Monday, May 18, 2009

Two for one

When a new cooking magazine arrives in the mail, I tend to follow a fairly well-established ritual:

1. Be very excited that it wasn't more Pottery Barn catalogs clogging up the mailbox
2. Put the magazine aside until I have some quiet time to go through it
3. Turn on the bathroom fan and settle in
4. Dog-ear the pages that have a recipe I think sounds good
5. Put dog-eared magazine in the stack of other dog-eared magazines from prior months, and vow to clip and organize the recipes on the dog-eared pages into a handy notebook so I can easily whip something up when I get inspired to try a new dish
6. Consider going online and bookmarking the online version of the dog-eared recipes (so I don't have to do all that clipping) into a handy, easily indexed, searchable, personalized online collection so I can easily whip something up when I get inspired to try a new dish
7. Check my e-mail instead
8. Get take out
9. Eagerly await next month's issue

But this month, I took a whole new approach. I actually tried the dog-eared recipes before I put them in the stack. And you know what? Some of them sucked! I consider myself a pretty good judge of what might taste good, but I am fallible. Seriously fallible. Thank god! I might have been holding onto that cheddar cheese biscuit recipe for years, feeling guilty and overwhelmed by the ever-growing stack of dog-eared pages, but now I can straighten out that corner and just move on. It's liberating, I tell you. I feel great.

And the good recipes are coming straight onto this blog. Can you say indexed, searchable, personalized and online? I thought you could.

The unqualified winner this month? The Brown Butter Raspberry Tart.

The fixer upper of the month? Blueberry Jam Sandwich Cookies. Check out the original photo of these things in the magazine. Who could resist, right? Not me. I dive in.

I start with the jam. The recipe calls for boiling the berries, butter and pectin together. I don't know about you, but when I boil something, there's usually liquid involved. Fix number 1...add some lemon juice. Presto! Amazing jam.

Onto the cookies. Make as directed. Taste dough. Not nearly lemony enough. Apply fix number 1 again...add some lemon juice. Presto! Tasty, tangy shortbread cookies.

Now, the grand finale. Assembly into the delectable cookie sandwich bite so tantalizingly shown in the glossy photos. Yep. There they are. Beautiful. I take a nibble and realize that looks aren't everything. These two things have no business being together. Jam is squishy, cookies are crunchy, and it's just a big mess.

But I have been loving that jam on bread for days, and every single lemon cookie was gone within 24 hours.

Two recipes fixed up and adapted from one in the June Issue of Bon Appetit. Voila!

Blueberry Jam & Lemon Sandwich Cookies

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus 4 hours of chilling time
Cook Time: 10 min for the jam, 15 min for cookies
    For the Jam:
    • 2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)
    • 2 Tbs. powdered fruit pectin
    • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
    • 2 Tbs. water
    • 1/2 tsp. butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    For the Lemon Shortbread Cookies:
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 Tbs. finely grated lemon peel
    • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • Raw sugar for sprinkling

    To make the jam:

    Combine everything except sugar in a large non-stick skillet. Stir constantly over medium high heat until mixture boils.

    Add sugar and return to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture is thickened and reduced, about 6 minutes.

    Remove from heat, and transfer mixture to a small glass bowl if using immediately, or pour into jars.

    Cool, and store, sealed*, for a week or two. Great on toast, popovers, biscuits, french bread, ice get the idea.

    To make the cookies:

    Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt in large bowl until light and 

    fluffy, about 2 minutes.

    Add yolks and beat until blended.

    Add flour in two parts, beating just until blended after each addition.

    Gather dough together; divide in half. Using wax paper or parchment paper, form each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll up, twisting ends of paper to seal. Chill dough until firm, at least 4 hours or up to a day in the fridge. You can also freeze the logs for later.

    Preheat oven to 375. Cover baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper. Slice dough into 1/4 inch rounds, and place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle cookies with a little raw sugar. 
    Bake until edges are light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

    Cool completely.

    If you insist on making sandwich cookies, spread jam on one cookie and top with another.
    I say, skip the filling, make a cup of tea and enjoy.

    Hey! Since you have the tea stuff out, why not have scones with the blueberry jam, too...

    *You can go all the way and officially seal the jam according to the directions on the jars, and it will keep a lot longer.

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