. I also wanted to give a shoutout to Marilyn Naron  for her recommendation of adding shortening. I find it does make the Mandelbread (she called it “Jewish Biscotti”) lighter. The result is a biscotti-type cookie with a finer, crisper crumb. The final product will always taste a little bit different, depending on the type of cookie crumbs that are mixed in. Regardless, it’s always delicious and it makes a great accompaniment to a glass of tea, a cup of coffee or a bowl of ice cream. These cookies travel well, so if you do all the prep work and make them before your trip, they’ll be a great treat to take with you on the plane.
(makes two large loaves)
3/4c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (preferably Spectrum brand)
3/4c. sugar
3 eggs
rind of one orange, finely grated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup dry cookie crumbs
pinch salt
3c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
for sprinkling:
1/2c. cinnamon
1/2c. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat and set aside. Using the flat paddle of an electric mixer, cream the oil and shortening together. Stop to scrape the bowl and add the vanilla extract. Continue beating mixture making sure shortening is well incorporated. Add the sugar, grated orange rind, and eggs, one at a time. On low speed, add the crumbs. Mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture, beating on low speed until dough is just combined. Add chopped chocolate and briefly mix, just long enough to evenly distribute.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Divide dough into two equal parts. Using both hands, roll each piece of dough into a log, each about as long as your cookie sheet and approximately 2″ wide.
Transfer dough logs to prepared cookie sheets and space at least 2″ apart. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the logs slightly, working down each length until done.
Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of mixture over each rolled dough log. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until strips are golden and just firmed up. Remove from oven and cool until safe to handle.
Using a thin serrated knife, cut each strip on the diagonal to form approx. 18-20 pieces. Arrange cut pieces on the cookie sheets and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon-sugar mix. Return cookies to oven until golden brown and tops appear dry, about 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully and do not over-brown. Cool on racks.


  1. Mindy - Love your writings! You have a another gift to add to your list!!! Keep em coming...

  2. This is so great, Mindy! I loved reading this. Good for you, girlfriend!