December is holiday time in the kitchen: sharing, giving, cookie baking, indulging.  Our Christmas feast took an Italian twist a decade ago after one too many turkeys in a row.
We often begin our morning alone with coffee and my Mom’s Danish, now in the shape of a wreath or a candy cane. The kids expect some when they arrive later.
Mary Lou’s Brie is festive and scrumptious.  It goes nicely with Champagne. The chicken piccata with artichokes and lemons, homemade cheese ravioli with marinara, and panzanella salad are irresistible with Nero d’Avola.
I trust you have your own sweet traditions.  Cookies are our favorites. We serve zabaglione or the raspberry-strawberry sorbet (from the Watermelon Surprise in June’s “A Year in My Kitchen”) in martini glasses.
Happy Holidays!

2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons H2O
1/2 cup butter
1 cup H2O
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons H20
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces slivered almonds

Dough base:
Combine 1 c.sifted flour, 1/2 c. butter & 2T H2O in bowl; roll into a ball. May divide in half and make two 12 x 3″ strips on large cooky sheet, or customize and make a large heart, initial, wreath, candy cane, etc. Set aside.
Egg topping:
Bring to boil in saucepan the butter, H2O and 1t almond extract. Remove from heat & add 1 c. sifted flour. Add eggs one at a time. Spread on top of prepared dough base.
Bake 350 degrees x 45 minutes or till golden.  Top immediately w/ frosting & quickly add slivered almonds. Serve now. From my Mom.

1 pound Brie
2 tablespoon parsley
2 tablespoon Parmesan
8 Sundried tomatoes packed in oil, minced
1 tablespoon oil from tomatoes
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon basil, sliced

Mix all ingredients to taste & top brie. Let stand 1 hr. Serve with crackers or crostini. Great holiday colors! from my Mom’s friend Mary Lou. Note: I typically add additional garlic, herbs and oil. Serves a crowd.

8 artichokes trim 1″ top leaves and stem
1 lemon juiced
8 chicken breast halves skinned, boned
garlic powder
4 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 small jar pimentoes, diced

Steam artichokes with lemon, bay leaves and salt until tender.
Sprinkle chicken with S&P, garlic powder. Dip in flour. Heat butter and oil in skillet. Brown slowly. Remove & keep warm.
Stir lemon juice and wine into pan drippings. Stir to loosen all particles and spoon over chicken breasts. Sprinkle with parsley and garnish with pimento and lemon wedges. Yields 8 servings. From “Cosmopolitan,”late 1970s.
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In mixer bowl, cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add water and vanilla. Gradually add flour and nuts, beating until well mixed. Chill for 30″ or until firm.
Roll dough in to 1″ balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets about 1″ apart.  Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown on bottom…careful here-I often burn these!  Cool on wire racks about 10″ Then roll in remaining sugar. When completely cool, roll again in confectioner’s sugar. Yields 4 dozen.


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