This weekend was excellent from the standpoint of food. It was a feast of foods with difficult to spell names.
Bertie and I went to visit my parents and we all enjoyed a magnificent feast. The meal began with my mother’s homemade braciola (pronounced brah-jole) and polenta. We haven’t had this in quite some time, so I was particularly happy about it. Braciola (sometimes inaccurately spelled braciole) is an Italian dish wherein a tender beef roulade is filled with cheeses, herbs (and sometimes spinach and pine nuts). It’s smothered in a magnificent, tomato sauce.
Polenta is a dense paste of cornmeal which has been boiled (usually in stock). Sometimes this is served as it is, but often, it is formed into patties or into a loaf which is sliced and either fried or baked. I love my mother’s polenta. She takes the slices and bakes them topped with fresh herbs. This was served with the same amazing sauce in which the braciola had been baked and fresh mozzarella. Fresh green beans rounded out the meal.
For dessert, we enjoyed a new treat. My mother tried a new recipe for "Belgian Spice Cookies" or "Speculoos." These spiced shortbread biscuits are popular in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France, especially around Christmas time. Traditionally, they are baked to be thin and crunchy with flat backs and, on the front, images cut into the dough. My mother used a cookie cutter to create a leaf design. Sometimes the recess is filled with chocolate, but, my mom decided to dip the ends of the speculoos in chocolate and white chocolate.
I very much enjoyed this new treat, especially the blending of the flavors of cloves and ginger with the chocolate. A quick search will bring up several recipes for speculoos so you can try them in your own home.