Making these cookies reminded me of some of my foodie favorites, particularly my favorite (and craziest) food memory. Like many of my foodie favorites, this memory involves pork – and lots of it.
When many learn that my family is from the Dominican Republic, they immediate think oh yes, island…beach…fun in the sun. But my roots are far from that. Yes, there are gorgeous beaches on the island. However, the closest to Santiago, where my family is from, is over an hour drive away. So even though spending my summers there as a child provided a drastic change from the concrete jungle of New York City, it really wasn’t the sort of change I wanted.
You see, I come from a family of farmers. And while my uncles all grow their fair share of plantains, yuca and other yummy starchy veggies, their “bread and butter” comes from their pig farms. My family sells lots of pork and eats probably more of it. It’s seriously a major food group of ours. So keep that in mind with what I am about to say.
Dominicans make a HUGE deal about celebrating a child’s first birthday, which really turns out to be a party for adults. Good music is a must and a delicious Dominican cake is a given. But what gets the most attention is the savory food. The food has to awesome and there has to be LOTS of it. To the point of insanity. Enter my favorite food memory.
I will never forget all the prep that went into my baby sister’s first birthday party in May 1991. My mother was hell bent on making sure it was a party everyone would remember. Which meant that the food had to be on point. So she opted for the “obvious” showstopper – a whole roast pig. In order to make sure that it was the best tasting pork, she decided she was going to season it herself. In our New York City apartment. IN OUR TUB!!!!
My poor dad gave into my mother’s insanity and with the help of one of my uncles brought the enormous pig home wrapped in thick black garbage bags. He put it in the tub. My mom put on some rubber gloves and went to WORK. I had seen people do season whole pigs a thousand times before in DR but never in the US, let alone in my own tub! And the thing was huge. It barely fit in the tub. After the pig was thoroughly seasoned, it was taken to a local bakery to roast in a commercial oven.
Of course, the pig turned out to be the “life” of the party and one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten.
I realize this story has nothing to do with cookies. Haha. But making them reminded me of some of the foods I cannot live without. Like pork. And pizza. And ice cream.
And lemon poppy seed muffins. So I was excited that when flipping through Modern Baker, I came across this recipe. These cookies could not be simpler to make, require no special techniques or equipment in the process and provide another way for me to enjoy poppy, lemony goodness.
I hope you enjoy them as well.
Lemon Poppy Seed Drops
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1 2/3 cups slivered almonds, finely chopped but not ground, divided use
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs to break them up. Whisk in sugar in a stream, followed by the butter, lemon zest and vanilla and set aside.
In a another medium bowl, mix together flour, poppy seeds, 1/3 cup almonds, the baking powder, and salt, and stir into egg and butter mixture.
Spread remaining 1 1/3 cups almonds on a plate. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time in the chopped almonds, then transfer to the prepared pans, 2 to 3 inches apart and flattern with the bottom of a glass. Repeat until all dough is gone.
Bake cookies until they are spread, well risen, and golden, about 15 minutes. About halfway through the baking, rotate the pans in your oven to ensure even baking.
Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.