Through the Kitchen Window

As I sit down to write this column today, it’s April 4th. You won’t be reading it till May, but such is the world of publishing, even the cyber publishing world.

We are in day two of “Winter Storm 2003”. We’ve had snow and freezing rain since yesterday. School buses cancelled and a lot of businesses are telling their employees to be smart and stay put.

As I start to formulate my topic for the month, my girlfriend Val (who, with her kids Scott, Mark and Danielle, is living with us for a while) is gamely trying to get her car out of my driveway. Not that there’s a lot of snow, but it’s the ice under and on top of the snow that makes it impossible to negotiate, not to mention that it took her almost twenty minutes just to scrape the ice off the car. She has one of those “responsible” jobs though. She works in a dental office, in town. Yesterday she said that pretty much all of the patients made it in. She thinks today will be much the same. There’s no public transport in Alliston, but there IS good old fashioned walking, so since the patients are bound to be there, the staff needs to be too. Hard to imagine braving the elements to show up for your cleaning appointment only to find out that the staff didn’t make it in.

So . . . coffee in hand, it’s on to things of a more “food related” nature.

Today is a good day for baking cookies. The warm oven and delicious fragrances will make an otherwise dreary day much more fun. And you get to eat the results too!!!

These are the kinds of days that baking should be a collaborative effort. Get the kids involved, whip up a couple of batches of their favourites, or try out something totally new, like those that follow. Whichever you decide, you know it’s going to be a good day.

This first recipe is for an all time favourite at our house. Traditionally Italian Amaretti are crispy cookies made of ground almonds and chocolate, but in our house they never seem to make it to the crispy stage. In fact, Marina prefers them fresh and soft and, to tell the truth, so do I. Either way, they’re awesome!!!


  • 4 eggs
  • 6 cups ground almonds
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 small bottle almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs till thick and frothy and light coloured, then add sugar, extract and cocoa and mix well. Stir in the ground almonds just until blended.

Drop by spoonfuls onto your cookie sheets and bake about 8 – 10 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly golden. Remove to cookie racks and allow them to cool completely.

When cool, coat them in a mixture of icing sugar and water and allow them to dry thoroughly. Store them in cool dry tins.

These will keep indefinitely because crispy amaretti are traditional amaretti, IF you’re lucky enough to have any left to reach that stage.

  • Preparation Time: About 1 hour

This next recipe comes with a story attached. My seventeen year old son, Vincent, has a friend that he’s basically grown up with named Jeff. Jeff’s mom makes the absolutely BEST chocolate chip cookies ever, according to both boys ... and anyone else who’s ever tasted them. So, one day, after hearing about them yet again and how fast they disappear, I asked Margo for her recipe. She told me it was actually her mother-in-law’s recipe but she gave it to me gladly. They truly are the best ever. But don’t take my word for it, try them yourself.

Gramma Cooney’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups white shortening or lard
  • 2 ½ cups packed golden brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs (no shells please)
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ level teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 - 1 ½ cups small semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream the shortening and brown sugar together well, then add the milk, extract and eggs. Mix them together on medium until smooth. Add the flour, salt and baking soda and mix together. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Using nonstick, rimmed cookie sheets and drop the batter onto it by spoonfuls, about 12 – 14 per sheet. Bake one sheet at a time in a 325 oven for ten minutes or until done.

Oh, and one more thing, I accept no responsibility for the fact that your kids won’t let you out of the kitchen after making these just once!

  • Preparation Time: About 1 hour

Brown Butter Cookies

These are a recipe that Marina developed one Christmas. She spent a couple of Novembers during the last years of high school making and selling trays of assorted Christmas cookies and she was always on the look out for new cookies. I think these were a bit of an accident, but they soon became a favourite.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup corn flour (not meal, which is coarse)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup natural sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 oz chocolate, melted

Cook the butter over low heat until browned, let cool, then add the vanilla.

In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Stir into the butter mixture by thirds, make into a dough, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate two hours.

Roll out to ¼” thickness, cut into shapes and bake at 325 for 10 – 12 minutes, allow to cool. When they’re completely cooled, dip them into the melted chocolate, or you can drizzle the tops with chocolate.

Then just sit back and watch them disappear!

  • Preparation Time: About 1 hour

Enjoy and see you next month.