I received a gift. I was living one of those moments in your life when you need to find a goal, something to commit for, something so important to deserve sacrifices and long hours of work. I wanted to find out who I was, I wished to be able to define myself through a dream. In that moment, a few years ago, my passion for food, Tuscany and writing lighted up and showed me what was meant to be made.
I realized I had received a gift, I had been living for my whole life in the Tuscan countryside, one of the most beautiful areas of the world. I could share this passion, the love for my region and for our food and our traditions. That could be the goal I was searching for in the past, that could be the reason that would lead my actions, giving a meaning to my everyday life. This will be my job from January, I couldn’t ask for a greater gift than passion!
This was the ultimate gift, this is the first mental image I had when Gloria asked us to talk about gifts for the Italy blogging roundtable. Don’t miss, on the 14th of December, the posts about gifts written by Gloria and by the other participating writers, Alexandra from ArtTrav, Jessica from Why Go Italy, Melanie from Italofile, and Rebecca from Brigolante.
This said, I am also a material girl and I adore simple gifts, received and made. I love the rustling of decorated paper, untying glittered ribbons or wrapping home-made gourmet gifts with care and imagination for my dear ones and friends.
The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Eat them all yourself (or, you know, share. If you want. No judgement either way.) Post your cookie recipe on your blog. See everyone else’s cookie recipes. Salivate. Get lots of great ideas for next years’ cookie swap. Rinse and repeat.
How not to sign up? Rossella asked them to extend the chance to take part to the swap to Italy as well, and we managed to reach the critical number of required foodbloggers and we largely exceeded it. Just add foodbloggers, cookies, Christmas and swap into the same jar, shake it up and you have one of the most exciting event of this Christmas!
My cookies, instead, travelled all the way to Luisa, Alessandra and Annamaria. Curious to know my recipe? It was a simple short pastry cookie, made with organic flour, butter and eggs and flavoured with the most fresh and natural essences: orange, lemon and mandarin peels, a citrus Christmas for everyone! They are the perfect treat for the afternoon tea, slightly crunchy and fruity. My favourite ones were the lemon and cardamom cookies, amazing with a cup of steaming black coffee.
- 400 g of organic wheat flour
- 200 g of organic rice flour
- 300 g of raw cane sugar
- 300 g of butter
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 free range eggs
- raw cane sugar
- 2 organic oranges
- ground cinnamon
- 4 organic clementines
- fresh ginger root
- 2 organic lemons
- cardamom berries
Put the flours on a wooden working surface and make a well in the centre. There add the raw cane sugar, a pinch of salt and the butter at room temperature, diced.
Work quickly with your hands the flour with the butter to form a crumbly dough that will look like grated Parmesan cheese.
Beat the eggs with a fork for a few seconds in a dish, pour them over the crumbs and compact the dough with your hands, then roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper and let the short pastry cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
Divide the dough into three equal parts.
Dust the dough with some flour and roll it out with a rolling pin into a 5 mm thick rectangular sheet of pastry, then sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of raw cane sugar, the grated peel of two oranges and a dusting of ground cinnamon. Flavour the other pastry sheet with the grated peel of 4 mandarins and an inch of grated fresh ginger root, the last one with lemon zest and crushed cardamom seeds.
Roll the pastry on itself, wrap each pastry roll with parchment paper and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cut the pastry rolls into 5 mm thick cookies, as shown in the photos, place them at a distance on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake them for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned.