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First Day Of Spring, Vernal Equinox

It was such a weird winter, unusually warm for long periods of time, then bitter cold, recently a snowpocolypse that was more hype than snow accumulation, but it’s finally here, the first day of Spring.  It’s still pretty cold and there is snow and ice on the ground and its official now, we have moved on winter is a thing of the past. For several weeks now I have noticed the crocus bloom, buds coming on the tree’s, the daffodils in my yard will be blooming soon and again this year my chives have returned, I had no idea chives were so resilient.  Going to the farmers markets will yield a plethora of produce and although I am not a warm weather person however,  I do love spring and summer fruit and vegetables, can’t wait for the berries and plums and peaches.

It is rare that I post several days in a row but to honor this day I made soup using spring vegetables, a light and delicate soup using asparagus and leeks. So simple and quick to prepare. So to celebrate the first day of Spring I give you soup that is a lovely shade of green and screams spring. The ingredients are few, no spicing except for salt and pepper this soup is an homage to the beauty of fresh spring asapargus and the delicate flavor of a young leek.

I wish you all a wonderful first day of Spring or if you are in another hemisphere a wonderful first day of Fall.

ready to roast

Pureéd Asparagus and leek soup

Serves 2 or more depending on serving size

1 bunch asparagus cleaned and tough parts snapped off

1 medium size leek cleaned well using only the white and light green parts

3 cups broth of your choice or water

salt, pepper

olive oil to drizzle on vegetables before roasting

1-2 tbs butter (optional)

splash of heavy cream (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degree’s, line sheet pan with parchment. Layer your clean vegetables on the pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, you don’t want them to brown only to develop that lovely deep flavor that happens when vegetables are roasted. Remove from oven and place the vegetables in a medium size saucepan.

Add the broth or water and bring to a boil, turn to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool in the pot for approximately 30 minutes. Using tongs place the vegetables in the blender and add a cup of broth. Pureé until desired consistency. Add back to the saucepan with a little more broth if you like your soup on the thin side, season with salt and pepper if needed, add the butter and cream and on low heat cook until it reaches the desired temperature.

Garnish with creme fraiche and chives.

A little peek at whats in store soon.

Chocolate-Irish Cream Cheesecake

I love chocolate cheesecake and Dyanna’s recipe has me craving it. Love the addition of Irish Cream Liquor. Another great recipe for St. Patricks Day.

ravenhawks' magazine

Chocolate-Irish Cream Cheesecake
ingredients

1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafers (about 18 cookies)*
6 tablespoons butter, melted*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 8 – ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 8 – ounce carton dairy sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 8 – ounce package semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur
2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For crust, in a medium bowl, combine crushed chocolate wafers, melted butter, and cinnamon; toss gently to mix. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.
For filling, in a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in eggs just until combined. Stir in liqueur…

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Irish Soda Bread, Happy St. Patricks Day

There is a wee bit of Irish in my lineage, my Dad was Italian and my Mom French/Scottish Irish. Every year for St. Patricks Day my Mom made something green, now I love the color green, but with the exception of vegetables I don’t necessarily like to eat food that is colored green unless it is a result of the natural color of the ingredient used in the recipe. It always made me chuckle when we would all sit at the breakfast table to green biscuits or eggs. This recipe is not green but soda bread is Irish by origin. The recipe comes from my friend Cynthia, The Solitary Cook and Boulangere on Food52. I have always been challenged when it comes to biscuits but have overcome that with a great biscuit recipe, I have made soda bread a few times and it is not usually light and fluffy it’s heavy and hard. I noticd this one when it was featured last week and when I saw that it was one of Cynthia’s recipes I knew it had to be good, she is an extraordinary cook, baker and person.  The bread has potatoes, beer and yogurt for moistness, which sounded really good to me, as my soda bread tends to be on the dry side. She used celery and scallions in her version but I chose to skip the vegetables and make it plain. I also thought it would be fun to make mini loaves that bake faster and are smaller in size. Cynthia calls her recipe Nouveau Irish Soda Bread  it is not your traditional soda bread, I have never seen a recipe that uses potatoes but it works and works really well yielding a flavorful and super moist loaf.  It is however exactly what I wanted, light, moist and delicious. The title is linked to the original recipe on Food 52 and I am posting the recipe as I made it.

This is the best soda bread I’ve had, really good even the next day. I didn’t have fingerling potatoes so I used what I had which was red new potatoes skin on. The potatoes were mashed with good Irish butter (Kerrygold). When at the store I saw some Irish smoked salmon and thought it would be nice with the soda bread and some homemade creme fraiche. Delicious!! I’m currently hosting a lovely couple from England in my air bnb space and they brought some wonderful Whittard tea as a gift. The afternoon tea is fantastic very similar to an Earl Grey tea with a beautiful perfume and flavor. Highly recommend if you can get your hands on some. I thought my good friends at Fiesta Friday #163 might enjoy,  so I’m bringing you a wee bit of Irish Soda Bread!!

Nouveau Irish Soda Bread

Recipe by Cynthia, boulangere on Food52

Makes 1 round loaf or 3 smaller individual loaves

4 fingerling or small potatoes cleaned and sliced (enough to yield 1/2 cup mashed potatoes) (I used small red potatoes with the skin on).

2 tbs butter (Kerrygold)

1 tsp fine grained sea salt or kosher salt

Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place in a saucepan with cold water to cover and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, and cook until quite tender, about 15 minutes. Drain using the pan lid to hold back the potatoes, and add butter to the pan. Mash in the pan with a hand masher.  Set aside.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp fine grained sea salt or kosher salt

4 oz greek whole milk yogurt, used Fage plain whole milk yogurt

4 oz Irish lager type beer (Didn’t have Irish Lager so I used a local Brooklyn Lager)

1 tbs honey

While potatoes are cooking heat oven to 400 degree’s.
Sift the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the potatoes, yogurt, beer and honey to the dry ingredients, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon just to blend. Scatter generously some flour on work surface and dump the dough onto the work surface. Form into a ball being careful not to overwork the dough. When it’s a nice round shape transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a sharp serated knife cut an X on top of the loaf or loaves.

For one larger loaf bake 40-45 minutes until a deep brown and when tapped it should feel bouncy not soft or wet. For individual loaves bake 25-30 minutes approximately.
Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Soda bread with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill.

 

Granny Phanny And The Giant Rabbit Some Turnip Soup For Womens History Month

Another delightful installment from the joint collaboration with writer/author extraordinaire Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, we planned this post to occur in March, Women’s History Month, we’ve come a long way baby and every month, week and day should celebrate women and their/our contribution to society, this country, our families and communities. I am woman hear me roar, well that is a little cliché I know but we are empowered and accomplished and strong and proud of how far we have come, it amazes me that at one time women didn’t even have the right to vote and in some countries women are still considered objects of disdain, almost subhuman and of less importance than their male counterparts.

I also am including a recipe that I posted years ago for a spring turnip soup, you may turn up your nose when you read turnips but honestly this soup is delicious, I use Hakurai turnips which appear late winter and early spring at the local green markets. They are crisp and sweet and mild and make an outstanding soup. The soup is topped with some crumbled bacon and the turnip greens which are sauteéd in the bacon fat. For vegan and vegetarian option all you do is eliminate the bacon and use vegetable broth or water. For vegan option of course you would not use the cream but you can sub a non dairy option of your choice.

Take it away Teagan…

Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit

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Hi, Suzanne.  I’m delighted to be back in your kitchen!  Hello everyone, it’s great to see you.

When I asked Suzanne for an ingredient to use in a story for this collaborative post, right away she said turnips.  Every time I hear that word I think of the “Cinnamon Bun” character from my serial, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-1.  That’s a 1920s culinary mystery, which is in the works to be “book-ized” this spring.

Many of you are familiar with my flapper character, Pip.  This time the story is told from the point of view of Pip’s grandmother, Phanny Irene Peabody.  I thought that was appropriate since March is Women’s History Month.  Granny lived during the height of the suffragette era, and she was a woman to speak her mind.  It’s also something of a back-story for Cinnamon Bun.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as Suzanne’s recipe!  Although that’s a lot for me to live up to…

Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit

“The only true woman is a pious, submissive wife and mother, concerned exclusively with home and family!”

Even more irksome than the words themselves was the fact that they were uttered by a woman.  I was glad that I had already left the building.  Otherwise I might have lost my temper.  What business did anyone with that opinion have at a women’s meeting in the first place?

suffragettes-marching

In 1920, Georgia was the first state to “reject” the Nineteenth Amendment, which assured women the right to vote.  It was two years later before women actually got to vote in my home state.  Long after that, we were still suffragettes, working for equal rights.  We still wore suffragette white to our meetings.

That intolerable statement was immediately followed by the resounding crack of a slap across the speaker’s face.  I cringed, knowing full well who had likely delivered the smack.  I turned on my heel and hurried back inside.  Veronica Vale was no meek little lamb.  She was a force of nature when her righteous wrath was incurred.  I tried to make my way through the pandemonium to my friend.

1920s woman scientist-microscopeBy the time I got to Veronica, I could hear police sirens.  A quick look around told me several attendees had slipped quietly away, including the woman who spoke the words that started the trouble.

“It was all planned,” I muttered.  “That bunch wanted to make trouble from the minute they asked to join.”

Not much later a handful of us — enough to make an example, but not so many as to cause the coppers much trouble — were hauled down to the police station.  A group of men stood laughing and cat calling while we were hustled outside.  My cheeks heated in a blush.

Detective Dabney Daniels of the Savannah Police got a tip that something was going to happen.  By the time the paddy wagon reached the station, he was already diffusing the situation.

“Miss Phanny,” he began with a smirk and a shake of his head.  “I wish I could say I was surprised to see you,” he told me before turning to Veronica Vale.  “Mrs. Vale your husband is already here.  You’ll be released into his custody.”

I knew that “custody” statement wouldn’t sit well with Veronica.  She was a doctor and a scientist, not some man’s property.  No matter how good the man.  For years Veronica Vale had worked at a hospital in England called Clapham Common.  It had an all-female staff.  She retired and returned to Savannah.  Then she met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice.

Before she could complain, I blurted out my puzzlement.  “Dabney, how could you know…?”

“I’d like to claim powers as a mentalist, Miss Phanny.  However, Dr. Vale had just arrived to pick up someone else,” the handsome detective explained as chaos erupted elsewhere in the station.JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar ad

Detective Daniels quickly excused himself and walked toward the sounds of people shouting.

Veronica gave a downright evil chuckle.  I looked a question at her and she laughed out loud at the expression on my face.

“Phanny Irene Peabody,” she said.  “You are indeed a Pip.  I suppose you’ve never noticed the way that young man looks at you.  He probably doesn’t care a whit for the turnips  you’re always giving him, or the meals he gets in return for fixing one thing and another at your cottage.  Tsk-tsk.  Phanny, that young copper is smitten with you.”

“Veronica, don’t be ridiculous.  You couldn’t be more wrong.  Dabney is just a goodhearted young man,” I told my friend most emphatically.

Another crashing sound and men shouting prevented her from talking more of that nonsense.  How absurd.  I was old enough to be that boy’s mother.  We might enjoy one another’s company, but there was nothing more to it.

“Hi, Honey.  Are you hurt?” Vincent Vale asked his wife as he skidded to a stop.  As Veronica shook her head he turned to me.  “Mrs. Peabody, are you well?” he greeted me politely.Christopher Timothy as Vincent Vale

Veronica assured her husband that neither of us had come to any harm.  I noticed Vincent held some kind of harness.  There was more shouting, and then the veterinarian pelted away toward the commotion.

A moment later we heard Vincent shout.  “Got ‘em!”

However there was another crash.  I heard dull thumping noises.  The sound was quite rhythmic, and coming closer.  Veronica and I exchanged puzzled looks.

I stuck my head around the corner and gasped loudly.

“I must be seeing things.  Else I’m just plain zozzled,” I murmured.

Veronica craned her neck to see what had stunned me.

“Well horsefeathers!  In all my born days…” she began.  “A Flemish Giant.”

“Flemish?  Bushwa!” I exclaimed.  “You’re hallucinating too,” I mumbled.  “Somebody spiked our tea a little too much at the women’s meeting.  Or else I’m looking at a cinnamon colored rabbit that’s three feet tall, sitting on his haunches.”

I crouched down, befuddled.  The big bunny hopped over to me and nuzzled my hand.  I scratched between his impossibly long ears.  I helped hold the big bun still as Vincent got the harness around him.

“This big ole boy decimated Godfrey Gilley’s garden.  Dug up every turnip he had,” Vincent commented.  “When the big bun headed toward his grocery store, Godfrey was so upset that he called the police saying there was a bear in his yard!” the veterinarian laughed.  “Trouble is, I’m not sure what we can do with him.  We’ve taken on so many animals lately,” Vincent admitted, but cast a pleading look at his wife, who gave a resigned sigh.

My face ended up against the giant rabbit’s soft hair as Vincent adjusted the harness.  I found that I didn’t want to move.  My fingers sank into the plush fur.

“I’ll take him,” I spoke up, and questioned my own sobriety again.  “Oh good lord, but I need a hutch for him.”Vintage rabbit driving

I hadn’t noticed that Detective Dabney Daniels was standing beside us.

“Don’t worry, Miss Phanny.  I can take care of a rabbit hutch in a jiffy,” Dabney said.  “Even one big enough for this miscreant,” he added with a grin.

Veronica elbowed me sharply in the ribs.  She gave me an I told you so look and winked.

“He’s sweet on you,” she whispered into my ear.  “So what if he’s younger.  He’s a damn fine figure of a man!”

“Absolutely no!” I told her so fiercely that everyone looked askance.

Fortunately I was spared from an explanation because of Veronica’s loud bark of laughter.

The Vales offered to drive me home.  I got into the automobile with Vincent and Veronica, and of course the rabbit.  Dabney bent down and promised to come by to start on the rabbit hutch that evening.  Veronica wriggled her eyebrows at me.  I gave her a withering look, then turned and smiled at the detective as I thanked him.

“What was all that about?” Vincent wanted to know as we drove away.

Veronica had no inhibitions about sharing her embarrassing speculations to her husband, despite my denial. 

“It simply will not do!” I told her, my patience close to its end.

“She means that dear,” Vincent said.  “You might want to leave it alone before your sense of fun hurts your friendship.”

“You’re right,” she agreed with a sigh.  “I’m sorry Phanny.  I just want to see you happy.”

“I am perfectly happy as I am.  Besides, I told you that my granddaughter, Pip, is coming to live with me.  I’ll have my hands full, teaching her to cook,” I reminded my friends.  “I can’t wait for you to meet her.”

The End

***

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Creamy Spring Turnip Soup With Wilted Greens And Bacon

(Bacon is optional for my vegetarian friends)

Serves 4-6 depending on serving size

4 heaping cups turnips peeled and quartered (Use the small spring turnips if possible)

1 potato peeled and quartered (I used Yukon Gold and it’s Optional to use a potato)

2 cups leeks (cleaned well and sliced) or use a medium size onion or 2 shallots

4 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or water)

2 tbs butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

4-6 slices bacon

Turnip greens cleaned VERY well

In heavy sauce pan heat a little olive oil, add the leeks or onion or shalot and sweat, cook just until tender don’t brown. Add the turnips and potato, now add the liquid (broth or water). Cover and cook until the turnip and potato are tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes and blend either in your blender or use the immersion blender. Note: If using an immersion blender remove some of the liquid you don’t want the soup too thin, you can always add it back in. Add the butter and cream and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Fry the bacon until crisp, remove from the fry pan and add the greens to the bacon fat, season with salt and peppper and saute until the greens are tender and wilted.

To Serve: Garnish the soup with the wilted greens and crumbled bacon.

Soup

Pip See’s A Pug…or Four And Dog Treats

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I LOVE collaborating with Teagan at Teagans Books on a blog post, it’s fun and I truly love her work.  Here is more from her feisty flapper Pip,  another snippet which this time includes “Wriggles” the pug. The recipe for dog treats is a copy cat version of Sherman’s Barkery’s Cheesy Num Nums. Percy gives these 2 paws up, that say’s a lot since he is Mr. Picky. There are only a few simple ingredients, they are super easy to make and are a great treat for our fur kids.

Blogging should be fun otherwise it becomes work and integrating Teagan’s whimsical and delicious writing with my food is exactly that. Thank you Teagan for the contribution, giving me a creative boost and and making blogging fun!! You are the best. Take it away Teagan…..

Thanks for doing another joint post with me, Suzanne!  Whey you said you could do a dog treat recipe, I thought of my character, Wriggles.  He’s a pug from one of my “Three Things” novellas (The Three Things Serial, a Little 1920s Story).  The character was inspired by your blog!3-things-cover_3-2016

Some of you may remember a little pug dog named Wriggles.  He was introduced in the third of my blog serials, Three Ingredients-2,  a Ghost in the Kitchen.  In that story he was a new dog for the character, Arabella Wong.  However, this vignette takes place prior to that story.  So I made him a puppy and gave him a different owner.

So once again, here’s a story from the Three Things “universe.”  Did you ever get the feeling you’d have to be “hit over the head” with something before you finally got the message?  Well, that was true of Pip.  I hope everyone enjoys this tidbit.

Pip Sees a Pug… or Four

“Floyd?  Hey, Floyd!”

That was definitely him.  The last time I saw Floyd — which was also basically the first time I saw him, the police were putting him into the paddy wagon when they arrested some bootleggers.  Yet there he was on a side street in Savannah.

Maybe it had all been a mistake, I thought hopefully. 

After all, Floyd was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then I remembered how rude he had been to me and Alastair Wong.  He didn’t seem sexy at all before that thought even got halfway across my noodle.  However, he heard me and looked over his shoulder.Sheik of Araby

“Well now, aren’t you a choice bit of calico,” Floyd said as he turned to walk toward me.  “Oh, it’s you!  You’re a real bearcat, but you’re bad luck,” he said.  “Go chase yourself,” he told me and spat on the sidewalk.

I know.  I should have ran the other way and not even called out to him.  However, in the small Florida town where I grew up, if you saw somebody you recognized, then you said hello to them.  I don’t remember what I meant to say to Floyd when he started to continue on his way, but I opened my mouth to speak, taking a step toward him.

Floyd shoved me and kept going.  Unfortunately I also kept going — backward.  I slipped, fell, and cracked my head.

pugs-4-smoking-vintage

I think I was actually unconscious for a minute or two.  Then I felt something wet wiped across my face.  When I opened my eyes, the world was a spinning blur.  I saw a little pug dog.  It licked my face.  It was wearing a top hat and bow-tie, and smoking a cigar.  As I gazed at it uncomprehendingly I realized there were four of them.  However, when I held my hand out toward the dog, I seemed to have an uncountable number of fingers.  So I figured there was only one dog.  I wasn’t sure what to think about the hat and cigar.

The sound of a police whistle prompted me to try and sit up.  There hadn’t been any “mistake” about the coppers hauling in Floyd.  He had probably escaped and they were after him again.  A voice intruded on my thoughts.  I realized it had been trying to get my attention for a while, but it was hard to hear it over the bells ringing inside my head.

“Huh?” I mumbled, looking for the source of the voice.

“Young lady are you hurt?” asked what must have been the world’s oldest woman.

Her face was so covered in creases and crow’s feet that it was impossible to imagine what she must have looked like in youth or even in middle age.  Even so, bright eyes shown sharply from between the wrinkles.pugs-2-vintage

Despite her fragile appearance she took my arm in a vice like grip.  She put her walking-stick in my hand.

“Wriggles, get off the poor thing!  That’s a good boy.  I’m sorry, he’s still a puppy.  Here dear.  Use my cane to help yourself up,” she said but proceeded to help me up with unexpected strength.

Once I was on my feet, if shakily so, I looked at the pug.  There was only one of him.  The hat and cigar were gone.  That much was a relief, but he still wore the bowtie.  It bothered me that I wasn’t sure whether or not the tie was really there.

Moments later I sat at the kitchen table in her tiny home.  It was a good thing she lived right around the corner.  I was dizzy and my head felt like it had gotten in the way of a sledgehammer.

A young boy “helped” us get inside her backdoor on the pretext of getting a cookie.  However, she gave him an errand.

“What’s your name, dear?” she asked me as she handed me a cup of tea. 1916-good-housekeeping-woman-tea-cup

I noticed the cup had been cracked and repaired.  The one she used for herself had a chip in the rim.

“Pi… Paisley Peabody,” I stammered, still shaken.

“Peabody?  Would you be kin to Phanny Peabody?”

“Yes ma’am.  That’s my granny.”

“Billy,” she addressed the little boy.  “Take another cookie and run down to Miss Phanny’s house.  Let her know her granddaughter is here.”

Billy’s eyes lit up at the prospect of helping.  Although the extra cookie didn’t hurt.  He took off like a rocket before I could protest.

“Yes ma’am, Miss Olive,” Billy exclaimed as he disappeared.

The pug, Wriggles barked as if he picked up and shared the boy’s excitement.  I reached down to pet him and the little dog wagged his tail so hard that his entire back half wagged along with it.  The woman handed him a treat which was gone before I got a good look at it.

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“Paisley, I know you’re from a small town,” Miss Olive began.  “You come from honest, trusting folk.  But in this day and age, a young lady alone has to be careful.  Now, you tell Miss Olive if that man did anything he shouldn’t, you hear?”

I shook my head and immediately wished I hadn’t.  “No.  I recognized him and just meant to say hello.  It would have been rude not to,” I replied and was rewarded with a smile.

The elderly woman patted my hand.  I put my nearly empty teacup on the table and thanked her.  Miss Olive took my cup and swirled the dregs looking at the contents curiously.

“You haven’t gotten off to the best start here in Savannah, have you Paisley?” she commented consolingly.  “But you will make good friends here,” she swirled the tea again and a smirk, a smile she seemed to try and suppress came to her lips.  “And you will have grand adventures.”

I heard the sound of Granny Phanny’s Model-T outside.  Wriggles lived up to his name as he yapped to make sure his lady knew she had company.  Miss Olive put the tea kettle back on the stove.  I felt comforted by the entire scene.  Safe.

The End

***

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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Copy Cat Cheesy Num Nums

Makes approximately 2 dozen depending on size

1 cup oat flour

1 cup barley flour

1/2 cup whole oats

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup +1 tbs spring water

Mix all the ingredients together until it is a cohesive dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Roll or press the dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into the shape desired. Sprinkle some grated parmesan on top of each cookie and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.