Oh, the week of love and all things heart shaped, pink, flowery and sparkly is upon us. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you who leave me sweet notes here at 'thyme'. I do read every single one and appreciate your time and thoughts.
For awhile now I've been wanting to make these sweet Linzer cookies. My daughter loves shortbread cookies as well as all varieties of fruit jam so this would be the perfect combination to send her as a little Valentine's treat.
With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought I would mail a little Valentine's Linzer Cookie care package to her at her dorm.
Valentine's Day has become a huge holiday push it seems here in the U.S. The stores seem to be stocking as many items to purchase as other holidays of the year.
"Le sigh"...commercialization at its most healthiest I suppose.
We keep it simple, however. I do like the idea of a special day set aside to tell those you love how much you adore them along with giving a little treat. Somehow, I just can't "do" flowers, though. The idea of so many millions of flowers clipped and snipped for this one day seems, I don't know...harsh.
I usually slip something sweet into my husband's briefcase that he will find at work during the day. For my son, I usually lay something simple at his place at the breakfast table. This year, it's a box of chocolates... He and I certainly share the same DNA ;)
Little jars of fruit jams are one of life's sweet treats that delight my daughter. Ever since she was tiny, she would notice the wee little jam jars at breakfast tables in hotels or B&Bs.
We would have to pilfer them from the breakfast table (unopened mommy!) and tuck them deep down into the darkness of my purse. Back home, she would then arrange a table setting of her dolls and take out the little jars of jam for the ultimate croissant or scone indulgence alongside wee pots of tea and tiny spoons that "clinked" against the porcelain tea cups.
Without truly realizing it, we became accustomed to Madeleine choosing little jars of jam as her vacation souvenir to bring home. I would also find a unique jar and tuck it in her Christmas stocking, realizing now that is a bit...unusual for a stocking stuffer. She loves it.
So these Linzer cookies were a natural choice. A simple shortbread cookie enveloping a variety of sweet fruit jams.
My Christmas cactus is in full bloom again. It should be renamed the Valentine's Day cactus because it looks so cheery and full of "love"..ly little flowers.
Spring is right around the corner for all of us. We've had days of moody skies and on and off again rain showers down here in the south.
I love it. Every moody blustery grey day is just what I need to face the impending hot sultry southern summers here.
We're becoming big pansies down here, though. With the first chill in the air, we're shivering and reaching for our down comforters at night.
I had my winter coat and huge scarf wrapped around my neck to go out today. I turned on the radio and it said that it was 55˚F outside. Hardly heavy winter coat plus scarf up to my nose kind of weather!
Pansies we're becoming, I say. We need some of that Nemo snow up there!
Chester (the dog) and Polly (the cat) are also noticing and reacting to "the cold" down here in Houston. We have one little pet bed sitting right next to the kitchen table.
As one curled up comfortably (Polly) and snoozed away (most of the day), Chester would stand over her looking longingly at her cozy little nest.
So, the most lavish Valentine's Day treat actually went to the pets in the family. A new fluffy little bed made its way home. Now, two little creatures...a Polly and a Chester have tucked their cold little selves into their own warm little beds and can lazily survey the activity in the kitchen all day long.
Should we dream of where the ultimate Valentine's Day adventure could be?? Why not.
Florence, Italy. Period. End of story. For me, that is...where would it be for you?
I think Florence is one of the most romantic of cities. Something about the way the city is laid out, the size is so walkable, the meat market is so plentiful with romantic roasts ready to be put into the oven, and the river, gracefully winding its way through with its many lovely bridges...is all so beautiful.
Whereas Madeleine likes to bring back little pots of jam that remind her of a destination, I like to seek out stationery as my own special keepsake.
Florence has a beautiful collection of stationery shops. I chose one of my special papers from Florence to write a little Valentine's note to her wishing her a happy day on the 14th.
Sitting down, with a hot cup of coffee or tea, beautiful stationery full of lovely memories of a beautiful city, writing little notes of love...is as special of way to spend the day that I can imagine.
That is, if traveling to Florence is not on the agenda!
Linzer Cookies with Fruit Jam
Mini Linzer Cookies
Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved
Prep Time:15 minInactive Prep Time: -- Cook Time:25 min
This is a variation of Eli Zabar's delicious shortbread cookies.
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I like to add extra vanilla)
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry (or preferred fruit jam) preserves
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350˚ degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or spade shaped cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners' sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners' sugar on the top.