Sunday, December 13, 2009

Melt-away Shortbread

My mother's famous Melt-Away Shortbread Recipe - this is the smell and taste of Christmas for me.

1 pound butter
1 cup fruit sugar (Redpath makes a melt-away sugar that is even better, but they are evil so it's up to your conscience. I use it only once a year, so I try to assuage my guilt)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour

Warning: this is a bit of a persnickity recipe, so following the instructions in order is important to the outcome. You'll need an electric mixer for the beating part to get the best results. You may want to wash under your nails before starting in case you get more hands-on with the batter.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius)

Mix flours together and set aside.

Measure out sugar.

Beat butter until light and fluffy

Very gradually add sugar, beating all the while

Stir flours into the batter by hand. If you're adventurous, a little bit of true hand mixing (but not quite kneading) might help get the last of the flour absorbed.

Form into semi-flattened balls and bake on parchment paper over a baking pan, on the middle rack, for 17-20 minutes, only until lightly tanned on the bottom (cookies should stay cream coloured). The more round the balls are before flattening, the more perfectly circular your cookies.

Remove from pan immediately to cooling racks.

This will make 3 to 5 dozen round cookies, depending on size (I just got 4 1/2 dozen medium sized). They are rich so you can make them smaller. I usually dip some finished cookies in melted chocolate and cover with sprinkles, but I leave some cookies "naked" because there's pure pleasure to be enjoyed without the chocolate.

You can also roll out the batter and cut into shapes, but they are more prone to breaking than sugar cookies.

Don't double this recipe! I don't know about halfing it, I've never tried.

Good luck!

Garlic & White Bean Soup

A hearty winter favourite with enough garlic to scare away the viruses!

Garlic & White Bean Soup

30 cloves garlic (peeled, whole)
1 yellow hot pepper (seeded, quartered) - optional if you like spice
4.5 cups chicken broth
3 cans white navy beans (rinsed and drained. 4 for thicker soup, or add a can of white Kidney beans for variety)
4 tbsp goat cheese (if you find herbed goat cheese, skip the Herbs de Provence!)
1 tsp Herbs de Provence (if your goat cheese isn't herbed)
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx. 1.5 lemons)
1.5 tsp cooking sherry
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Place broth, garlic and yellow pepper in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until steamy (10 min or so). Add cheese, lemon juice, sherry, herbs. Mix until cheese melted.

In batches if necessary, place broth in blender with beans and puree until desired consistency.

Move to large pot. Add salt and pepper to taste while stirring. Flavours blend best when simmered at least an hour after blending. Serve hot or refrigerate for later.