The Lace Cookie - Florentines


With the recent feast of Blesseds Zelie and Louis Martin I shared the connection to the lace and lace making. Lace is such a beautiful and delicate textile art and the look can translate to the kitchen to some degree.

July 13 is the anniversary date of Zelie and Louis Martin and follows their feast day by one day. So since we are still thinking about the Martins, I am adding an additional lace themed treat idea for today. The florentine is a a cookie commonly called lace cookie because of the natural lacy open whole appearance it gets while baking. There are variations on the cookie but the traditional one is almond or other nut based. Candied fruit, coconut, oats are sometimes used in the variations. Sometimes just a honey/sugar and butter base such as these here.

Florentines

1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons flour
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the almonds, flour, zest and salt in a bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Add sugar mixture to almond mixture and stir just to combine. Cool for 30 minutes.

Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie. They will spread considerably in oven.


Place in preheated oven - 350 degrees. Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool.

You can serve plain or drizzle with chocolate. You can also put a filling (jam, cream, chocolate, ice cream) between two cookies for a sandwich style. 
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Blessed Zélie Martin's Lace Effect Sugar Cookies

“The good God gave me a father and mother more worthy of Heaven than of earth.”

Written by St. Thérèse of Lisieux of her parents, Bl. Louis and Zélie Martin, who married on July 13, 1858 and whose feast is celebrated today, July 12.

The couple were married for nineteen years before Zélie’s death from breast cancer in 1877. They created a close, caring, family home, where love of God and neighbor were taught and practiced. It was in and by marriage that Louis and Zelie were to gain their own sanctification and set a heroic example for others. Their example illustrates how marriage can be a starting point of the journey to holiness made in the company of a spouse.  Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Zélie Martin were beatified as a in October 2008. It was only the second time in history that a married couple has been beatified.

Marie Azelia (known as Zélie) Guerin was born near Alencon France in 1831. This is an area of France renowned for its beautiful lace making.  Zélie was an accomplished lace maker in the tradition and style of the region.  After she married Louis Martin in 1858, they settled in Alencon and conducted their businesses where Louis took on the business management of Zélie’s lace making enterprise.  An example of her beautiful lace can be seen here. 

This is a simple idea to incorporate a touch of subtle lace effect into a cookie for the feast day. Using any sugar cookie recipe, just roll out the dough and cut out basic shaped cookies. Keep the dough a little thicker than you would normally when you cut the cookie as you will be pressing down lace and it will flatten slightly. Place a lace or crochet doily (or any piece of lace with large, deep design would work) over the cookie dough and roll gently but with enough pressure to press the design into the dough. 


Remove lace, place cookies on baking sheet and bake until golden.



As mentioned any sugar cookie recipe (or even pre-prepared refrigerator brands) could be used. If you are looking for a good sugar cookie recipe, I like this one from a Midwest parish cookbook.

Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe
  • 2 ¾ C. sifted flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¾ C. butter or margarine
  • 1 C. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla

Put softened margarine in large bowl of mixer. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend until smooth. Chill at least one hour. Roll small amount of dough at a time on floured board. Cut into desired shapes. Put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

While Bl. Zélie was specifically a lacemaker by trade, there are numerous saints who are listed as patrons for lacemaking and lacemakers. These cookies would be a fitting addition for a treat on any of their feast days. 


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Red, White & Blue Berry Brownie Torte


Red, White & Blue Berry Brownie Torte

Ingredients:
  • Fudge Brownie Mix + ingredients for brownies
  • 1 - 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

Directions: 

Mix up a box of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies, or your favorite brownie recipe, and bake as directed in two Torte Pans. (I used my Pampered Chef Torte Pans.) After the brownies have cooled combined cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla to divide and spread over the top of both tortes. Top with blueberries and chopped strawberries. 


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Sacred and Immaculate Heart Fruit and Veggie Platters

 
+Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, followed by the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary+
 
I think these 2 Feast Days are my favorite during Ordinary Time.  Hence, the many ways I enjoy making them special.  Last year I made fruit pizzas for my family and friends but this year I came up with an even healthier alternative! 
 
It's always so much fun to contribute here at Catholic Cuisine. (Thank you, Jessica!)  I hope you will find these easy fruit and veggie platters a nice addition to your family or parish celebration.
 
Sacred Heart Veggie Platter
Ingredients:
Baby carrots
Cherry/grape tomatoes
Red bell pepper
Pretzel sticks
 
Simply line your platter with baby carrots to make the shape of a heart.  Next, I added the pretzel (thorns) and filled in with cherry and grape tomatoes.  The red bell peppers made a great flame for the top and more pretzel sticks for the cross.
 
Looking for platter ideas?  I purchased these two 18" clear Sturdiware platters from a local party store a few years ago.  They were only a few dollars a piece!  They are at the top of my list of favorite, frugal, kitchen purchases...I use them constantly for a variety of entertainment occasions.
 
Immaculate Heart Fruit Platter
Ingredients:
Watermelon
Mini Marshmallows
Red apple
There's a post on Pinterest from Women Living Well about how to cut a watermelon.  This is extremely helpful! 
Clump your watermelon together to make the shape of a heart.  Then, add marshmallows to make the string of white flowers and place the sliced red apple on top for the flame.
 Enjoy!
 
"Love overcomes, love delights, those who love the Sacred Heart rejoice." ~St. Bernadette Soubirous
 
"If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart, it still would not equal the love of the heart of Mary for her children."~St. Louis de Montfort

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Ascension Picnic

In Cooking for Christ, Florence Berger writes about the tradition in some areas of picnicking on hilltops to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. You can pack the picnic basket with some symbolic Ascension themed foods to enjoy including chicken or chicken salad sandwiches to represent birds, fruit or fruit salad for the “first fruits of the Holy Spirit,” cream puffs representing the clouds, and a bubbly carbonated beverage for the “rising” bubbles!

Catholic Cuisine Contributor Mary Machado first posted about this tradition here at Catholic Cuisine back in 2008 and our family has enjoyed Ascension Picnics ever since. As we prepare to celebrate this year's feast of the Ascension I thought I would share a couple pictures from last year's picnic.



.: Our Ascension Picnic Menu :.

Chinese Chicken Salad
(It is traditional to eat some sort of bird since Jesus "flew" to heaven.)

Strawberries
(The fruit represents Christ, the first fruit of all men.)

Cream Puffs
(Symbolizing the clouds that were in the sky.)

Sparkling Grape Juice
(Chosen for the "rising" bubbles.)



I'll also be serving Ascension Pancakes once again (originally shared by Jamie and found in the archives here) for breakfast .  You can find additional ideas for the Feast of the Ascension in the archives.

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Our Lady of Fatima Miracle Morning Breakfast

 
~May 13th is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima~
The Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to three shepherd children on this day in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.  She continued to appear to them on the 13th of each month, until the famous Miracle of the Sun on October 13th.  The call to conversion, repentance and dedication to praying the Rosary still echoes today...
 
A Miracle (of the Sun) Morning Breakfast
and Rosary prayer would be a beautiful way to celebrate this feast!
This would also be a great way to celebrate the Miracle of the Sun on October 13th. 

The Miracle of the Sun was a solar phenomenon where the sun was seen to be spinning with many brilliant colors.

Ingredients:
Eggs according to number of people serving
Colorful fruit of choice

Instructions:
Scramble eggs and set aside.
Arrange dishes according to what you have...This is what we used: (These small glass bowls can be found in a set of 3 at the Dollar Tree)
Place scrambled eggs in bowls at the center of the plate to represent the sun.
Arrange fruit around the bowls to represent the colors that were seen during this miracle.

 Enjoy your Miracle Morning Breakfast!
(And it's healthy too:)
+Happy Feast Day+
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of thy mercy.

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Italian Flag-Shaped Caprese Salad

Here's an idea for any Italian Saint's Feast Day or Papal Celebration!  We used this idea to celebrate the Canonization of JPII and John XXIII this past weekend at the same time as we gathered for our Rome Pilgrimage Reunion.
 
Caprese salad is a common salad entrée found in Rome so we thought it quite fitting for an Italian feast! 
 
Don't forget that both St. Catherine of Siena and St. Francis of Assisi are the 2 Patron Saints of Italy...It would be quite fitting for their feast days as well:)
It's very simple to put together and even more festive in the shape of the Italian flag!
Ingredients:
Typically, Caprese consists of  sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. It's that easy and it's so fresh and delicious!
*I used a fresh mozzarella log and Roma tomatoes for the flag so the shapes would correspond in size.*
 
Depending on your taste, balsamic vinegar may be added or a different blend of spices.  Dining in Rome, we rarely experienced it being served with vinegar.
Instructions:
Wash and gently dry fresh basil leaves and set aside.  Slice fresh mozzarella log and tomatoes of choice.  (We used Roma) Arrange according to flag colors, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Buon appetite!
 

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