Monthly Archives: September 2013

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

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Yeah, I know…  It’s pumpkin this and pumpkin that and here I am talking about lemon.  I’ve never really been one to conform.   Let’s just call it exceptionally early for Christmas.  These are also known as Italian Christmas cookies, although I’m not really sure why one would wait until the holidays to make these. 

The search for this cookie became a bit like the “Holy Grail”.  I had never tasted one before (hard to believe, I know) and someone I knew long ago was describing them to me.  She made them sound so incredibly divine that I needed to find them.  Her family was Italian and her Aunt would make them every Christmas.  Apparently, her Aunt was not a fan of sharing recipes so no one knew what exactly was in her cookies, only that they were the best.   That Aunt never shared the recipe with anyone and eventually moved away.  This was a cause for concern because I desperately wanted to duplicate that cookie.   Whether or not this cookie was anything like hers, I’ll never know…  But, since I had never tried it, there was no pressure…  I just needed a jumping off point.

So, I put out a call on Facebook and my friends came through!  I ended up with a few different recipes, all similar but with slight variations.  Some had baking soda, some baking powder.  I made them both ways and the difference was barely noticeable.

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My insatiable sweet tooth has been discussed on many occasions.  There are times when it demands something deep, dark & gooey, other times I need a little crunch…  like breaking the blistered sugar crust of a crème brulee.  And then there’s lemon.   While I am most definitely a lover of chocolate,  lemon on occasion has usurped the crown.  

There is something about the light, floral sweet & tartness of lemony desserts that I honestly can’t get enough of. If you are not a fan of heavy desserts, these are the cookies for you.  They are the antithesis of a dark, dense, chocolately treat.  They are light and cakey, lemony without making you pucker and just barely sweet.  The frosting on top is reminiscent of a frosting my brother and I used to put on our Dutch Pancakes.

Here’s the thing… these cookies are good.  I mean, seriously good.  As in, you may find yourself hoarding them and lying to family members about their disappearance kind of good.  It’s ok, I’ve got your back…  We’ve all been there. 

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Yields 30
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For the Cookies
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  3. 1 tsp baking soda
  4. 1 lemon, zested
  5. 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  6. 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)
  7. 2 eggs + 1 yolk
  8. 2 cups sugar
  9. 2 tsp vanilla
  10. 15 oz ricotta cheese
For the Glaze
  1. 2 cups powdered sugar
  2. 1/4 cup butter
  3. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  4. zest of 1 lemon
  5. 3 - 4 tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Add ricotta cheese, lemon juice and zest.
  4. Beat to combine.
  5. Stir in dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, but do not overmix.
  6. Line baking sheets with nonstick silicone liners or parchment paper. Using a 2 ounce scoop, scoop dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 12 -15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.
  8. Once cookies have completely cooled, glaze...
  9. Mix all ingredients for glaze together and gently spread on top of cookie. Let glaze harden for at least 2 hours.
Notes
  1. Thank you to KJ for sharing her recipe! Gave me a great jumping off point! <3
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/

Sage & Onion Rolls

I opened the kitchen door to our house and the heady scent of yeast met me as soon as I crossed the threshold.  That is an unmistakable scent.  It stopped me in my tracks, book bag still slung across my shoulder. A smell I would soon start to look forward to.  Anticipation of very good things to come.  I came to appreciate the vast difference between store-bought bread and bread that had been brought to life in the gathering place of my home.   Yeast fermenting, bubbling away in a bowl set aside waiting to be introduced to a snowy pile of flour.  

We were starting our “bread” module in culinary school, I walked into the room and could hardly wait to get started.  There is something about the cool, smooth texture of bread dough that always makes me happy.  Rolling your shoulders forward and really kneading it; pushing with the heel of your hand and pulling it back toward you, feeling the dough come to life and slowly begin to change.  It transforms beneath your hands from a sticky mess into a beautiful, almost silky, elastic dough. 

My first restaurant job was as a “garde manger”, which literally translates as keeper of the food.  It is a bottom-of-the-food-chain position where most culinary graduates begin.  In addition to the hot and cold appetizers, soup and desserts, I was also tasked with making rolls.  In time it became my moment of peace in a whirlwind of chaotic activity.  Servers running from one place to the next, polishing forks and knives; line cooks taking stairs two by two trying to make their way from the walk-in cooler in the basement back upstairs into the kitchen to finish prepping for service; the clanging of pots and pans as dishwashers set clean ones at each of our stations.   Those few minutes kneading dough became the only moments of peace I would have for the next 10 hours.

 

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