Pasticcini di Mandor (Italian Soft Almond Cookies)

Makes 12-16 biscuits

350g ground almonds
150–200g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
Zest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons
2 medium eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and eggs to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Dust your hands with icing sugar, and scoop out a walnut-sized ball of dough. Then gently roll it between your palms. You can also roll it on the work surface as long as it is dusted with icing sugar. Repeat. Put the balls on the baking tray and make an indentation in the centre of each.

As they bake, the biscuits will crack gently. For soft and marzipan-like biscuits bake for 11-12 minutes, for a firmer, chewier biscuit 14-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They will keep in an airtight tin for a month.

Nectarines and Peaches with Lavender and Gorgonzola

1/2 cup pecans
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup sugar
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
Kosher salt
3 ripe white or yellow nectarines, cut into wedges
3 ripe white or yellow peaches, cut into wedges
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, divided

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, stirring once, until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, 10–12 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, bring honey, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and 3 Tbsp. water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Add rosemary and lavender and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Remove rosemary and let syrup cool.

Bring a pinch of salt, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 Tbsp. water to a boil in another small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook (without stirring) until sugar turns a light amber color, about 2 minutes. Add pecans and cook, stirring constantly, until nuts are coated and caramel is a dark amber color, about 2 minutes. Immediately scrape out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out into a single layer; let cool. Break into smaller pieces.

Toss nectarines, peaches, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup syrup in a large bowl to coat. Let sit 5 minutes. Gently toss in half of Gorgonzola and half of candied pecans; taste and season with salt if needed. Transfer to a platter. Top with remaining Gorgonzola and candied pecans.

Do Ahead: Syrup can be made 1 month ahead; cover and chill. Pecans can be candied 1 day ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

Shortbread 10 Ways

2 cups/250 grams all-purpose flour
2/3 cup/150 grams granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks/1 cup/226 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess; the dough should be somewhat crumbly. (You can also mix the dough in a bowl using two knives or a pastry cutter.)

Press dough into an even layer in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, or a 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Here are nine variations for the master shortbread recipe above.

Scottish Shortbread: Use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup white rice flour.

Tender Shortbread: Substitute confectioners’ sugar for the granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup cornstarch for 1/3 cup of flour.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread: Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out the pulp. Pulse the pulp into the flour-sugar mixture before adding butter. Or add up to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with the butter.

Citrus Shortbread: Add 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon, lime or orange zest with the flour. Add up to 1 teaspoon orange blossom water with the butter if desired. These are classic with poppy seeds.

Nut Shortbread: Grind 1/2 cup toasted nuts in the food processor with the flour before combining with remaining ingredients.

Spice or Seed Shortbread: Add up to 1 teaspoon spices, like ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, or seeds like caraway or anise. Or add up to 3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds.

Brown or Maple Sugar Shortbread: Substitute 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar or maple sugar for the granulated. This yields a slightly softer shortbread.

Cornmeal or Whole Wheat Shortbread: Substitute up to 1/2 cup cornmeal or whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. Season with spices, seeds, citrus or rosemary if desired.

Buckwheat Shortbread: Substitute up to 1/3 cup buckwheat flour for 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour.

Drop Strawberry Shortcakes

SHORTCAKES

2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (205 ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons (35 grams) raw or turbinado sugar

TO FINISH

1 pound (455 grams) strawberries or mixed berries, hulled and halved if large
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 cup (235 ml) heavy or whipping cream

Make shortcakes: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add butter and using your fingertips or a pastry blender, break it into small bits, the largest should be no bigger than a small pea.

In a small bowl, whisk yolks with a splash of cream, then pour rest of cream in and whisk to combine. Pour into butter-flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to mix and mash it together into one cohesive dough.

Divide dough into 6 (for large, 3 1/2 to 3 3/4-inch wide and up to 2-inch tall) shortcakes or 8 smaller ones. Do this by pressing the dough somewhat flat into the bottom of the bowl (to form a circle) and using a knife to divide it into pie-like wedges.

Place raw or turbinado sugar in a small bowl. Roll each wedge of shortcake into a ball in your hands and roll it through the raw/turbinado sugar, coating it in all but a small area that you should leave bare. (The sugar underneath the shortcakes will burn, so better to leave it off.)

Place it, bare spot down, on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wedges of dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden all over. Let cool completely on tray or on a cooling rack.

While cooling, prepare fruit and cream: Mix berries, 2 tablespoons sugar (more or less to taste), and lemon juice, if desired, in a bowl and let macerate so that the juices run out.

In a larger bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar to taste, or leave unsweetened, if that’s your preference.

To serve: Carefully split each cooled shortcake with a serrated knife. Spoon berries and their juices over bottom half. Heap generously with whipped cream. Place shortcake “lid” on top. Eat immediately and don’t forget to share.

Do ahead: Shortcakes keep well for a day at room temperature. I prefer to keep them uncovered. I found on the second day, they were a little more firm but not half-bad, but they’re definitely “best” on day one.

Grilled Squash Ribbons and Prosciutto

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped mint
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium zucchini, very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
2 medium yellow squash, very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, combine the lime zest and juice with the mint, garlic and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternately thread the zucchini, yellow squash and prosciutto onto 4 pairs of 12-inch bamboo skewers. Lightly brush the vegetables and prosciutto with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Grill the skewers over high heat until the zucchini and yellow squash are lightly charred, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Serve with the mint dressing on the side.

NOTES
Variation This dish is also excellent as a room-temperature pasta salad. Boil the pasta of your choice until al dente, then toss with olive oil and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the grilled zucchini, yellow squash and prosciutto and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the pasta and mint dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Mache, Frisee, and Radish Salad

For vinaigrette
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For salad
4 cups loosely packed mche (lamb’s lettuce)
2 cups loosely packed frisée (French curly endive), torn into bite-size pieces (from 1 head)
4 medium radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Whisk together mustard, shallot, sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Just before serving, toss salad ingredients with just enough vinaigrette to coat and season with salt and pepper.

Cooks’ notes:
·If the mâche you buy has plugs attached, you’ll need 3 ounces before trimming; if you’re buying loose leaves, you’ll need 1 1/2 ounces.

·Greens can be washed and dried 1 day ahead, then chilled in sealed plastic bags lined with dampened paper towels.

·Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Frisee Salad with Red Currants

1 small head frisée, washed and dried
1/2 English cucumber, peeled
4-5 ounces red currants, carefully picked over and washed
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup salted unroasted cashews
Salt and pepper

Wash and dry the frisée and tear by hand into small, bite-size pieces. Slice the cucumber very thin. Toss the lettuce, cucumber, and cashews.

Whisk the oil and vinegar together to taste and toss with the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and divide among four salad plates. Sprinkle the currants evenly over the four plates and serve immediately.

Frisee, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad

3 to 4 medium heads frisée (about 4-1/2 oz. each)
3 medium pink grapefruit
1 medium shallot, minced (1/4 cup)
1-1/2 Tbs. Champagne vinegar; more as needed
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 firm-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
To prepe the frisée
Remove the green outer leaves from the frisée and discard or reserve for another use. Trim off any dark green tips and cut off the root ends (you should have about 5 cups).

Finely grate 1 tsp. zest from one of the grapefruit. Trim the entire peel from all of the grapefruit and then cut the segments free from their membranes.

Combine the grapefruit zest, shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste with a leaf of frisée and season the vinaigrette with more vinegar or salt if necessary. Set aside.

Arrange the avocado slices on a platter or distribute among individual serving plates. Season with salt.

Roasted Cauliflower with Prosciutto and Dates

1 head (1 to 1 1/4 pounds) cauliflower (if you have a smaller head, scale down the other ingredients)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 pitted dates
6 slices prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Cut cauliflower into 2-inch florets. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put cauliflower in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, until starting to soften.

While cauliflower is cooking, slice dates into thin pieces. Slice prosciutto into ribbons.

After 15 minutes, take cauliflower out of the oven, stir, and add the date pieces and prosciutto ribbons.

Continue to roast cauliflower for another 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. [Editors’ note: Be sure to check after 15 minutes to make sure that the dates are not burning. Ours took about 17 minutes to get toasty and caramelized.]

Serve as is or:
On top of focaccia, flatbread, or cooked pizza dough
Stirred into a grain or lentil salad with chunks of salty cheese
Atop a bed of leaves, everything dressed with balsamic vinaigrette
Piled on ricotta
On a cheeseboard, with toothpicks for spearing the various players

Brazilian Cheese Puffs

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
10 oz. (2 cups) tapioca flour
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the milk, oil, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles coming through the milk.

Add the tapioca flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled down. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs into the dough one at a time, waiting until the first egg is fully incorporated before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the cheese until it forms a very sticky dough. Scoop the dough with a small ice cream scoop, spacing them 2-inches apart (12 per baking sheet). Dip your scoop in water between scoops to prevent sticking.

Bake for 15 minutes then rotate the baking sheets from front to back. Bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until until the puffs have puffed and the bottoms turn golden-brown on the bottoms.

Self-Rising Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup cold butter (cut into pats), or shortening
2/3 to 3/4 cup cold milk or buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter or shortening just until crumbs are the size of large peas.

Add 2/3 cup of the milk or buttermilk, and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl, adding more milk or buttermilk if needed.

Scoop the dough onto a well-floured surface, and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll or pat the dough into a 5″ x 8 1/2″ rectangle about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.

Cut biscuits with a sharp, round 2″ cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts to reduce sticking. Or cut the rectangle into 12 small rectangular biscuits, which will allow you to skip the step of re-rolling and cutting scraps.

If you’ve used a round cutter, pat the scraps together, and cut additional biscuits.
Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1″ between them for crisp biscuits. Arrange biscuits so they’re barely touching for soft-side biscuits. For higher-rising soft-side biscuits, place biscuits in an 8″ round pan.

Bake the biscuits for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they’re a light golden brown.
Remove them from the oven, and serve hot.

Cool leftovers completely, wrap airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

To refresh room-temperature biscuits, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 to 13 minutes, until heated through.

Yield: about 1 dozen 2″ biscuits.

To make a sweeter, shortcake-type biscuit, add 3 tablespoons sugar to the flour, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to the milk.

For cheese biscuits, mix 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper with the flour; work in the butter or shortening, then toss in 1 cup shredded cheese before adding the milk.

Fritatta with Bacon, Corn, and Gruyere

8 large eggs
1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk or half and half
5 ounces (140g) cubed Gruyère cheese, divided (see note above)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (5ml) olive oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 5 ounces; 140g), diced
1 1/2 cups (225g) fresh corn kernels, cut from about 3 ears of corn (or use frozen and defrosted corn)
5 scallions, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (plus a couple of slices for decoration, if desired)

Adjust oven rack to 4 inches below broiler and preheat broiler to high. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk or half and half until fully combined. Stir in half of cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in a 10-inch oven-safe nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add bacon and cook until light brown but not crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pan.

Add corn, scallions, and jalapeño to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour eggs into skillet and cook, stirring and scraping pan all over, until very loose curds form throughout, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook until eggs on bottom and edges are set, about 2 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, bacon, and a few jalapeño slices for decoration, if using.

Place under broiler and broil until top is just set and a pale golden brown, a few minutes. Serve immediately.

Apple Cheddar Drop Biscuits

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup shredded extra-old Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated cored peeled apple
(Optional) 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh green onion or parsley
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425° F.

In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces. Stir in Cheddar, apple and green onions. Using a fork, stir in milk to form a ragged dough.

Drop by 1/4 cup mounds, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheet. Bake in 425° F. oven until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes.

2-Ingredient Biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits

6 ounces /170 grams (1 1/2 cups) self-rising flour
1/4 to 1/8 teaspoons salt (optional; for a saltier biscuit)
6 ounces /170 grams (3/4 cup) heavy or whipping cream

Heat the oven to 450° F, with a rack in the top third of the oven. Mix the flour and salt together (if using), then add the cream until smooth and batter-like. If it’s not coming together, you can use your hands to lightly knead and press it together in the bowl.

Scoop 1-ounce balls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between them. A tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Alternately, pat the dough 3/4 inch thick and cut biscuits with a cutter, if desired. (At this point the biscuits can be frozen and baked straight from the freezer.)

Brush the tops of the biscuits with cream, milk, or water. Bake the biscuits 10 minutes or so, or until they are light golden brown on top and baked all the way through. Break one open to make sure they’re done!

Serve warm or at room temperature; to store, wrap well in plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.

To keep them longer, store in the freezer.

Melon and Nectarine Shaved Salad

1 small melon (honeydew, ananas, cantaloupe, etc.)
3 small ripe nectarines
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey (optional if your fruit is very sweet)
1/4 cup pistachio meats
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons sugar

If the rind of your melon is very thin and soft, go ahead and peel it with a veggie peeler and then quarter and seed it. Otherwise, quarter and seed the melon and then cut the rind off with a paring knife.

Halve, twist, and remove pit from nectarines. Slice the melon and nectarines on the thinnest setting of a mandolin or slicer.
Toss in a bowl and set aside. Mix the lemon juice and honey in a small bowl and then drizzle over the fruit.

Pulse the pistachio meats, cardamom, and sugar into a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped. Plate the fruit in a nice mound onto individual plates and then sprinkle the pistachio mixture over top. Enjoy!

Plums with Burrata and Crunchy Lentils

1 cup cooked lentils
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 to 2 pinches kosher salt
1 to 2 pinches freshly cracked black pepper
2 (4-ounce) balls fresh burrata
4 ripe plums (or similarly-sized other stone fruit, halved, pitted and cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch slices)
12 fresh basil leaves as garnish
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 to 8 thin, crunchy breadsticks (optional)

Make the crunchy lentils: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the cooked lentils into a medium bowl and toss them with oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and a big pinch or two salt and pepper. Spread them out in as close to a single layer as possible on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place them in the heated oven and let them roast 25 to 30 minutes, shaking and tossing them every 8 or 10 minutes to assure even cooking. Let them get quite browned and crunchy, but not burned. Use your judgment on total cooking time.

Remove from oven and slide the parchment and the lentils off the sheet and onto the counter to cool. The lentils may be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. This recipe makes more than you need for the plums and burrata.

Assemble the plate: On a medium-sized serving platter break open one ball of burrata, exposing its creamy interior. Leave the other ball intact so it stays as fresh as possible during presentation.

Spread the plum slices evenly around the platter, allowing some slices to sit right on the burrata. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the crunchy roasted lentils on top, saving more for passing at the table. Garnish the plate with basil leaves.

Serve with balsamic on the side, as only the tiniest drizzle is needed to enhance the sweet and creamy flavors of the fruit and cheese combination. Serve with breadsticks (optional).

Grilled Peach, Halloumi, and Mint Caprese

8 ounces halloumi
2 large peaches
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped mint

Cut the halloumi into thick slices.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits.

Drizzle the peach halves (pulp side-up) with olive oil, and sprinkle with brown sugar.

Heat grill to 450° F.

Grill the halloumi until grill marks appear, flip over, and do the same on other side.

Grill the peaches, pulp side down, until grill marks appear (about 10 minutes).

Let the peaches cool a bit, cut into slices with a sharp knife, arrange on plate with halloumi, and sprinkle with chopped mint. Enjoy!

Olive Oil Tortas

1 tablespoon finely ground aniseed or fennel seeds
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 tablespoons warm (120º F) water
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, preferably Spanish
Flavoring, optional (see ideas at the bottom of the recipe)
1 tablespoon fast-acting yeast
Granulated cane sugar for topping (omit if making savory crackers)
1 egg white

Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind aniseed or fennel seeds. They don’t have to be a fine powder, but the seeds should be cracked open and fairly pulverized.

Whisk the flour, salt, and a few pinches of ground aniseed or fennel seeds together in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine warm water, olive oil, extracts, if adding (see flavor variations, below), and yeast and whisk until yeast dissolves.

Combine the oil mixture with the flour mixture, then knead with the heel of your hand—inside the bowl is fine, if there’s room—for about five minutes. Alternatively, you can use the dough hook of an electric mixer if that’s more your speed.

If it’s chilly in the kitchen, heat the oven to 200° F for the duration of kneading time, then turn it off. Cover the bowl containing dough with a dish towel and place it in the warm oven with the door open, or find another warm space. Let it sit for 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400° F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust a work surface with flour.

Pinch off pieces of dough to form mounds about the size of golf balls. Use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into a flat round, about 6 inches in diameter. Rounds should be very thin and fairly—but not very—translucent. If the dough resists being rolled flat, the gluten simply needs to relax a little. Move onto the next ball and then try again. Place no more than 4 tortas on the baking sheet at a time.

Brush each cracker with egg white, then sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and aniseed. If making savory crackers, omit the sugar. If adding extra flavors, sprinkle them on now. Note: If doing a chocolate drizzle/dip, save that for baked crackers.

Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on how large and thick crackers are. They can burn within that last 30 seconds, so be cautious. Start with 6 minutes, check the crackers, and rotate the pan. Continue baking at 1-minute intervals until the tortas are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire wrack to cool.

Enjoy the crackers warm, or let cool completely, then wrap individually in waxed paper. Place wrapped crackers in a large zip-top bag. They’ll keep for about 5 days.

Flavor variations: For the sweet-toothed: To the dough add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, vanilla extract, orange flower water, cinnamon, ground star anise, and/or citrus zest; sprinkle with chopped nuts or dried fruit; or drizzle the baked crackers with or dip into melted chocolate post-baking.

For the savory snacker: Omit the sugar and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, or sage), 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs or spices like sweet paprika or sesame seeds, or finely grated Parmesan or Manchego before baking.

Corn Fritters with Cheddar and Scallions

Serves 6 as a light supper or appetizer (25 to 30 small fritters)

2 to 4 eggs
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or more to taste
1 cup grated (or small diced) sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
6 ears of corn, shucked
1/3 to 1 cups all-purpose flour
Sea salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Olive oil or neutral oil for frying

Slice the tops of the kernels off the corn, then reverse your knife and press out the milk. (You should have about 3 cups of kernels. Don’t stress out too much about this step—if you cut too deeply and don’t extract that much “milk,” it’s no big deal. Also, the blade of the knife might work better than the back, so try both ways.)

Transfer the kernels and milk to a large bowl. Crack in 2 of the eggs. Add the scallions, cilantro, or other herbs, cheese, corn kernels and, and 1/3 cup of the flour. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Use your hands to mix everything together very well. Grab a golfball-sized amount of batter and squeeze it in your hands. If it barely holds together, crack another egg into the bowl, and add another 1/3 cup flour. Mix well, and test again—batter will not hold together the way a meatball will; it will be kind of pasty, and the only way to know if it’s ready for frying is to make a test fritter.

Make a test fritter: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour 1 tablespoon of the oil. Lightly oil your hands. When the oil in the pan begins shimmering, pinch a golfball-sized amount of batter out of the bowl and carefully drop it into the oil. Reduce the heat to medium. The mound of batter will look pyramidal or gumdrop-like in shape. Gently flatten with a spatula. After about a minute, check the underside to ensure it is lightly browned. Flip the fritter, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until evenly golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, season with sea salt, and let cool briefly. Taste. If fritter needs more salt or pepper, add more to the bowl. If the fritter did not stay together at all, crack another egg into the bowl of batter and add 1/3 cup more flour. Mix well.

When fritter batter is cooperating, fry up the remaining batter in the same manner as the tester fritter, adding a thin layer of oil to the pan with each batch. Warning: Be careful of exploding corn kernels—every so often, one comes flying out of the pan.

Almond-Oat Crescent Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup softened butter or margarine
3/4 cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup flour
1 cup oats (NOT the quick-cooking kind)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Heat the oven to 325°F.

Place the almond extract and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat thoroughly, sifting in 3/4 cup of powdered sugar as you go. The sifted sugar will make a fine dust that sweetly tints the smell of everything. Add the salt, then stir in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until smooth. Fold in the oats and almonds.

Pinch a little less than a tablespoon’s worth of dough into your palm and roll it into a ball. It should feel a bit greasy from the butter, and mealy from the oats and almonds. Rubbing the ball together between your palms, form the dough into a long, skinny shape, a little thicker than your pinkie finger, and bend into a crescent. Repeat for the rest of the dough. Space evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 15–18 minutes, until they just begin to turn a golden brown and smell sweet and toasty. (Beware of overcooking! They can turn fast from fall-apart just-rightness to crunchy and dry if they’re left in the oven too long.)

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and sift a generous layer of powdered sugar over them while they’re still warm. Eat one as soon as you are able, preferably with some coffee or tea.