The Best Almond Cookies ever!

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These cookies are very popular in Italian and Greek bakeries.  Made with pure almond paste, they pack so much flavor and texture (think chewy and crunchy at the same time) in a little package.  Here is the recipe!  I formed them with a small ice cream scoop but you could use a pastry bag with a star tip–if you want to get fancy on me! Note that the regular versions of this cookie, and there are dozens, do not contain the cayenne.  But given that I love sweet and salty or sweet and hot, I thought it the perfect addition.

16 ounces almond paste (2- 8 ounce cans)

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Healthy pinch of cayenne pepper (optional but that little bit of heat in all that sweet is nice)

Sliced almonds

Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Pulse the almond paste and sugar in the food processor until combined.  Pour mixture into the mixer bowl of a stand mixer and add the three egg whites, mixing until combined.  Add the vanilla and cayenne if using.  Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture into balls and place on the parchment lined sheet.  You may if you like garnish them with sliced almonds as I did above. Sprinkle with powdered sugar through a sieve and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, watching them closely at the end of the baking time.  When they begin to brown around the edges they are done.  Keep in mind that, while they are cooling on the pan, they will continue to stiffen up and bake because of the hot pan.  You may keep them on the pan to cool completely and then remove them when they have come to room temperature.  Makes about 20-23 cookies.

No knead bread

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I’m certain you’ve all by now heard of No Knead Bread. Made popular by Mark Bittman of the NY Times, this bread could not be simpler.   Very simply, some  some flour, water, yeast and salt are mixed, left to ferment over night and then baked at 500F in a cast iron covered pot.  The play on words “No Knead” is very clever, and indeed there was no “kneading”, and it didn’t “need” much attention.  In mine I added 1/4 each of pecans and golden raisins.  I could have eaten the whole loaf. I devoured every morsel and each crumb, topping mine with some sweet butter, while unabashedly licking my fingers for Randall and Effie to witness. This bread is so delicious.   Follow this link to see it happen before your eyes!

Heath Blondies

If you search for Blondies on my site you will see a recipe that comes up which I made for the ladies at the Heritage Towers Retirement Home in Doylestown PA.  I say ladies because well most of their husbands are deceased. Just the luck of the draw you know. We men don’t live as long as the ladies.  Anyway, we call BINGO there every other Wednesday!  Oh yes, a big hit we are.  Well, last week I took that recipe, omitted the coconut and substituted one bag of Heath Bar pieces.  Absolutely delicious.  Addictive you might say.  I made another batch for work tomorrow! I’ll post a picture Monday as the work folk insist I make another batch!

Broccolli Cheddar Soup

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1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup sliced onion

3 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely

4 cups chopped broccolli, stems trimmed down and florets chopped

1 box chicken broth

1 bouillion cube

1 cup water

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup half and half

Between 2 1/2 to 3 cups shredded yellow cheddar

Begin by placing olive oil in a large dutch oven and saute onions and garlic until transluscent.  Add the broccolli, bouillion cube, chicken broth and water and begin to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until everything is limp.

Place half and half and 1/4 cup water in blender with flour and blend for a moment to incoporate the flour.  Add the solids with a slotted spoon (from the soup), and blend until smooth.  Add to pot and stir.  Simmer for about 5 min to cook out the flour. Season again with salt and pepper. Turn off flame.  

Add the cheddar while soup is hot.  When cheddar has melted, the soup is done.  I’ve given the approximate measure of the cheese because if you like it more cheesy, feel free to use the full three cups.  Serves 6-8.

Brownies and Broccolli Soup!

Well, Randall and I have taken to volunteering at the local retirement home where we call BINGO every other Wednesday.  So this week I decided to bring some treats.  Blondies from a posting way back.  And this time I decided to do pecans and heath bar pieces, as well as the chocolate chips.  Kids….those brownies were delectable.  Addictive you may say.  I am going to make some more on Monday and post the recipe.  You might say I have been on a sabatical.  Just too busy to post.  But I am back!  Tonight, cream of broccoli and cheddar soup!  I will post that later!