Some time ago Valeria invited me to dinner. While we enjoyed delicious homemade seafood dishes (directly from the Chioggia fish market!) we inevitably ended up talking about the countless things we love and share.
It was such a great evening that I could hardly believe we were just a few kilometers from home.
Valeria lived in London for a long time and then in Sidney, but she came back to Veneto, her homeland, to work at her cookbook which will come out soon.
I got used to travel quite long distances to reach “my fellow beings”. New friends and people, who miraculously appeared in my life filling spaces in my heart, often took me far away from home.
Not this time, though: thirty minutes by car with the sun fading on the Venetian countryside – the illusion to be on the road again – and I was already there, with a glass of wine in my hand and Valeria’s crystalline laugh to remind me how special it is to find someone we can share something dear to us with. Writing, among many others, is one of them.
And then the Saveur Blog Award which, exactly like a repetitive catchphrase, comes back on everyone’s lips as the gossip of the moment.
If there is something that still provokes a certain reaction within me, after the huge polemic this kind of contests are able to raise, is the point which Valeria expressed giving voice to my thoughts: “They forgot a category for writing this year, didn’t they?”.
I have always focused primarily on photography and the effort I put in giving my best at it made me forget how frustrated I felt for not being able to convey in words what I wanted to.
Writing contents is not easy. Even though I have always loved and still love to pour pieces of my existence on paper, sometimes I find it difficult, I get angry, I lose my thoughts and never find them, I search my changing mood for the most authentic way to share. Just like we all do, perhaps.
Writing is too important and too valuable – even in the many blog pages populating the net – to be forgotten altogether, especially in an important Award like the Saveur. Valeria reminded it to me and I liked it a lot so, while Autumn arrived slapping me with fresh air and showing me a little bit stripped garden, as I was walking at the edge of our property collecting ideas for a new story to tell you, I was thinking about her and all that I’ve said. I ended up collecting hazelnuts, more than ideas.
What happened was that I incidentally stepped on some empty shells and – just like the leather bootees I was wearing, which had been forgotten in a box during summer – a wild hazelnut tree appeared, reminding me that it was just a bush one year ago. I raised my eyes on its long branches, which were still laden with hazelnuts, and I blessed it for giving me the inspiration and the fruits for this new story.
To be sincere, before writing these lines and eating these cookies I had to go through two failed attempts to make hazelnut cream with a blender.
I know, the mere thought of hazelnut cream is enough to provoke disasters and, in fact, I ended up with a burnt blender and an oily hazelnut mash, too precious to be thrown away. I decided to make cookies, which in the first version – even though they looked very good – were a little “rough”. After two attempts with revisited ingredients, interesting soundtracks… I ate all the cookies. The third time was the good one.
To be even more sincere, I must confess that I had to make the cookies over and over again because I lost the recipe. I am one of those thoughtless people who get carried away by occasional fits of inspiration and never measure nor weigh anything. To remember what I have done, I take notes on slips of paper which end up lost or unreadable because I touch them with dirty hands. Here goes the value of writing!
Strange crooked letters which I write with my left hand, because I am mixing something with my right one.
Strange crooked letters which remind me that writing sometimes is magic, because it makes us doubt reality. And that is all we need.
- 200 g finely ground hazelnut
- 100 g spelt flour
- 100 g cake flour
- 100 g Muscovado sugar
- 50 ml sunflower organic oil
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs chestnut honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven at 150 C°.
- Cover the baking tray with some parchment paper.
- Toast the hazelnuts in a non-stick pan stirring continuously until they become golden brown. Put the hazelnuts in a food grinder when they are still warm and grind them until you obtain a thin flour.
- In a big bowl whip the egg with the Muscovado sugar till well mixed and frothy.
- Add the sunflower oil, the tablespoon of chestnut honey, the cinnamon powder and a pinch of salt. Stir well.
- Add the hazelnut flour in the mixture and then sift the other two flours little by little, stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Stir well until the mixture hardens, then knead by hand until you obtain a compact and elastic ball. If it is too soft or sticky add a little bit more flour.
- Let the dough rest for 30 minutes in the fridge, wrapping it with a plastic wrap.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and start to roll it quickly, turning it often to prevent it from sticking to the surface, until it gets to about 5 mm thick.
- Cut the cookies by using a cookie-cutter and put them in the baking tray, leaving some space between one cookie and the other.
- Make some little holes along the edge of the cookies using a toothpick.
- Bake the cookies in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 150 C° until they become golden brown.
- Let them cool out of the oven.