December 31, 2010

While I was in Bremerton a few weeks ago, my mom and I did some Christmas shopping and stopped into World Market. Though they mostly sell home goods and various other trinkets, World Market also have a decent section of fairly priced specialty food items, including spices. For about $15, I got two packets of lavender, juniper berries (what to use them for? We’ll find out…), a huge packet of curry powder, turmeric, smoked paprika and Madagascar vanilla beans.
When we got home, I went to work on making some Lavender Shortbread cookies. They’re a bit more fitting for high tea than Christmas, but since I had access to a stocked kitchen, I figured I might as well go for it. There were a few motifications I made, but mostly went by Gale Gand’s recipe.

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Modified from Gale Gand)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar1 cup all-purpose flour1/4 cup cornstarch1/4 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons dried or fresh lavender flowers2 tablespoons lemon zest (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter until soft in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1/4 cup sugar and mix until incorporated. Stir together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the ingredients are almost incorporated, then add the lavender, and mix until the dough starts to come together. Flour a work surface, turn the dough onto it, and knead it 5 to 10 times, to bring the dough together and smooth it out.
Reflour the work surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4-inch thick to fit an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan lined with parchment. To transfer to the pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, lift it up, and unroll into the pan. (Or, press the dough thoroughly into the pan with your fingers.) Prick the shortbread all over with a fork, or use a pique-vite (dough docker) if you’ve got one, to prevent any buckling or shrinking. Sprinkle the surface evenly with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, deflate the dough by knocking the pan once against the oven rack then rotate the pan to ensure even cooking and a flat surface. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden all over and very lightly browned. As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the surface evenly with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Let cool about 5 minutes. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 3 rows by 5 rows making about 1 1/2-inch by 3-inch bars. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove from the pan and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
A few notes: I was struggling with getting the dough to stay together as I was rolling it until Mom came to the rescue. If you’re having the same problem, you just need to be more patient than I and work with the dough until it warms up and holds. Also, I didn’t have a square pan, so I opted to use a round one and make wedges instead of square cookies
The Northwest lived up to its reputation for being gloomy during most of my trip, but on one sunny day, some deer friends decided to tromp through my mom’s backyard while I was working. They were not as excited about me as I was them.

But yeah, like I said, gray, clouds, rain.

As you may have gathered, I’m back in Greenpoint after a lengthy three week visit to Washington. I have more pictures and recipes to share from my time there, but in the meantime, I’m happy to be back in my apartment, listening to music, cooking up some dinner and getting ready to celebrate the end of 2010/beginning of 2011 tonight. Happy New Year!