Holiday Kourabiedes – Walnut Sugar Cookies


Tis the season to learn of new traditions. When I first heard of these I couldn’t help but be excited.

Greek Kourabiedes are popular special occasion cookies. They are often served at weddings, christenings and of course, Christmas. You might also find them on an Egyptian cookie tray for the similar celebrations. There, they are called Kahk.

They remind me a bit of what a cross between a shortbread and a sugar cookie.
They’re simple, nutty AND they use some of my orange blossom water I coveted for recipes past.

Kourabiedes are subtle and not too sweet. The seasonal walnuts may be traded for almonds, but I love the combination of the bitterish walnut and bursts of salt with a hint of citrus and the warming, sweet and intriguing fragrance of orange blossoms. They’re perfect for the Holidays. I hope you try them.

KOURABIEDES – WALNUT SUGAR COOKIES

3/4 Cup Walnuts
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (vegan) Butter, like Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Orange Flower Water

Toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven, until golden brown, about minutes.
Pulse about 1/4 cup of the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add the flour, baking powder, remaining nuts and salt. Pulse again to mix everything together and roughly chop the remaining nuts.
Meanwhile, beat the butter, sugar,  Cointreau, orange zest and vanilla extract together with an electric or stand mixer until and fluffy.
At a low speed, stir in the nut/flour mixture to make a crumbly dough. Bring the dough together with your hands (it IS crumbly). Flatten it into a disk, like pastry dough, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate dough for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 20 pieces. Roll into balls between with your hands. Flattening to shape each piece into a round   disk.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and lightly brush the orange blossom water over the tops of each cookie.
Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with additional confectioners sugar.

Spinach Pesto


I used to be one of those people who would see those enormous tubs of spinach, you know the ones that are at least a pound, and not imagine what sized family could possibly consume that much salad in a week. Seeing that baby spinach weighs a little more than air, that’s quite a bit of greens. However, since converting and making a “baby spinach only” vow, it’s on my weekly grocery list. I put handfuls of it into just about everything I cook that will take it; like soups, omelettes or pasta. The rest go into my every other daily salad or into this super mild and creamy staple: pesto.

SPINACH PESTO

2 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
Handful of Flat Leaf Parsley, about 1/2 cup
4 – 5 Large Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Walnuts, lightly toasted
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pinch of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pile everything but the oil into a food processor and combine well.
Using a spatula, scrape the sides then reattach the lid.
With the motor running, drizzle in the oil through the feed tube one tablespoon at a time until everything is smooth but not oily. You may only end up using 2 tablespoons. (Use the remainder for topping the pesto, if you’re keeping it in the fridge.)

Pesto may be kept in a sealed container, topped with oil. Otherwise, it freezes very well in ice cube trays or flattened, in a ziploc bag, where you can break off desired amounts for soups, crustini or pasta for one.

Yields about 1 Cup.

Little Bit of Old Fashioned Loving


This cake is super easy, really the toughest thing was prepping the pan. It’s a perfect balance of tart and sweet, elegant for tea and a perfect crumb for a picnic. Almost too perfect, I found myself snacking on it instead of lunch.

Every so often I come across a recipe that reminds me of my grandmother, creating memories of yeast and warm mittens. My Nana just recently celebrated her birthday so to find a cake that screams East Coast charm barely out of the 1930’s was so fitting to try. Plus, it’s red, sweet and a little bit tart, just like Valentine’s really is.

CRANBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

1 1/2 Cups Cranberries, frozen
2/3 Cup Walnuts, broken
1/3 Cup Demara Sugar, loosely packed1/2 Cup Margarine
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Cup All Purpose Flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Spray an 8″ square cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberries, walnuts and demara sugar to combine.
Evenly layer the cranberry mixture to the bottom of the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine with the granulated sugar until very smooth.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a measuring cup, combine the milk with the lemon juice.
Alternately add the flour and the milk mixtures to the creamed margarine until the batter is thick but smooth, adding the lemon zest with the last addition.
Dollop the batter over the cranberries, spreading carefully and evenly.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the edges are golden and a cake tester is cleanly removed from the center of the cake.
Cool completely then invert on to a board to cut, if desired.
Dust with confectioners sugar.
Serve with love and tea.