Lime Zest Cookies with Raspberry Filling

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For years I have been making these Lime Zest cookies. It actually all started years ago when my dear friend Donna asked me to make cookies for her wedding as part of the guest gift bag. What an honor. When you think of weddings, you think of white. Well, at least I do. So I naturally wanted the cookies to have a white motif, and from all the ones that I had chosen I needed one more cookie that would deliver on that theme. I found this Lime Meltaway recipe from Martha Stewart which dusts the cookies with confectioner's sugar, thus making them white. 

Although the original recipe is not mine, I made it my own but adding a twist. The first few times I baked them I followed the recipe as is, including for the wedding. But when I needed to make a cookie for an event, this single wafer didn't seem like it would be enough. What is better than one cookie?  As my darling nephew John stated as a small tot when given one cookie, and asked 'What do you say?' (his mom hoping for Thank you) he shouted out: Two Tookies!  Exactly; two are much better than one. And even better when sandwiched together with the perfect tart compliment to lime of raspberry jam. From that moment on I have been making these cookies with my jammy, tart and sweet stamp. From that moment on, these cookies became a hit.   

Ingredients

1.5 sticks butter, room temp
1 c confectioner’s sugar (1/3 for dough & 2/3 for dusting)
Zest of 2 limes
2 T lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 T vanilla
1 3/4 c + 2 T flour
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
 1 (18oz.) jar of red raspberry preserves  (seeds removed)

Instructions

1.    Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, mix butter and 1/3 c sugar until pale and fluffy.
2.   Add lime zest, juice and vanilla until combined.
3.   Whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt in a bowl and add to the butter mixture on low speed until all combined.
4.   Divide the dough into 2-3 smaller mounds and roll into 1 1/4" thick logs. Wrap in tin foil and freezer until hardened. Approx. 1/2 hour.
5.   Using a sieve, push the jam through to remove all the seeds. Then place jam in a pastry bag or plastic bag with the tip cut off and set aside until ready to fill the cookies. (Cut tip off right before filling.)
6.   Remove the logs from the freezer and cut 1/8" thick rounds placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
7.    In a 350 degree oven, bake for 9-12 minutes until they are barely golden.  You may need to rotate the baking sheet half way through. These are thin, delicate cookies and you want them to be tender not overdone.
8.   Remove from baking sheet and let cool on a rack.  I cut up paper bags and spread them on my dining room table. The clean up is easier after the sugar dusting. 
9.   I line the cookies in rows of pairs turning one cookie over to reveal the baked side. Then using the piping bag, dollop about 1/2 T of jam onto the turned over cookie.  Repeat on half the cookies, then top them with their pairs. I usually push all the cookies close together at this point to ready them for the sugar dusting.
10.  Using a same strainer, sprinkle the remaining 2/3 c of confectioner's sugar over all the cookies. Let the sugar set before storing them away. 

You won't need this many limes unless you are baking for an army. I make 6x the recipe during the holidays to give to my family and friends.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

You won't need this many limes unless you are baking for an army. I make 6x the recipe during the holidays to give to my family and friends. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

Creaming the butter with the confectioner's sugar makes it light and fluffy. Remember, this photo shows me making many batches.

Creaming the butter with the confectioner's sugar makes it light and fluffy. Remember, this photo shows me making many batches.

When you add the lime juice and zest the butter seems to break, but do not worry. It all comes together with the dry ingredients.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

When you add the lime juice and zest the butter seems to break, but do not worry. It all comes together with the dry ingredients. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

A moment of zen.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

A moment of zen. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

There are several key pointers that I want to share about making these cookies.

  • Roll the dough into logs ensuring that there are no air pockets in the middle. (The first time I made and cut these I noticed that the lime juice creates air pockets and each cookie had a tiny hole in the middle. To avoid that, just roll and push the dough together and roll again into the log.

  • Roll the logs evenly and equal size.

  • Freeze the dough log so you get a clean cut without squashing the log. Use a sharp knife.

  • Remove the cookies carefully from the baking sheet. They are very delicate when they first come out.

  • Try to match up your cookies so each sandwich consists of two equally sizes cookies. (I know this may sound like the words of a crazy, controlling person but if you don't want jam oozing out because one cookie is bigger than the other, then hear me out. I have a method that ensures the cookies are good matches. When I place them on the sheet to be baked I place them in exact order that I cut them so each slice is next to the one before it. Then when I remove them, I do the same. This way similarly sized cookies will be together making it easier to match up when you sandwich. I know this sounds nuts and might not be an issue for you, but when you are selling your cookies or presenting them at an event perfection is expected. Heck, when you are serving them to guests they should look pretty, too.)

Freezing the dough makes cutting so much easier. I eye ball the width trying to ensure each cookie is the same size, about 1/8".   Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

Freezing the dough makes cutting so much easier. I eye ball the width trying to ensure each cookie is the same size, about 1/8".
Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

Use parchment paper and give them a little space between. They don't grow that much. I usually get 5 across on a half sheet pan.   Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

Use parchment paper and give them a little space between. They don't grow that much. I usually get 5 across on a half sheet pan.
Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

These are delicate cookies when they come out of the oven. When removing them from the pan, be gentle when placing them to cool.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

These are delicate cookies when they come out of the oven. When removing them from the pan, be gentle when placing them to cool. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

I always try to find the most efficient way to accomplish a task. Putting the jam in a piping bag or a plastic bag makes it easier to dollop onto each cookie.   Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

I always try to find the most efficient way to accomplish a task. Putting the jam in a piping bag or a plastic bag makes it easier to dollop onto each cookie.
Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

After they are lined up, turn one row over so you are filling the baked side with jam. Then the outside of the cookie looks nice when sandwiched together.   Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

After they are lined up, turn one row over so you are filling the baked side with jam. Then the outside of the cookie looks nice when sandwiched together.
Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

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Jam it up and sandwich it up.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

Jam it up and sandwich it up. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

Like snow, let the sweetness fall and cover with a good dusting.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

Like snow, let the sweetness fall and cover with a good dusting. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com
And just like that they begin to disappear.  Photo credit:    asithappens.format.com

And just like that they begin to disappear. Photo credit: asithappens.format.com

I always get a thrill out of watching the faces of people when they try these cookies for the first time.  They can't quite make out that the zingy flavor is lime, because who would expect that in a cookie.  Then they smile with tartness of the raspberry jam finished with the sweetness from the powdered sugar dusting.  It's a perfect combo.

As you can see these cookies have that snowflake feeling. White and delicate, they were perfect for Donna and Jeff's wedding. Thank you Donna for asking me to be a part of your joyous celebration, and thus finding another cookie tradition that everyone loves.

Me, Donna & JC at her wedding. Doesn't she look happy & beautiful! And not because of the cookies.

Me, Donna & JC at her wedding. Doesn't she look happy & beautiful! And not because of the cookies.


I usually make them as part of my Christmas cookie offering but recently these have been requested for two different catering events.  They were, and are universally loved.  I hope you give them a try whether it be for your own sweet tooth need with tea, or to share with your guests.

My Christmas cookie box.

My Christmas cookie box.

As part of a catering event's mid afternoon dessert offering in the Hamptons.

As part of a catering event's mid afternoon dessert offering in the Hamptons.

At a luncheon for my Mother's Ladies Group

At a luncheon for my Mother's Ladies Group

 

  

Butter Lettuce with Orange, Blueberries & Crunch

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It's funny how some ingredients gravitate towards one another. Or maybe it's me that gravitates towards them. Either way, it's nice to meet up with refreshing ingredients. 

Such as Butter lettuce. I enjoy its soft, delicate taste.  And even though it is mild, it's not too precious that it can't handle some zing and crunch.

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Which is why I paired it with orange segments for the zing and seeds for the crunch, and blueberries just because.  Well, not just because. Everything should have a purpose, and these certainly do.  They provide yet another flavor level, adding the tart/sweet level to be exact.  I've made this salad a bunch of time (using nuts)  but the blueberries are a recent addition, as this salad hit the big time, this go around.

Straight up sunflower seeds

Straight up sunflower seeds

Bursting with a tart bite blueberries

Bursting with a tart bite blueberries

This is not a complicated salad, yet it is complex in flavors and textures that all mingle beautifully with a variety of proteins for the main meal. Such as steaks, grilled or roasted fish, pork or chicken.  Its flavors are mild enough so as not to compete, but bold enough to say 'I'm crisp and refreshing, so don't pass me up."  What more can you want from a simple salad? I, dare say, not much. 

So, when during my recent internship at a prep kitchen in Miami I was tasked with making a salad for family meal (that's when the entire staff eats lunch together), I thought this salad might fit the bill. I've always enjoyed it, and was hoping that my new found friends would like it, too.  What I didn't expect was that head Chef MJ liked it so much she decided to offer it at the café for a lunch special the following week.  If you could see my face you would see joy and pride, and a sense of ultimate validation. I guess this little salad of bold flavors and subtle notes from a delicate lettuce got its star on the big screen stage of eateries. 

The line up.

The line up.

Ingredients
 

(Serves 6 as main or 8-10 as a side salad)

2 heads Butter, Bibb or Boston lettuce
3 oranges, segmented
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup pecans, roasted, chopped or sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced
 

 

Dressing

5 t orange juice
4 t lemon juice
4 t lime juice
2/3 c olive oil
2 T cilantro, minced
1 T ginger, grated
2-3 crushed garlic clove
salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

Wash and completely dry the lettuce. Gently tear it into bite size pieces.  If you are using pecans, place them in a 300 degree oven for 5-8 minutes to lightly toast.  Or you can toast them in a pan on the stove.  If you are using seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin, you can toast them or not.  Segment the oranges over a bowl so you can catch all the juices and use for the dressing. Toss together the lettuce, scallions, onions, ⅔ of the orange segments, ⅔ of the pecans or seeds reserving the remainder to decorate the top of the salad.  Whisk together all the ingredients and lovingly pour over the salad and mix well.  Do not over dress the salad.  You just want it all lightly coated.  Then using the rest of the oranges and nuts decorate the top.

You may notice some radicchio in this closeup shot. At the last minute, I added some to bulk up the salad because we had another person joining for lunch.

You may notice some radicchio in this closeup shot. At the last minute, I added some to bulk up the salad because we had another person joining for lunch.

This is a wonderfully, refreshing summer salad.  Or anytime salad.  I think it will brighten any BBQ.  Pair it with spicy ribs.  Pair it with grilled meats or sausages.  Pair it with whole roasted fish.  Go ahead, pair it with anything.  

Apple Crisp Salad

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I am one of those writers who loves journals.  I have a million but that doesn't stop me from buying more when I see one.  I am drawn to them like bees to honey.  I love the texture. I love holding them in my hand. I love all the styles, designs and colors. I see one, and like some fiend that has been implanted with a chip that orders me to buy every time I see one, I do so willing, happily, adding to my ever growing collection.  And because I have so many journals I write in different ones at different times.  Sometimes it depends on my mood; does the cover and feel of the journal match how I'm feeling?  Sometimes it's the contents; is what I'm about to write similar to what has already been written in that journal.  Other times it's simply about the weight of the journal.  If I am traveling, I choose the lightest, thinnest one.  While other times I could be in one location but still slightly traveling slowly side to side on the hammock. For those times, I choose a weightier journal than the one intended for trains, planes and automobiles.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. But aren't they all so pretty. Wouldn't you buy them, too?!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. But aren't they all so pretty. Wouldn't you buy them, too?!

Scribbles with no amounts. The green notes are from me recreating it for this blog, so I could give you measurements.

Scribbles with no amounts. The green notes are from me recreating it for this blog, so I could give you measurements.

The happy result of having started but not finishing
a journal is that I happen upon poems, writings, rantings, recipes and ideas from moments past.  There is a certain excitement upon discovering these nuggets. I can relive times in my life and feel a sense of journey and accomplishment. They also seem new and fresh to me, usually bringing me joy.  This occurs particularly when I'm thumbing through and unearth a recipe I want to try again. I can't tell you how happy I am that a few years back I started writing recipes down.  I've always written my thoughts and feelings
in journals but not recipes. So being able to recreate dishes that I made once and almost forgot is a real treat.  Like this Apple Crisp Salad.  I remember it now, and would have totally slipped my mind and fallen into the vast past of recipes lost had I not jotted it down.

It is exactly how I named it.  A salad featuring apples where the crispness comes from the way they are cut.  I believe I have mentioned this before but the cut of food, especially fruits and vegetables can make all the difference in world.  It can either enhance or overwhelm a dish.   In this recipe, the apples are cut like matchsticks, allowing them to mingle themselves throughout the entire salad providing a crisp crunch with every bite.

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ingredients

(4 Lunch or 6 dinner servings)
4+ c apples, sliced into matchsticks               10 c Boston, Romaine lettuce        
1 c parsley leaves
1 c cilantro leaves
1/3 c scallions, sliced
1/4 c heaping red onion, thinly sliced

 

Dressing
2 T lemon juice
2 T lime juice
1 t dijon mustard
1/4 t fresh ginger, grated
1/2 t garlic, crushed
salt, pepper to taste
1/3 c olive Oil

Instructions

Prepare all the ingredients as directed above, leaving the apples to the very last so they don't turn brown.  You can also squeeze lemon juice on them to keep them from turning.  For both the parsley and cilantro, pick the individual leaves off the stems and leave whole.  This adds so much flavor.

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Arrange the lettuces on a platter or big bowl. Then mix in all the other ingredients.

Cut 1/8" slices of the apple.

Cut 1/8" slices of the apple.

Then cut them lengthwise to create matchstick pieces.

Then cut them lengthwise to create matchstick pieces.

Using a mandolin, I also like to thinly slice some of the apple for garnish.  

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Add it to the top of the salad in various places.

Add it to the top of the salad in various places.

 

Make the dressing and then pour over the salad right before serving.  Toss until coated.  

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This dressing has a nice kick provided by the dijon grain mustard, the fresh grated ginger and garlic.

This dressing has a nice kick provided by the dijon grain mustard, the fresh grated ginger and garlic.

This is a perfect salad for this time of year as apple picking is in season.  Go pick a few then make this salad to accompany my Apple Butter/Spicy Sausage Sandwich.  Since the weather is still warm the salad is a great sub in for the roasted tomato soup that I originally made with that sandwich.  Either way...

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An apple a day...

 

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Raw everything is all the rage these days, and shaved brussel sprout salad is so in vogue.  I get a huge belly shake of laughter seeing how vegetables are taking center stage, becoming mega stars in a social media video blitzkrieg.  It is about time that vegetables got their due.  For too long now, bacon and butter have dominated the stage, whoa-ing audiences with their fatty appeal.  I am glad to see these vibrant, nutrient packed edibles get their trophies. That said, enough with cauliflower pizza making. I’m wheat and yeast free and can tell you NOTHING replaces a yeast rising doughy bite!!  Move over cauliflower because Brussel Sprouts will soon have their own youTube channel!!

This veggie craze is a good thing.  I've been doing it for awhile now. Which is why it's funny that years ahead of the raw craze and fascination with vegetables I served a shaved broccoli and brussel sprout salad.  My attempt back then was almost successful.  I say almost because I served it without testing it first. (As usual, but the no testing in this case didn't serve me well.) I didn't quite realize just how intense, sometimes bitter these greens can be when served raw.  I can't even remember what dressing I used, but I can attest that I didn't finesse them enough.  What a novice!  I've learned a thing or two.

My recent lure back to raw brussels came when my friend, Tecla, and I were enjoying each other's company for lunch at Lure, and we ordered a shaved brussel sprout salad.  We did so to be healthy knowing that we would be consume some Rosé wine and a few other items with a higher calorie count.  Yes, that's what ladies who lunch do. The salad was good. But it awoke a definite redemption itch in me.  I needed to conquer this salad on my own terms ensuring that I calm it's intense flavors and cox it's crispy freshness to palates far and wide.  

The opportunity was ripe when I bought a bunch of enormous brussel sprouts from the new organic market by our house.   Alas, I ran out of time to make them before we left on our trip to Miami. So what did I do??  NO, I didn't throw them away.  No, I didn't give them away, as it was too early in the morning to call anyone.  So, I did the next best thing.  I packed them in Juan Carlos' bag!  

Once in Miami, more good fortune came my way.  On our way to Key Largo we happened upon a farmer's market with glorious produce.  Even though we only had a few more days in Miami, I HAD to buy some. So I picked up the biggest radishes I'd ever seen (and a few other items including the sweetest cantaloupe ever).

As I cut the brussel sprouts, I knew I wanted to add more than what I've seen in other sprout salads including the one at Lure. Since I had those radishes they got shaved in.  With these two intense flavors some sweetness was in tall order.  Call upon the carrot to do what it does best, add sweetness.  Grated that up, added scallions and red onion, some chopped parsley for that earthy herb note, and for another crisp and refreshing bite I added some celery.

The salad at Lure was just brussel sprouts and pine nuts with a creamy dressing.  But JC can't eat dairy, plus I didn't have anything like that in our Miami fridge.  Also, I really felt that this salad needed to be fresh and bright with a hint a sweetness.  Orange was my answer.

Here's the nuts and bolts of this recipe.

The vegetable line up
The dressing ingredients

Ingredients

8 c brussel sprouts, shaved
2 c carrot, shredded
3/4 c radishes, shredded
2 c celery, shaved or sliced thinly
3/4 c red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c scallion, sliced
1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 oranges, segmented (blood orange if you can find it)

 

dressing

2/3 c juice of an orange
2 T lime juice
2 t balsamic vinegar
2/3 c Olive oil
salt, pepper

 

Instructions

Prep all your vegetables as noted above.  I used a mandolin on the sprouts, the onion and celery. I used a box grater for the radishes and carrot.  If you don't have, or don't feel comfortable with a mandolin then simply thinly slice the vegetables.  

Shaved, sliced, chopped and ready to go.

Shaved, sliced, chopped and ready to go.

Place all the cut vegetables in a large serving bowl and set as you prepare the dressing.

Segment the orange.  As I mentioned, I was fortunate to find blood oranges but you can use a perfectly good navel orange.  As you cut the segments, do this over a bowl so you can catch any of the juices that may drip down.  Squeeze whatever juice you can get out of the pulp. You will most likely need one whole orange to get 2/3 of a cup.  Whisk together all the remaining ingredients and pour over the salad, tossing thoroughly.  Add the orange segments to the top and serve.  This salad is best when it is dressed at least 15-20 minutes prior to serving.

Awaiting the marriage.

Awaiting the marriage.

When I made this salad in Miami, I didn't think of using orange segments in the salad, just the juice.  Mostly because I only had one orange and that got all squeezed up for the juice. This time around back in NY I found blood oranges and had that aha moment. When I cut them open and saw the ruby red glory, I knew these needed top the salad and shine their unique sweetness on this salad.  

 

I must say, and my niece, Gianna, will confirm these added a great, bright burst of flavor.  You don't really need me to list the pairing suggestions for this one, but here is a photo of who my sister, Alyssa, served it when I brought the salad to her house.