Italian breakfast cookies

Is it because I share a birthday with my spirit monster, Cookie, that I’m such a cookie monster myself? Or is it simply the idea of eating cookies for breakfast that’s so appealing?

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Quite frankly, cookies don’t need a special time slot in my world. I happily dispense them as needed to brighten the day, provide a bit of sweetness, fill a gap between meals–or even to act as a meal when the need arises!

So, allow me to introduce to you, the sweet, delicious and lovable little treat–Italian breakfast cookies. They’re crispy outside, soft within, and have all the delicious flavors of an Italian bakery–or this kat’s kitchen!

ITALIAN BREAKFAST COOKIES

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more on the side for rolling)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup corn oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and sugar till light. Add milk, oil, lemon zest, juice and extracts; beat well. Add dry ingredients gradually to wet, stirring with a wooden spoon. The dough will be a bit sticky.

I used my trusty Zeroll Universal EZ Disher scoop (#60, pink) to portion the dough. You can roll it into balls or logs–I did both. Then roll in granulated sugar and bake for a total of 12 minutes. Swap the baking sheets at the 6-minute mark (top to bottom/front to back), then bake for 6 minutes more.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes to make it easier to move them from sheet to rack to cool. Makes enough cookies to fill a whole rack–lost count, busy eating! AHM GNAM GNAM GNAM!

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As promised, I made special oatmeal carrot cake cookies to celebrate Enzo’s homecoming. Now, oatmeal carrot cake cookies are freakinG delicious in and of themselves. But if you want to take them to next-level deliciousness, be sure to whip up some bourbon salted caramel frosting, too.

And, if you missed Enzo’s story, you’re welcome to catch up. He’s thriving, learning and loving his new life. He even has his own equine carrot cake cookies to enjoy!

KATTY’S OATMEAL CARROT CAKE COOKIES
to celebrate the homecoming of my special donkey and dear friend, Enzo Antonio

1 stick salted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup quick, 1-minute oats, uncooked
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup tender flake coconut (sweetened)

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Why, yes–I am!

Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together until creamy.

Sift together flour, salt, soda and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture, blend well. Add oats and blend. Then add carrots and blend…then add coconut and pecans (and guess what? that’s right), blend.

I used my trusty Zeroll Universal EZ Disher scoop (#60, pink) to portion the dough.

Bake for a total of 13 minutes–swap the baking sheets at the 7-minute mark (top to bottom/front to back), then bake for 6 minutes more. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets about 5 minutes to make it easier to move them from sheet to rack to cool. Makes 36 delicious little cookies!

Now, these cookies are delicious naked, but add frosting and they’re absolutely in another galaxy. So, shall we frost?

BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
First, make the salted caramel. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, whisk together:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
good pinch of salt

Continue to whisk till sugar dissolves, then cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get the rest of the frosting together.

2 oz. cream cheese (I got away with Neufchâtel, so can you), softened
3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup powdered sugar

Cream together butter, cream cheese, bourbon and vanilla. Gradually blend in powdered sugar. Then blend in salted caramel. This makes plenty of frosting, so you can frost generously and should still have some extra frosting to enjoy on a spoon or your fingers!

Did someone say cookies?!
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“It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good.” –Nina Simone

“I feel just like that, too!” –Enzo Antonio Sciccareddu

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You’ll never know what puts you on the path to finding something beautiful. Though 2017 was a tough year for me, each step along the way brought me closer to a sunflower field in Northford, Connecticut. And, eventually, those sunflowers led me to a very special friend.

Last July, foot surgery literally kept me off my feet for most of the summer–and eventually tried to drive me out of my mind! But on the way to the surgical center in Branford, we took the back roads. I’d forgotten all about the pleasant scenic route we used to take years ago and looked forward to revisiting it when I head in that direction–which is often!

Toward the end of August, tired of having to ask for help or a ride, I hobbled to my car, determined to drive to Branford. On my way, several cars had pulled over along Route 22 to admire a seemingly endless field of sunflowers. I made my way downhill slowly and carefully (with a cane!) to check them out. I don’t think I had ever seen so many sunflowers! It was a sight to behold.

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Fast forward to October. Once again, I was (for the most part) footloose and fancy-free and regularly taking the scenic route through Durham and Northford, then over the fabulously twisty Totoket Road down to Branford. I found interesting farm stands and garden centers–one with goats (!) and a freestanding holder I needed to hang my Corinthian Bells on the deck. But I drive a coupe and there was no way to fit it in my car. And their last day of the season was the next day! I asked my mom if she’d take her car to pick it up. I mentioned there was a second patch of sunflowers I could show her en route.

Near the sunflower field, we found a tiny farm stand, really just a patio table with an umbrella. As we were picking out a few items, I heard a distinct sound.
“Ma, I heard a donkey!”
“I don’t hear anything!”
“No, it’s a donkey and we need to find it!”

So we headed in the general direction of the sound, down someone’s driveway and THERE HE WAS, in a small pen with a tree, next to a shed. I was standing there saying hello when his owner came by. “His name is Balashi. He’s named after an Aruban beer. Be careful, he bites!”

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“Balashi and the Scary Movie” HAW HAW!

So began a new friendship. Since that drive was already part of my weekly routine, I decided I’d add some time to stop and visit this donkey. And I’d bring snacks–apples, carrots or pears. He’d greet me as if I were the most important person in the whole world and I became very attached. Over time, people would even ask about “my donkey.”

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But the more I got to know him, the more I became concerned for his well-being. It didn’t look as though anyone ever cleaned his pen, his hooves were horribly overgrown and his little three-sided shelter didn’t offer him much protection from the rain and snow. Whenever we had storms, I’d worry. Eventually, he was having trouble walking. I had to help him, but how? I live in a townhouse and, as much as I’d joke about having him sleep over and making waffles, I couldn’t keep him in my basement.

I started looking for stables where I could board him. The sticker shock of paying more per month than I ever shelled out for a car payment in my life set me back for a while.  Then I appealed to our farm friends. As soon as they understood the donkey’s health was in danger, they offered him a place to live. Next, I approached his owner, “You know I love your donkey, don’t you?” I explained our friends could give him more space and we’d provide veterinary care (he went without that for at least six  years!) and a farrier to help with his hooves. Plus, there are mini horses and an assortment of other animals on the farm, so he wouldn’t be alone anymore. “I have to ask my wife,” he said. I waited. And waited. I went to our family’s plot and cried to my grandfather. I always said if Poppy were here, that donkey would already be with us. Then I got the call–the donkey was mine. I couldn’t believe it!

The donkey formerly known as Balashi, and previously known as Jack (c’mon now!), came home July 5th, a day I’ll think of as Donkey Independence Day from now on. And now, a few words from THE DONKEY (sciccareddu in Sicilian) himself!

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A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM ENZO ANTONIO, SCICCAREDDU!
NOW HEAR THIS! I have a beautiful new life, new home, new family, new start and now a new name befitting both my Sicilian heritage and mom’s ancestry.

My name is Enzo (from “The Art of Racing In the Rain” as well as Enzo Ferrari). It means “ruler of the house/estate.” It also is a variation of Henry (Goodfellas, HAW HAW, Mama’s favorite movie). My middle name is Antonio for Poppy’s father—it means “priceless one.” And not to brag, but my mama tells me I am!

I’m a happy ass with lots to say. I hope we’ll have lots to share with you as I travel the path back to good health. Thank you for being my friend.

Love,
Enzo

P.S. We’d both like to remind you to take time to smell the flowers (or to eat them). And to take the long way home. You never know what treasures you’ll find along the way!

P.P.S. I made special oatmeal carrot cake cookies to celebrate Enzo’s homecoming. I’ll tell you about them in my next post, when we return to our regularly scheduled programming here in Katty’s Kitchen. Till then, ciao!

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Enzo Antonio, donkey of my heart

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Here’s a coconut riff on my beloved CCCs (chocolate chip cookies) that’s everything you’d want in a sugar cookie with coconut to boot. Because C is for cookie. And coconut. And chomp! Crispy outside, chewy within–two more Cs. Treat yourself to a batch of these beauties today!

KATTY’S COCONUT SUGAR COOKIES

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter (1 stick)
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup Baker’s Angel Flake coconut

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg, vanilla and almond extract; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in coconut with a spatula.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. I used my two-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough. Space the cookies two inches apart. Bake 7 minutes, then switch bottom to top/back to front for 7 more minutes, for a total of 14 minutes.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before moving them to racks to cool. This recipe yields 17 big coconutty cookies–plus one smaller runt of a cookie, if I’m being honest, and why would I be anything but?! Deeeelightful! Deeeelicious!

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There’s nothing like native asparagus in the spring! Its growing season is short, so now is the time to celebrate what’s fresh and local with a twist on traditional carbonara.

ASPARAGUS CARBONARA
1 pound asparagus
1/4 – 1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 4-5 pieces per strip
1 pound ribbon-like fresh pasta of choice–I love DiFiore’s mafalda; today I used their fettucine
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
2 eggs, 1 yolk, lightly beaten
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 cup reserved pasta water
Olive oil to make one round of the bottom of a large saute pan–about a tablespoon
Fresh torn basil or parsley to garnish
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Whisk together the two eggs/one yolk with grated Pecorino Romano, lemon juice and zest; set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Tip: place a measuring cup in the colander as a reminder to save some pasta water.

As the water comes to a boil, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard. Then, take a handful of the thicker spears–four or so–and use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons. Cut the rest on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces–about 1 1/2 inches.

Now that the prep work’s complete, we’re going to multitask!

Simultaneous step A: Cook the pasta and the asparagus
Cook the pasta just al dente, following package instructions. During the last minute of cooking time, add the asparagus. Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Temper the pasta water by whisking it into the egg/lemon/cheese mixture.

Simultaneous step B: Sauté the garlic, add the prosciutto and wine
As soon as you add the pasta to the pot and decrease the heat (to avoid boiling over), have a large skillet ready. Coat with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Sauté the pressed garlic for just a minute, then toss in the prosciutto, stirring to coat and warm through. If you’d like to add a bit of heat, sprinkle in some crushed red pepper. Then add 1/3 cup white wine and reduce heat to medium-low.

Combine the steps
Fresh pasta is key here as it cooks faster–and by the time the pasta is cooked, it will be time to drain it, return it to the skillet with the prosciutto, garlic and wine. Toss immediately with the lemon/egg/cheese to coat and thicken for just a minute or two. We’re done! Time to eat!

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Serve with fresh parsley and/or basil. Enjoy! And enjoy your spring or summer or whatever this season is going to be next! 😛

 

 

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Ciao, amici! Come stai? It’s been a wild ride these past few months, but I’m happy to report I’m back on track. Cheers! Let’s shake it up with a favorite classic cocktail, the Aviation. It’s old school cool with a new twist, using the majestically purple-hued Empress 1908 gin. So, as the Empress folks say, let’s live colourfully!

THE AVIATION
4 oz. Empress 1908 gin
1 oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1 oz. Liqueur de Violettes
2 oz. freshly squeezed (of course) lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain, garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Oh, no–here we go now! Stay good, amici! And we will do our best to do the same! See you sooner next time, OK?

P.S. Someone beautiful is feeling much better, too. Ms. April Katt celebrated her 18th birthday on April first! We like to hold hands. XOXOX ♥

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Happy Lunar New Year 2018–the Year of the Dog! I wanted to make almond cookies to celebrate. So delicate, crispy and loaded with almond flavor, you’ll want to try them, too!

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES

Cookie dough
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
slivered almonds

Egg wash
Whisk together:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk

In a large stand mixer, cream together Crisco, butter and sugar on medium speed till smooth. Beat in egg, almond flour and almond extract till well blended.

In a separate bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, mixing well. Dough will be fairly stiff.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Scoop dough into 1-inch balls–I used my Zeroll Pink #60 scoop. Place them two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, then flatten with a spatula, sprinkle with almonds (tap them in a bit to help them stay), and brush with egg wash. By the way, a whole almond in the center is traditional and certainly easier to manage, but I prefer thin almonds and think they look pretty (even if they’re a pain to deal with in these cookies!).

Bake until lightly golden, 15 minutes in my oven. If you’re baking two sheets at a time, halfway through baking time, swap from top to bottom, back to front. Transfer to racks to cool. I sprinkled just a bit of finely ground Himalayan salt over the top to make them extra nice-nice. Makes 45 delicious little cookies you’ll want to bake again and again!