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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I would like you to take a moment and think about your childhood. Think about the recipes and dishes that your grandmother's or your mother's made for you.  Is there one dish that really stands out from all of the others.  A dish that when you walk into a restaraunt, a bakery or into someones kitchen that is making something that smells like  the dish you remember,  all of a sudden it just brings you back.  That smell or flavor just brings you back to your childhood.  It brings back memories!  I have many recipes that bring me back to my childhood when my grandmother's would put together the big family holidays, but one recipe in particular that just encompasses my childhood is my Grandma's  Easter Lemon Knots or " Taralli ".  For some odd reason when I was little I did not pay too much attention to the Easter holiday.  Don't get me wrong, it was fun...the whole Easter Bunny thing and eggs were great...., but in the overall picture of  all the holidays, Easter for some weird reason was at the bottom of my totem pole.  Which is why I find it so surprising, now that I am an adult, I find myself getting very emotional the last few years around Easter time.  While it was mundane when I was a child, I would give anything now to have it over again....just for one day...just to bring it all  back.  So that is why last year I decided to bring the memories back for my family and for myself and make my Gandma's Lemon Knots.

Last  year was the first yeat I decided to tackle this recipe.  I had a hard time.  It was not that the recipe was difficult or extremely time consuming.  These cookies were hard to make because I had told all my family I was making them and I put a ton of pressure on myself; "what if they don't taste like Grandma's?  What if they are horrible?", I just kept asking myself over and over again.  I read the recipe over and over again, because I wanted to get them perfect, just like Grandma had done.  When I got done baking the cookies I set them on a cooling rack on the counter and then went to put my daughters to sleep.  When I came back down over half of the cookies were gone.  They vanished!  Well not dog had jumped up on the counter and ate them!  Needless to say, I was devestated.  I cried and cried and swore at my dog until I was blue in the face.  My husband just looked at me funny.  I had to explain to him that I felt like I failed.  I felt like a let my Grandma down.  I felt like I dishonored her memory by not being able to make them the way she did.  Well, my hubbie would have none of this.  He picked me back up, emotionally and physically, and helped me make another batch of Grandma's Lemon Knots.  And guess what....the second batch was perfect!

Long story short (is it too late), I made Grandma's Lemon Knots again this year.  I whipped through the recipe like a pro.  Baked them and glazed them to perfection.  I was like a greedy little kid....I could not even wait for the glaze to harden....I had to eat one.  The memories came back just like that!  I love Easter!

These cookies are not just cookies.  They are not super sweet.  They are a cross between a cookie, scone and pastry.  You can eat them for breakfast with coffee (my favorite) or for a snack at lunch, dinner and dessert!  Every Italian has a different way of making these cookies, but I follow the way my Grandma made them to the "t".  Please try them if you want to pretend you come from a large Italian family this Easter holiday!  Even if you don't want to make them I hope this post inspired you to make your own memory!  HAPPY EASTER!


For the Cookies:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1  /2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift dry ingredients (four, baking powder and salt) into a large bowl or your stand mixer bowl.
  3. Blend in beaten eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.
  4. Mix and knead dough by hand until soft and smooth.  Make sure you flour your surface before kneading.  This will take  no more than 5 minutes.
  5. Break off pieces of dough about the size of a small shell on walnut.
  6. Roll each piece of dough by hand on a floured board into a rope - 6 to 7 inches long.
  7. Tie each dough rope into a knot.
  8. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes.
  9. Cool on wire rack and then glaze.
For Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • around 3 tsp. of milk
  1. Add powdered sugar and lemon extract to a bowl.  Mix well.
  2. Using a whisk add 1 tsp. of milk at a time to the powdered sugar.  The consistency should be a bit thin because we are just "glazing" not "frosting".
  3. Gently toss cookies completely in the glaze. Make sure the cookies is completely coated from top to bottom to sides.
  4. Place on wire rack with a cookie sheet under it (this will catch the glaze drippings).  Set out until glaze sets.
  5. To store:  put in an airtight container with wax paper or parchment paper in between in layer.  I think they stay better in the fridge.

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