Pie Crust Cookies

pie crust cookies 8

And now, for a break from our regularly scheduled programming (appropriate, since I’m later with this post than I’ve ever been before): This is not a recipe you’ll find in Nonnie’s cookbook. This is not even a recipe, really. This is more of a method, a technique, a way of life. A practice that will keep you from throwing away errant scraps of pie dough ever again, provided you’re, like, the kind of person who is always making pies and letting them cool on the windowsill. Continue reading

Nut Sticks (a.k.a. Mandel Bread) (a.k.a. Mandelbrot)

Mandelbrot 12

I’m an Ashkenazi Jew. My fiancé is Italian-American. Our ancestral food cultures — meat-and-potatoes kosher vs. Mediterranean Traif City — have just about nothing in common beyond, like, the fact that both of our people eat bread and drink wine. (His people’s is better.)

But there is one dish that turns the circles of our respective backgrounds into a Venn diagram — a dry, almond-speckled cookie that old ladies of both the Catholic and the Jewish persuasion have been pushing on reluctant kids for billions of years (rough estimation). Continue reading

Cream Cheese Pastry

Jelly Horns

The first time I leafed through Nonnie’s cookbook, I was surprised to find that there are barely any cookie recipes in there — just three,  in fact, and one of them is secretly a cake.

Hidden in another section, though, there was something called “Cream Cheese Pastry” — a simple, cream cheese-enhanced dough that’s rolled out, cut, and filled with jam.

“Oh!” I thought. “So they’re rugelach!”

Not really. Continue reading

Polka Daters

Polka Daters 1

Expansive as it is, there are a few major recipes missing from Nonnie’s cookbook — things I keep going back and looking for, only to be surprised all over when I realize again that they’re not there.

There’s no simple roast chicken recipe, for instance, even though I know Nonnie must’ve roasted billions of birds in her day. (Maybe it’s not in there because Nonnie thought only a moron would need to follow a recipe in order to roast a chicken — “just turn the oven on and stick it in! You need me to draw you a map?”) There’s no kugel, either, although Nonnie made an ethereal noodle pudding that my mom’s been trying to recreate for 40 years. To this day, she swears it never comes out like Nonnie’s did. Continue reading