Richard P Grant and his BioLOG (biolog); the wee blog, weblog, or web blog; things not necessarily biology related. The anti-blogger.


8 September 2018


We’ve been to our secret hideaway in Tuscany a few times in the last several years, and one day I will post some photos, just to make you all jealous. But one of the things that I remember is the cantuccini we get from a little shop in Castiglione della Pescaia. We eat these delicious little bundles of almond and pistachio with the coffee our landlady supplies, and we have not been able to find a quite adequate substitute for either.

Making my own cantuccini has been preying on my mind for some time now, and this afternoon I finally gave it a go. Just as for tiramisu, there are no two recipes alike on the interwebs. And some call for Vino Sante, others call for butter (blasphemy); I even saw one recipe with olive oil. Some have sugar, others don’t.

So I decided to make my own. Again.

Caveat: I only had whole, blanched almonds—ideally we’d use ones with the skin still on, but we can’t always get what we want. But here’s the recipe I made up:

rpg’s cantuccini (Italian biscotti) recipe


  • Two eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 cup (6 oz) OO grade flour and a little more
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 shot homemade redcurrant gin
  • zest of a small orange
  • 100 g (1 pack) whole blanched almonds, toasted
  • 3 oz (~1/2 pack) pistachio kernels, blanched for 2 minutes to enhance the colour


Preheat your oven to fan 190ºC or equivalent.

  1. Beat together the sugar and the eggs until light and fluffy, but not too much
  2. Stir in all the other ingredients, the gin going in last
  3. Mix to a dough
  4. Add a little flour if needed so you can handle the dough
  5. Roll/shape/squish into a couple of tubes and lay out on a lined baking tray
  6. Bake for 15 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and stand for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 170ºC fan
  8. Cut the mound into ~1/2 inch slices
  9. Bake for a further 15 minutes

Jenny tried the end slice before they went back in the oven. It was so good she took another slice to have with her coffee.

These are exquisite. Next time I might add some almond essence to the dough, and try harder to find whole, unskinned almonds.

Some things don’t come in convenient pack sizes



Ready for the oven

Bake one

Slice one


Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , — rpg @ 14:42

21 April 2014

Sea bream grilled in butter with dill

There is a fish restaurant not far from our favourite holiday destination in Tuscany. At the weekend we found some sea bream fillets in Waitrose, and this being one of Jenny’s favourite fishes I decided to try to replicate something we had at Da Remo.

Da Remo

Ideally what I wanted to do would have been achieved on the barbecue, but there were only two of us for dinner, and we currently lack a decent grill pan. What we ended up with was better than I could have imagined, so here’s the recipe.

  1. Warm a large jamie of butter in a non-stick pan. Grind a small amount of black pepper into it.
  2. Sprinkle the bream fillets with a little freshly squeezed lemon juice and scatter over a few grains of sea salt.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, turn the heat up under the butter to full. The butter needs to be really hot, but only just turning brown.
  4. Add a couple of sprigs of fresh dill to the pan (if it’s hot enough it’ll sizzle immediately), followed by the fish, skin-side to the pan.
  5. Leave the heat on high and fry for about 3 minutes, until you can see the inside of the fish beginning to cook.
  6. Flip the fish over and fry for another couple of minutes. The skin should already be crispy and starting to brown.
  7. Flip the fish back (skin side down) for another minute to make sure the skin is really crispy (and check that the fillets are cooked through).
  8. Don’t overcook! Really—if these babies dry out it would be a tragedy.
  9. Lift the fish onto kitchen towel to blot excess butter. Serve immediately (we had boiled potatoes and peas, and a glass of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc).
Filed under: Recipes — Tags: — rpg @ 20:29

27 February 2009


Audra wanted me to make this for Kevin’s birthday. Until now I’ve been a strictly savoury sort of guy—although I do a mean crumble and real custard if pushed. But I’m always up for a challenge, so thought I’d give it a go.

I soon found more recipes than there are Italians, and then one on the pack of Savoiardi (Ladyfingers); so decided to extract the best from each and essentially make it up as I went along. So, for posterity:

rpg’s tiramisu recipe


  • Six eggs, separated
  • 200 g sugar
  • splodge real vanilla essence
  • pack of Savoiardi
  • small pot strong espresso
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 500 g mascarpone


  1. Prepare a pot of espresso (about a cup/4–6 servings) and allow to cool
  2. Beat yolks together with the sugar (hand balloon whisk) until pale yellow and smooth and creamy, and most of the sugar is dissolved. Mix in the vanilla essence
  3. Fold in 250 g mascarpone and beat for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the mascarpone and beat again until smooth and all the sugar is dissolved
  4. In a clean bowl beat (electric whisk) the egg whites and a generous pinch of sugar until stiff peaks form
  5. Gently combine the meringue with the yolk custard, a little at a time, until completely mixed
  6. Pour the espresso into a shallow container (e.g. Chinese takeaway box) and stir in the brandy
  7. Dip each ladyfinger, sugar-side, into the coffee/brandy for about 2 seconds, and place on the bottom of the serving tray, dry side down, until the base is covered
  8. Cover the base with 1/3–1/2 the custard (cream). Sprinkle cocoa over it
  9. Repeat for a second layer of savoiardi; followed by the rest of the cream. Sprinkle cocoa (through a tea strainer)
  10. Refrigerate overnight
Tiramisu, ready to go

Tiramisu, ready to go

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: — rpg @ 22:47


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