This is the first year I have had my very own Christmas Tree! To be honest, I'm not sure why I never one before. Even though I don't spend the holidays in my apartment, the tree has been so wonderful to look at the past several weeks and I don't ever want to take it down. I'm just glad that they make small trees for small apartments. If I may say so myself, I think my tree is very charming.
My favorite treat around the holidays is extra sharp provolone and spicy sopressata, which is a big part of my Italian Christmas Eve. If you live in Brooklyn, I highly suggest you take a trip to my neighborhood butcher, Esposito & Sons, otherwise known as The Jersey Pork Store (if you're lost, there is a giant ceramic pig to welcome you in front of their shop.) They are doing wonderful things at the pork store, like homemade mozzarella, imported prosciutto, aged provolones and sausages. I am so grateful for old shops like these.
For those of you who don't find cured meats as exciting as I do, the next best treat I can offer you is a Linzer Tart. Growing up my best friend's mother used to make them every Christmas and I would devour them. I have a lot of fond memories of sitting around Mrs. Minervini's kitchen table eating what, for so many years, I called 'The Linda Tart' until I discovered it's real name. The lovely and talented Barefoot Contessa has a recipe for Mini Linzer cookies. I have never made these but I do not question the Barefoot Contessa. She is a cooking Goddess. If I can't have Mrs. Minervini's, then I want these (recipe below).
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with many decorations and treats and loved ones (and sopressata!) to make you feel jolly.
The Barefoot Contessa's Mini Linzer Cookies
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry preserves
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or spade shaped cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners' sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners' sugar on the top.