Category: cookies

Ossi di Morto and Day of the Dead.

Feliz Día de Los Muertos, everybody! And if you’re a person of faith, Happy All Souls Day. Today is a date on the calendar that holds a lot of tradition and meaning, in many cultures.

Ossi di Morto cookies, aka bones of the dead.

Traditionally, these cookies are Italian cookies used to celebrate All Souls Day, which is today. The name is Ossi di Morto or Ossa de Mordere, and that means “bones of the dead.” Because of the tie-ins between Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and All Saints Day/All Souls Day, my idea was that they’d be a fantastic way to celebrate both days and both celebrations together, as one. They are so similar it seems only right… and we’ll get to that in a sec.

OSSI DI MORTO, aka bones of the dead cookies.

Growing up, my nana told me all about All Souls Day. My nana was 100% Irish, born to a mother who was a first-generation American, and her mother in turn was right off the boat so to speak. The tales and superstitions were a plenty. I grew up hearing all about them, and all about the reverence and respect for the dead this time of year is about. Traditionally, today is a Christian day to remember the souls of the departed, which to Catholics is known as the Commemoration of The Faithful Departed. Its a day to pray for those who’ve passed on, to remember them. You may be thinking, “Uhm, thats the same thing that the Day of the Dead is.” And you’re right. But you might not know that originally, the Day of the Dead was celebrated in summertime.  During the 16th century Spanish colonization, Mexicans moved their celebrations of Día de Los Muertos to October 31, November 1 and 2 to coincide with the triduum of All Saint’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. November 1st is All Saints Day, however in Mexico it’s known as Día de Los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de Los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and is primarily honoring deceased infants and children. The prayers were traditionally posed to the goddess known as Lady of the Dead, now known as La Calaveras Catrina– the popular skeleton woman we see in drawings and depictions.

Of course, the Mexican way of “celebrating” these days are actual celebrations; food- yes, those sugar skulls too, parties, parades, decorating ancestors graves and of course prayer too. The Catholic version of All Souls Day is more somber, however in Italy they do light candles in the streets and have a bigger, louder celebration of today than perhaps most other Europeans. Brazilians also have a similar way of celebrating today, they call it Dia de Finados and it’s a public holiday.

I did grow up loosely Catholic- so I’m well aware of the ins and outs of these days and I prefer the Mexican version myself, even though I am not of Mexican heritage.

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This is Halloween!

Well I do sincerely hope you’re all decorated and ready for tomorrow. I hope you have your costumes, your candy and treats, and scary movies ready. And I also hope you’ve carved your jack-o-lanterns too! Don’t disappoint me, people.

My jack-o-lanterns are all carved up. See?

Trick or.... treat.

the 2015 jack-o-lanterns!

Every year I try and do something new or unique; last year I did Oogie Boogie & a dapper pipe-smoking pumpkin man in a fedora, the year before I did a cat and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and the year before I did Edgar Allan Poe. And before that I did the Bride of Frankenstein and more (sadly the photos were shit because my old camera wasn’t the best). Some of those just can’t be topped, really, so this year I decided on doing just text, or typography. They came out pretty cool, I think.

I especially like the background effect of the “trick or treat” pumpkin. How did I do it? I carved “trick or” backwards on the top of the back of the hollowed-out pumpkin- after carving “treat” on the front. Ta-da! Instant pumpkin magic. Just be careful, measure carefully. You don’t want to see the back text through the cut-outs in the front.

In case you’re also in desperate need of some last minute edible inspiration, I’m here to help. Halloween party? I got you. Just lookin’ for some treats for the kids? Gotcha. A more adult take on Halloween? Yep. That too. Take a peek:

Have a (safe and) spooky night tomorrow. In the spirit of such, here’s my mother and I in the early 90’s… the original Hocus Pocus?

My mom and I in the early 90's- the original Hocus Pocus!

Fruit & walnut jammy bars.

Fruit & walnut jammy bars!

So school has started. It’ll be about a month until Christmas decorations start to show up in stores. Things are only going to start getting more hectic from here; now that the slow & easy days of summer are gone. So how about some comforting treats? Like cookie bars! I love cookie bars. Cookie bars are so easy, fun and delicious. Plus they’re even kinda cooler to make than cookies, because you can just throw it all in a pan and not worry about the shape. Or removing it too quickly before it’s cooled and ending up with a smooshed falling apart cookie and a burned mouth.

Or is that just me?

Yeah. So cookie bars. Jammy bars. Cookies filled with jam, basically.

Fruit & walnut jammy bars!

Anyway, this is a great recipe for many reasons. One, you can use up some of those half-filled jars of jam in your fridge. Two, it’s a great school lunch item. And three, it’s 100% customizable. Literally any kind of nut and any flavor jam/preserve can be put in it. Including lemon curd or Nutella, if ya wanna get crazy! You can literally do anything you want and they’ll come out sweet. Get it? Sweet? Ha. Or hey, even pumpkin pie filling! GO NUTS.

And the best thing is, if you have problems taking it out of the pan & it crumbles, it makes a fantastic ice cream or yogurt topping! SO WHO CARES! PAAAAARTYYYY!

*ahem* The only reason I mention that is because the first time I made them, that’s what happened. Still delicious, but I didn’t use enough butter/flour on the pan. Ooopsie.

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Oui, oui: savory cheddar madeleines.

Savory madeleines with cheddar, dill & onion!

Have you ever had a genius idea and had to act on it immediately? Okay so maybe my idea for these madeleines wasn’t really genius, but either way I had to act on it immediately. I had just gotten inspired by flipping through the book Madeleines: Elegant Tea Cakes to Bake & Share by Barbara Feldman Morse.

In the book, there are recipes for both sweet & savory madeleines, as well as ones with fruit & nut and other unexpected varieties. I was sent the book to review back in October, but then I got sick, so I kind of put it back on the shelf (literally). But I saw it on my shelf and decided to get crackin’ on something delicious.

Savory cheddar, dill and onion madeleine recipe!

This recipe is not in the book; instead its an adaptation of one of the recipes plus ideas from my head and from another recipe in the book. I wanted to make a savory madeleine, one that you could eat with soup or as a snack. And one of my favorite types of biscuit or scone is a cheddar/dill kind. Jay always has fresh dill around- he not only makes homemade chicken soup from scratch, but also likes to eat it on sandwiches (seriously). And the onion? Well I just thought that it’d be a great addition.

And as far as the book goes… it’s great. While I didn’t use an exact recipe from it this time, I’m sure I will be in the future. A lot.

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Lemon pie with Duchy Originals ginger shortbread crust (& a giveaway, too).

Lemon pie with ginger shortbread cookie crust PLUS a Duchy Originals giveaway!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Lemon pie? In February?” It might seem like a warm-weather dish, but this isn’t. Trust me. Want to know why?

Because of the crust.

I mean, winter is citrus season anyway, so you can use all those Meyer lemons instead of just starting at them in that pretty bowl on your table (not that I speak from experience). But it’s really the crust. The crust is made from Duchy Originals stem ginger shortbread; meaning it’s warm & spicy. Yes, the filling is cool & refreshing, as lemon is, but the crust gives it a new spin. It’s NOT a lemon meringue pie, it’s not quite a full-on icebox pie, and it’s not just a lemon cream pie. It’s somewhere in the middle. Clowns to the left, jokers to the right.

A lemon pie & ginger shortbread cookie crust made with Duchy Originals stem ginger shortbread cookies (plus a giveaway!)

That’s the pie sans the mess o’ whipped cream I piled on it. It’s even pretty that way, isn’t it?

It’s pretty amazing. And simple. I reserved some cookie crumbs from the crust & sprinkled them on top.  You could also use some finely chopped candied ginger,  but a piece of candied lemon zest would work too.

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Sweet little s’mores meringues.

I love making meringue. Ever since Lola came into my life, it’s been easier than ever. But even with my hand mixer (better known as He Who Must Not Be Named), it’s pretty simple. And fast. I haven’t made them in years, though. I figured it was time. And now that I have a new oven… Well, it doesn’t matter the reason. There’s never a bad reason for cookies.

So yeah, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a while: meringues.

Meringues turned into s'mores? YES.

And meringues- or meringue in general- is extremely easy to make, if you have a mixer. Even a not-so-strong mixer can handle making meringue. I do recommend a stand mixer, however. Mainly because you can walk away & just let the mixer do its thing, without standing there with your arm feeling like it might fall off. I will say, though, that meringue has been made in France & Switzerland since before 1692, and they didn’t have stand (or hand) mixers. So it’s definitely possible… it just isn’t as easy.

But its still easier than mixing cheesecake by hand. Did I ever tell you about the time I broke a mixer on cheesecake batter? It was cray x 100.

Okay, anyway. Back to the subject at hand. Yep. These are meringues. However… not just any meringues:

S'mores meringues: vanilla meringues dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs.

Meringue cookies are actually quite simple. Even more simple than your average chocolate chip cookie, really. They require 3 ingredients, the mixing is 1-2-3 and the baking time isn’t very important to get perfect since they need to be “dried” in the oven anyway. The roughest part is the mixing- or the creation of the foamy egg whites (or worse yet, the notorious “stiff peaks”). And the chocolate sauce is really easy too, I swear.

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Figgy pudding bars made with Duchy Originals oaten biscuits!

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!

Christmas is officially on it’s way. The big tree in Rockefeller Center has been lit for 2 weeks now, everyone has been shopping up a storm, and of course baking! Rightly so… it’s literally 8 days away! If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking of Christmas-y treats. Which brings me to today’s post. If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll remember both my figgy pudding cupcakes & also that last holiday season I made a recipe featuring Duchy Originals lemon shortbread cookies.

(If you’re a new reader- well, suffice it to say, one time I made figgy pudding cupcakes & another time I made a lemon cranberry cobbler recipe featuring Duchy Originals lemon shortbread cookies. Haha.)

Duchy Originals oaten biscuits... transformed into figgy pudding bars!

Anyway… the lovely folks at Duchy Originals wanted me to create a new recipe, this time for their Oaten biscuits. The oaten variety was the first one that was made for Duchy:

The Oaten Biscuit was the original Duchy Original – it was their first product back in 1992. Duchy Originals grow the wheat and oats themselves on farms in the UK. To get the perfect recipe and flavor, they teamed up with Walkers Shortbread who have been making shortbread in the Scottish Highlands for over 100 years.

Of course I said yes! I absolutely love the Duchy company & also the Walkers Shortbread company. In case you weren’t aware, Duchy was started by Prince Charles (yes-that Prince Charles!) in 1992 in order to promote organic food and farming and to help protect and sustain the local countryside and wildlife. it is one of the U.K.’s leading organic and sustainable food companies, producing a range of over 250 products from biscuits to preserves and gifts to garden seeds. A donation from the sale of Duchy Originals products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. More than $1 million is raised annually in this way for distribution to charitable causes all over the world. Duchy Originals from Waitrose shortbreads and cookies are baked by the world famous Walkers Shortbread in the Scottish Highlands.

And I thought it appropriate that being that they’re an English brand, and it’s Christmas, I make a “figgy pudding” reference.

Easy figgy pudding cookie bars! Made with Duchy Originals oaten biscuits & fig butter. You can use store-bought fig butter if you need to.

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