Inspired by a recent feature article in Bon Appetit magazine - Around the World in 80 Dogs - e-mail assignments came in from our hostess for an evening of bun-laden abundance. (I, of course, got the chili dog) We descended upon her kitchen with our matching Le Crueset pots of toppings, and after much wine, sampling, and artful assembly, a platter emerged from the kitchen to the oohs and ahs of the assembled husbands and children*.
A cool breeze blew through the redwood trees off of the back deck. The kids' cheeks were flushed with the pleasure of play and the giddiness that can only come from unlimited
make-your-own sodas. The men were chuckling knowingly about some iPhone app that reminds you to do stuff.** And an adorable little voice piped up:
"Mommy! Mommy! Can I have the one with the salad on it, PLEASE?"
Clearly, this was not my house, but a damn nice place to visit. And then, the conversation amongst us ladies turned to the inevitable aging of our children, and how grown up they all were getting.
Hostess: It just makes me want to have another baby. Almost every month I'm overcome with this desire and I have to really talk myself out of it.
Guest: Oh my gosh, me too. I would love to have another one!
They turn to me expectantly.
I look at them blankly, and then speak slowly as they are clearly insane*** and should be handled gently.
Me: No baby for me. Anyone for dessert?
Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from a recipe**** by Nancy Silverton in the Great Gatherings cookbook
1/2 c. butter, softened
6 Tbs. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. flour
1/4 c. medium grind polenta or cornmeal
About 1/2 tsp. of fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped.
1/4 c. raw sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and the sugar and beat on high for about 5 minutes, or until creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla, the salt and the lemon zest and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, and add the flour and the cornmeal. Mix until fully incorporated. The dough will be soft. Using wax paper, form the dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Securely cover the logs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or a few days. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350, and take the logs out of the fridge so they can soften a little bit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Combine the rosemary and the sugar, and spread out on another baking sheet. When the dough logs are soft enough for the sugar to stick to them when pressed, roll each log in the rosemary sugar. Slice rounds about 1/4 inch thick, and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until edges are just slightly golden brown.
Click to print this recipe!
* For those of you who are wondering, my favorite dog of the evening was the Indian Dog with Dal and Red Onion Riata. It's the one on the far right in the photo and it was terrific.
** I'm happy to do this for free, as would your own spouse, btw.
*** I was relieved later in the conversation to hear a relatively sensible analysis of the impact of sleep deprivation on those old enough to know better, and a confirmation that these unfathomable urges were curable by the normal ebb of hormones. Thus there will likely be no impending baby annoucements from this crew, and I can continue to visit this bucolic slice of heaven without fear for the safety of my family.
**** Her recipe calls for rolling out the dough and cutting thin rounds, and has the rosemary as part of a pine nut nougatine that bakes on top. It sounds awesome, but I skipped that part because of a nut allergy and invented the rosemary sugar instead. I loved the results.