I haven't been very experimental with dinner lately. Mostly just cooking from my repertoire and sticking with easy quick stuff as I've been really busy. And I was out of town all last week for a conference in what might be the Mecca of food towns: Portland, Oregon. Drool... I ate some really great meals there.
But I was craving something sweet and buttery today, so I made some shortbread. Shortbread is one of favorite kinds of cookies. It's so simple and good. I used the basic recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook and will probably tweak it a few more times before submitting it to a cookie contest on Michael Ruhlman's blog. So if you see me in the next few weeks, you can expect some shortbread. And if you have any suggestions, let me know! The changes are that I put in some flavors that are relatively new to me - the main one being some rosewater that I picked up at Savory Spice Shop... I think it goes great with the simple, buttery sweetness. I also made a halfhearted attempt to incorporate some whole grain and will likely play around with this a little more. Also thinking that chilling, rolling, and using cookie cutters will improve appearance, and that pine nuts might be better than walnuts.
As written this makes about 12 cookies. Which I could probably finish off in two days.
1/3 c. walnut pieces (or chopped walnut halves)
1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 c. sugar, ultrafine baker's sugar is best
1 t. rosewater
a scant 1/2 t. vanilla
a pinch of salt
1/2 c. white flour
1/4 c. semolina flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour.
1. Preheat oven to 350. Put nuts on a baking sheet, and bake for 7-9 minutes, till very fragrant.
2. With a fork or wooden spoon combine the butter, sugar, rosewater, vanilla, and salt. Mash till well combined.
3. Sift in the flours. Stir in till a loose dough forms. It's okay if it's not one cohesive ball.
4. Press into a rectangle on a baking sheet (make sure it's cool, if you re-use the one from toasting the walnuts) that is about 1/3 inch thick.
5. Press the walnuts into the dough.
6. Bake for 15 or more minutes, until the edges are starting to brown.
7. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.
8. While still warm, use a sharp knife to cut into desired cookie shapes. Long "fingers" are traditional.
9. Try to prevent yourself from eating them while they're still warm. Fail miserably.