Becoming an Italian Grandmother: Spinach pasta and Almond Cookies

I decided to try spinach pasta using the same method as the previously mentioned beet pasta.  It was a success.  I was rewarded with beautiful, bright, green noodles.  The same day these sat drying on my counter, I went to the store and examined the commercially available spinach pasta.  It was drab and barely green at all.  My husband shook his head sadly and said “yours is much prettier.”  The recipe and method are exactly the same except 1 lb fresh, raw spinach was substituted for the 3 oz of beets.

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This was also my first attempt at drying the pasta in nests rather than straight.  Usually I string pasta over clothes hangers which then get hung up on every available ledge in my kitchen, making it impossible to open several cabinet doors for an hour or so.  This time I separated the strands, floured them, and let them sit out separately on the counter for about half an hour.  Then I gathered them up in little bundles and carefully placed them on the drying rack.  After a couple hours, I flipped each bundle over to dry the other side.  Eventually they were transferred to a plastic bag and put in the freezer.  I’ve cooked one meal of the nests and it was a success!  The nest didn’t completely separate until the last minute of cooking, leading to some very tense moments where I thought I’d be serving a globby mass of pasta.  But eventually the noodles freed up and dinner was saved.  I like the nests, they’re much easier to keep in the freezer, and less delicate.

While we’re on the subject, I took a sweet culinary trip to Sicily, thanks to David Lebovitz.  He recently posted a very beautiful collage of his trip to Sicily.  I sent it to my Sicilian colleague who rewarded me by calling me 10 minutes later and cursing, annoyed, “Damn it, Tiffany!  Now all I can think about are almond cookies.”

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Well, when the he posted a complete breakdown of the almond cookies the following day, I had my marching orders.  I got to work.  I followed the recipe exactly and was rewarded with beautiful, rich, delicious, almondy cookies.  I brought a few into work and sent my colleague a cryptic “come see me” e-mail.  She found her way up to my desk and quickly spotted the cookies sitting in the corner.  She instantly started dancing around giggling.  “Oh, they look perfect!” she told me.

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If I’m any judge of her reaction, they tasted pretty perfect, too.  It made her day, and seeing her so happy made my day as well.  See, the heart of an Italian grandmother.  Making people happy with food!  Big kudos to Mr. Lebovitz for this recipe.  It’s easy, it’s fairly fast, and it yields an awesome, not-too-sweet cookie.

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