You may now call me “little auntie a”. I am so thrilled — my best friend Khalil and his husband Scott have adopted a little baby girl! This weekend, we had a Baby Naming ceremony for her (they wrapped her up in the chuppah I made for their wedding!), and, because it’s the best way I know how to say “I love you”, I volunteered to do the bulk of the cooking.

Cooking for 50 people takes organization and planning. So I made a list (I’m so glad we painted a wall in our kitchen with Chalkboard Paint!)

For the full menu, add to this list: lentil salad, tabouli salad, mixed green salad with papaya, avocado, and toasted hazelnuts, bagels with lox, whitefish salad and assorted cream cheeses, fruit salad, donuts from Peter Pan Bakery (the best!!!), and a cake.

Dessert is always the best place to start. Khalil’s sister and the party’s hostess, Ashley, was taking care of the cake, so I baked cookies. Recently, I was blown away by some cookies my friend Diane made with my favorite combo of dessert flavors: almond, chocolate, and citrus. These cookies were chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside and they just left the most wonderful taste lingering in your mouth. I couldn’t get enough of them, so I thought they’d be perfect for this occasion.

I asked Diane for the recipe, which she had to make up for me, because she didn’t use one. She’s just one of those people who can look in her cupboard, throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl and make you the best cookie you’ve had in years. There’s something in those hands of hers, because while mine came out good, they did not come out as magical as hers. Here’s the recipe as she shared with me:

  • 8 oz of butter [I think I used the Amish Roll butter which is salted]
  • ~ 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • a “lemon-sized” chunk of almond paste
  • ~ 2 cups flour.  How much flour would depend upon the  moisture in the butter.
  • 2 tsp of really good baking powder [I like Bakewell from]
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • salt to taste
  • Bakers chocolate chunks (a whole bag), or any good chocolate chunks
  • Trader Joe’s sliced, toasted almonds, maybe half a bag [~4 oz]
  • and the secret weapon:  Fiori di Sicilia, maybe 1/8 tsp (a plump droplet) a very little goes a very long way.  This is where the orange flavor comes from.

I couldn’t find Fiori di Sicilia, except online, so I used 2 tsp vanilla and ~ 3 tbsp of orange zest instead. While delicious, the flavor was not the same, and I think I’m going to splurge on this extract for next time — I’m pretty sure this is where that lingering deliciousness comes from.

  1. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Stir in the egg, crumbled almond paste and vanilla/orange or Fiori di Sicilia.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients, and stir into wet mixture.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chunks and almonds.
  4. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Edges should be golden brown

Stay tuned for the next recipe on the list: 6 feet gourmet party subs > a Vietnamese Chicken Bahn Mi and a classic Croque Monsieur.