Monday, March 18, 2013

Italian Pine Nut Cookies + Fava Bean and Fennel Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I've been featuring Irish recipes and ingredients for a week now, but it is time to move along. Tucked between the hoopla that surrounds St. Patrick's Day and Easter Sunday is the feast of St. Joseph, a holiday of special importance to the people of Italy. I've told the full story of St Joseph before, but for those of you who are too busy to backtrack, I wanted to include a brief summary of it here. The gentle Joseph was the stepfather of Jesus. He is said to have spent time in Italy and was considered to be the patron saint of Sicily. During a period of devastating drought, the Sicilian people prayed to him for rain that was necessary to prevent a full-scale famine. When rain came, the people decorated altars and prepared a feast in his honor and welcomed all to the banquet table they had prepared. That table became known as St.Joseph's table and the food on it was meant for distribution to the poor. Three foods became associated with his holiday. The first is the fava bean, which survived the drought and kept the people alive. The second is a pasta tossed with bread crumbs instead of cheese, that you can find here, and the third is a Neopolitan pastry, called a zeppole, which you can find here. I have two other recipes to share with you today. They are not associated with St. Joseph's Day but they are very Italian and I though this would be a great day to share them with you. The first is a simple Italian cookie that is made with pine nuts. It is not the traditional almond and pine nut cookie that I'm sure you are already familiar with. This recipe was developed by Giada De Laurentis and it is flavored with ground fennel seeds instead of almond paste. This cookie is easy to make and is far less expensive to prepare than the classic Pignoli. It is wonderful to serve after dinner with espresso or a glass of sweet wine and I know you will enjoy it. The second recipe is for a creamy soup that is made with fava beans and fennel. It is delicious and if you have time to make it, I know you will love it as well. Without further ado, here are today's recipes.

Pine Nut Cookies ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Giada De Laurentis

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pine nuts

1) Using an electric mixer, beat  butter, sugar, vanilla, fennel seed, and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Add flour and mix just until blended.
2) Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape dough into an 8-inch-long log. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
3) Preheat  oven to 350 degrees F. Line heavy large baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper. Cut  dough log crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Press pine nuts decoratively atop cookies. Bake until the cookies are golden around edges, about 15 minutes. Yield 24 to 36 cookies.

Fava Bean and Fennel Soup...courtesy of Giorgio Locatelli from his book Made in Sicily

1 pound + 5 ounces dried broad beans (favas)
1 teaspoon chopped wild fennel (or 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, soaked in a little water)
7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) fresh broad beans (favas)
Olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for finishing

1) Soak dried broad beans in cold water overnight, then drain.
2) Next day, put soaked beans and wild fennel, or soaked fennel seeds, into a pan. Add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook slowly for about 2 hours, or until beans are completely soft, adding water as necessary. Blend by hand or machine until smooth and set aside.
3) While dried beans are cooking, blanch fresh beans in boiling unsalted water for a couple of minutes, then drain and peel off the skins.
4) In a separate pan, heat a little olive oil, then add diced onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft but not colored. Add fresh broad beans and the blended beans and cook for 15 minutes, then season and serve drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Serve hot. Yield: 6 servings.

One Year Ago Today: Braided Easter Egg Bread

Two Years Ago Today:  Tapenade Two Ways - Black and Green Olive Tapenade

Three Years Ago Today: Avgolemono - Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Four Years Ago Today: Mustard Glazed Potatoes


Ginny Hartzler said...

Very cool, I had no idea about Joseph being the patron saint.

Alessandra said...

Lovely, a perfect and sophisticated Italian meal for me :-)!!

Have a great week


decocinasytacones said...

I love the pine nuts in the cookies, they look lovely.
And the soup, I´m cream-soups freak so what can I say.
Love. Have a great week and a happy Monday.

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

These cookies stole my breath, pine nuts are my favourite :D

Choc Chip Uru

Diane said...

Love pine nuts so the biscuits will go down well and that soup looks quite delicious. Have a great week Diane

Unknown said...

A friend of mine gave me a small little statue of the patron saint Joseph for my kitchen... she said it would always bring me fortune in the kitchen... she was quite right :)

Joanne said...

These cookies are my mom's favorite! I'll have to attempt them for her! And I usually make special pastries for St. Joseph's day. It's such a fun food "holiday"!

Kathy said...

Since I am a member of St. Joseph’s church…we celebrate St. Joseph’s day every year, with a little (and I mean little) parade and breakfast at the church.
The cookies you made are just beautiful and your soup looks delectable! Two perfect things to serve on St. Josephs Day! Have a great day, Mary!

CQUEK said...

Wow! These look delicious!

kitchen flavours said...

Both the cookies and soup looks delicious! I love pine nuts, but they are really expensive over here. I don't mind having that bowl of soup anytime.
Have a great week!

Regina said...

Love it!
Have a great week Mary.



Tricia Buice said...

Mary I just love your stories - they are so well written and interesting! I also love how you pressed the pine nuts into the cookies and the soup is beautiful!


You are such great chef, my goodness! I love the cookiesand all your recipes, really. I'm a fan! Thank you for the recipes and for your sweet and kind comment.

teresa said...

the cookies are so pretty, they look professionally made! the soup looks delicious as well, perfect for a cold day like today!

tender b. said...

Those Italians certainly know how to use their pine nuts. Wow.

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