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Food

TO MARKET TO MARKET ~ My 5 Favourite Markets in London...And Why I Love Them

 I have enough clothes and shoes...said no woman EVER!

They call it "retail therapy" for a reason and that's because shopping releases endorphins, reduces stress and is cheaper than a psychiatrist. Shopping may even help you live longer (like you need another reason). So in the name public health I have incorporated shopping into my daily healthy lifestyle and started exploring London's markets.

I love the feel of the markets, they have textures, grit, smells, and personalities that you are not going to find strolling down Oxford or Regents Street. Don’t get me wrong, I love that shopping experience too but it you really want to get to know London you cannot do that without experiencing her fabulous markets. You noticed I referred to London in the feminine…that’s because anyone who has so many shoes has to be a girl. 

LIKELY THE BEST COOKIES YOU'LL EVER EAT. EVER!

Christina's Most Famous Almond Cookies

I LOVE to cook and bake. In fact, I think I am one serious chocolate ganache away from joining The Great British Bake Off. Of all the things I have baked over the years there is one that stands out as the most requested recipe EVER, my Almond Cookies. Without a word of an exaggeration everyone who has one of these bite size pieces of heaven tells me it is the "BEST COOKIE THEY HAVE EVER HAD". Their words, not mine, but I do tend to agree. These were my mom's favourite too so you should have seen my suitcase last Christmas as I baked these in London, wrapped them and flew them to Toronto. Thank God I avoided any sniffer dogs at the airport or 8 dozen lovingly baked cookies could have been snatched away at customs. So I thought the time has come to officially share the "almond joy" of the cookie/biscuit world... drum roll please....

Christina's Almond Cookies - Likely The Best Cookie You'll Ever Eat

Ingredients For Almond Cookies.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs (910 grams) butter room temperature. Cubed

6 Cups All Purpose Flour (750 grams)

1 1/2 Cup Granulated (Castor) Sugar  (340 grams)

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (10ml)

1 1/2 teaspoons Almond Extract (10ml)

1 1/3 lbs of Crushed Unsalted Almonds (605 grams)

1 lb Fruit Sugar (450 grams). You will likely have sugar left over. You can also substitute with Vanilla Sugar or Icing Sugar but this recipe works best with Fruit Sugar

READY, SET, BAKE

Grinding Almonds.

1. Crush your almonds in a food processor until chopped well. 

Cubed Butter.

2. With your mixmaster and paddle attachment cream together on medium speed butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extract. Beat well. On low speed add 5 cups of flour and crushed almonds. Alternating one cup at a time between the flour and the almonds. Mix well stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You have now just made my favourite raw cookie dough. Taste it. It is fabulous. I love it as much raw as baked. 

Almond Cookie Dough

Dough will be soft, sticky and delicious. 

Almond Cookie Dough on Cutting Board.

3. Working with small batches of your dough on a floured surface knead some of the remaining flour into the dough. Just enough for the dough not to be sticky and roll out into long "snakes".  Don't add too much flour. Cut into equal lengths and bend into a crescent shape. 

Rolling Out The Almond Cookies.

The diameter of the roll and the length of the cut will be up to you. Just make them all uniform so they will bake evenly. 

4. Place on greased and floured cookie sheet several inches apart. You can also use non-stick silicon sheets instead of greasing the cookie sheets. Bake at 325°F (165°C) for 20 to 27 minutes depending on size until golden. 

Almond Cookies On A Baking Sheet.

5. Remove from oven. Wait about five minutes or until slightly cooled before using a spatula and moving them onto a cooling rack. They are very delicate when hot. 

Almond Cookies Cooling on rack

6. Once completely cooled roll in fruit sugar. Fruit sugar, also known as fructose is finer and sweeter than granulated sugar and as the cookies themselves are not too sweet the fruit sugar really works well. It is sometimes harder to find depending where you live. Some better grocery stores carry it. You can also find it at some health food stores or there is always Amazon.com. where you can find... just about anything. 

Dusting Almond Cookie in Fruit Sugar

ALL READY FOR TEA

This recipe yields a lot of cookies, so two things. You can half the recipe and not compromise the cookies by doing so. Also know that these cookies freeze very well and can be kept for months in the freezer after baked...that is if no one knows where they are hiding. 

Almond Cookies Ready For Tea

Over the years many a school teacher, family member or friend have received these cookies in various ways. Inside colourful hand painted boxes to holiday cookie tins. But I think my favourite way to gift them is in a mason jar. It travels well (not in a plane way too heavy), protects the cookies which are delicate and it looks special. Tied with some ribbon and a handwritten tag and they will deem you the next Martha Stewart or for you Brit's a much, much younger Mary Berry. 

Almond Cookies Ready for Christmas Giving

Warning: Can be Addictive. Please Enjoy Responsibly

If you have any incredible cookie recipes you would like to share please send them along to me. I love to bake, love to eat and love finding new ways to do both together. I guess I might need to reboot my gym membership too now that I'm baking. Worth it!

Merry Christina... I mean Christmas. Ho Ho Ho

Going... Going... SCONE

Is there anything more British than a cuppa tea? Henry James said, there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as "afternoon tea".  What is it about this magic elixir that seems to make the problems of the day dissolve into the bottom of a teacup...at least temporarily. 165 million cups of tea are drunk everyday in the U.K, so the Brits might be onto something.