Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Resourceful With Rosemary: Rosemary and Lemon Cookies

I have recently been making forays into an area that has broken the spirits and the relationships of many a folk--namely, baking. Do not get me wrong--as a Bulgarian, our country's starch staple is bread, so I have definitely made many a bread in my time, but baking has been a whole 'nother ball of...dough. So, it was with some apprehension that I set out to bake these cookies, but my love for all things lemony was the right impetus. I used this recipe from Vegetarian Times, but below you will read my modifications/suggestions. Before beginning, be sure to cue up a lovely lemony tune for inspiration. Like this ear-mollifyin' Herb Alpert remix.

Rosemary Lemon Cookies
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup corn flour [note: this is NOT the same as cornmeal, unless you have really coarsely-ground/big grain cornmeal on hand; I used semolina but you can use any sort of flour that has a bit of a coarser texture...I was even thinking polenta would work well too. If you have none of the above, just use 1/3C regular flour]
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • some turbinado sugar for decorating [again, if you do not have this, you could use regular sugar, but the point is again, to create texture so any bigger-grain sugar will do]

1. Beat butter, sugar, rosemary, and lemon zest with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Add to butter mixture, and beat until just combined. Shape into 2 1-inch-wide logs. Wrap in wax paper, and chill 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Slice cookies into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Place turbinado sugar in bowl and press one cut side of cookies into sugar. Place sugar-side up on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown on bottoms.
While these cookies were exquisitely delicious and seriously, surprisingly, jauntily yum-yum!!!, I would put maybe even more rosemary and even more lemon peel and maybe even some lemon juice in these, but that's just me--I can never get enough lemon or rosemary. Now, if you are sitting here fuming about why you spent 2-3 dollars on fresh rosemary and you have no utility for it past these cookies, fret not--there is no such thing as useless rosemary. You could put it in mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, biscuits, breads, chicken, meats...with baked fruit. So, get resourceful with that rosemary.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Down In A Hole, Feeling So Small..." Eggs-In-A-Hole

Sorry, the Alice in Chains reference was a little obvious there, but I got a kick out of it, nevertheless. I am easily amused.

So, let's talk eggs. Or better yet, let's talk breakfast and a battle of epic proportions. No, it’s not a land war in Russia in winter, although it’s equally ferocious—it’s liquid yolk vs. solid yolk. Many a relationship has ended over this very debate [I kid…although I know several friends who have had this very fight with their in/significant others]. There is nothing I detest more than an omelet cooked to a flat eggboard consistency [useful for garnish but not much else] or sunny side up eggs that do not release a delicious golden pool of yolky goodness at the fork’s touch. Sacrilege!

For me, breakfast has always been the most momentous and favorite of meals. It sets the tone for the day and on weekends, it is so languorous. It has leisure…and love written all over it. So, it should not be messed up. This is why I present to you, a fail-proof and very feminist [I cringed at that one too, no worries] breakfast--eggs-in-a-hole. Otherwise known as toad-in-a-hole.

1. Melt 1T of butter in a pan on medium heat. This is crucial for the entire process--medium-low heat. Do not go nuts with the power.

2. Take a slice of bread. Cut a hole in the bread, either with a biscuit cutter, a glass, or a knife [I used a knife since I had none of the above--worked a-OK]. Very important note: one of the contestants on Top Chef whose name escapes me now had this brilliant idea to make a French toast eggs-in-a-hole. I tried it myself and it worked admirably. You are welcome to do that. To that end--beat an egg with a splash of milk and some cinnamon and salt and then dip the bread slice in the mixture first.

3. The butter should have melted by now and have a lovely foamy residue. Put the bread in the pan, crack an egg in the hole, season with salt and pepper. Cook it on the low-medium heat for maybe 3 minutes. You are not trying to cook the egg all the way through, remember? Or maybe you are...who am I to judge! If you are, maybe 5 minutes.

4. Turn the slice of bread over. Oh, I used Afghani bread for this, which is super yummy due to being cooked in a tandoor oven, but really you can use any bread. Except Wonder--because that is *not* bread.

5. Serve drizzled with maple syrup if you made it French toast style or with hot sauce otherwise. I also made a lovely little salad of tomatoes, green peppers, pomegranates, basil, pomegranate syrup + olive oil as the dressing.