A Batch Of Grandma’s Biscotti

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - July 07, 2005
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Most people don’t know much about water polo, but that’s not the case with the Fasi family. Siblings Cappy and David, children of former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, are quick to give out statistics, especially since they are with Hawaii Water Polo, which will present its 37th Annual Hawaiian Invitational Water Polo Tournament Aug. 8-13.

For example, water polo is the oldest team sport in the Olympics, and it is growing in worldwide popularity every year. This August’s tournament is the largest invitational in the world, and will have 100 teams participating with athletes from across the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Asia joining Hawaii-based teams. More and more girls are participating in school teams all the time, with our island state boasting some big-name players.

David, a local attorney, started his involvement with water polo as an eighth-grader at Iolani School. He could barely swim when he started, but wound up as captain of Iolani’s water polo team and was a two-time All-American High School Scholar⁄Athlete. Although recruited by Stanford to play water polo, he opted to attend Harvard instead, and made the water polo team his freshman year, serving as captain twice and earning multiple MVP awards. David is married to former Mrs. Hawaii Sydney Fernandez Fasi and father of two daughters (Olivia, age 3, and Giulia, 6 months old), and has segued from player to coach and Hawaii’s second national-rated referee.

His younger brother Sal, and nephew Charlie also played for Iolani.

Sister Cappy, recruited by David to be recording secretary of Hawaii Water Polo as he serves as its president, is a “water polo mom.” Both her sons play — Grant played for Punahou and now plays for University of Santa Clara, and Mark, age 14, plays for Punahou and in the Hawaiian Islands Water Polo summer league.

Cappy invites everyone who would like to see great water polo to come to the free tournament. Matches will be held at the University of Hawaii, Iolani, and Kamehameha Schools pools.

She also graciously shares Grandma Josephina Fasi’s recipe for biscotti with MidWeek readers.

Anise is the dried ripe fruit of an herb; the crescentshaped seeds have a licoricelike flavor.

One of the oldest cultivated spices, anise was used by the early Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. The Romans used it in a spice cake served at the end of rich meals, and sometimes at the end of a marriage feast, as it was thought to prevent indigestion.

In England the import of anise was taxed, and in 1305, that tax helped to pay for repairs to the London Bridge. Anise was also thought to avert the “Evil Eye.”

Anise is used whole or crushed in cookies, cakes, breads, cheese, pickles, stews, fish and shellfish. Roasting enhances the flavor. Middle Eastern, Portuguese, German, Italian and French cuisines use anise in seasoning blends such as curry, hoisin and sausage. It is also used in the preparation of cordial liqueurs such as anisette.

Most anise is produced in Spain, but additional suppliers include Turkey and Egypt. Spanish anise is considered premium because of its better flavor, appearance and higher oil content.

Note: I have added some substitutions in parenthesis to lower fat and cholesterol content.

• 1⁄2 cup butter (may use Smart Balance margarine)
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 cups flour
• 2 teaspoons anise extract
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 eggs (may use egg substitute)
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon lemon (optional)
• 3 tablespoons anise seed (optional)

Cream butter with sugar; add eggs and beat well. Add flour and other dry ingredients.

Add spices. Mix and knead until smooth. Form two rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then cut into 1/4-inch slices and bake 10 minutes more or to desired crispness.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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