Tarallucci – Savoury Fennel Biscuits and a little break for Chica and Big Man

I seem to be cooking to an Italian theme right now – no particular reason. Well, I did buy a new (second hand) cookery book, Two Greedy Italians by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. If you ever get a change to watch the series they made to go with the book, do give it a go – it features some good food from all around Italy and the pair of them behave like a funny old couple who have been married for years! The following recipe comes from the book.

Taralucci (5)

Here’s a bread type recipe which I made recently as they reminded me of nibbles my parents often serve at their home with olives and salted almonds with pre lunch or dinner drinks. The first batch I made came out a little chewy, more like crispy bagels. I cooked the second batch for longer and they were as I remembered – crispy, hard and deliciously aniseedy in flavour.

Ingredients (makes 40-50 but can easily be halved)

  • 200g semolina four
  • 200g plain flour plus extra for dusting (use all plain flour if you don’t have semolina flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast blend yeast (or 1 sachet of dried yeast dissolved in 150ml lukewarm water)
  • 150ml water (no need to use if you have used it to dissolve your yeast)
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil

Add the fennel seeds, salt and pepper to the flours and mix then add the liquids. Knead well for about 5 mins and then leave to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Knead again for another 5 mins and then pat the dough into a flat, rectangular shape. Cut strips about 2cms wide off and cut each strip into 10cm lengths. Wrap each strip around a finger, flattening it slightly and pressing the ends firmly together.

Preheat the oven to 180 degress C or gas Mark 4 and bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil.

Drop the dough circles into the water in batches, let then rise to the surface and let them cook for about 3 minutes.

Taralucci (1)

Life them out with a slotted spoon and leave them to drain (I did this on greaseproof paper as I found they stuck to kitchen paper).

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes until lightly browned and crispy (the original recipe calls for initial cooking for 15 mins at the higher temperature then 10 minutes at a medium temperature). Leave to cool and enjoy with a glass of something lovely.

Tomorrow we’re packing our little cases and heading over to the beautiful island of Jersey. I say beautiful because I hear it is – it will be out first visit. And we’re not worried that rain and gloomy weather are forecast as we’re going to celebrate our anniversary which also (most fortunately) coincides with a food and drink festival. Well, we might do a little sightseeing but hopefully we’ll be back a few kilos heavier and full of exciting ideas for new dishes. See you next week!

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56 thoughts on “Tarallucci – Savoury Fennel Biscuits and a little break for Chica and Big Man

  1. If you have food and drinks who cares if it is blowing a gale force wind and you can’t stand up straight, life is good! Enjoy your little get away and cheers for the tasty looking snacky recipe. I LOVE Antonio Carlucci and my youngest daughter Beth (now 23) was madly in love with him when she was 8 and watched everything that he ever did on the television in raptured silence. Add Gennaro to the picture and it’s a marriage made in heaven :). Nothing like a couple of like minded foodies teaming up in a mismatched tour de force slathered in olive oil and reeking of garlic to engage an audience. You just have to look at the 2 fat ladies to see that we love a good foodie road trip…that reminds me, I have Clarissas autobiography sitting there and I haven’t even started it! Bugger my poor tired brain that refuses to read past 3pm any more…sigh…

    1. I confess that when I was 8 years old I was in love with Cliff Richard – says a lot for my taste in men 😉 Am now over Cliff and have a bit of a crush on Rick Stein which I think is far more mature, but I hear he’s a bit of a sod. Hey ho, will leave the real love thing for Big Man 🙂 So now stop reading blogs and rest that poor tired brain of yours!

      1. I was in love with Cliff Richard too! Looks like he had quite a global lust club ;). Can’t say the same for Rick Stein who I think is a bit of a dick to be honest. I would much rather Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall…he might not be much to look at but I bet he is a stayer 😉 and at least I could actually eat what he cooked (and I hear he makes good home brew as well…what more could a girl want? 😉 )

  2. Have a wonderful time on Jersey. We enjoyed our honeymoon in St Helier a VERY long time ago but it was beautiful then!
    (I enjoyed the TV program that you referred to – and yes they really were like a pair of old marrieds!)

  3. This sounds delicious. I love the idea of fennel seeds in a bread-type dish. Well done. A food a drink festival? I can’t imagine you NOT LOVING THAT! Enjoy! Buen provecho!

  4. Love the Channel Islands and think you are going to hace a fabulous time! Hope you take a few photos 🙂 ! Got to ‘know’ Carluccio when he lived in Australia and have followed all his TV series since: he was just back for a week with our latest Masterchef. Contaldo of course was Jamie Oliver’s original mentor. Together they are a hoot methinks 🙂 !

    1. I’m very excited about visiting a new place – will be taking lots of snaps. I met Carluccio years ago at his Covent Garden restaurant before it became a chain and he sat down and had a drink and a chat with me and a couple of pals – a genuinely lovely man.

  5. These look wonderful! Can’t wait to give them a go.
    We both seem to be cooking up a storm with fennel seeds at the moment! 🙂 A gorgeous addition to breads (and pastry!)
    Happy Anniversary to you and your husband – enjoy the time away celebrating!

  6. So sorry I haven’t been around the past short while Tanya! Slowly getting myself back in order. How lovely that you and Big Man are off to celebrate your anniversary. Best wishes and love to you both for a beautiful and blessed anniversary.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  7. I’m thrilled you are in the Italian theme! I love these recipes! This does almost seem like a bagel type being boiled first then baked. I feel like I’ve seen these at family gatherings when I was young, but not something my mom had ever made. Guess I’ll be needing to make a batch and see if the taste triggers any further memories!! Enjoy the festival, you so deserve a break!

    1. We’re really looking forward to our break. And yes, am enjoying the Italian theme too 🙂 It’s unusual being boiled then baked but I followed the recipe (unusual for me) and it worked a treat!

  8. Oh Chica… first, I LOVE that show with The Two Greedy Italians! Secondly, you have brought back some wonderful memories of my mom with these taralli. I remember her making these with fennel seeds and loving them. I lost my mom when I was 8 and the store-bought ones don’t even come close. I just have to give these a try now! Thanks so much!

    1. Ah, am so glad I bought back some memories, hopefully the taste will be something like you remember from your childhood. So sorry you lost your mum so young, that’s very tough for any child. Sending you a big hug!

  9. Looks like I shall have to try this one!!! The hints of both bagel and pretzel are almost too much to bear waiting for even at this distance! I think I can smell them now. 😀

  10. I’m working backwards here reading posts, but Happy Anniversary! And I love the look of these crazy biscuits…they do bear a familial resemblance to bagels, but I’ll bet the crispy/chewy aspect is really interesting. And I love anise in anything, anyway!

  11. You can linger on the Italian theme all you wish.. it’s a favorite of mine:D These little buns look scrumptious, I’ve never heard of those before! Because I’m reading backwards.. I know you didn’t have the best weather.. but can’t wait to hear more about the food!! xx

  12. I hope you had a wonderful anniversary, Tanya, and the Jersey was as beautiful as you’d heard. This sounds like a great recipe and I wish I had a better internet connection when with Zia. She loves anise flavoring and I bet she would have really enjoyed these. I’m going to pin the recipe and hopefully I’ll remember it next year. 🙂

    1. Hi John, lovely to see you again! Hope the trip with Zia went well. My mum and I were talking about this recipe the other day and she said when she first tried to make these (from the recipe of an Italian pal) she realised that the pal never told her to boil the biscuits first and for years they didn’t turn out well….:(

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