Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread

 I've had Martha Stewart's Cookies book for some time. Originally I checked it out from the library, drooled over the recipes and then decided I must absolutely, positively have this cookie book or perish from the lack thereof. This was around a year or more ago and if you've read my blog before, you know the next one is coming a mile in advance.

And the book sat on my shelf unopened all that time.

Which is a shame, because as photos go, Martha's cookies always look sublime and it's just so much fun to flip through all those nice, shiny glossy pages.

 So, after realizing I had been neglecting my blog again, I flipped through, found what looked like to be a fairly simple recipe (it's usually hard to find a 7 ingredient recipe with Martha) and headed back into the kitchen.

It just feels wrong to say I didn't care for this cookie. I mean, we are talking Martha Stewart after all. But considering my coworkers happily gobbled them down it's probably just me. I prefer a sweeter shortbread cookie. Martha's cookie is very light and very subtle with a lovely hint of orange as you bite into it.  I feel like I had overbaked them somewhat but nobody seemed to mind or notice so I'll just keep that info to myself (at least when it comes to them knowing about it).

Overall a B cookie. I think I might give this a shot with some chocolate chips another time...the combo of orange and zest in a shortbread cookie sounds sublime.

Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread
from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

2 sticks butter, unsalted, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
2 cups regular flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest 

Mix butter and sugar in mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, approximately 2 minutes. Add vanilla and zest. Mix until combined.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour, 2 tbsp cornmeal and salt for 3 minutes or combined well. Halve dough and roll into log. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place remaining cornmeal on sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough logs in cornmeal to coat. Cut into slices and space rounds 1 inch apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden, 30 -35 minutes (less for me but my cookies were smaller). Cool on wire rack.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mom's Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet

My mom's favorite drink had to be a Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet. Which to the best of my knowledge is a drink that is pretty much popular in Wisconsin (at least this version of it is) and those who may have hailed from there. So in memory of my mom, who would have turned 69 today, I made her favorite drink. And given my love of maraschino cherries despite the knowledge that all those chemicals are probably going to lead to me growing a third arm someday, I went a touch overboard with adding them to the drink. But considering my mom and I always shared a serious sweet tooth, I like to think she would have approved.

Angostura Bitter
Sugar cube
Old fashioned glass (nowhere to be found in my kitchen)
sweet soda (sprite, sierra mist etc)
marachino cherries

Place sugar cube in glass with splash of water. After sugar cube soaks up some water, mash cube with handle of a wooden spoon (or you could do what I did...add a tsp of granulated sugar and still be happy). Avoid leaving large chunks of sugar cube.

Add ice to glass. Add 1 1/2 oz brandy. Add three shakes of bitters, then sweet soda and stir. Garnish with maraschino cherries and serve.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baked Shrimp with Fennel and Feta

I was going to credit making this recipe to my desire to do the right thing by my cookbook collection and use it a little more. But I have to be honest. It's all about the shrimp. And when you tell me that not only can I have shrimp but I can also have some feta cheese and garlic with it, then you have my heart and my stomach right there.

And maybe there was a tiny bit of wanting to do the right thing by cracking open this long unused cookbook anyway.

Now I did not really (as usual) make this as I'm sure the fine people over at Fine Cooking intended it to be. I went with a different size shrimp as that was on sale at the store and then I added insult to injury by using cooked shrimp. So I consider myself to be one lucky girl that this turned out to taste pretty darned good if you ask me (and I really couldn't answer with my mouth full of shrimp anyway). The feta cheese and tomatoes worked very well with the shrimp and even though I started out with cooked shrimp, I couldn't tell the difference when all the flavors pulled together in the oven.

Even more interesting, as far as I know, this was my first time with fennel in a recipe and I actually liked it. Not sure if this is exactly Weight Watchers approved as I haven't figure out the points yet, but it was a fine splurge for a Sunday evening dinner.

Baked Shrimp with Fennel and Feta
From: Fine Cooking Annual 2007

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced fennel bulb
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbs dried parsley
1/4 lb feta cheese crumbled
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack placed in center of oven. Heat 2 tbsp oil at medium high. Add fennel and cook for 7-8 minutes or until slightly softened and lightly brown. Add minced garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add wine and bring to boil. add tomatoes with juice, season with salt and pepper, and cook until heated through. Spread tomato mixture evenly through pan.

Combine bread crumbs, parsley, feta, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange shrimp in single layer over tomato mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until shrimp are cooked through and cheese is melted, about 12-15 minutes.