Wedding Cookies and a review of The Chef & I by Mona Wise

I understand the Chef, I too love Mona. She is a generous, funny and very lovable person. And she is also love-able in the sense that she has a big heart with space for many.  I met Mona Wise at our first  Plate To Page Workshop in Weimar in May 2011, she had won a space in a recipe contest organized by our main sponsor Boar Bia in Ireland and I had a feeling that she was still in shock from winning when she arrived in Weimar. And maybe feeling a bit lost on her own without her four children and her beloved Chef but it didn’t take long before she showed what she is capable of when it comes to writing. She is a born writer, maybe it is her Irish blood that makes her a story teller but one thing is sure – growing up in a culture with strong oral traditions and living an eventful life clearly mean that you have stories to tell and Mona has many to tell us. I knew that she wanted to write them down in a book so when I saw that her book/cookbook was published earlier this Spring, I asked her if she possibly wanted me to review it for her because I felt that I want to share Mona, her stories and the recipes with you. It is called The Chef & I: A Nourishing Narrative and it is one of those cookbooks that you can both read and cook from, or just one or the other (but then you would miss out on the stories), whichever way you choose to use it, it a gem of a book.

The Chef & I is divided into two parts: the first is dedicated to the story of Mona and Ron and in the second we find the recipes. The kind of recipes I like, not too many ingredients, full of flavours and of simple execution which doesn’t mean the dishes are simple but that the ingredients are used with care and without unnecessary frills. The recipes are divided into Sauces, Snacks, Soups & Sides, Bigger Eats and Sweet Treats, every chapter filled with beautiful photos of food, family and life, photos that bring us even closer to Mona and her family. 
 This is a honest book with honest food. That might sound like a boring verdict but it not. There are so many words out there, too many words I feel because half of them are empty and not honest and to me honesty is one of the most important things in life (ask my children, I get very upset if I discover they have been lying) so calling Mona’s book not only beautiful but above all honest, is giving her a big compliment. She’s not selling a lifestyle but showing us a way of being. Buy it and discover for yourself. You can get the printed book here and as an e-book here.
After going through the recipes back and forth, I decided to make Wedding Cookies, the original version but next time I will try the cranberry macadamia version as suggested by the Author.
from The Chef & I by Mona Wise
25 cookies
220 g/ 1/2 lb butter. Cold and cut into little pieces
75 g/ 1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
400 g/ 14 oz self-raising flour (I used normal flour plus a teaspoon of baking powder)
110 g/ 4 oz pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts
powdered (icing) sugar
   Smash the nuts into pieces. No too tiny though
   Using a stand mixer mix all ingredients with the paddle attachment.
   Press the mixture into little balls about half the size of a golf ball. Place on a parchment lined (or silicone) cookie sheet. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 20 minutes.

   Allow to cool. Do not touch them while hot or they might fall apart.

    Pour powdered sugar into a large bowl. Drop in one or two at a time and cover the cookies with the sugar, using your hands.

Wedding Cookies-6