Thursday, February 15

So Easy, a Meteorologist Can Do It

Be a meteorologist in Southern California. It’s the ultimate job. Much like Newman’s coveted postal route in Hawaii, “where the air is so dewy-sweet, you don’t even have to lick the stamps,” (Seinfeld episode #144) the weather here is so constant, you don’t even have to think about it.

The meteorologists in Southern California are beautiful, blonde, and buxom. Some have been known to clutch a white poodle while giving the ten-day forecast. I’m serious, folks.
Contrast this with your typical New England meteorologist: A pasty, overweight guy with bags under his eyes from having stayed up all night tracking the constantly changing weather.

She uses the word "like" nineteen times in her report. He slurs his words from the last glass of Johnny Walker he downed in the green room to calm his nerves. She wears nine inch heels. He predicts nine inches of snow (which turns out to be only freezing rain). She discusses Justin Timberlake. He explains the mathematical algorithm that allows sound waves from the Doppler 5,000 to distinguish rain from snow.

Amazingly, one would think that with virtually the same forecast everyday, she couldn’t possibly get it wrong. Well, she does. All last week she predicted rain on Saturday, sun on Sunday. So being a conscientious food blogger, I planned to take my photographs on Sunday.

Saturday was bright and sunny. Sunday it rained. The pictures you see are from Monday.

A rainy Sunday seemed a perfect time to bake some cookies. One of my favorites is the Italian pignoli (pine nut) cookie. Made with almond paste, they are mildly sweet and have a nutty flavor that lingers pleasantly on your palate. The crispy exterior reveals a chewy interior that gently pulls away as you bite it.
I could explain the chemical properties of the cookie that create this sensation, but maybe you could just picture me with a dog on my lap instead. They are ridiculously easy to make; it took me longer to type the recipe (and photograph the cookies) than it did to bake them. Like typical New Englanders, Jeff and I had them with a nice cup of coffee.

And here are a few other treats I’d love to have with my coffee:
Brilynn’s Fudge with Cherries and Pistachios at Jumbo Empanadas.
Lis's Easy Sticky Toffee Dessert at La Mia Cucina.
Patricia's Choc Banana Bread at Technicolor Kitchen.
Sher's Apple-Blackberry Kuchen at What Did You Eat?
Valentina's Peanut Butter Cookies at Sweet Temptations.

Italian Pignoli (Pine Nut) Cookies
Print recipe only here.

2 ½ cups pine nuts
1 (7-ounce) tube of almond paste
¾ cup sugar
2 egg whites
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
Powered sugar for garnish, optional
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Take ¼ cup of the pine nuts and pulse in a food processor until coarsely ground. Break the almond paste with your hands; add to the processor; process until just mixed. Add the sugar; process until mixture is crumbly. Add the egg whites and vanilla; process until the dough begins to come together. Add the flour and salt; process until fully blended and smooth.

Pour the remaining pinenuts into a small bowl. Using a teaspoon and slightly moistened hands, take about 1 tsp worth of batter and roll it into a ball. Gently drop the ball in the pine nuts and turn until completely coated. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cool on racks. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Cookies should be stored in an airtight container. Makes approximately 30 cookies.

After having tasted a Mexican coffee made with black pepper, Jeff concocted this version one afternoon. The interplay between the spices and the pepper creates an intensely flavorful and aromatic cup of coffee.

Spiced Coffee

Print recipe only here.
4 cups water
2-2 ½ scoops of good coffee (such as Illy)
1 whole clove
A few dashes of ground cinnamon
3-4 cranks of freshly ground black pepper (from a peppermill)

Add the clove, cinnamon, and ground pepper to the coffee grounds, then brew. Serve as desired.

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Anonymous said...

What a lovely read. I like your region comparison ;-) and the cookies, my! I know that I would love them, and that I will try them soon. Pine nuts are a fantastic addition in them!

Pille said...

I'm off to Italy this Saturday for a week, but when I get back (with a fresh supply of Italian pinenuts), then I'm so going to make your pignoli-cookies! They look delicious!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Pine nut cookies -- I love the ones at Scialo on Federal Hill in Providence, and yours look just as wonderful as those!

wheresmymind said...

On days like today where I had to go in the passengers side door to open the iced over drivers side door, I do contemplate how long I could sleep on your couch before I got kicked out ;)

s'kat said...

Those would go so nicely with the cup of chai I'm having right now! Oh, and I LOVE that photo with the rain!

Brilynn said...

I had never heard of pignoli cookies until this week when I've seen them on two different blogs. It's wierd how you don't notice something and then when you do, it's everywhere!

Mishmash ! said...

That was a funny write-up on meterologists:) Your spiced coffee and pine nut cookie seem to be perfect for our snowy days :)


Anonymous said...

I laughed at your evaluation of meteorologists... it's such a contrast from over here in the east (as you once were) where things the weather changes so quickly, it's almost pointless to try and pinpoint it down.

Your pignoli and spiced coffee sound like the perfect afternoon indulgence!

Alpineberry Mary said...

I used to buy pignoli cookies at the Italian pastry shop until I realized how easy they are to make. And like omigod it's like sunny for the next like 5 days. :)

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love these! Brings back fabulous memories of growing up. And, I enjoy anything with almond paste.

Thanks so much!

Patricia Scarpin said...


These pine nut cookies are to die for! They look amazing!
I feel like trying these soon.

Your witty text made me laugh and I had to be careful not to be overheard by my boss. ;)

And how sweet of you to mention my recipe here, thank you, dear!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. Hope you like the cookies.

Thank you! I've had real Italian pignolis; they are much better. Happy travels!

As I am very familiar with Scialo's, I am flattered by your comparison!

It's pretty comfortable, not too lumpy.;)

I love it too, thanks!

I know. Things can get kind of cyclical.

Thank you! I'm glad it made you smile.

I know what you mean. I often say that we don't have real weather here. :)

Like I so get what you're saying. And like thanks for stopping by. It's like way cool. :)

Oh, I'm so pleased it brought back happy memories for you!

Rachael said...

Mmmm, these just look so wonderful! I've never made pignoli's before but I am absolutely obsessed with the flavor of almond. I haven't been able to find almond paste - must hunt harder.

This looks like a perfect recipe, and I love all of the photos (particularly the last one. I think I'm drooling)

Anh said...

Susan, the pine nut cookies look just so good. Gotta try them out! And the cofee, too... I am addicted to coffee, and would love a cuppa of your spiced version!

Toni said...

I think I just might break down and bake these. I adore pine nuts (used to pick them when I lived in New Mexico), and these look too good for words!

And just about the BEST description of the difference between the east and west coasts meteorologists I've ever read! I've never seen "her" clutching a white poodle, but I can sure picture it! This post is a keeper!

Mikaela said...

I LOVE that second cookie photo, the one w/ the sugar falling onto the cookies. Great shot!

Ugh. Freezing rain. What I wouldn't do for some sled-able snow :)

Stella said...

Hi Susan!
thank you so much, I'm so honoured!
Your cookies look even more delicious with the delicate touch of the pine nuts inside.:)
And I love the photos, especially the 'rainy' one:)

Anonymous said...

Susan--The cookies sound delicious and easy. Can't ask for a better combo. Great meteorlogist stories too! For the ultimate LA meteorologist character, see Steve Martin's wonderful LA Story, a funny but loving send-up of Los Angeles. So much fun--I guarantee it.

Freya said...

I read about Pignoli cookies some while ago in Carole Walters Cookie Book (a great read!) but I could never get around to making them. Yours have convinced me!

Gattina Cheung said...

What a great post Susan! Been living in two totally different world, it makes you more special =).
I really love these pine nut cookies (actually I love any type of Italian cookies!!!). What a nice coincidence, today I also just photographed a shot of sprinkling powder sugar (on Italian cookies) Yours are very beautiful!!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

You're so welcome! I just love your cooking/baking.

Oh, thank you so much! Try Whole Foods or any local Italian market. Since you're on the East Coast maybe even Stop 'n Shop?

It really is the perfect afternoon cup 'o joe.

Thanks so much! It was fun writing it.

That second shot is as close to real snow as we'll get around here.

You're so welcome! I'm glad you like them.

Terry B-
I've never seen it, but I'll definitely check it out.

You won't be disappointed!

Coming from you, that's such a compliment as I adore your recipes and photography.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I could really go for a cookie and coffee right now. LOVE this post.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Wow Susan,
Those cookies look perfectly delectable. Must try.

Oh, and about the coffee, have you tried adding chili powder to cocoa like the Aztecs did? Mmm.

Scribbit said...

Oh how lovely and perfectly round and toasted.

When we lived in North Dakota it cracked us up how the weather report made up half of the evening news. It was big stuff there and they took their weather man, Tom Szymanski, very seriously. He was goofy but somehow rather hypnotic. And I didn't even care about the weather.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thanks. I could send you the cookies. But the cup of coffee might be a problem.

Wandering Chopsticks-
Yes, my recipe is actually called New Mexican hot chocolate. You're right, it is mmmmm good.

I have this tremendous urge to invite you over my house just to enjoy warm weather in February. First North Dakota, then Alaska? Wow.

Helene said...

I have not had those in ages, and now I am craving them...see what you started?!!
I had a good laugh reading your post, thanks for brightening up my day!

Melting Wok said...

ooh, like a brittle cookie all in one, love it, thanks for sharing, Susan, cheers !:)

Anonymous said...

These cookies sound delicious. I am sure Uncle Peter would love them. He has a sweet tooth. I will have to get the ingredients soon.

Anonymous said...

Totally lol, you are so funny. And make great cookies!

Lis said...

Susan these cookies look great and I really love how you had them with spiced coffee - yum! I laughed out loud at the meteorologist description - how true!! One of our favorite mottos here in NE Ohio is "I'll believe it when I see it" which is said every night after watching the weather forecast. lol

Paul Russo said...

Sue; thecookies look absolutely delicious. The pitures are great - kudos to the photographer. Will have to try the spiced coffee soon yet better still we will be over Sun for coffee and cookies. Love Dad

Lucy said...

We had an old school friend of mine staying with this weekend and on Saturday afternoon, tired from a morning of window shopping and despite that fact that it was unbelievably hot, Kylie and I drank your spiced coffee. Wonderful! I'm making the cookies next. I found some French pine nut oil a few weeks ago and made a beautiful salad dressing with it. I would love to get my hands on some proper Italian pignoli...Lovely stuff!

Lucy said...

By the way - I love the dusting action shot!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, I'm so glad you had a good laugh. Now, you have to have some cookies.:)

Melting Wok-
Thanks so much!

Betty (and Uncle Peter)-
Hi! Let me know if you like them. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks! Glad it made you chuckle!

God help the poor meteorologists in Ohio.

Awww, we'd love for you to be able to have coffee and cookies with us today. Miss you. Love, Sue

Yeh! I'm so glad you made the coffee and enjoyed it! Mmmm, I'm sure I'd like French pine nut oil, so I'll have to look for it. Thanks about the picture!

Linda said...

how wonderful! and that photo with the powdered sugar falling?! fantastic work! these look so delicious. I will HAVE to try them soon! Happy new year & three day weekend!

Veron said...

what a novelty! Pine nut cookies. I better hide this screen from the hubby...he loves pine nuts and I will not hear the end of it until I make these delicious looking number.

J said...

Hi Susan! Your write up was amusing!:) Loved the nice recipe for cookies. Spiced coffee is a relevation! I make spiced tea, but coffee was always with sugar and milk only. i must try the clove, pepper, cinnamon touch...

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thanks a lot! Hope you like them.

Well, at least they're super easy to make. Thanks so much!

I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Hope you like the coffee. And as I drink a lot of tea, I'd love to hear about some of your spiced versions.

Susan G said...

The cookie photo inspires me to head for Federal Hill on our next RI visit; easy for you with all the ingredients in the pantry, no doubt. The coffee is a revelation. And to add to the SA horizon, a local chocolatier makes chocolates with cayenne and cinnamon. Thanks for the inspiration!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thanks for stopping by. One of my favorite places in the whole world is Keene, NH for the annual pumpkin festival. Chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon sounds like perfection.

sher said...

Oh my!! From the bottom of heart: Thank you for that wonderful recipe!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Sher-You are wholeheartedly welcome! :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those cookies look ever so gorgeous! I bet that they taste wonderful. Your pictures are very good too!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Rosa-Oh, thank you for the compliments and the visit! They're one of my favorites!

Olive Oil said...

Great blog. The photos make my mouth water. Thanks for the pignoli cookie recipe. I have always loved these cookies and I will certainly be giving this recipe a try.

If you get a chance, check out my olive oil blog:



Anonymous said...

Your writing and photographs are delightful! I must remember to pick up a bag of pine nuts next time I'm at Trader Joes and try this recipe. I'll have to hunt for almond paste too.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you like my blog and the cookies.

Kristen said...

True enough about California meteorologists... although I've never seen any of the Bay Area ones with a poodle! Can you imagine John Gheyorse (sp?) doing that? (I grew up in southeastern MA, and John's still one of my favorite meteorologists)

The cookies look fabulous, might I add! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the "raining" sugar in your photo.
I used to travel to San Diego quite often and would get such a kick out of the weather reports. It rained one day and you would have thought the world was coming to an end. They were breaking into programs and everything to report on this little sprinkle shower.

Anonymous said...

Those cookies look perfect with a warm glass of milk!

Anonymous said...

Nice cookies blog, would you mind if i ask you for a link exchange?

wosnes said...

I'm a little late coming to this party...!!!

I intended to make these for Christmas 2007. I never purchased the ingredients.

I purchased the ingredients for Christmas 2008, but never got them made.

I finally made them yesterday. They are so good!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

wosnes-Yay! They're worth the wait. :) Thanks for letting me know.

Unknown said...

This looks so delicious! :)
All the ingredients in it look great-- and good idea to make this with pine nuts!
You don't by any chance know a good place to find almond paste or pine nuts, do you?
I've been looking around online for these so I can make
Italian Pignoli also. :)

Really like your blog


Susan from Food Blogga said...

tina-I buy almond paste in the baking section of the supermarket. It's also usually available at Italian specialty markets, as are pine nuts. They shouldn't be hard to find. Good luck! And thank you!

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Unknown said...

I will *definitely* be trying this.
@Tina- I normally get my Pine Nuts from NutsOnline-- I've looked a fair bit and they seem to consistently have the best prices.
Lovely blog and post-- all looks really tasty!