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Italian Cookies

1 cup cornstarch
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
Generous 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Blend cornstarch, cornmeal, flour and salt in a bowl until well
mixed. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric
mixer. Beat at medium speed with the paddle attachemnt 8 minutes
or until pale and very fluffy. Beat it the eggs one at a time,
making sure the mixture is fluffy before adding the next egg. Then
beat in the water, lemon zest and vanilla. Keeping the speed at
medium, beat in about 1 1/2 cups of the dry ingredients until just
blended. Then blend in another cup until barely mixed. Add the
rest of the dry ingredients, along with the raisins and nuts. The
dough will be thick, sticky and soft. Cover the bowl and refrigerate
30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Use the 1/2 tablespoon butter to lightly
grease a 14 by 18 inch cookie sheet. The cookies will bake in 3
batches. Drop the chilled cookie dough by teaspoonful onto the
baking sheet, spacing them 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart. Make a crosshatch
pattern on top of each biscuit by dipping a fork in a glass of
water then pressing the back of the fork gently into the cookie
dough, flattening it slightly. Wet the fork again and press it
into the dough at right angles to the first impression. Chill the
unused dough. Bake the biscuits 20 minutes, or until they are pale
blond with golden brown edges. Remove the cookie sheet from the
oven, and use a metal spatula to remove the buscuits to a rack to
cool. Drop another batch of the chilled dough by teaspoonful onto
the baking sheet and press and bake as before. Repeat with the
third batch. Make sure the dough is cold when the cookies go into
the oven.


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