"You made crusty bread rolls filled with chunks of brie / And minced garlic drizzled with olive oil / And baked them until the brie was bubbly / And we ate them lovingly, our legs coiled / Together under the table. And salmon with dill / And lemon with whole-wheat couscous / Baked with garlic and fresh ginger, and a hill / Of green beans and carrots roasted with honey and tofu. / It was beautiful, the candles, the linen, the silver, / The sun shining down on our northern street, / Me with my hand on your leg. You, my lover, / In your jeans and green T-shirt and beautiful bare feet. / How simple life is. We buy fish. We are fed. / We sit close to each other, we talk and then we go to bed."
-Garrison Keillor, Supper
Valentine's Day, I love you, but everyday love? I love you more. I am happy to celebrate love in the midst of a cold, dark February, but I am overjoyed to appreciate love on any regular Wednesday, Saturday, Thursday, Monday, Sunday, Tuesday, or Friday.
In my family, I am lucky that we often celebrate love with food. Not any wimpy food, either. Food that is filled with goodness, food that blows you over with its depth. Bronwyn, if you’re reading this, do you remember when we went to Strasbourg on Valentine’s Day? And drank the most delicious wine and ate the most delicious dinner in that tiny alley restaurant? I’m still dreaming about it. We re-create that meal almost every weekend in our home now, though admittedly with less cheese and less sausage (but only because it's more difficult to find cheese and sausage of the same heart-breakingly delicious variety). Really, we just go for that feeling of joy because I think that nourishment, just like love, should be a celebration. And one not just saved for special occasions. Love, and food, should be a celebration of everyday. (But this is coming from someone who has nightmares about the taste of fake maple syrup. So maybe take this with a grain of salt, yeah?). Happy February, happy love, friends!
VALENTINE'S LINZER COOKIES
12 Tbls. salted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ whole almonds, roasted and lightly salted
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
About ½ cup of your favorite raspberry jam
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times, until the nuts turn into coarse flour. Be careful not to over mix – you’ll make almond butter!
Using a stand or handheld electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light yellow and smooth. Add in the sugars and beat again on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy, another 2 minutes or so. Stir in the vanilla. Add the almond flour to the mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the all-purpose flour in two batches, stirring until just combined after each addition.
The dough is going to feel very crumbly here, but it should hold together. Using your hands, turn the mixture onto a clean surface and separate into two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Then, go hunt down your favorite cookie cutters. You’ll need two concentric shapes – one larger shape to act as the base, and one smaller shape to make the top window. I don’t have any heart-shaped cutters at the moment, so I just made my own cookie stencils from cardboard.
Take one of the cookie dough discs from the fridge and roll out to about a ¼” thickness on a lightly floured surface. The dough will be pretty delicate, but feel free to close up any cracks that might form with your fingers. To make your base cookies, use the larger of the two cookie cutters to cut out as many shapes as you can. Gently transfer the dough shapes to your cookie sheet using a spatula, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Careful not to over bake!
Re-flour your work surface and roll out the second disc of dough. Use the large cookie cutter to cut out as many shapes as you can, and then use the small cookie cutter to cut small windows in the middle of each large shape. Bake for 10 minutes.
When the cookies come out of the oven, place of a wire rack and let cool completely. Once cool, spread a layer of jam on the flat side (what we’d usually consider to be the bottom) of each base cookie. Dust your windowed cookies with powdered sugar and gently place on top of the jam-covered bottoms to make a sandwich.
***This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten and photo credit goes to that talented man, Nate.