Crunchy, Anise-laced Biscotti

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - March 31, 2010
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After 34 years, Dr. Linda Nishigaya will retire in July from the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, where she is a professor of sociology and chairwoman of the social science division.

During her long and distinguished career, Nishigaya has received the Hawaii Board of Regents Award for Teaching Excellence, and the prestigious Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Community Service Award for the many activities in which she has been involved to help others in their time of need.

As a professor and an educator, Nishigaya has undertaken research and taught her students about the aging process, which includes the acceptance of the later stages of the life cycle. In this pursuit, she has helped countless students accept the challenges that often come with assisting aging relatives and friends.


After retiring, Nishigaya looks forward to continuing her role as chairwoman of the Pastoral Council of the Sacred Heart Church of the Manoa Punahou Catholic Community.

She also expects to continue to stay in shape with her enjoyment of a variety of outdoor sports. In the past, Nishigaya has completed five Honolulu Marathons, hiked all over the island and for many years was an avid golfer. She firmly believes that mental and physical health go together, and that this philosophy should provide her with an enjoyable and productive retirement.

It is a pleasure to dedicate this column to someone who has given so much of herself to her students and the community for so many years.

Anise is the dried ripe fruit of an herb; the crescent-shaped seeds have a licorice-like 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 also was 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. Anise also is 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.

Try these light, crunchy treats with a cup of hot coffee or herbal tea as a perfect dessert for your Easter meal.

Happy Easter!


* 1/2 cup Smart Balance margarine
* 1 cup sugar
* egg substitute to equal 3 eggs
* 2 teaspoons anise extract
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
* 3 tablespoons anise seed (optional)
* 3 cups unbleached flour mixed with 1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream margarine with sugar, add egg substitute and beat well. Add desired extracts. Add flour mixture. Mix and knead until smooth. Form two rolls. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then cut in 1/4-inch slices and bake 10 minutes more or to desired crispness.

Makes about 40-50 biscotti.

(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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