As my daughters will attest, I am not a cook.
Indeed, the only thing I have ever cooked is brown rice and boiled eggs (you notice I said boiled and not scrambled or poached or anything remotely requiring any cooking skills) so it was a testament to my attempts to be fearless, that the first time I cooked anything more complicated than brown rice or a boiled egg, was on national television on Martha Stewart's show, with Martha watching my every move.
The occasion was the publication of my book On Becoming Fearless and what I cooked was my favorite Greek dessert that my mother made every Christmas and that is therefore, full of memories of love, warmth and celebration. It's called Melomakarona and it's basically tons of honey and walnuts and dough and cinnamon and nutmeg.
For those of you who want more detail, here is the recipe.
Makes about 36
For the cookies:
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) butter
1 egg yolk
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons whiskey
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3½ cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon orange zest
For the syrup:
2 cups honey
½ cup ground walnuts or almonds
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Melt butter; let cool slightly.
Place egg yolk, orange juice, whiskey, sugar and baking soda in a blender; mix at medium speed until combined. With the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the melted butter through the hole in the top of the blender cover. Mix at high speed until mixture has thickened and resembles mayonnaise, about 2 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cloves, and cinnamon.
Add orange zest.
Mix in the egg yolk-butter mixture and knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. (Dough will be stiff.) Shape dough by the tablespoonful in the palm of your hand, squeezing slightly to form an oblong egg shape.
Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and press the tops lightly with a fork, making a crisscross pattern.
Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
To prepare syrup:
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in honey, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Dip cookies in warm syrup for a few seconds.
Place on cookie sheets until syrup soaks into cookies. Sprinkle with nuts and let cool. These cookies taste best the next day and keep well when stored in an airtight container.
by Chef Mark Shoup