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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Jersey Shore: Mandolettes and Mandelbrot

Like many people, we're taking an end of summer trip. This time of year makes us appreciate those things that fill us with joy. Spending time with friends and family, having leisurely meals, taking long walks on the beach, and, special to this summer, watching the Olympics and following the political campaigns.

More than usual, the fall will bring big changes to our household because our son, Michael, is preparing to leave for his freshman year at college. So it was important to find time to take a trip to New Jersey to visit with Michelle's parents.

With few exceptions, Michelle's extended family has stayed on the East Coast. A few years ago they had a family reunion at a nearby resort and 75 aunts, uncles, and cousins came for the weekend. Sunday at Helen and Warren's means brunch for 20, setting up a table in the living room, bringing out the folding chairs, and sharing platters of bagels, lox, coffee cake, cold cuts, cheese, egg salad, tuna salad, fresh fruit, and lots of Helen's special iced coffee.

This trip Helen and Warren taught Michael how to play bridge because bridge is one of the intramural activities at UC Davis and Michelle's parents are bridge mavens. We ate lobsters, a rare treat, because StopRite, the local mega-supermarket had them on sale for $5.99/pound. And Helen made us mandolettes and mandelbrot from a family recipe.

During the year we're the happy recipients of Helen's cookies, but this time we enjoyed being in the kitchen while she made them for us. Luckily there were enough left over so we could take some with us, although not many survived the plane trip home. They are so delicious.

Mandolettes

Yield: about 2 dozen
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots or dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a cookie sheet. Mix the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick. Using a spoon mix in the flour, lemon rind, and cinnamon, then add in the dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips. Mix well.

Put the batter on the cookie sheet, making 2 strips 2" wide.

Bake 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Slice into 1/2" cookies while still warm. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Store the cookies in an air-tight container and refrigerate. They can be frozen.

Mandelbrot

Yield: about 2 dozen
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound walnuts (roughly chopped)
3 cups flour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, salt, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and custard colored. Add the baking powder and flour and mix well, then fold in the chopped walnuts. Form the dough into three logs about 2" wide and a foot long. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. While still warm, slice into 1/2" wide cookies. Place the individual cookies back on the cookie sheet and return to the oven for another 5 minutes and brown on both sides. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Keep the mandelbrot in an air-tight container. They can be frozen.

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