One Sunday afternoon, some of us Artviva Walking Tours office staff gathered for some cooking in Tuscany.
We made delicious Venician biscuits (cookies) using a recipe from Artviva’s good friend Tessa Kiros.
Tessa Kiros writes in her fabulous cookbook, ‘Venezia: food & dreams’, that these delicious and simple-to-make cookies will stay fresh for ages because they contain citrus.
However, we didn’t get to find out.
Since this traditional Italian recipe (see below) produces sweet-smelling biscuits that were impossible to resist, they seemed to disappear at an impossibly rapid rate right before our eyes!
These biscuits are so good that they almost warrant a visit to Venice to try the real thing!
In Venice, the most famous coffee shop and a must-visit place on any things to do in Venice list, is the Florian coffee shop. In the St Mark’s Square, it is the city’s oldest coffee shop, having been inaugurated on the 20th December 1720. Whilst it was originally called ‘Venezia Trionfante’ (Triumphant Venice), it soon became known amongst locals as the Florian in reference to the owner, Floriano Francesconi.
There is also a Florian coffee shop in Florence, just a short walk from the Artviva Walking Tours office in Florence’s city centre. You’ll need to cross Florence’s best shopping street, Via Tornabuoni, to get to the Florian coffee shop in Florence. Not quite as historical just yet as the Venician version, this coffee shop in Florence’s city centre was opened in November 2006. It offers not only coffee but also hand-crafted chocolates, china and more sweets and other gourmand items than you poke a cake fork at.
For now, here is the Tessa Kiros delicious and simple cookie recipe:
‘S’ or round biscuits
(Recipe from ‘Venezia: food & dreams’ by Tessa Kiros)
125 g cold unsalted butter, chopped
250 g cake (00) flour
110 g sugar
2 egg yolks
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons milk
‘These are famous s-shaped or plain round firm biscuits that are great to serve with something like fragolino and come in many variations. They are also great with a small dish of wild strawberries and another of vanilla icecream. These must be the ones that the boatmaan said come from Burano, with its lovely coloured houses…. they are kept in underwear draws because of their beautiful smell and last forever because of the citrus. Only in Venice could I believe such a tale.’
– Mix the butter with the flour and sugar until crumbly looking (rather like damp sand). Combine the egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon zest and milk in a bowl. Pour into the bowl and mix until it comes together. (Alternatively pulse together in a food processor.) Turn out onto a board and bring it together to make a fat 20 cm long log. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour or more.
– Preheat your oven in 170°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. You will need a lighly floured surface and flour for your hands.
– Keep half the dough in the fridge to keep it cool while you work with the other half. Cut slices about 5 mm thick along the log and roll each slice out to 8 cm x 1 cm thick. Form each one into an s-shape. (Alternatively, roll them into 10 cm ropes and join the ends to make circles instead).
– Put each ‘S’ or circle on the baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or so until pale but golden here and there – they shouldn’t be too hard as they will harden once out of the oven.
Makes about 50.
If you’d like to visit the islands of Venice, we have a great private Venetian Islands tour. We also have a discounted Venice tour package available either as private tours in Venice, or small-group prestigious Venice tour discounted package including a guided tour of St Mark’s with expert Venice tour guide, a gondola ride, guided Doge’s palace tour, and a boat ride along the Grand Canal.
You could also opt for a hands-on cooking classes in Italy to learn to make delicious Italian recipes in Florence.
Tessa Kiros is part of the Artviva Festival. Her books are available for sale in the Artviva Walking Tours office in Florence. ?