Snowstorms and Squash

 

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Oy, 2016. There were many moments I (we? Most everyone?) would like to forget, although I am happy that this year brought me back to Western Mass. The last week of the year, for me, at least, was really lovely. My girls and I all had off from our schools so we spent the entire week together. When Beatrix wasn’t watching Frozen (“Elsa! Elsa!”) we squeezed in a few adventures.

We explored Great Barrington in the Berkshires (only about an hour from here) in search of the best grilled cheese in the Northeast. We had fun at Forbes Library, whose cookbook and media collection continues to impress me. (More on those in upcoming posts.) We made it to two children’s museums, including a New Year’s Eve Jr. celebration that allowed Bea endless rides on the carousel.

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One of Rich’s brothers gave us a gift card for Marshall’s/TJ Maxx/Home Goods for Christmas, and Lilli was quite pleased to find both dinosaur pasta and a cookie and cupcake decorating kit in the “Home” section. The design kit came in very handy during last week’s snowstorms, again between Frozen screenings.

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That decorating kit also brings us to today’s recipe. Because one cannot decorate cupcakes without frosting, and the only frosting worth making involves cream cheese. Which means I had cream cheese in the house, and that was the one ingredient I was missing to make this twice-baked butternut squash.

I knew it was a keeper as soon as I saw it, and, given its cheesiness, it was a good addition to our Chanukah table. I served it next to potato latkes, a salad of butter lettuce, dates, slivered red onion (soaked in ice cold water to take the snap out), sprinkles of blue cheese and a balsamic brown sugar dressing. Now that I think about it, there was also a lentil stew with rutabaga and kale to start things off.

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Grandparents, don’t panic. She got a haircut soon after this photo was taken.

The recipe actually calls for the squash to first get a steam in the microwave, so it moves the process along a bit quicker than if you did everything in the oven. Ditto with the sweet potatoes, which I know you can do in a microwave, as my old co-worker reminded me every day. I don’t own a 9×13 microwavable dish, so I used a glass pie pan and the squash ends hung over the sides. It still worked. I then transferred the squash halves to a large baking sheet.

This is not an everyday recipe, although it’s not as rich as the stuffed pumpkin that makes me giddy. I hope you’ll give it a shot. It’s actually very simple to make and tastes even better than you think it will.

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Learn from my mistakes. Don’t use parchment paper to bake and broil. It burns after a certain point.

Twice-Baked Butternut Squash from “Real Simple” December 2016

Ingredients

1 (3- to 3 ½-pound) butternut squash

¼ cup water

2 (8- to 9-ounce) sweet potatoes

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1½ teaspoons table salt

¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives (optional – I skipped it.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a microwave-safe 13- x 9-inch baking dish and add ¼ cup water. Cover dish with plastic wrap and pierce 3 to 4 times with a knife. Microwave on HIGH 10 minutes. Carefully drain water out of dish. Turn squash halves over, and bake in preheated oven until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes. Scoop flesh from squash, leaving a ¼-inch-thick shell and transfer to a medium bowl; reserve shells and return to baking dish.

Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork several times then microwave them on HIGH until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Peel potatoes and add flesh to bowl with squash along with cream cheese, butter, salt, nutmeg, and pepper; mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth.

Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Scoop squash mixture into reserved squash shells and top with cheddar and Parmesan. Broil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with chives.

 

There Is No Wrong Answer

Growing up, Passover was the special time of year when my mom let us eat junk food. Looking back, I realize that had a lot to do with the availability of kosher junk food. The stores only stocked it at Passover, which meant it was the one time of year we got to have marshmallows or sugary rainbow fruit jells. Now that I’m a mom, I realize I’ve developed the same sort of habit in my own house. I lay low on rainbow hued candies, but Lilli is enjoying chocolate and Bissli, my favorite of the Israeli junk foods.

Lilli at zoo

As a general rule, I don’t serve matzo at my table; not worth the stomach ache. We do enjoy Tam Tams, and lucky for us, we haven’t had to convince Lilli to eat dried fruit alongside her crackers. She ate seven prunes in a row this weekend, and calls dried apples “apple candy.”

For the past few years I have purchased one box of matzo for the entire holiday, and it’s to fuel my Passover junk food tradition. Matzo crack, or matzo toffee if you’re feeling fancy, is pretty much the best thing you can do to matzo. Even better than shmearing it with Temp Tee whipped cream cheese and topping it with cherry preserves. I swear.

Research has told me that variations of this recipe have been floating around since 1985, which is the year that Marcy Goldman – she of the divine honey cakedeveloped this one. Now, I’ve seen many versions: Salted butter, unsalted butter, margarine. Sprinkled with salt (unnecessary if using salted butter),topped with nuts. White sugar, brown sugar. Let me be clear: IT’S ALL DELICIOUS. My recommendation is to trust your own palate and go with what suits you. There is no wrong answer for this one.

I saw a recipe earlier today that called for 2 cups, or 12 ounces of chocolate chips. Tonight I noticed that the Liebers’ bag of chocolate chips I always use is actually 9 ounces, and it works perfectly. This year I got all fancy and purchased a whisk and an offset spatula. But a fork to stir the sugar and butter into toffee and a butter knife to spread the chocolate works perfectly fine.

Matzo Crack

Ingredients

3 or 4 pieces of matzo, broken into large and small pieces to fit the pan

¾ cup or (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup packed brown sugar (white sugar is fine if that’s what you have)

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 275F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place matzos in an even layer on the baking sheet. You will need to break the pieces of matzo to fit the pan. I find four pieces is generally how many it takes to fill the entire pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add sugar and immediately reduce the temperature to low. Cook, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved, thickens and begins to bubble.

Drizzle the now-toffee over the matzo and spread it to cover using a butter knife, spatula or offset spatula.

Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake until the toffee gets shiny, which should take about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle the entire pan with the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. The heat of the toffee will have begun to melt the chocolate; spread the chips across the matzos with an offset spatula, spatula or butter knife. If you’re using, sprinkle with salt and/or nuts.

Transfer the entire pan of matzo crack to the fridge and chill it for at least two hours.

Break the chilled matzo crack into pieces. Best to keep it stored in the refrigerator, although you probably won’t have leftovers.

You’ll Thank Me

I was so busy kvetching about my CSA last week that I forgot to tell you about our summer vacation. We drove to Montreal. To eat. The trip was inspired by Save the Deli, by David Sax. It’s a book about the slow death of the Jewish deli, and Sax devotes an entire chapter on eating in Montreal. I was sold. So when Lilli’s caretaker had her vacation, we took ours up north.

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It wasn’t the first time we’d been to Canada – Rich and I actually spent our honeymoon in Halifax. This time we stayed in a lovely AirBnB in Le Petite Laurier, a neighborhood most easily described as Park Slope-esque. I had actually done a bit of research before our trip – more than just reading Eater – and it turns out Montreal is very child-friendly. There’s the Biodome, and there are lots of playgrounds and splash parks, although they could use a little help in the stroller accessibility department. I’m now very impressed with the People with Disabilities Act in our country. Rich was impressed with the hundreds of cyclists that rolled by us every day on cycle tracks and bike boulevards.

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And we ate. We ate everything: St. Viateur bagels, smoked meat at Schwartz’s (do the takeout window), poutine at La Banquise. Our first night in town we had an extraordinary meal at small, hip neighborhood place. Even Lilli enjoyed the tomato leaf papardelle with veal ragu. It turned out the place, Maison Publique, is one of the best new restaurants in all of Montreal – the chef was trained by Jamie Oliver. I went back on my own the last night we were in town to try a few other things on the menu, like green beans with anchovies and chile, and the sockeye salmon with peas and chanterelles.

berries

Like we do on all my vacations, we visited the public markets. Our first official day there we met up with friends in Little Italy, and they took us over to Jean-Talon, one of the largest outdoor covered markets in all of North America. I bought a basket of ground cherries as I roamed the stalls, snapping photos of the mushrooms and berries for sale. I enjoyed a balsamic macaron as I drooled over the hundreds of unpasteurized cheeses available, contraband back home. We walked about 10 miles that first day, down from Little Italy into the Mile End and Le Plateau.

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Following our trip up North we drove down to Western Mass for a family bar mitzvah. That Saturday night my parents were kind enough to watch Lilli while Rich and I had a date in Northampton. We went to a new favorite of ours, The Dirty Truth, and ended the night at The Haymarket Café. Haymarket was founded when I was in high school in the 1990s as a bit of an anarchist’s bookstore and coffee shop. You had to go through the back parking lot, behind Main Street. Today Haymarket has a front door, as well as a second floor, and it serves dinner and dessert as well. I distracted myself from feeling very, very old by sharing a piece of lavender blueberry pie and this salted chocolate rye cookie.

I recognized the cookie as soon as I read the sign. It’s from Tartine Book No. 3, a cookbook which came out last year. (It was actually delayed three times; I know this because Sara is a Tartine junkie and was beside herself with every delay.) I had a version of it from Tasting Table in my recipe folder in my email. The cookie is extraordinary, definitely worth going out and buying rye flour at Whole Foods for it. Rich thinks they have a bit of spice to them, like a rye ale, while Mike said they were veering into brownie territory. I’ll tell you that they are a baked cookie with a center that remains soft on the inside. I brought some of these cookies along when Lilli, Rich and I joined Cara, Rosie and Ben for berry picking. Of course, I failed at packing an actual lunch for Lilli, but we did have these amazing cookies.

berry picking

The recipe calls for 1 pound chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%), preferably Valrhona, making it both a chocolatey and expensive dessert. Given the amount of chocolate I needed, I went to Target and bought several bags of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. They worked fine. The four eggs need to be at room temperature, but if you can’t wait, set them in a bowl of warm water. The dough does need some chilling to make it firm enough to scoop. I set the dough back in the fridge in between batches.

The one real change I made to the recipe was changing the muscavado sugar into dark brown sugar, making it a bit more affordable. The recipe says to bake them for between 8 and 10 minutes; in my oven it took 10 minutes to 13 minutes. This is a very good cookie. Please go make it. You’ll thank me.

Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies Adapted from Tartine Book No. 3: A Modern Ancient Classic Whole

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups (1 pound) chopped bittersweet chocolate or (good quality chocolate chips)

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup whole-grain dark rye flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon fine salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Good quality flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel, for topping

Directions

Place a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl over the simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, and melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally. Once melted remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the rye flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed, adding the sugar a little bit at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate-butter mixture and the vanilla. Mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, then add in the flour mixture just until combined. At this point the dough will be very soft and loose, which is normal; it will firm up as it chills.

Refrigerate the dough until it is just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes, (The longer you chill the dough it’s harder to scoop.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and scoop with a rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets, shaping the balls of dough into rounds and spacing them 2 inches apart. Top each mound of dough with a few flakes of sea salt, pressing gently so it adheres.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies have completely puffed up and have a smooth bottom and rounded top. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool slightly (the cookies may flatten a bit), then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies will keep up to 3 days in an airtight container, although we moved ours into the fridge at that point and enjoyed them over a week.

Good Cookies Make Good Neighbors

Our upstairs neighbors got married this weekend. They’re good neighbors to have and do things like weed the front garden. They also don’t complain about Lilli, ahem, finding her voice, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Their rehearsal dinner, which they graciously invited us to, was the night before the big day, upstairs at their place.  Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, I decided to bake something for the bride and groom. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t think of making these – Mexican wedding cakes – immediately. I mean, the word “wedding” is in the name of the cookie!

Mexican Wedding Cakes

It’s a very simple recipe from Favorite Cookie Recipes by Lou Seibert Pappas. I’ve never mentioned this unassuming little book before, but it has my absolute most favorite cookie recipe – a soft, chewy gingerbread – that has yet to make it onto the blog. I’ll try hard this year to change that. In the meantime, let’s talk about these cookies.

Different cultures around the world have similar cookies. Be it Russian teacakes, polvorones in Spain or snowball cookies, they are all full of butter and nuts, topped with powdered sugar. This particular recipe says you can use hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts. I choose pecans, or, as the Southern bride put it when I presented her the cookies “pea-CAHNS.” It turns out her stepmother is of Mexican descent and had actually requested these cookies as part of the wedding celebration.

For the chopped nuts the recipe called for, I ended up giving whole pecans – purchased at Costco – a whirl in the food processor. There were leftover nuts which I stored in a plastic bag and tossed in the fridge. I’ll probably sprinkle them on top of a salad at some point this week. The dough came together very quickly in the stand mixer. Even though the recipe said to stir in the nuts, I added them using the mixer on a lower speed.

For the roll in confectioner’s sugar, I used a large Tupperware container. I choose it because it had a large, flat bottom and had sides to make it a clean toss. The step that took the longest was the shaping of the cookies into little balls, which really didn’t take very long. The result is a really lovely cookie.

Mexican Wedding Cakes from Favorite Cookie Recipes by Lou Seibert Pappas

Ingredients

½ cup butter, room temperature

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup finely chopped pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts

Powdered sugar for rolling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Mix in vanilla. Add flour and salt and beat until smooth. Stir in nuts. Shape into ½-inch balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in 350F oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and quickly roll hot cookies in powdered sugar. Cool and roll again in sugar.

 

L’Chaim!

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is assigned a numeric value. Aleph is one, bet is two, and so on. All words have values too, based on the sum of their letters. One of the big words is chai, which means life, as in “L’chaim!” My Hebrew name is Chaya, which is derived from it. The two letters that spell that spell chai add up to 18, and so it’s traditional for Jews to give charity and gifts in increments of 18: 36, 54, 72 etc.

I’m telling you all this because today I turned 36. Now, for some that might mean I’m on the back end of my 30’s, only a few years from 40. But I am viewing my birthday as double chai, and I feel pretty good about that.

Riding a panda

It’s not that uncommon for my birthday to fall during Passover, which meant growing up I often didn’t have a proper birthday cake. I have many childhood memories of my mom sticking candles in a watermelon and telling me to make a wish. I honestly don’t know if I ever wished for real cake, because I’m actually a huge watermelon fan. But for a few years, a bakery that only opened during Passover (I guess we’d call it a “pop-up” these days) sold these incredible flourless chocolate brownies and an outstanding flourless chocolate cake. It was so extraordinary and beautiful the shop called it “the Robert Redford cake.” Oh, Hubbell.

I have no watermelon in the house right now, but I did have all the ingredients to make myself a flourless chocolate cake for my birthday. So I did.

As you know, I take Passover pretty seriously, so every year my beleaguered Catholic husband lugs an entire set of pots, pans, utensils and dishes up from the cellar. My Passover kitchen is a work in progress, and every year the same thing happens: I go to cook or bake something and realize that I’m missing a certain piece of kitchen equipment. This year I learned I need to buy a whisk and an offset spatula for next year.

It turns out, though, that I don’t need to buy a cake pan. I just used my go-to, glass-lidded non-stick Passover pan, which has been with me as long as I’ve been cooking on my own. It’s deep enough to cook 2 cups of quinoa, and has a metal handle that can go in the oven (ideal for fritatta making). It’s not quite the Jews wandering in the desert, but making do with only a few kitchen tools does evoke the spirit of the holiday for me.

So, whisk-less, I mixed this simple batter with a fork, poured it into my trusty pan and stuck that into the oven. Because the pan is a little larger than the 8-inch pan the recipe called for, I reduced the baking time from 25 minutes to 20 minutes. Instead of fancy chocolate, I used kosher-for-Passover chocolate chips. There was a half an orange in the fridge leftover from Lilli’s breakfast, so I had Rich zest it. (For some reason, I have a Passover zester but not a whisk. Go figure.) I don’t have a kosher-for-Passover sifter, so I just stirred the cocoa powder with a fork and carried on.

We ate this tonight with dollops of fresh whipped cream, or schlag as my German mother would call it. It now occurs to me that I could have used the hand mixer I used to whip the cream for the batter, but no matter. There’s always next year. L’chaim!

Flourless Chocolate Cake, adapted, ever so slightly, from Gourmet, November 1997

Ingredients

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

3 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling (which I did not do)

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line the bottom with a round of buttered wax paper (I used parchment paper).

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift ½ cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Stir in the orange zest.

Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

Not necessary step: Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet or whipped cream if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container.)

A Family Affair

I’m doubting that Lilli will remember her first Fourth of July with her cousin Leo (son of Sylvie and Miriam, and now about 13 weeks old), but we certainly will. Each year we head up to York Harbor, Maine, to stay with Syl’s in-laws. As you might expect, this year involved many cute photo ops with our babies.

Lilli examines Leo

I like to bring a nice baked good whenever we head up (you’ll remember I sent them the date nut bread for Chanukah this year), but because Sylvie is deathly allergic to walnuts, and Miriam is allergic to all nuts, I went to work on a fruity dessert.

Super Baby!

I found my solution in a gift bag I received last week at a blogger lunch. I don’t usually go to such events, and rarely do they make their way onto my blog, but it was a great meal and I’m really happy with the product. Briefly, there is a family-run Hawaiian bakery called King’s Hawaiian. They bake a sweet bread, like one of those Portuguese breads — which, I read, is where the grandfather who started the company found his inspiration.

Cousins!

They are a West-Coast brand and are just getting started on the East-Coast, so they invited some local bloggers to a meal at the Cambridge restaurant Catalyst. Chef William Kovel did all sorts of incredible things with the bread: white gazpacho sips with marcona almonds and King’s Hawaiian garlic chips; a Greek salad with grilled ahi tuna and olive crostini. He even did a little chef demo at the end with a white chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce.

It was the first time I was really away from Lilli for an afternoon of fun, and I got a little carried away with the guava mimosas. And so, of course, I took zero photos of my meal, and only took shots of the magnificent centerpieces. I was pretty psyched to win one as a door prize, and I actually brought it up to Maine.

centerpiece

I also brought a loaf of the sweet round bread and used it to make this red, white and blue bread salad. It features strawberries from the CSA, and Syl gets special props for suggesting the addition of blueberries, making this a perfectly delicious patriotic dessert.

strawberry bread salad

Because our holiday barbecue featured meat and this bread is dairy, we had to eat our dessert first, before dinner. Unlike most of the recipes I share, this one takes some time; the bread needs to dry out overnight, so plan ahead.

Red, White and Blue Bread Salad aka Patriotic Panzanella

Ingredients

1 King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Round Bread

1 quart strawberries

1 Tablespoon white sugar

¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup blueberries, washed

Directions

The night before you want to serve this, slice the round bread into one-inch cubes. Set them aside on the counter overnight on a large baking pan.

The next day, clean, hull and quarter your strawberries. Macerate them by putting them into a medium sized bowl and sprinkling a tablespoon of white sugar on them. While you do the other steps of this recipe, make sure to poke them every 10 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 275F. (Yes, I know it’s July, but this oven temp isn’t exactly sultry.)

In a small saucepan, melt the stick of butter with the brown sugar and pinch of kosher salt. After it melts, pour the sauce on top of the dried out bread. Toss as if you were making a salad, with some large serving spoons. Make sure everything gets coated.

Put the pan in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the pan, scraping all the bread and the pan’s sugar bits into a large bowl. Now add the macerated strawberries and their juices to the bowl. Add the cup of blueberries. Toss everything real good. Maybe even use your hands to make sure this is done.

Serve and enjoy.

Le Tour de Cookie

I’m not sure when it started, but I have developed quite the sweet tooth of late. There isn’t a bakery I can walk by without popping in for a granola bar, a piece of rugelach, or an apple turnover. In fact, when Hi-Rise Bakery opened up a new location on Mass. Ave, I declared my new mission was to sample each and every baked good in their case (save the ham-filled things, of course.) I actually spent most of the winter working my way through the cookie shelf – my Tour de Cookie, as Rich put it. Just last week I raised my hands in triumph as I completed the last lap. “Did you win the chocolate chip jersey?” Rich asked. For the record, their best cookie is not the chocolate chip but the cherry oat one. (Don’t bother with the molasses.)

All this desserting led Rich to observe that I have fully become a Parr, since his family is much more about sweet than savory. This tendency starts with the matriarch, Nana Parr, who is a baker extraordinaire. When I first met Rich, he was excited to introduce me to Nana’s sugar cookies. They’re actually butter cookies, but they get their name from the sprinkling of sugar on top. They’re almost impossibly thin and crisp, not unlike a sugary Pringle. And yes, it’s impossible to eat just one. As Rich put it, they’re like crack.

Over the past seven years, I’ve probably munched on hundreds of Nana Parr sugar cookies. Last fall, at my request, Nana brought me into her kitchen sanctum and showed me how to make them. And for Mother’s Day, I tried as best I could to recreate her cookies as a present for her.

I still need a little kitchen help from Rich.

Nana introduced me to a pastry cloth, which I’d never seen before. It’s a thin, almost gauzy cloth that she layers between the dough and the rolling pin, and it’s what aids her in getting the dough almost paper-thin. Nana also tells me the cloth is ideal for rolling out pie dough. You can buy pastry cloth, which comes with a matching sock for the rolling pin (think Red Hot Chili Peppers), online at Williams Sonoma. I struck out buying it at the actual store, so I found mine at KitchenWares on Newbury Street for $6.

Nana also had a special sugar shaker, akin to a Parmesan shaker at a House of Pizza — I told you, sweet tooth — but we used a sieve for the same effect. Some of my cookies weren’t as thin as hers, and I have to admit that they do taste better thinner. Although the recipe card I have from Nana calls for baking the cookie sheets for six minutes, then a turn in the oven for another six minutes, the cookies are a much darker brown than hers. Hers actually don’t brown at all, and stay the lightest of yellows. I think the tan ones actually have a bit more body to them, but I have to be clear that that isn’t a genuine Nana Parr cookie.

Nana Parr Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

Flour for the pastry cloth

Granulated sugar for topping

Directions

Using an electric stand mixer, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar.

Add egg and vanilla.

Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F.

Sprinkle about a 1/3 cup of flour on the pastry cloth. Roll out the dough quite thin. Cut into shapes. Using a spatula, lay cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of the cookies. Bake for 6 minutes (or 4 or 5, depending on your cookie preference and oven), turn the sheets 180 degrees, and bake for another 6 minutes. Remove the cookies from the sheets and set them on cooling racks.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Store in an air-tight container. I have learned from Nana that these cookies stay fresh in the refrigerator and freeze well.