These traditional wedding food recipes from around the world all put on the plates the usual nuptial symbolism: almonds for immortal love, honey for the sweetness of a new union, fish and eggs for fertility, butter for prosperity and of course extravagant ingredients that represent the wish for eternal abundance.
Greek wedding cookies: Kourabeides
Mexican wedding “cakes”and Italian wedding cookies are similar.
Makes 5 dozen
Preheat oven to 300º and butter two or three cookie sheets
In a food processor, blend until creamy and smooth
1 lb unsalted (sweet) butter
½ cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
Add 1 egg yolk
1 oz brandy or cognac
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup chopped slivered almonds
Process until the almonds are paste and the mixture is well blended.
Add 4 cups unbleached white flour gradually, with the least possible amount of processing (use the “pulse“ button), until soft dough forms. (Overprocessing will ruin the melt-in-your-mouth delicacy of the cookies by making them chewy.)
Using your thumb and first two fingers pinch off a piece of dough and carefully on a floured surface roll it into a ball about the size of a walnut. Place it on the cookie sheet and continue this process until all the dough has been used. Place balls 1 inch apart because they may spread while baking.
Bake at 300º for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown. (Convection ovens work faster.) Cool on racks until they can be touched.
Put 3 cups confectioner’s sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each cookie in it. Store in airtight cans until ready to use.
These can be piled up on large serving trays and look lovely strewn with almonds and garnished with fresh strawberries or, in autumn, figs. (Strewing them with almonds signals that the cookies contain nuts, which some people are allergic to.)
Swedish Toast Skagen
This modern must-do appetizer at upscale Scandinavian weddings was spontaneously spun together by a famed Stockholm restaurateur during a stressful moment at sea near Skagen, Denmark and was immediately beloved back on land. It’s extravagance heralds an important “party.”
For 12 portions:
12 slices white bread, crusts cut off
3½ -4 lbs peeled shrimp (smaller is tastier and easier here)
½ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup sour cream
3 tbsp Dijon mustard150 g (5 oz) whitefish roe
½ cup fresh dill, chopped but save 12 small sprigs for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste
¼ cup, 1 stick, unsalted butter
1 lb. whitefish roe or salmon roe or lumpfish caviar lemon
2 lg lemons, thinly sliced for garnish
-Cut shrimp into bite-sized pieces and combine in a large bowl with mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper and chopped dill, remembering to reserve sprigs for garnish.
-In a large heavy gauge skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat and sauté until golden brown as many bread slices as fit in a single layer in the pan. Flip them over, adding butter as needed, and cook until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels while sautéing the rest of the bread.
-Cover each toast with shrimp mixture. Top with the fish roe. (Some recipes call for molding it into a tiny egg for each toast.) Stick a dill sprig into each toast like a feather in your cap and serve each toast with a slice of lemon beside it.
Mexican Almond Sponge Cake
The late culinary sleuth Diana Kennedy discovered this “cake of heaven” as it’s called in southern Mexico. It’s served at Yucatan weddings.
The night before you make this cake, soak ½ lb raw almonds in enough hot water to totally cover them. When you drain them, the skins should slip off; remove those that don’t.
-Line the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan with parchment paper. Generously butter the paper and the sides of the pan. Preheat oven to 325º.
-In a food processor or spice grinder, chop the almonds and grind until they’re crumbs but not quite powder. Set them aside.
5 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
½ lb sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp unbleached white flour
1 tbsp brandy
1/4 tsp almond extract