A friendship that can go the distance is worth waiting for. It had been four score and umpteen days since my former Florentine roomie had visited the San Francisco Bay Area. We had seen each other in between, and talked as often as life would permit, but having her here made each morsel taste more flavorful. As is often the case, my memories are provoked by food related stories. This story would start the same, but to the keen eye there are differences. We were two young American brown-eye’d girls living in Florence, and life was just FUN. Our apartment, the nicest I had ever had, was on Piazza D’Azeglio and it was a location that completed the vision of what life in urban Tuscany was like. Funds were often quite limited, so we cooked…and we cooked, and found that we just loved the ritual of shopping, preparing, cooking and eating an array of fresh flavors.
My earliest recipe development takes root in Piazza D’Azeglio. Dishes I still covet today all began in this lovely, tiny, modern kitchen; risotto with mushrooms (Porcini Risotto), pasta with tuna (Pasta al’Tonno), rabbit stew (Coniglio a la Campagnola -I know, how politically incorrect!). But I have digressed, my love for Burley (her given name: Kimberly), grew in Italy, and has never wavered.
Now back to food, upon her arrival I quickly found myself in the kitchen, with her by my side. We played and fussed with this recipe until it was anything but Italian, but it was all too reminiscent of so many things that comprise our friendship: chocolate chunk cookies (not easy to find in Italy), pinenuts (traditionally found in pesto sauce, we wanted to pair it with a sweet combination), oatmeal (get healthy- it is 21st century), and ginger (well, sailing on the Almafi coast can make you a bit ill and digesting ginger does help). Mix it all together and what have you got? The perfect cookie to take with you when you go sailing and want to feel indulgent- Ginger, Chocolate Oatmeal & Pinenut Cookies, AKA Race Committee Cookies, concocted by two girls who used to live in Italy. (Did you manage to follow that complex web of cookie-o-logy?)
Ginger, Chocolate Oatmeal & Pinenut Cookies (AKA Race Committee Cookies)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup candied ginger, chopped into pieces
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped (we used Scharffen Berger’s Ben Tre Dark Chocolate for this recipe)
1/2 cup dark chocolate, grated
1 cup pinenuts, toasted (or substitute chopped macadamia nuts)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small pan, on medium-low heat toast pine nuts. They will brown quickly so be sure to watch them closely. When light brown in color, remove from heat and set aside.
In a large-size bowl, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Then add in eggs and vanilla and beat well.
In a small-size bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, shredded chocolate and salt; mix well. Add this mixture to the butter mixture and blend well. Stir in oats, coconut, nuts chocolate chunks; mix well
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
Yields 4 ½ dozen (unless you eat too much of the batter, which I am prone to do!)
Note: A great tip is to bake half and freeze half in a log shape in plastic wrap and then foil. Then for quick, hot, fresh baked cookies, cut a few sections off and pop them onto a cookie sheet and place them into a pre-heated oven. They may require a few extra minutes of cook time once frozen, but they will be a delicious TREAT. And for those of you that read my Halloween post earlier this week, consider this post the Treat to my Trick post.