April 4, 2012
Let me see if I can cover the bases here in quick succession: spring (it’s here), Passover and Easter (coming soon to a calendar near you), blossoms (daffodil, azalea, tulip, & the like), asparagus (served up in accordance with the season at an event we attended last night), mosquitoes (out in full force, damn them), cold-brew iced coffee (the first batch of which I made this week), and annual viewings of The Sound of Music and The Ten Commandments (both have become tradition in this house).
There you have it, my early April in a nutshell. And as of 4:00 pm on Thursday, you can add a long-awaited spring break to that list!
I’ve got nothing particularly fancy planned for the days ahead: oil change, dentist appointment, house cleaning & organizing, cooking, reading, writing, and meeting a friend’s new baby boy. It doesn’t seem like much until I stop and think about what we were doing this time last year. To get up every morning and not have to think about cancer? That’s a downright luxury, and I intend to enjoy it.
CHERRY PISTACHIO COOKIES
For those of you in need of a Passover-friendly sweet, allow me to suggest these elegant and easy-to-make-ahead amaretti cookies. And regardless of your observance/affiliation, EVERYONE should make matzo toffee at least once. Just know that you’re probably going to eat it all in one sitting.
These cookies were inspired by my mama, who loves loves loves pistachios. This dough is very simple; for a classic shortbread and more crumbly texture, omit the egg. I like to think of this dough as a kind of “secret weapon” since a log of it freezes beautifully, rolled in wax paper and then foil. Whenever you have company or want to make a gift of some baked goods, you can slice and bake straight from the freezer.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
½ cup shelled & unsalted pistachios, chopped
½ cup dried cherries, chopped
zest of 1 orange or lemon
¼ tsp. salt
optional: coarse sugar for finishing the cookies
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, & zest together on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the egg, then the flour and salt until the mixture just comes together. Stir in the cherries and pistachios.
Divide the dough in half, rolling each section into a log about an inch in diameter. Roll in plastic wrap, then chill at least an hour before baking, or freeze for later use.
When ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment and preheat your oven to 350°. Slice your dough into pieces about ¼ inch thick, rolling the edges of each piece in a bowl of coarse sugar before placing about an inch apart on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (longer if your dough has come straight from the fridge), or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Transfer the parchment sheets to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.
PS—These are especially delicious with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.