Just finished This Must Be the Place, a novel by Maggie O'Farrell. She certainly knows how to spin an intriguing story or two. Or three, or four. They kept coming, interconnected, and at different dates, and places, leaping back and forth between 1986 and 2016, with the various characters, though most were a recurring group. I found it a bit confusing, and was continually shuffling around in the book to figure things out and understand what was going on. Still O'Farrell keeps us fascinated throughout. She is such a good writer. I've read a number of her novels at this point and loved them all. From the Publisher:
"Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn, and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex–film star given to pulling a gun on anyone who ventures up their driveway. Claudette was once the most glamorous and infamous woman in cinema before she staged her own disappearance and retreated to blissful seclusion in an Irish farmhouse.
But the life Daniel and Claudette have so carefully constructed is about to be disrupted by an unexpected discovery about a woman Daniel lost touch with twenty years ago. This revelation will send him off-course, far away from wife, children, and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?"
Brutti-Boni, according to Ruth Reichl in Gourmet Today, means "ugly but good" cookies, which I thought was a nice metaphor for life, the good with the not so pretty. She says they "are found in many regions of Italy, usually made from finely ground almonds in a meringue base. But the Mattei bakery in Prato, near Florence, makes (and spells) them in typical Tuscan style. The egg whites are only lightly beaten, and the nuts, which include a handful of pine nuts that add a more complex, creamy flavor, are coarser. These crisp, chewy cookies were shared with us by the authority on Italian cooking, Faith Heller Winninger."
Thank you Ruth. I made them first with almonds, as per the recipe and the second time with macadamia nuts. Both times with 1 cup of cacao nibs subbed in for part of the nuts (since we have a lot around here, and they're great). Have to say that I actually liked the almond ones better. Sorry mac nuts.
Adapted from Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl
1 cup unblanched whole almonds, toasted
1 cup cacao nibs (or you could use almonds as in the original, if you can't get nibs)
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 1/3 cups sugar
2-3 large egg whites
2 tablespoons cake flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pulse almonds, cacao nibs and pine nuts with sugar in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Lightly beat 2 egg whites with a whisk and add to nuts, along with flour and salt. Process until evenly moist. (Dough should be slightly sticky but firm enough to hold together. If it is too dry, lightly beat remain egg white and blend into dough 1 teaspoon at a time.)
Drop heaping teaspoons of dough about 1/2 inch apart onto lined baking sheets. Gently squeeze each one with your fingers to form a rough cone shape.
Bake cookies in batches until barely browned and still moist in center, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
The cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If they last that long. I mailed some off to the Mainland for gifts, and we ate the rest. Ugly perhaps, but very tasty. This post will be linked to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.