Yesterday was St. Joseph’s Day. This day in New Orleans, large altars are set up to
commemorate the saint and the relief St. Joseph provided during a famine in Sicily.
It dates back to the late 1800s when Sicilian immigrants settled in New Orleans,
but St. Joseph’s Day is not only celebrated by Italian-Americans.
Every year, this celebration offers locals and visitors a chance to share food
and attend mass together. For devout believers, it is a way to express gratitude to the
Saint for any fortune in their lives. The altars, which represent the holy trinity, are divided
into three sections with a statue of St. Joseph at the head. Candles, figurines, flowers and
other items are set around the altar to thank St. Joseph for relieving hunger. Cookies, cakes
and breads, which are often in the form of shell fish, are other common decorations for altars. Here is a recipe for one of the cookies you would have gotten at an altar.
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 sticks (1 cup) Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
3 Eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 cup Sesame Seeds, spread on a large plate
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour and baking powder in small bowl; set aside. Beat butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture; beat until well blended.
2. Beat egg whites in small dish with fork; set aside. Spread sesame seeds on plate; set aside. Pinch off walnut-size piece of dough; shape into ball using palm of hands. Dip in egg whites; roll in sesame seeds. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake until firm, about 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.