M exican Wedding Cookies are made with butter, powdered sugar, flour and very finely chopped nuts. These crumbly, white confections, which are similar to the Cocoon cookies of Cajun country, are used in many different cultures for celebrations, including weddings. Despite the name, Mexican Wedding Cookies didn’t originate in Mexico. They’re also known as Russian Tea Cookies, among other names, and are found throughout the continent of Europe. They’re based on an old recipe thought to be of Middle Eastern (Arab, where the use of nut flours is common) origin. In Mexico itself, wedding cookies are known as polvorones . The name comes from the Spanish word polvo , which translates to “dust” or “powder,” probably so called because of the coating of powdered sugar. Mexican wedding traditions often incorporate a variety of cake types, including Tres Leches, or Three Milks, a Latin American cake that various regions of Mexico claim as their own. (Nicaragua also takes credit.) Dense, moist sponge cake is soaked in a mixture of three different milk products: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk or heavy cream, and frosted with vanilla whipped cream or meringue. For her 1840 wedding,Queen Victoria served a Bride Cake, as wedding cake was then called, coated with a bright-white, egg-white icing that came to be known as “royal” icing, and decorated with sprigs of orange blossom and myrtle. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s fruitcake wedding cake stood nine feet high and had four tiers. Princess Anne, Prince Charles and his son Prince William also served fruitcake at their wedding celebrations (William and Kate had a traditional eight-tier version). The most recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle broke with royal tradition; the couple chose a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream frosting, decorated with fresh flowers.
Mexican Wedding Cookies Makes 2 dozen WHAT YOU WILL NEED ½ cup pecan halves 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar Pinch of salt 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cups all-purpose flour HOW TO PREP
Place pecans, 1 cup of the sugar and the pinch of salt in a food processor; blend un- til nuts are finely ground. Cut the cold but- ter into tablespoon-size pieces and add it to the nut, sugar and salt mixture with the processor running. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla extract and pulse. Add the flour and continue blending, pulsing a little at a time in the processor. Scrape dough into a bowl. Cover completely and refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Scoop dough with a tablespoon, forming into 1-inch balls by rolling the dough between your lightly floured hands. Place balls 1½ inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies just start to brown. Let cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Remove cookies from the sheets, then roll the cookies in the remaining 1½ cups of sugar.
Italian Wedding Soup Makes 8 servings WHAT YOU WILL NEED
HOW TO PREP Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place all ingredients listed for the meatballs, including the salt and pepper, in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. Drop (by teaspoonful) 1- to 1¼-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have around 40 meatballs.) Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside. In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot with a heavy bottom. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until veg- etables are softened, around 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and wine to the pot, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the broth. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill to the soup and stir. Add the meatballs to the soup, sim- mering for 1 minute to warm the meatballs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, or until the spinach has just begun to wilt. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.
FOR THE MEATBALLS pound ground chicken ½ pound chicken sausage, casings removed 2/3 cup white bread crumbs 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves) 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving 3 tablespoons milk 1 extra-large egg, beaten 1 teaspoon Kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper FOR THE SOUP 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 cup yellow onion, minced 1 cup carrots (around 3 carrots), diced cup celery (around 2 stalks), diced
10 cups chicken stock ½ cup dry white wine 1
cup small pasta (acini di pepe or orzo) ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill 12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed Salt and pepper, to taste
“ I have always believed this Italian soup was named because it was served at wedding celebrations, but I have learned that’s not the reason. Actually, the Italian name —minestra maritata, or married soup — refers to the “marriage” of ingredients: the vegetables in the soup base with the meat of the polpette (tiny pork meatballs).” — Marc Ardoin, Rouses Corporate Chef
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