Seattle Italian Festival 2009

Another year at the Italian Festival in Seattle!

There is something about a gathering of Italians–and “wanna-be ” Italians–that makes me look forward to fall in Seattle.   Mother Nature was certainly smiling down upon us–the sun was shining and the weather was perfect!

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My two very favorite things about the festival are the celebrity chef and, of course, the music.  I wait patiently to see our version of the Three Tenors–Fortissimo!

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Above: Seattle’s Version of the Three Tenors!

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Angelnina’s Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These are my new favorite cookie.

Apparently my family likes them too because these cookies sure didn’t stick around in the cookie jar for very long 🙂

I just love coconut!  No, I mean, I really really love the stuff.  I know some people hate coconut, and I’ve heard people complain about certain foods tasting like the 1970s suntan oils.  Well, I’d like to confess that when I was a kid, I slathered that stuff all over me–I have the wrinkles and moles to prove it too.  If it was edible, I would be making 1970s coconut scented suntan oil cookies SPF 15.  I’m serious.

Yes, I’m a coconut nut.  Throw chocolate into the mix, and my eyes start to roll back into my head.  I’m afraid everything tastes better with chocolate.  So, I give you my version of the coconut chocolate chip cookie.

Angelnina’s Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (at room temperature)

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 x-lg eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cups oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 cups unsweetened coconut –I use the large shavings-processed in food processor

1 3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

-Cream butter and sugars with mixer

Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients together and Stir into wet mixture

Stir in chocolate chips

Scoop dough by tablespoon (or use medium scoop) onto parchment lined or silicon baking mat lined cookie sheet .

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes

PS These do not taste like suntan oil 😉

DSC_6366ABOVE: Giovanni lounging while I bake

My Love for Retro, Cottage Chic, and Cookies!

The past week, I’ve been searching for dining room chair slipcovers that will fit my over sized parson chairs.   I prefer the look of a wooden chair , but my tailbone prefers the feel of a well cushioned upholstered chair.  Such is middle age.  I have failed to find slipcovers, but on my journey, I visited my favorite little shop in Bothell, Washington.   The Cranberry Cottage!

Since my last visit to the shop, the owner has parked a retro camping trailer on the grounds–to use as both a children’s play area and to display vintage items for sale.

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I used to own a camping trailer very similar to this one.  Apparently, they are now all the rage for lovers of retro. Some people use them as guest houses .  Creative and fun idea.  Too bad I sold mine!

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Italian Cookies ~ Pignoli Amaretti (Pine Nut Cookies)

As much as I enjoy cooking and baking,  you can only imagine how excited I was to find out that the son of one of my good friends was going to school to become a pastry chef!

Over the years, I had noticed Ket’s interest in baking and cooking when he and his family would  join us for dinner at my house.  I noticed he might be looking over my shoulder asking questions and talking food.  He  liked to peek  in at my cookbook collection too.  I have also had the pleasure of eating a few slices of his famous cheesecakes!

Not long ago I gave him an open invitation to come to my kitchen and bake with me.  Well,  Ket has now graduated and I was more than happy when he asked if I’d like to bake some Italian cookies together.  He chose Pignolis–a cookie neither of us had ever baked before.  Perfect.

Allow me to start by saying, almond paste and pine nuts are expensive.  Shop around for a good deal.  We opted to split the cost of a 7 pound can of almond paste from Cash and Carry.  We have enough almond paste leftover to make plenty more desserts.  Pine nuts were purchased at Costco.

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It wasn’t easy removing the almond paste–at first.  We discovered that using an ice cream scoop made it a lot easier.

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The recipe says to use almond paste broken into pebble sized pieces.  Good thing Ket was helping because my great idea was to use my KitchenAid mixer, but he suggested using the food processor and adding the sugars to it.  It worked like a charm.

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Pignoli Amaretti Cookies (Pine Nut Cookies)

Adapted from Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray

1 1/2 lbs almond paste (broken into pebble sized pieces)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

4 egg whites

2 cups pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine almond paste with sugars in food processor and pulse till size of pebbles.

Add mixture to mixer and add egg whites, mix on low till blended, then medium speed for a few minutes.  This will make a sticky dough.

Roll dough into 1″ balls.  Roll in pine nuts, or roll tops and sides in pine nuts.  Place on lined (parchment or silicon) cookie sheet 2″ apart.  Using your fingers, slightly flatten tops of cookies.

Bake for 15-20  minutes or till golden brown.  Remove cookie sheets from oven.  Allow cookies to cool on parchment for easier removal.  When cookies are cool use a metal spatula to loosen from parchment.

Store in an airtight container.

Approx 50 cookies

cookiebeforeWe shaped some into balls and some into crescents–I happen to be addicted to the crescent shape.

I highly suggest using the silicon mats or parchment–these are sticky little buggers!

Wet your hands with water while forming the cookies–it really helps!

cookieWe made two batches– close to 100 cookies!

Pignolis have a moist center and a wonderful almond flavor.  Perfect with coffee and tea or a glass of milk.

After baking,  Ket helped me dig potatoes from the garden.  We had a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, chicken with vinegar and onions, and swiss chard from the gardens, and mashed pototoes–albeit the mashed taters were farmed out to my husband who lost track of the timer–no worries, we had enough to feed a small army.

Thanks Ket!

Future Farmers of America and a Berry Crumble

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ABOVE: American Gothic? My son Sean, and his fiancee Olivia posed for me.

I was required to bring in five or more prints to present to my photography class.  I had a lot of fun with this project.

If you’d like to see more photos I’ve taken please go to Angelnina’s Photography Blog

In other news….

Berry Crumble

Blackberry season, in my neighborhood, can easily turn to war.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught people trespassing on my property to pick the blackberries.  Attempts to deter the berry thieves have been futile.  People will break the law for a free blackberry.  I’ve tried everything–from sneak attacks to police tape.  It simply comes down to survival of the fittest.  So far, a group of four elderly Korean women are burying me.  These ladies are out before the rooster crows!  They can clean out the entire patch of newly ripened berries in a single morning.  Before I manage to drink my morning tea, the early risers have filled their buckets and–I’m guessing–have blackberry pies in the oven.  I was lucky to score a few cups of berries to make my berry crumble.  Thankfully, I had a cup of frozen raspberries to throw into the mix!

Berry Crumble

Filling

3 cups of your favorite berries or mix of berries

1/3 c sugar

1/8 c flour

Tbsp orange juice (opt)

Toss well, and heat a little on stove

-Pour berry mixture into little ramekins– I used 5

Topping

1/2 c flour

1/4 c brown sugar

1/8 c sugar

1/8 tsp Kosher salt

Pulse a few times to combine in food processor

Add

4 Tbsp cold butter , cut up

pulse until size of peas

Pour mixture into a bowl and add 1/4 cup dry oats ( I used Old Fashioned Quaker Oats)

stir in oats.

Place a few Tablespoons of topping over the berries in the ramekins.

Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top.

You will have some topping leftover–place in fridge to use next time!

Bake these on a lined baking sheet  at 350 degrees till warm and bubbly–about 30 minutes +

Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!