Today, I’m flipping through Giada de Laurentiis’ Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites cookbook. This is not my normal reading fodder at our Thursday Tea Party, so let me explain the randomness: it started late last night.
My husband and I sat on the couch with the dog gnawing a pencil-thin rawhide. (Gilbert is currently swizzle stick obsessed.) I had TLC channel’s “Crazy About Pippa” on since my husband appeared to be deep in the recesses of his work laptop. Then, suddenly, he stood, went to the kitchen, and began opening and shutting cupboards, ferreting through bags of chips and pretzels and salted nuts. “I have a sweet tooth,” he announced. I offered him a bag of M&Ms. He declined. No simple sugar would do. He wanted something of the baked variety.
Let me stop here and let you in on FACT about my husband: he loves baked goods, but refuses to eat them if he determines them stale. I get that. Week-old stuff is not appetizing to anyone. But he’s got some kind of superhuman stale-o-meter—a neurotic sixth sense. If he deems a cookie or slice of bread a breath less than fresh, he won’t eat another bite. After being together for over a decade, I’ve yet to determine when, exactly, this not-good-enough-to-eat-anymore instant occurs. I bake a batch of cookies and they’re “stale” by day two. Dozens of peanut butter blossoms in the trash. I bake brownies and ten days later he’s still diving in. I don’t get it, so I reverted to two paths of least resistance: A) I baked for the joy of baking—for myself. If he ate it, great. If he didn’t, great. B) I baked with folks in mind to share—neighbors, coworkers, friends. My husband got a nibble straight out of the oven, but that was it.
So back to last night. Having found no baked goods available, he started talking cookies. A game of What’s your favorite kind? Then he made the outlandish statement: a cookie is not a true cookie unless it has chocolate in it. So, chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia nut, black & whites, Samoas, mint chocolate chip—these were all true cookies. I found this ridiculous. What about macaroons, I argued. Snickerdoodles, gingerbread, Christmas sugar cookies cut into Santa Claus shapes, gingersnaps, almond crescents, Mexican wedding balls, and oh sweet Lord, my ultimates—meringues. Come now, I love chocolate as much as the next lady but you cannot discriminate a cookie based on cocoa inclusion. He begged to differ. (So smug.) In his opinion, chocolate was essential in any cookie that was the best of the best. Sure (this is him talking, mind you), you could make cookies a hundred and one other ways, but they would never stand up to their chocolate counterparts. And here, ladies and gentlemen, was when I had my lightning bolt moment: I realized that maybe it wasn’t a stale-o-meter so much as a choco-meter in this man’s mouth. Now, I’m on a mission to bake a cookie he loves without chocolate. Of course, I’ll still throw together a batch so loaded with cocoa they might as well be flattened truffles, but first… the gauntlet has been thrown and I intend to beat it.
This, my friends, brings me to the present. I have gone to my version of a culinary swami: Giada. I’m eyeing the Lemon Ricotta Cookies in her cookbook. The description says, “More cakey than crispy, these ladylike little tea cakes puff up as they bake, almost like little muffin tops.” My husband likes his baked goods as gooey and spongy as possible. He grew up in Germany and spent ninety-five percent of his college breaks in Europe, so he’s pre-programmed to favor traditional flavors. He’s not into anything too sweet and he loves limoncello. Hmm… these may be my first attempt to break his palate.
I felt a little sluggish after the weekend and started to worry that I might be fighting off a subtle summer cold. So I’m sipping something my momma got me hooked on a few years back. Lemon tea. There are no actual tealeaves in this cup. It’s just lemon slices and boiling water—poached lemons, in essence. It packs a wallop of Vitamin C. In the winter months, we drink it all the time. It’s pretty much hot lemonade sans the sugar. The citrus stands up sweet and tangy on its own. If you haven’t tried it, you really should. You can order it at restaurants too. Like water with a lemon wedge, it’s always on the house.
Sarah’s Sipping Summary:
With lemons on my taste buds, Giada’s lemon cookies certainly had an advantage over other dessert choices. What’s more dog-days-of-summer than lemons? I’m rolling them under my palms now, getting them juicy for another cup of my tea and possibly this cookie recipe.
Cheers, friends! Sarah