Baci di dama

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baci di dama

baci di dama

Aren’t they cute? Little hazelnut cookies originating from the Piedmont region of Italy called baci di dama (lady kisses). They can also be made with almonds if you don’t have hazelnuts to hand. There are many recipes, including some using rice flour, but I tried the rice flour with only modest praise. Half my tasters adored them; the other half didn’t like the dry crumbly texture of the rice flour cookies. Best to go with the plain flour for a more cookie-like texture, but it’s only a preference thing.

I made these staying warm and cozy inside on a bitingly cold winter’s day while listening to Darondo. All I needed was some chilled prosecco and a fireplace…

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups roasted, unsalted hazelnuts (or almonds)
1 cup flour (or rice flour)
100g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
couple drops of vanilla extract or almond extract
1/3-1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1) Ground the roasted nuts in a food processor, then add to a large bowl with the other dry ingredients
2) Add in the softened butter and the extract and mix by hand to incorporate the butter (or use a kitchen aid)
3) Dump the cookie dough onto a clean counter and knead it a little to get it to come together. It will be crumbly but keep with it.
4) When it is sticking together, you can shape into little cookie balls the size of large marbles. Either tear off little pieces of cookie dough and roll in your hand, or roll the dough into three thin logs and cut the dough into same-size pieces, then roll by hand. This way the little baci will be the same size.
5) Heat the oven to 325F and cook for about 10 minutes on baking parchment.
6) Let cool.
7) Melt the chocolate in the microwave and then use a knife or small teaspoon to dab melted chocolate on the baci. Press together and leave to cool — or eat straight away with the chocolate still dripping!

Here’s a minute-long video of Paola making baci di dama with white and dark chocolate.

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hazelnut cookie dough

hazelnut cookie dough

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baci di dama

Greens and beans with yogurt and spices

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spinach bean curry

I had a ton of cannellini beans leftover from pasta e fagioli and I had this idea for an Italian/Indian fusion using the cannellini beans and some kale. Something like a methi mushroom but without the methi (fenugreek leaves) and the mushrooms and instead the kale and beans.

The plan was to load up on lots of fresh dark greens for the next week of cooking—chard, kale, cabbage, spinach, etc but my son became uncommonly interested in helping select these items from the grocery store and distracted me from my shopping list. He must have bok choi. Some minecraft-inspired thing, I forget what. Does Steve eat bok choi? Can it be collected? Thrown at zombies? Whatever, I thought, as long as he wants to eat it, placing the bok choi in the shopping cart and absentmindedly dropping a dark bundle of flat leaf parsley beside it.

And so I forgot the kale in the end… Thanks minecraft… Spinach and parsley would have to do, I decided.

This is a fairly mild curry, with a pleasant warming heat from the little bit of chili and ginger and tang from the yogurt. It becomes more flavorful over time so you can make it the night before or in the morning and simply heat it up for supper. I recommend it as a side dish with other curries or serve on its own with rice or flatbread.

Ingredients
Serves 4 as a side

vegetable oil or ghee (for vegan, use oil)
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 white onion, chopped
1 chili, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 or 4 whole cloves
1 large bay leaf
3 whole cardamom
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 small or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
cooked cannellini beans (not from a can)
about 3-4 tbs of greek yogurt (full fat)*
large bunch fresh spinach, washed thoroughly and chopped
large handful of fresh parsley or cilantro, washed thoroughly and chopped finely
water as needed

*For a vegan version, try coconut cream

1) Mix the cannellini beans (use dried that have been soaked and cooked as they are much sturdier and more flavorful than the mushy stuff from out of a can) with the yogurt and some grinds of salt. About a cup or so. Let sit while you make the curry.
2) Heat up about 3-4 tbs of oil or ghee in a heavy bottomed frying pan and add the whole spices (cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom and cloves). Gently cook on low for a few minutes to flavor the oil. Remove the whole spices.
3) Add the garlic, ginger, chili and onion and fry until soft and slightly golden, about 10 min on low.
4) Add the dried spice powders and salt and cook another minute.
5) Add the tomato and when it has broken up and cooked down, add the yogurt bean mixture. Mix together and then add the fresh greens and about a cup of water.
6) Cover and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to see if any more water is needed.

We ate this with the usual basmati rice, tarkka dal and steamed broccoli.

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