I always have knitting to share but occasionally I like to mix it up with a recipe or other fiber related craft. In this post I'm sharing a recipe that is special not only because it is an authentic Italian family recipe but also because it came from an exceptional person.
This recipe comes from Eileen Doran who was in charge of the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic the Summer that I worked there. She is one of those rare individuals who has a passion for helping those less fortunate, is tireless in her good works, and is one of the very few lawyers that I admire. Thinking about her takes me back to the Summer that I worked at the clinic.
With the luxury of unlimited time to pour into a project (a luxury usually reserved for students and those unconcerned about billable hours) I was assigned to work on a political asylum application for a Hungarian youth who was fearful of returning to his home in a far away land where a war was waging and the Hungarian youths were being conscripted and used as cannon fodder on the front lines (due to their ethnicity). I researched the situation and spoke with various human rights organizations and, at the end of my Summer internship, I submitted a Petition on his behalf. The follow up for the case was assigned to another student.
It wasn't until years later when I was in practice that I thought about this case again. One day the receptionist told me there was someone in the lounge who wished to speak with me. It was the young man whom I had written the Petition for and he wanted to thank me in person. His petition had been granted. In the twenty odd years since that Summer my professional career has largely involved complex business litigation and I've had some impressive wins. But none have felt as good as being thanked by that young man.
I also remember fondly working at the clinic because Eileen would bring in some of her delicious baked goods and in addition to being a terrific lawyer she had a talent for Italian cooking and my favorite was her Grandmother's Nini's Special Torta cookie.
I consider this cookie part of my whole grain diet because, well, there are a lot of nuts in it. And nuts are good for you. Eileen says they are great with a cup of coffee and she's right.
Grandmother Nini's Special Torta Recipe
Originally published in Notre Dame magazine along with an article about Eileen Doran (reprinted with permission).
6 cups flour
3 cups sugar
6 tsp. baking powder
1/2 lb. butter
1/2 tsp. anise oil or 3 tsp. anise extract
3 eggs and 4 egg yolks
1 lb. blanched chopped almonds (I use a food processor to chop the nuts otherwise this is a chore)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar and baking power. Using a pastry mixer, add butter and blend until it forms a coarse mixture.
3. Add anise extract to eggs, beat lightly. Incorporate egg mixture into flour mixture using hands. Work dough with hands until smooth consistency. (N.B. This takes some time and effort so be patient. I find using my breadboard is helpful.)
4. Add chopped almonds. Pat into a 13x9x2 pan. Bake 1.5 hours at 300 degrees.
5. Cut into diamond-shaped pieces. Cover with plastic or foil and keep in a cool, dry place. Keeps for several days.
I'm a Grownup Now
I don't understand it. Simcha is 1 year old now but I've aged 5 years since he's come home.
Until next time be well and love well and why not take time to bake cookies, you'll be glad you did!