North Shore Picks of the Weekend (and a cookie recipe)

Before I list my North Shore Bloggers Consortium Weekend Picks,  I need to address a reader request.

Elizabeth and I wrote back and forth about my Florentines a few days ago.  At that same time, she asked if I had posted the recipe for the almond macaroons.  I had not, but I will now.  I got my recipe years ago from a Gourmet magazine article on Italian biscotti.  Pinoccate (Pine Nut Macaroons) was one of the several recipes provided by Gourmet.

(Yes, my recipe collection does look that dismal – file upon file of torn out, worn out scraps of paper.  I only look organized on the outside.)

This is a very basic almond macaroon recipe, and differs little from the one printed on the back of the Odense Almond Paste box.  I have sprinkled the macaroons with both pine nuts and sliced almonds, as taste and my pantry ingredients dictated.  Both work well.  You can make these in rounds or, as I did this year, in longer strips called langues de chat, or cat’s tongues (because they are long and skinny like them).  Whichever shape you use, I recommend using a pastry bag fitted with a round metal tip.  Between the egg whites and the sugary almond paste, the batter is extremely sticky and gets everywhere when scraped off spoons or formed by hand.

A 14-inch coated pastry bag and #806 round tip work for me. I am the world’s clumsiest pastry bag operator, so the larger the bag, the less spillover I have.

I gave up using 7-ounce tubes of Odense Almond Paste a while ago.  It didn’t move in the grocery store, so often the paste was hard instead of pliable.  The canned almond paste I buy now – either the Solo (grocery store) or Love ‘n Bake (King Arthur Flour) – doesn’t share that problem.  But it comes in 8- and 10-ounce cans, respectively, making a kitchen scale to weigh out the recipe’s 7-ounces a very nice gadget to have.

Can you read the recipe as photographed?  Here are the changes I suggest: 1) Canned almond paste will only need to be broken up into smaller pieces before mixing, and not grated; 2)  Line your baking sheets with parchment, if possible.  Parchment makes your life a lot easier; and 3) Pipe the batter out of the piping bag in quarter-sized blobs, or in 1/2-inch by 2-inch strips, both about 2-inches apart on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Depending on size and shape, you may get anywhere from 18-36 cookies.

Now for some weekend fun on the North Shore.  Here are my picks for the weekend of December 10-12, 2010:

Newburyport’s Holiday Invitation Night

Invitation Night continues this weekend, and Newburyport’s Chamber of Commerce invites you to come check out the city’s shops and holiday activities.  Enjoy merchant hospitality, live, entertainment, and the spirit of the holidays.  Do some shopping, grab a bite to eat, and make it a great night out.  Here’s a sampling of this weekend’s events:

At the Belleville Congregational Church

On Saturday, December at 8 pm, and Sunday, December 12 at 2:30 pm, come to the Belleville Congregational Church for The Newburyport Choral Society’s “A Ceremony of Carols.”  The concert features an orchestra, harp, and a chorus of over 100 voices.  Admission is $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors.  Belleville Congregational Church is located at 300 High Street, Newburyport.  For more information about purchasing tickets, call 978-884-2464, or visit

At the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce

On both Saturday and Sunday between 11 am and 2 pm, bring the kids to Inn Street in downtown Newburyport to meet Santa, share their wish list, and have a photo taken with Mr. Claus.  For more information, call 978-462-6680, or visit

Tannery Marketplace Arts & Crafts Festival

The Tannery Marketplace will hold an Arts & Crafts festival on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Artisans from across the area will be on hand with their creations to browse from, including pottery, jewelry, photography, painting, blown glass, handmade sweaters, scarves, fabric art and handbags.

The Book Rack’s Book-Author Event

On Saturday, December 11 at 3:00 pm, Diane Jensen speaks about her book The Art of Collecting, a collection of interviews with twenty-three art collectors.  About the book: “Interviews by [the author] will reveal anecdotes about the ongoing search for beautiful art and reveal secrets of how these collections – and their aesthetic – have evolved. There are fifteen essays on topics in collecting by experts in their field, with advice in areas such as lighting, insuring, framing, and more. For those who love and value art, this book de-mystifies collecting and gives practical suggestions on the collecting process.”  The Book Rack is located at 52 State Street, Newburyport.  For more information about the event, call 978-462-8615, or visit

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

A huge shout out to my hometown of Stoneham and it’s highly regarded little theatre.  From November 26 and running through December 23, see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  The play is “a family-friendly romp about a small-town Christmas Pageant that gets hijacked by the roughest, loudest, rowdiest kids in town. And just when the Pageant seems beyond all repair, the true spirit of Christmas is discovered in the most unexpected of ways.”  For tickets, contact the Box Office at 781-279-2200, or visit  Stoneham Theatre is located at 395 Main Street.

Beasley’s Christmas Party

Another regional theatre getting rave reviews is Lowell’s Merrimack Repertory Theatre.  Its latest production, Beasley’s Christmas Party, runs from November 26 through December 19, and tells the “story of a curious journalist and his extremely eccentric next door neighbor who is planning a most unusual Christmas party. Magically and imaginatively delivered, it is a distinctly American and spiritually uplifting holiday story for the whole family filled with humor, heart and hope.”  For tickets, contact the Box Office at 978-654-4678, or visit  The theatre is located at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell.

North Shore Blogger Consortium Picks-

Here are the picks from my fellow bloggers in the North Shore Blogger Consortium


Choices from all over New England at The Two Palaverers.


Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.


North Shore Dish spices things up with their weekend picks here North Shore Dish.


Heather Atwood from the Gloucester Times has her picks at Food For Thought


Check out the recommendations from North Shore Kid!


Good Morning Gloucester weekend picks here.


Abby shares her picks from 5th Joy.