Who Stole the Best Italian Cookie……?

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Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Remember this sing-song rhyme? Bakers with kids know it well. It’s sweet and fun just like my all time favorite Italian cookie which just happens to make the perfect dessert bite for an Easter or Mother’s Day celebration.

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Made with ricotta cheese these cookies are soft and cake-like. They absolutely melt in the mouth. Recently, I made them for a bridal shower. I had many requests for the recipe which brings me to their decorating versatility. They can be dressed up for any occasion and so not limited to Easter or Christmas when typically eaten in my family.

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The cookies  featured here are dressed for Easter, but add a little gel color to the icing and/or make a topping change and they can easily be featured at a baby shower or Mother’s Day brunch. Don’t hesitate to change up the flavoring, too. Any extract or citrus zest will play well.

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So who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

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The ones with the sprinkles on top!

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Annabelle stole the cookie from the cookie jar. Nice breakfast, huh? Grandma’s privilege.

Italian Ricotta Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen cookies
  • Print

1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon coconut extract

2 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

Icing

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract

2 teaspoons buttermilk or lime juice

Toppings

Sprinkles, coconut, finely chopped nuts

Heat oven 350F. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light. Add ricotta and zest; blend well. Add egg, vanilla and extract; blend again. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; add to dry ingredients and blend well. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Drop cookie batter by tablespoonfuls or use a cookie scoop onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. The cookies will look pale on top. Cool. For icing, mash powdered sugar, butter and salt together with the back of a spoon until butter is well incorporated into the sugar. Add flavoring and just enough buttermilk or lime juice to get a light icing consistency…more of a glaze than a thick icing. One at a time, dip top of cooled cookies into icing, letting excess drip off, and then immediately dip into one of the toppings. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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Are You Waffling?

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Today is one of those days of indecision. It happens from time to time. Soooo many recipes soooo little time. I frequently change my mind, but hedge my bets that you’d prefer two recipes brought to the table instead of one. Having options is a good thing! Both recipes are a bit twisted and are brought to you by a tasty gift sent from my friend, Maryann.

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As a side note, Maryann is one of the dear friends and colleagues I miss most since leaving my job at The Taft School in Connecticut. As a physical therapist and director of the athletic training room Maryann and I worked closely together caring for injured athletes. Smart as a whip, selfless and caring she did whatever it took to get the students well and safely back in the game. Mutual respect and our love for the kids we cared for made us fast friends on and off the field. William adored her.

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Maryann and her husband, Kennie, winter in Arizona. When they came across Queen Creek Olive Mill luckily she was missing me, too. ❤ She sent me a gift box of liquid gold. Pesticide free and non-GMO fruits like blood oranges, meyer lemons and Mexican limes are cold pressed with hand-picked fresh olives to create the most flavorful and aromatic oils I have ever had the pleasure to bake with. Perfect for savory dishes, as well, the oils impart a fresh fruity flavor without any bitterness. These oils are now pantry staples.

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First up are these waffles. Made with ricotta cheese and buttermilk they bake up fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside with a twist of blood orange flavor.

Blood Orange Ricotta Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons blood orange olive oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup part-skim milk ricotta cheese

1 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.In a small bowl, mix sugar and orange zest until the zest is coated in sugar. Add the orange sugar to the bowl with the dry ingredients. In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together butter, eggs, vanilla, ricotta, and buttermilk. Whisk until combined well. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t overmix. It’s ok if a few lumps remain. Heat waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drop batter into the waffle iron; cook until golden brown.  Serve immediately.  These waffles can also be individually wrapped and frozen.  They’re great heated up in the toaster directly from the freezer.

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You can thank this photo on IG for this banana bread recipe. Too many requests for the actual recipe, so thought it best to share it here. What’s the sign of a perfectly baked quick bread? It’s that crack down the center! Moist on the inside with a bit of crunch on top its a flavor bomb of banana, lime and a touch of ginger. Don’t like ginger or almonds? Use any warm spice or nuts you prefer. No waffling!

Banana Bread with a Lime Twist

2 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger (or if you prefer, cinnamon)

2 eggs

2/3-cup sugar

¼ cup sour cream

½ cup Mexican lime olive oil*

2 large over-ripe bananas, peeled and smashed

1/3-cup chopped or sliced nuts of your choice

2 teaspoons turbinado or demera sugar

Heat oven 375F. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with baking spray (or grease and dust with flour). In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger; set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, sour cream, oil and banana; set aside. Using a rubber spatula, stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until blended and dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and then sugar. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. There should be the classic quick bread crack down the center. Transfer loaf to wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

*½ cup light olive oil plus the juice and zest of ½ lime can be substituted

Note: if you prefer your quick breads sweeter up the sugar to 1 cup

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Another Inspired Recipe Wins

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Inspired by places I’ve been and people I love another winning recipe comes to life. Do you think the judges can tell a recipe that comes from the heart? That recipe embedded in your memories just waiting to be created given the challenge? Gloria Ferrer can.

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Cape Cod 1991

How did the judges know how much summer fun so many years ago my kids had at the Cape or how much we still enjoy a fresh lobster roll? Or this glorious lobster bite my daughter made while we vacationed in Nantucket just a few years ago? How could they know the love and the memories that inspire the food that brings my people together?

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I doubt they know anything about those wintery President’s Day long weekends we spent at the Boston science museum or the times we huddled on the Freedom Trail eating a comforting bowl of “chowdah”, but somehow it came through in my recipe.

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Bill, William & Cait ~1989

I am often asked how to create a winning recipe. The answer is always the same: “No gimmicks…just cook YOUR food.” Thank you Gloria Ferrer for choosing my recipe as a regional finalist. With every win I am honored and surprised and just feeling very lucky. I am so looking forward to cooking from my heart for those attending the event in Boston on Tuesday. Click this link if you would like to attend and watch me cook: Glorious Bites Semi-Final

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Cait & William ~1992

Jumping for joy. These two will always inspire me. I am grateful for how much they have loved ebelskivers any time of the day or night. Stuffed with lobster and corn they are the perfect package for my glorious bite and fill my heart with the most wonderful memories. Serve with Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. CHEERS!

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In case you missed it here is the recipe

Lobster Corn Chowdah Cakes (ebelskivers) with Sriracha Aioli

1 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, separated

1 cup milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided

1 cooked lobster tail, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh cooked or frozen corn kernals, thawed

2 tablespoons finely chopped celery

1 green onion, finely chopped including the lighter green parts

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

Sriracha Aioli (recipe follows)

Garnish: fresh green chives for garnish and lemon slices

In large bowl, whisk cake flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest, salt and pepper; set aside. In small bowl, whisk egg yolks, milk and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients; whisk until blended. Beat egg whites until just stiff peaks form. Fold half the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Fold in lobster, corn, celery, green onions and jalapeno. Brush the wells of an ebelskiver pan with some of remaining melted butter and place over medium heat. Fill each well to the top with batter, about 2 tablespoons per well. Cook cakes for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp on the bottom. Using 2 wooden skewers, turn cakes and cook on other side, about 2 or 3 minutes more. Transfer to platter; keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with Sriracha Aioli. Garnish with chives and lemon.

Sriracha Aioli

½ cup quality mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons sriracha

1 teaspoon honey

pinch of white pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl; blend well. /]

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making memories with my future inspiration ~2017