If you don’t want another cookie addiction, then maybe you’ll want to bypass this week’s column. If, however, you want to jump on America’s latest cookie craze, then you’ve come to the right place! Swig cookies, with their scrumptious pink frosting and craggy edges, are somewhere between a soft sugar cookie and shortbread, and they have certainly won our hearts! (To date, there are about 41 million search results for Swig Cookies on Pinterest. I’d say we are obsessed with these sweet treats!) The Swig cookie originated in Saint George, Utah in 2010 at the Swig Drive-by Drink Shop. Known for their signature frosty drinks and sweets, Swig has now expanded to multiple locations in Utah and several other states. The minute I heard about them I employed “The Niece Factor.” That’s when I make a big batch of cookies and drive them over to my nieces and wait for their response. With these Swig Cookies I got a text about 20 minutes later (before I even got home!) that the entire batch has been devoured. That’s good enough for me! I think you’re going to like these cookies. They’re fun to make and may even be worthy of a spot on your holiday cookie exchange platter this year.
What Scottsdale resident Susan Jaramillo remembers most about her Grandma Denise Nerone was her magnificent homemade bread. In fact, Susan vividly remembers her grandma’s words:
“You’re the only little girl I know who begs for bread for dessert!”
Susan said the only time she would choose dessert over bread was when her French born grandmother made Apricot Pie. Once Susan shared her mouthwatering memories about the sweet-but-tart apricots arranged in a flakey homemade crust with a juicy apricot sauce poured on top and covered in lattice strips, I had no choice but to go into bake mode. What a fabulous, unique fruit pie! It’s delicious warm or cold, and of course, the better quality of dried apricots you use, the better the filling will turn out so look for plump, moist apricots. The original recipe called for whole apricots, but Susan and I agreed that cutting them in half is a bit easier to eat. You can cover your pie with an entire crust instead of cutting lattice strips if your choose. Either way, it’s Vive le Apricot Pie!
Right about this time of the year in Arizona, we look at big, heavy meals and well, they just don’t look appetizing because of the heat. That’s when charcuterie boards and light bites are a welcome meal or appetizer. Caponata is the perfect choice for days like that; when noshing is the most satisfying. This dish called Caponata, a sweet and savory fresh vegetable sauté comes from the Sicilian side of my family, my father’s side. I’ve share with you before that I grew up in a civil war zone of sorts, between the North and the South. Momma is from Venice, (northern Italy) and Dad came from Trapani, the southernmost tip of Sicily’s “boot.” Friendly battles raged at the kitchen table all of my life, with the northern contingency (Mom) insisting that food from the north, like Risotto, Polenta and Osso Buco are much preferred over southern Italy’s Arancini, Calzones and of course, Caponata. Guess who was the big winner in the plate wars? Me! I loved it all, and didn’t mind the friendly fire of food one bit! Caponata is delicious either as an appetizer on toasted baguette slices or as or a light afternoon meal served over pasta or steamed rice. If you’ve heard the term “Agrodolce”, Caponata’s sauce is the perfect example. Its name comes from “agro” meaning sour and “dolce” meaning sweet. The sweetness comes from sautéed yellow onion and a little bit of sugar, while the sour is derived from the capers and vinegar. There are a whole lot of delicious flavors in between, and the best part is, you can make up a big batch and enjoy it all week long in various recipes. This week, Dad’s side wins the battle, but the Italian food war is far from over!
Homemade fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie ala mode for the 4th of July! Pretty hard to beat. When I got a letter from Sun City resident Eva Meeks, it included a recipe for an award-winning apple pie that she had clipped from a magazine a few years ago. Here’s part of Eva’s letter:
“During the 4th of July holiday I hosted a pot luck for my family and decided to bake my favorite apple pie. I’ve been making it for several years now, and it’s always a big hit. Apparently this pie won some blue ribbons at state and county fairs. All I know is it wins hearts every time I make it for friends and family. It has a surprise filling that really adds a nice flavor. I thought you’d like to try it.”
Well, Eva, you thought right! I wasted no time peeling the Granny Smith apples and mixing up the “surprise” filling. I’m so happy Eva “blind bakes” (also known as pre-baking) her bottom crust. I’ve always done that as well because the bottom shell stays somewhat crispy after filling and baking. I’m also a fan of cooking my apples just to soften before filling the pie shell. Eva softens her apples in the microwave and then adds the rest of the ingredients. If you’re an apple pie lover, dish this one up with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ll be in for a big surprise!