Cookie Recipes for Pignoli and Shortbread

Cooking

This year has been far from normal, but we’ve been embracing it and staying home as much as possible. I’ve missed getting together with my friends, so I organized a cookie making video call with them. We each made a cookie or two and then got together a few days later (outside and masked) to swap.

I made two cookies that I never made before, and luckily they both turned out to be delicious. Are you familiar with the Italian cookie called Pignoli? It’s our favorite cookie from Termini’s in Philadelphia and I decided to try to make them. Pignoli means pine nut in Italian, and they are covered in them. The base is an almond cookie and they end up being a bit expensive since the ingredients are pricy, so just be aware of that. I think the ingredients were around $20 for a batch.

I used the recipe from Lidia, linked here. The majority of the cookie is almond paste and in a few recipes people mentioned using it from a can and not the tube. I found it in a tub from Sam’s in Willow Grove and it seemed to be really fresh.

Pignoli Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb almond paste
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Crumble the almond paste into a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Mix the almond paste to break it up. Add the sugar and continue to mix. Add the egg whites one at a time and continue to mix until incorporated and batter is smooth. Place the pine nuts into a bowl or plate. Roll a tablespoon size portion of dough in your hands to form a ball and then cover in the pine nuts. Alternately (and to save a few bucks) you can just add the pine nuts to one side (the top). Place on a cookie sheet and (optionally) smoosh with a glass to flatten them a little bit (I saw this part on a youtube video of an Italian grandma making them). They are also delicious without the nuts, so if you run out of pine nuts just bake them without.

Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, until golden on the edges. 18 minutes is perfect for my oven. Bake longer if you want them crispy, less if you want them softer.

Shortbread Cookie with Chocolate Chips and Cherries

I made an adjustments to this recipe (less cherries).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherries (I used half maraschino and half fancy pants bourbon cherries)
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Beat butter with a mixer. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy cream.
  • Combine the flour with salt and sift. Add to the butter mixture and mix the dough.
  • Remove the moisture from the chopped cherries with a paper towel and add to the dough. Add chocolate chips, mix.
  • Put the dough on saran wrap and mold to form a log. Wrap the saran wrap around the dough and continue to form into a log. Place in the refrigerator for an hour and up to overnight.
  • Cut the dough into round cookies, put on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 325 F for about 15 minutes.
  • Cool the cookies completely, then remove them from the baking sheet and serve.

I’d love to know your favorite cookie recipes and holiday traditions. Are you doing things differently this year? I like to re-imagine old traditions and do new things so I’m embracing that this year will be different from past holiday seasons.

Happy Holidays.

*Brandi

Roast Chicken With Fennel

Cooking

Yes, this is usually a design blog, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and thought you may enjoy hearing about it. Usually my husband Dave cooks just about every meal, and is REALLY good at it. This year I’ve gotten more into cooking since I’ve been so bored (thanks COVID). [Public Service Announcement: Stay home as much as possible, and wear a mask while out so we can keep this virus in check!]

Roast Chicken with Fennel Ingredients

In the past when I’ve cooked I tried to find quick and easy recipes, but these days I look for recipes that take a long time to make. Like I said, I’ve been bored and I love food, so I might as well use my time to make delicious food.

This is the second time I’ve made this recipe, Roast Chicken with Fennel from the cookbook The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia. I linked the book from Thriftbooks, which is my new favorite online bookstore, everything is used and way cheaper than new! If that’s not your thing, you can find it at your favorite bookstore. I’ve had this book for a very long time and it has SO many great recipes. I highly recommend it, especially if you love Italian food. The first time I made this recipe I followed it very closely to as it was written, but this time we made some tweaks (added a brine step and omitted the bacon).

You may be thinking, fennel? If you’ve never had it, don’t be scared, because you will LOVE how it tastes after it’s been baked with chicken. I don’t like the anise/licorice flavor, but you don’t taste it once it’s cooked in this way.

Brined and dried Chicken before cooking

Roast Chicken with Fennel: Serves 4-5

Optional Brine Step: If you do this you will have to start the recipe the evening before you make it. Add salt, brown sugar, garlic cloves, herbs, fennel fronds, citrus peels, peppercorns to a large pot full of water. Heat to dissolve everything and then let cool. To speed up the cooling process you can add ice. Add the chicken to the cooled brine (it should cover the chicken). It’s important to rinse the chicken in water after you take it out, and pat it dry. Let it sit in the fridge uncovered to really dry out the skin. We brined it overnight (approx 10 hours), took it out in the morning and left it in the fridge until we made it for dinner. This whole step is optional, but will make the chicken extra juicy and moist.

Chicken in Brine

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken (or chicken parts) (3-4 lbs)
  • Two Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • Two fennel bulbs, quartered. Fronds also required.
  • Large Onion or two small
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Herbs (Whatever you have on hand, I used Rosemary and Parsley)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 C.

Rinse and pat the chicken dry (or pull it from the fridge if you did the brine and dry step above). Add salt, and pepper to chicken cavity. Place half of the onion (quartered) and herbs into the chicken cavity. Rub olive oil all over the chicken.

Chop fennel fronds from one of the fennel bulbs and mix with finely chopped garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Mix together then rub the mixture over the chicken.

Place a few tablespoons of olive oil in the botton of the roasting pan or dutch oven. Add the quartered fennel and the rest of the quartered onion to the bottom of the pan. Place chicken on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 min and then baste. Add the wine and return to the oven for another half hour. Remove to baste and then cook until done (approximately another hour, but each chicken will differ). We use a thermometer to determine when it’s done. Carve chicken and serve with fennel and onion. This also goes well with roasted or mashed potatoes.

Extra bonus points: you can place the chicken carcass in a freezer bag and save to make chicken stock.

Chicken and fennel before cooking
Roasted Chicken with Fennel

Here’s the original recipe.

Original Recipe from The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia

Let me know if you make this and what you think of it.

*Brandi