Pecan Tangerine Kipferl

The sweetest time of the year is right now and other then shopping for presents and decorating our houses it's high time to bake some cookies!! :) I love me a good spice cookie but when it comes to choosing my absolute favorite Christmas Cookie then this one here might very well be the thing for me: I go literally nuts (ha) for almond vanilla Kipferl, I just love that soft, almost sandy crunch they have, and don't even get me started about how buttery they are. Hmmm. This time I give the whole thing a subtle twist, subbing pecans for almonds and tangerine for vanilla. If you have some on hand you can also sub half the sugar with maple sugar... 

Pecan Tangerine Kipferl 

 

All Purpose Flour 2 cups

Butter 1 cup

Pecans 1 cup

Sugar 1/3 cup

Tangerine, organic 1

1/4 c. Granulated Sugar + 1/4 c. Confectioner's Sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the pecans for about 10 minutes. Let them cool and ground them in a food processor. Decrease oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, ground pecans and finely grated tangerine peel. Cut in butter with pastry blender (or just crumble it into the flour with the tip of your fingers), then quickly knead into a dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Tear of pieces of dough the size of a shelled walnut, Shape each piece into a crescent and place on a with paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until edges are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute and carefully roll in vanilla sugar mixture.

 

Armenian Vanilla Cookies

I might have already mentioned this: my favorite sport is to stalk people in order to get recipes from them! Seriously, I just love to peek into people's kitchens, have a taste of their flavors, soak up their traditions and make them my own. This is a perfect example of just that, and these armenian cookies - which I had never even heard of until a few weeks ago - are definitely becoming a new well loved classic for me. I tried them for the first time at a party, and I was really intrigued, by their subtle yet complex flavor and composition (I really couldn't figure out how they were made) and their exotic geographic origin... So I asked and begged and short after the recipe was in my inbox for me to try (thank you Mery!! :). The funny thing is: these cookies remind me my childhood, even if I never got to taste them before last month, basically to me they taste like an ice-cream on the belgian beach in the early eighties. I guess it's because of the toasted flour (??!), the vanilla filling and the rich, buttery everything. So yes, these are my very favorite cookie right now, and definitely a new classic for the years to come... 

Recipe:  3 cups of all purpose flour 200 gr. of margarine or butter 1 egg 1 cup of sour cream 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda   Making the dough:  On a table pour the flour.  In the flour cut the butter or margarine into little pieces. Then with your hands start integrating butter/margarine with flour (rub them together) to the extent when you feel that butter is really well mixed with the flour. Into that mixture add an egg and sour cream. Before pouring sour cream add baking soda into it and let it raise a little and then pour it onto the mixture. Work with your hands to mix all together and make one smooth piece of dough. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and let it cool a little bit in the refrigerator.    The filling (we call it "Khoriz"):  1 cup of all purpose flour 200 gr of butter 1 cup of confection sugar  vanilla   Making Khoriz:  Roast flour in a pen on a stove top to the extend when you see that it is a little bit pinkish/brownish. You should constantly stir the flour or else it will burn very fast. When you see that color changed add the butter and stir until it is distributed and mixed with flour well. When you done with that pour confection sugar and mix again until mixed really well. Add vanilla, divide into three parts.    Making of Gata. Take one part of the dough roll it to make a sheet (not too thin not too thick).Distribute one part of Khoris evenly on the whole sheet of dough (work with hands). Start rolling it. Roll it into one long round shaped thing (sorry do not know how to call it). Start cutting that long round shaped :) thing into pieces (if you remember how mines looked like, it will be easier to understand what I am talking about). After you did the same thing with 3 parts of the dough and khoriz, put the pieces on a sheet and distribute beaten egg on top of each piece so it looks good after baking. Bake them with 350F up until the moment when they start becoming pink. Do not over dry. I think mines were over dried. I like when they are soft inside and you bite through crisp first layer into soft and sweet khoriz. Bon Appetite!:)

Recipe: 

3 cups of all purpose flour

200 gr. of margarine or butter

1 egg

1 cup of sour cream

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

 

Making the dough: 

On a table pour the flour.  In the flour cut the butter or margarine into little pieces. Then with your hands start integrating butter/margarine with flour (rub them together) to the extent when you feel that butter is really well mixed with the flour. Into that mixture add an egg and sour cream. Before pouring sour cream add baking soda into it and let it raise a little and then pour it onto the mixture. Work with your hands to mix all together and make one smooth piece of dough. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and let it cool a little bit in the refrigerator. 

 

The filling (we call it "Khoriz"): 

1 cup of all purpose flour

200 gr of butter

1 cup of confection sugar 

vanilla

 

Making Khoriz: 

Roast flour in a pen on a stove top to the extend when you see that it is a little bit pinkish/brownish. You should constantly stir the flour or else it will burn very fast. When you see that color changed add the butter and stir until it is distributed and mixed with flour well. When you done with that pour confection sugar and mix again until mixed really well. Add vanilla, divide into three parts. 

 

Making of Gata.

Take one part of the dough roll it to make a sheet (not too thin not too thick).Distribute one part of Khoris evenly on the whole sheet of dough (work with hands). Start rolling it. Roll it into one long round shaped thing (sorry do not know how to call it). Start cutting that long round shaped :) thing into pieces (if you remember how mines looked like, it will be easier to understand what I am talking about). After you did the same thing with 3 parts of the dough and khoriz, put the pieces on a sheet and distribute beaten egg on top of each piece so it looks good after baking. Bake them with 350F up until the moment when they start becoming pink. Do not over dry. I think mines were over dried. I like when they are soft inside and you bite through crisp first layer into soft and sweet khoriz. Bon Appetite!:)

Venetian Apple Lemon Cake

I have a thing with apple cakes. I mean, I can get really sentimental over apple cakes, and I noticed it's really not uncommon: pretty much everyone has a family recipe for an apple cake, everyone has a childhood apple cake memories, bound to sunday afternoons or lazy autumn days at grandma's place. It's often a recipe that reflects the family's origins, and t's often one of the very few things from the past that actually stays in the family, and is still passed on. I just love the sentimental valance in apple cakes, especially because apple cakes are so darn simple, yet so densely filled with meaning, memories, feelings and, often, love. Not only that, but while baking, apple cakes have the power to fill your home with that familiar good smell, that nothing else really has. So yeah, I'm addicted to apple cakes, and I love to hear the stories related to them.

This here is the recipe my friend Cinzia sent me, short after her mom - her name was Lucia - passed away. It's one of those typical childhood apple cakes, simple, good, easy, and very flavorful. Cinzia remembers it from their sunday family lunches: her family of six lived nearby Venice, and every sunday morning her mom would get up early and cook up a huge sunday luch with usually involved home made lasagna, from scratch. This would be the dessert, and if you'll try it you'll totally get the picture of a warm, loving, italian family home. The cake is very rich in apples, and the fact that in stead of cinnamon there is lemon rind in there really makes it stand out from everything else you're used to. It really is a great simple cake, and the memories bound to it make it even more special. 

Lucia's Venitian Apple Lemon Cake

Torta di mele di mamma Lucia

All-purpose Flour 1 1/4 cup

Butter, melted 1 stick

Granulated sugar 1/2 cup

Eggs 2

Apples (I used honey crisps) 4

Rum (or bourbon) 2 tablespoons

Milk (or apple cider) about 2 tablespoons

Lemon, the grated rind 1

Baking Powder 1 teaspoon

Salt 1 pinch

1. Core and peel the apples, cut them into wedges then dice them and set aside. 

2. Beat the eggs with the sugar and the lemon rind until foamy. Add the butter, the flour, the baking powder, the salt and the bourbon. Add a dash of milk or apple cider if the batter seems a bit too thick.

3. Fold in the apples, pour the batter in a greased and lined 8'' cake and bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes or until cake is golden. Serve lukewarm, with some confectioner's sugar (my guess is that a little ice cream and or whipped cream wouldn't hurt either :)

My Chicken Pot Pie

I'm a complete and utter sucker for pies these days. I guess they just pair all too well with these lovely autumn days, and so I end up making batch after batch of Bubby's all butter pie crust (which I could pretty much make with a blindfold on by now, such a great recipe btw!). So yeah, I finished all the apples I had around the house (and trust me, I had a lot) so now I pretty much started throwing random things into my pies, like all the ingredients for my weekday dinners, and voilà. This pie here is exactly that, a weekday dinner in a piecrust, except it's not your traditional chicken pot pie. My filling is similar to a belgian delicacy called Bouchées à la reine, basically little puff pastry pots holding a creamy chicken and mushroom filling. It's something my mom used to make for special occasions and as a kid I adored this 'queen bites' (that's literally what they are called). But then I guess that, as a kid, I would have love pretty much anything wrapped in puff pastry (I mean, is there anything more utterly delicious then puff pastry?!). However, not sure where this chicken recipe originates from, but I have always thought it to be somehow linked to the british chicken pies. I'll look it up sometimes. In the meanwhile, enjoy this belgian-american pie (also a great way to use up rotisserie chicken leftovers btw ;-)

Chicken Mushroom Pie

You'll need Bubby's all butter pie pastry, go grab the recipe over there (I subbed about half a cup of all purpose flour with spelt flour)

chicken, cooked and shredded about 2 cups

mushrooms half a pound

spring onions 2

potatoes, small 2

butter 2 tablespoons

flour 2 tablespoons

vegetable or chicken stock 2 cups

heavy cream 3oz

cheddar, grated half a cup

1. Brush and slice the mushrooms, cook them in a skillet with a teaspoon of butter, then set aside. 

2. Peel and cube the potatoes, place them in a saucepan, fill with water, let cook for about 10 minutes until cooked but firm. Drain and set aside. 

3. Make a roux: Melt the remaining butter, add the flour, mixing with a whisk, then gradually ad the stock while mixing, until a dense sauce forms. Remove from heat, then ad in the chicken, mushrooms and potatoes. Stir in chopped onions, cream, cheese and ad salt and pepper to taste.

4. Line a buttered pie dish with half of the pie pastry, add filling, then close with remaining pastry, crimp edges and cut some vents before brushing with some beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven at 400°F for 15 minutes, then lower to 350°F and bake for 30 more minutes. Let rest until lukewarm before serving. 

 

 

Lemon, Almond & Olive Oil Crinkle Cookies

I'm a bit obsessed with olive oil in desserts lately. And it's actually a funny thing because growing up in a french-influenced culinary culture (Belgium, which is very french in many aspects, but also very anglosaxon in many others, go figure), I have always been utterly convinced that pastry is to be made with butter. Period. So of course I have had more then a few discussions with my mother in law about this very topic, being her a proud south italian mom who grew up on olive oil and, oh well, olive oil, while I have always considered olive oil in say a cake like something totally heretic (and yes, she does that, can you imagine?!!).

Obviously, it's all just relative and food is simply bound to whatever one finds in his own habitat. Belgium just happens to be too cold for olive trees and perfect for cows, while South Italy is way too hot for yummy green pastures, fatty cows and all that. Makes sense right? However, I recently started to appreciate that typical crunch olive oil can give to your cookies and baked goods (I am also baking this galette crust in both sweet and savory version like All. The. Time.), and so there you have it, these crunchy yet moist (because Almond Flour :) cookies are the result of recent experiments that made me very happy. Hope they will make you happy too ;) 

Lemon, Almond and Olive Oil Crinkle Cookies

all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups

almond flour 1 cup

granulated sugar 1 cup

eggs 2

organic lemons 2

extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup

baking soda 1/2 teaspoon

baking powder 1/2 teaspoon

salt 1/2 teaspoon

almond extract 1/2 teaspoon

granulated sugar and powdered sugar for dusting

1. Grate the lemons, mix the rinds with the sugar and the olive oil and let rest for 10 minutes. 

2. Beat in the eggs, the almond extract and two tablespoons of lemon juice.

3. Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. The dough needs to be thick enough to roll it in your hands, if it remains too sticky, just add a little almond flour. 

4. Shape about 30 little balls of dough, roll each ball in granulated sugar and then in powdered sugar, and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, leaving about 2 inches in between the cookies. Bake in preheated oven at 375°F for 10 minutes. Let cool on a rack.