Thursday, January 13, 2011

Home Sweet Home (Lemon Polenta Cranberry Cookies)

You know that feeling of relief and security returning home after a trip? Finally you can kick off your shoes, lie on your own couch, and sleep in your own bed. I experienced that familiar joy times 10 this week after visiting my dad and sisters. No no...not because it was a bad trip. Quite the contrary! Refreshingly unlike my usual exchanges with kids, my sisters SL and M took to me right away and would hardly let go, even at night! But experiencing firsthand the energy required to keep up with them did give me renewed respect for Dad, his wife, Michelle, and parents everywhere =).

So what happened to make me so desperate for home? Just another round of travel delays - affecting me directly this time. My 6:30 pm flight out of Florida was delayed 4 times before Airtran finally canceled it at midnight. While a supposed lack of crew was the reason for our delays, we watched as the stewardesses clearly meant for our plane were moved to another flight. It was 2 am when we got to a hotel and our rescheduled flight was for 6:30, so we barely got a wink in before it was time to pack up again. With all the passengers ready to go at the gate, we were then told there might be another delay because the captain overslept! Finally, a man had heart failure as we were about to leave the gate and had to be carted off the plane. I really hope he's alright.

Lemon Polenta Cranberry Cookies

Quite the trip, wouldn't you say? I don't mean to sound like a brat, especially since we did get free hotel rooms and even a ticket for our inconvenience. But these delays do have very real consequences. One passenger was quite distraught to learn that a loved one passed away while we were waiting. Sadly, she'd have made it to see him one more time had the flight arrived on time. I certainly don't expect airlines to control or predict bad weather, but they could certainly have better procedures in place to save everyone, including their own employees, some stress and frustration.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I'd like to end this post on the sweet note you all deserve. Here is another treat that I baked for my sisters. I find they have a sophisticated air about them from the lemon zest and neat slices. And the crunchy texture from the cornmeal is really a delight to the taste buds! They're not too fancy for the little ones, either, who munched away happily on these during our car rides. My littlest sister, M, was so impressed by them that she started calling me "cookie," and it took some effort to talk her out of it!

Lemon Polenta Cranberry Cookies [Printable Recipe]
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit via Milk and Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies

XIAOLU'S NOTES: Please note that the dough needs to chill at least 2 hours before baking. Any small dried fruit, such as golden raisins (which the original recipe called for) or dried cherries would also work well in place of dried cranberries. If your fruit is a bit too dry, soak it for a few hours in some warm water or appropriate juice. For that extra sumthin' sumthin', mix a lil' rum into the soaking liquid.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/3 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks [refrigerate or freeze the whites for use elsewhere]
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup dried cranberries (about 4 ounces)
Powdered sugar, to garnish (optional)

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and salt, then egg yolks. Beat in cornmeal, then flour. Stir in cranberries. Knead dough just to combine; divide in half transfer each to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using plastic or parchment, form dough into two 1 1/2 x 6-inch logs. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice dough log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Arrange rounds on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart and reshaping into rounds if uneven.

Bake cookies until golden at edges, about 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to rack. Cool completely, and dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 4 days.


  1. Great cookies! That is one of my favorite combos.



  2. Finally, the recipe!! Love those cookies and the photos are beautiful.

  3. Xiaolu, these cookies look yummie, I haven't try to make cookies with cornmeal...will have to give a try soon. Love the lemon zest and cranberries :-)

  4. We also had to cancel our recent plane tickets due to the awful weather! At least you're finally home now :)
    And that picture--beautiful! The cookies sound delicious!

  5. sounds like an awful plane trip. out of all my plane trip experiences, the worst was probably when a passenger checked in but never entered the terminal until a few hours later. that passenger received many stares when FINALLY boarding and was sitting right next to me! but my trip can't compare to yours. oh well it's all over, at least you had time to spend with family :)

    your cookies look beautiful and the polenta must give it the extra kick :D

  6. I'm amazed by how your photos get more and more beautiful each day, sweetie! And these cookies look so delish - I love both lemon and cranberries.

  7. I hope the poor lad they carted off the plane is okay, but their reasons are just really, poor, poor customer service!

    I would be very upset, esp if I was heading out for an International Flight.

    That aside, I think this is SOOOO creative, polenta cookies..well I've never seen, or heard of such... and I love polenta.. so these must taste fabulous, they sure do look it.

  8. I have several polenta cookie recipes floating around, yet still never remember to bake them. These look like the winner with the addition of lemon and cranberry. I also think about making a batch with lemon and toasted pine nuts.

    Glad you made it home safely from a most eventful trip!



  9. Somehow I didn't realize your sisters were so young! You must be a favorite of theirs, especially with all of this baking you've been doing for them! These cookies sound awesome. I'm so glad you made it home okay! Traveling in this weather can be rough.

  10. You seem to bake a lot of things I haven't tried. First there was pretzels, now polenta! Thanks for broadening my culinary senses though.

    Your story about the delays was funny albeit a little tragic! Glad you're home safe and sound though..


  11. Oy, travel can be such a ridiculously straining experience. I'm glad you made it through. Those cookies look fantastic...really really brilliant combination of flavors. YUM.

  12. Beautiful photos, interesting recipe and what a story! Glad you're finally home.

  13. Sorry to hear about your traveling troubles, but I'm glad you had such a nice time with your dad and your sisters. Like you said sometimes there is just no better feeling than sleeping in your own bed after you've been traveling for a while.

  14. Sounds like travel delays are a real pain in the bum!

    On a positive note though these cookies look delectable and I nominated your blog for an award :)

  15. Xiaolu, you are so clever with the styling... I would have never thought about putting the cookies in the glass.

    Also, yes, bringing up children is really demanding. I had a chance to try it once for a week - and I was totally bushed.

  16. I've never made cookies with polenta before! These look awesome.

  17. What a neat cookie. The lemon and cranberry flavors look wonderful.

  18. It's definatly hard to know which is lovlier, the photo's and presentation, or the cookies themselves! Well done.

  19. I love these cookies. They look so lovely and I can't wait to try it.

  20. Wow, I'm digging the curved line of cookies. That's cool!
    Jess : )

  21. Thanks for sharing! I've been needing to use up my cranberries and corn meal. This will be perfect! (Also, that picture is awesome!)

  22. Love cookies and cranberries! Great to dunk in tea.. yum

  23. Hello!

    The cookies look great.


  24. I just want to tell you that I think you are quite an inspiration! I love the way you write and the pictures kill me they are so good! I love the one on the post!!! I can't wait to try these cookies! Thank you for a great post!

  25. Rosa - So glad you like the flavors :).
    Anh - I appreciate it!
    Juliana - Oh please do try the cornmeal. The texture is really delightful!
    Nourhan - Sorry to hear that and glad you made it back safely too.
    grub - thanks and that's so inconsiderate of that one passenger. I had no idea they'd wait that long for 1 person.
    Patricia - aw hun, thanks so much!
    Globetrotting in Tokyo - Yea I hope he's well too! Fortunately the flight was only across a few state.
    Heather - oh toasted pine nuts sound delightful! I've made a chewy cookie with pine nuts before and the flavorful is quite different but delicious.
    Joanne - Yea they're still wee lil ones ^_^. My dad got remarried quite a long time after my parents divorced so they're much younger.
    Sukaina - I'm glad to be able to introduce you to some new things. I really hope you'll try these as they're one of my favs :).
    Libby - can't it though? At least I've been pretty lucky before that this is my first terrible experience.
    Jun - Thx and thx!
    Sylvie - Yes! You should've seen the way I lept into my bed when I finally got there.
    Alicia - you are just too sweet, girl! thanks so much.
    Shirley - hehe, I barely lasted these 3 days, so I commend you on lasting a week with the young ones! you're too kind about my styling. it's really more that I don't want to do the same thing twice and start grabbing random things than intentional skill 8p.
    warmvanillasugar - =).
    briarrose - thank you! glad you like them.
    Medifast Coupon - you are just too kind, dear. thanks for stopping by!
    Angie - I'm glad I was able to post some cookies you might enjoy since I've admired so many on your site!
    Jess - Thanks! I was really afraid it would all collapse but it worked in the end yay!
    Erika - Oh so perfect that you even have the ingredients already. Hope you like them!
    Leemei - You're totally right, but I totally forgot to this time as we mostly ate them on the go.
    Creative-Pink - Welcome and thank you!
    chadizze - Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm quite self-critical at times and really appreciate the support.

  26. As Anh said... Finally the recipe!
    Flickr is not a very good thing if you think about it! It makes us look at the gorgeous food photos and then we have to desperately wait for the recipe to show up soon on the blog :-)
    Love it!

  27. It must be lovely to be home after all of your travel troubles :)
    I love the fact that you used polenta in these cookies. I've made a few varieties of polenta cakes, but never used it in cookies. Sounds delicious...

  28. Now this is the first cookie I've ever heard of make with polenta. I would definitely give it a try since I love that stuff :)

  29. wow, sounds like such a tiring couple of days! so sorry for you, but glad you had such a lovely time visiting family.:)

    these cookies look amazing! so light and crisp...can't wait to try them!

  30. i know exactly how you feel about finally being home after a trip. I feel it the minute my bare feet touch the floors at my home. These cookies look amazing, lemon zest and cranberries are wonderful!

  31. Such a pretty cookies. I must admit I never made any cookie with cornmeal, so this is really tempting. I can imagine the crunch !

  32. Oh about a trip. That sounds so frustrating!!

    On the other hand, these cookies look like a heavenly combination of flavours.

  33. Love the styling of your first picture. Cookies in a glass! How pretty.

  34. What a gorgeous image, and a unique recipe. I'm sure your sisters will love them.

  35. These are beautiful! I'm sorry for all your travel stresses. I'm especially sorry for the man with the heart failure and the woman with the death. Terrible. But I'm glad you're back safe and sound at home!

  36. i'd like more than a little sumthin' sumthin'. :) great cookies--the polenta flavor actually goes really, really well with the tart cranberries!

  37. I hate flying.. delays are inevitable nowdays! These cookies look gorgeous :)

  38. Oh dear! That's no good at all-that's a lot of drama and it can really have a snowball effect. Glad to hear that you're safe home and these cookies look wonderful!

  39. I love these cookies. The lemon paired with cherries sound fantastic and even better against a polenta backdrop!

  40. I have bookmarked this recipe and I'm making these cookies - this or next weekend. I love how they look and I can imagine the great flavour. I've never tried to make cookies with cornmeal before, but your recipe sounds pretty straightforward and foolproof :) Thank you!!

  41. Prerna - Sorry to be a tease on Flickr ;p, but I'm glad you guys are so excited for the recipe!
    Joyti - Indeed it was a wonderful feeling to get back! Hope you do give polenta cookies a chance. In the meantime, I need to try it in other baked goods.
    Amy - Please do try it :).
    amanda - thanks a lot, girl. honestly hearing recently about a lot of natural disasters and violent encounters going on in the world, I'm starting to feel bad about complaining so much for one flight =X.
    crustabakes - yes, it's wonderful to dig my toes into the familiar carpet and sink into my couch which wraps around people like a big hug :).
    elra - Oh please do try it, dear. I just know you'll love the result!
    Koko - Thx!
    Ellie - I appreciate it :).
    Brittany - I'm happy to say they did enjoy these. What a relief!
    smalltownoven - Yes, I feel terrible for them, too. I hope the man is at least okay now.
    grace - indeed they do go well together. and no one's there to stop you from adding a little extra alcohol and then drinking the cranberry infused liquid later ;p.
    Avanika - I definitely learned how hard they are to avoid this trip!
    Lorraine - Thx and thx!
    naomi - I'm glad to hear you say that :).
    Alina - Yes, other than the chilling this is really a quick and tasty recipe. Please do let me know how you like them!

  42. Glad your trip was great. Little ones are definitely tiring. But in a good way! :)
    The cookies look awesome!

  43. I made these and they were so good an delightful. Made them with rum soaked cranberries. They were a hit!

  44. Thanks so much for letting me know your results, Erika. I'm so happy you liked them as much as we did 8).

  45. I made these too!! And can't stop eating them while they're still warm. I never thought that just one teaspoon of lemon zest would make them so citrus-y - love that! I made them with finely diced dried apricots and it worked very well - orange apricots+yellow cornmeal look so pretty together! The only thing is that I guess our cornmeal is coarser than yours, so I'll grind it a little bit next time. AND this recipe can be considered "baby-friendly" in the sense that you can whip up the dough during your baby's nap time! ;-) Thank you for the recipe!

  46. Thanks for the awesome feedback, Alina! Apricots are a great swap -- I'll have to try it myself next time. And I'm glad you were able to fit it into your busy schedule with baby :).

  47. This looks awesome. I've been experimenting with polenta recently and make some delicious shortbread like cookies. Your recipe looks absolutely wonderful, I will try soon.

  48. These cookies look glorious. Love the flavor combo.

  49. This looks delicious! Great job! We'd love for you to share your recipes and photos with us at!

  50. Thanks, you guys!

    Lacey - I'm glad to have found out about your site. I submitted a few posts.

  51. Thanks for the great posting! I found out about your site about a few weeks ago, and tried the scone and this, and they all turned out really good!!! (and I am a total newbie in the wonderful baking world.) I have a quick question for you. Mine all came out looking like the sliced doughs. They didn't come out looking round and "natural" like the ones in your pictures. (but tasted great though) How do I make them come out looking like yours?

  52. Thanks for the feedback, Sally! I'm glad both those treats turned out well for ya. In terms of shape, it's funny you ask because I actually wanted mine to have more of a rigid sliced look! Mine look more natural because I didn't squeeze my dough enough when forming the log and it crumbled a bit when sliced. If you want a more natural shape, let the chill soften at room temperature a bit longer and just use your fingers to pat the sides a bit after slicing to make it look less rigid. Hope that helps and thanks for reading my site!

  53. I would love a few of these cookies right now!! They look so perfect.


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu