Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Plate Of Homemade Memories: Sesame Cookies

So my Mom and my sister, Joan, came north for a visit not long after Easter. They no sooner stepped off the plane and the topic Not a big surprise. Bagels...can't get them as good as in NY(so they say). In my upstate county, there's a half a dozen bagel shops in a mile radius. They come out of the oven fragrant and hot. There are so many varieties....sesame, onion, poppy, pumpernickel, and now five grain...all soft and chewy. Joan is detail oriented so out of the brown paper bag comes heavenly bagels plus cream cheese (gotta have a smear of cream cheese) & lox (thinly sliced salmon). There's always softened butter and a selection of jam. Me, I love my bagel toasted. Second on the list is Jewish Deli. The sandwiches have gotten rather pricey over the years, but the size of those sandwiches are humongous. Premium pastrami or corned beef piled sky high on soft rye bread with a slather of tangy mustard. Deli night wouldn't be worth a lick without creamy Cole slaw, pucker-up pickles, squares of potato knish, and of course...matzo ball soup. The sandwiches are eaten right off the paper they're wrapped in and taste best with root beer or cream soda. During these visits we eat our fair share of Italian pastries, NY cheesecake and Chinese cuisine.
Our food indulgence isn't contained to "take-out", nope, it spills over to every visit whether old school chum, former neighbors or relatives on the long list of must-see. Cousin Cesira was one of them, this time around.
Cesira is Mom's first cousin, but much younger. She has done well through the years, working hard and sacrificing much to obtain the good life. She recently moved into the home of her dreams. And is it exquisite...need I say more than that the streets are named...par.....birdie....hole-in-one. If the names conjurer up the image of lush lawns, manicured gardens with Mercedes and Jaguars in wide've got it right.  Stepping into her home was like stepping onto a page of House Beautiful...tastefully appointed with both classic and whimsical accessories. Cesira herself is as elegant as her home....slim, stylish, greeting us warmly at her front door...accepting our gifts of Biscotti Regina, wine and flowers graciously. With many oohs & aaahhhs, we toured her home and then relaxed in her spacious kitchen. Freshly brewed coffee was poured into gold rimmed cups and a feast for the eyes and taste buds graced the table. What's wonderful about family is no matter the length of time between visits...the threads of the last conversation are woven into the one taking place and a tapestry of new memories is created.
Plates passed from hand-to-hand and even before the first bite, the questions began, "What filling is in this?" ; "Is this raspberry sauce?"; "Biscotti Regina , homemade?" The answers... The filling was vanilla pudding oozing out of a pecan coffee ring....fresh strawberries drenched in a sweet/tart raspberry sauce poured over a moist pound cake....Biscotti Regina, better known as Sesame Cookies, were definitely homemade.  They're expensive to buy by the pound, though more affordable and more delicious fresh out of the oven. The evening took on an easy rhythm as we chatted comfortably, laughed and teased, reminisced and many delectable treats, so many memories, so much love.  Dio benedica la famiglia...God bless family.

Sesame Cookies (Biscotti Regina)
3/4 cup sesame seeds toasted on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Don't over-brown
1/2 cup (1 stick) soft unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract
scant 2/3 cup sugar

In a mixing bowl blend flour, semolina, baking powder & nutmeg. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl (I use a stand mixer) beat together the eggs and salt, then add extract. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar  until smooth. Add the pieces of butter and beat until almost smooth. Pour dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat on a low setting just until combined. If too sticky add a 1/2 cup more of all purpose flour. Chill for at least an hour in plastic wrap. Can be kept overnight if need be.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. Pinch off a golf-ball size piece of dough and roll on table or counter to form a rope about a 1/2 inch in diameter. With a knife, slice off 2 inch lengths, and roll in sesame seeds.  Bake about 20 minutes until golden brown (don't over-brown). Cool before serving.
tip: Keep unused dough in refrigerator as you form cookies.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies
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Remember To Make Memories At The Table