One recent morning I awoke in the dark, pre-dawn chill of my room and squinted at the blue numerals on my clock that read 4:50. Instead of turning over for that extra hour of sleep, I blinked, shook my head, and had one not very coherent thought: why is that oven up so high?
Yes, I even think about food in my sleep. I had started my Christmas baking that day, and my subconscious was apparently still back in the kitchen, mixing up a bowl of my grandmother’s anise-flavored ricotta cookies. *
Except for reading and writing, there are few things in life I like better than cooking and eating. In fact, food figures prominently in my books: characters fall in love over simmering pasta pots and steaming plates of risotto, and they trade secrets and confidences across tables. Not surprisingly, my heroes seem to know their way around a kitchen.
If you are Italian—and perhaps even if you are not—you know that food is love. So here’s a little from me to you.
♥ ♥ ♥
*Mema’s Ricotta Cookies
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
2 teaspoons of anise extract
1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 350. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into bowl and set aside.
- In a larger bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and anise extract.
- Add dry ingredients and ricotta alternately to butter mixture until well blended.
- Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, two inches apart, on parchment covered cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake! The bottoms should be a light golden brown.
- Let cool and top with confectioner’s sugar glaze and non-pareils or colored sugars.
- Try not to finish them all before Christmas Eve.