Just the Tip
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    Entries in colours (with a u) (15)


    1-2-3-4 Can I Have a Little More?

    All together now!

    The first cookie request was shortbread. One of the easiest things to make and one of the most difficult to perfect. They should be tender, but not flakey, sweet, but not cloying, simple, but flavourful.

    Sounds nearly impossible, I know. But really, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3... 4.

    This recipe came from an old friend of mine. We did a cookie exchange every xmas, and I'd ransom my army of tiny gingerbread men for her shortbread coins. When I finally saw how she made them, I was stunned. So few ingredients and the preparation breaks all kinds of cookie rules. But, rules were made to be broken, right?

    I've actually got plans to break more, so I figure this is a good way to work you into the idea of making cookies in a somewhat less than traditional manner.

    Shortbread Cookies

    • 1 c brown sugar
    • 2 c unsalted butter
    • 3 c flour
    • 4 tbsp cornstarch

    Now you know how I managed to remember the recipe all these years.

    The most important thing to notice though: UNsalted butter. Most cookie recipes include salt to help the leaveners work, and so salted butter can be used as long as you decrease the added salt. This recipe, you may notice, requires neither of those. No salt to decrease, so no salt in the butter.

    Brown sugar is also not entirely traditional, but with the absence of vanilla or any other flavouring the little bit of molasses goes a long way. It also adds a bit of gold to the "coins."

    Now, this is where things get a little weird...

    Put all of the ingredients into a bowl. (Butter really needs to be soft and room temperature)

    Squish them.

    I told you we'd be doing weird non-cookie preparation things.

    You have to use your hands for this. Have to.

    Don't knead, just squish. Kneading will start gluten forming and lengthen the dough. We want shortbreads, not longbreads.

    In only a few minutes you'll end up with a very soft ball of dough. And no spoon to wash.

    Much too soft to do anything with right now. 

    So, split it into two, make sausages out of them, and chill them like we did to the creamsicle cookie filling.

    Give them at least a half hour to chill and stiffen.

    I left mine in there for about 2 hours.

    And preheated the oven as soon as I took them out of the fridge.

    300 degrees.

    With a sharp knife, slice them just under a half inch thick. 8mm. or 3/8 of an inch.

    They don't spread much so you can pack quite a few onto the parchment covered sheet.

    Ideally, shortbread cookies should have no colour on the bottom of them. The low cooking temperature makes that easy. If you use white sugar and temps as low as 200F (you have to cook them for 20-25 minutes in an oven that low) you can get very pale cookies. Me, I like the caramel flavour that comes from the brown sugar and I'm not patient enough to wait 25 minutes for a sheet of cookies.

    So, I do these at 300 for 15 minutes. Some came out a little on the golden side, but this is what you're looking for:

    Top and bottom are pretty much the same colour.

    They're very soft when they come out of the oven. Give them a minute on the sheet, and then slide the parchment onto the cooling rack.

    When they're cooled, stack them into the magic cookie tin.

    The crumbly, sandy texture of these absolutely melts in your mouth.

    A few dozen of these and you can have my entire gingerbread army.

    What cookie have you used as currency?



    Spinach Pesto

    I should have timed myself because I know this took less than 20 minutes to make.

    Last night's dinner was a horrible fail. How bad was it? I wouldn't even post it as a fail, that's how bad. I've had quite a few fails lately and I really needed to do something to redeem myself. Pretty sure this did it.

    Colourful, fresh, fast. Perfect spring dinner.

    Spinach Pesto

    • 3-4 cups fresh spinach
    • 1/2 c grated parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese
    • 2-3 tbsp nuts, I used cashews because I had them
    • 1 large garlic clove
    • zest of 1/2 lemon
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • salt
    • olive oil

    Dinner was tasty, but I still didn't get all the ingredients in the picture though.

    No oven to preheat this time. But getting the water boiling now helps. Grating the cheese too.

    Dump the spinach leaves into the food processor.

    Sprinkle on the cheese, nuts, garlic, lemon zest, and salt.

    Squeeze in the juice.

    A few pulses will get it looking like this.

    This recipe makes enough for 4-6 servings of pasta, but if you want to make a double batch, just add another set of everything to the bowl, and do it all over again.

    Scrape down the sides and this time, when you turn it on, pour in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, until it just turns pasty. 

    At this point, you can use it as a pasta sauce, an ingredient in a dip, a sandwich spread, or even in soup.

    A bit more oil will make it very saucy, but it will store and freeze just as well as it is now.

    Besides, a bit of cream will make it saucy too.

    You can make pesto with anything leafy and green. Spinach is very brightly coloured, but mildly flavoured. Even kids should eat this. But if they don't want to, add some prosciutto , tell them it's green noodles and ham and they don't get to say they don't like it until they try it. SamIAm.

    Okay, there we go. I made dinner. I really can cook.