Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pista Packin' Mama

With Valentine's Day swiftly approaching, I'm thinking about food.

Oh, I know, who am I kidding? I'm always thinking about food. But Valentine's Day carries time-honored food traditions with it.

Nope, I'm not here today to dish about chocolate, tempting though that may be. In my family, one of our traditions years ago was to give something different, and my Valentine package usually included a mixture of plain and red-dyed pistachios.

I know, the thought of dyed pistachios is so Seventies and not at all the thing to do nowadays. (Can one still find them? Wait, I don't really want to know.) But the fact is, I love pistachios –- or pistas, as Indians label them and I like to call them with affection -– and I could hardly wait for my special stash of them for the holiday.

My Wonderful Parents haven't given me pistachios in several years –- but I'm not complaining, folks, because My Fabulous Aunt gave me a bag for Christmas, and I've been nibbling away at them slowly, with plenty left for a special baking project this week.

This coming weekend, I'm hosting a Moroccan feast for several young friends. The main dishes will, of course, feature a variety of local foods that I've tucked in the pantry and the freezer, but the dessert will have a more exotic flair, simply because I'm ready for a little splurge.

When I spotted the baked dates stuffed with goat cheese on Bri's blog (yes, Bri, they're worth a second shout-out!), I knew they would make the perfect ending to a savory feast. And the pistas she so lovingly arranged under the dates made me think that I should use the rest of mine, too... though, perhaps, in a different way.

I settled on a simple, light, buttery cookie chock full of ground pistas: my lavender refrigerator cookie, tweaked with a hint of cardamom and a whole lot of pista-packed goodness.

Once again, the monster mixer made short work of pulling together the dough, and after a quick chill in the fridge, I sliced the dough and baked the cookies, ending up with two and a half dozen nutty and faintly exotic little morsels.

I've tucked them away in a tin and will have to discipline myself severely not to open it for the rest of the week... they're that good!

And I know I'm not the only one who will appreciate this tradition this Valentine's Day!


At 2/15/2008 5:41 PM, Blogger Bri said...

Awww, shucks. Thanks! I LOVE your pistachio/cardamom cookie idea. Just a delightful way to tie the flavors of African/Middle Eastern cuisines together. I can't wait to hear about the rest of the menu and how it was all received. Yum!

At 2/17/2008 11:48 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Comin' soon! Once I catch up here, I'm posting the review of the meal... be prepared to drool! ;-)

At 2/21/2008 10:19 PM, Blogger jasminflower said...

How can I find the recipe for vegetarian B'Stila and Pistachio cookies?!? My boyfriend has Moroccan grandparents and I love these foods!

At 2/22/2008 7:31 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Jasminflower, drop me an email at baklavaqueen AT yahoo DOT com and I can send the b'stilla recipe to you. (It's not an original recipe, and I try not to post recipes that aren't mine or at least significantly modified.)

The pistachio cookie is not authentic but based on a vanilla refrigerator cookie, so find a basic recipe for that, drop the vanilla, and add about 1/2 c chopped pistachios and 1/2 tsp ground cardamom. Easy!


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