Thursday, February 15, 2007

Well these linzer treats would have been perfect for yesterday...

Finally we get to talk about what we made for the Wednesday (well... Thursday this week!) Treat Day! It was going to be perfect since it fell on Valentine's Day, but alas the weather had other plans... Jeff's office was closed yesterday, but he probably could not have even gotten out of the driveway to go in anyway! I used a little heart-shaped cookie cutter for these Linzer Sables to fit in the holiday, but you could use anything you wish - you don't even have to cut out the center if you don't feel like it! I did hold the dough in the refrigerator until yesterday afternoon, so the cookies would be as fresh as possible since Jeff would not be able to bring them in until this morning - it didn't seem to affect the results at all!

After the dough is mixed, I liked how you could still see the speckles of finely ground almonds - if your are like me though and don't feel like paying the price for almond meal, you can make it yourself. For a layer of safety, I borrow a tablespoon or two of the sugar from the recipe and add that to the food processor when I grind the almonds down. The sugar will help to absorb the fat released from the almonds and give you a chance to get the almonds to a good consistency without turning the mixture into almond butter before you have a chance to stop. To fill these buttery cookies, raspberry jam is brought to a boil with a bit of water - this will thin it down to remove any lumpy bits and make the spreading much faster. We sifted confectioners' sugar on top on the cookies that had the center cut out to make a striking contrast to the dark burgundy colored filling. These cookies have a bit of spice to them from the addition of cinnamon and ground cloves in the dough which was a nice change of pace. If you want to take these one step further, I think using ground hazelnuts instead of almonds and filling the cookies with nutella would make for a dangerous and decadent combination.

For a side dish tonight, I made a recipe for Moroccan Carrot Salad. For how easy this was to prepare, it definitely had a lot of flavor going for it. Another recipe that highly benefits from toasting a few of the ingredients first - we heated chopped walnuts, whole cumin seeds and whole coriander seeds until their strong scent began to release and they turned a light brown. The toasted nuts and spices are then mixed with a combination of grated carrots, fresh lemon juice, apple cider, olive oil, dried cherries and chopped cilantro. A strong smoky background gave way to the fresh sweet and tangy flavor from the dressing and carrots. The dried cherries added a pop of color and a chewy texture to compliment the crunchy seeds and nuts. I didn't know if the seeds being kept whole would overwhelm the light salad when you bit into a few of them at once, but we thought it was just a mellow rush rather than an explosion of flavor. This is one to throw together at the last minute if you find yourself looking for a savory and quick side dish.

Tonight's main dish, Basmati Pilaf with Vermicelli and Onions, was probably intended as a side dish, but once again we just increased the portion size a bit and found it to be very filling. I have to say, this was the easiest and least fussy way we have ever cooked rice! I thought it was interesting to cook, let alone serve, rice and pasta together - but it worked very well here. Delicate basmati rice and broken vermicelli are added to softened sweet onions and cooked until the rice begins to turn opaque. Chicken broth is added and once it comes up to a boil, it is covered and placed in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. When the timer is up, it is taken out and sits for 15 more minutes (no peaking or stirring please!) until you open the pan up to find light and fluffy rice with tender, but not mushy pasta. How much easier could that get... no messing around with the heat on the burners, no worries about boil overs and no burnt rice on the bottom! Refreshed with fresh parsley and green onions before serving, I'm looking forward to having this take on arroz con fidellos for lunch tomorrow!


6 comments:

  1. What a lovely meal! I recently made some Linzer Cookies and I love how they resemble stain glass windows! The Nutella would be a dangerous combination but I'm not adverse to it!
    First time on your blog and it's great!
    Freya

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  2. Hi, Joe!

    Have you seen your Valentine's dessert featured on Slashfood? Congrats!

    Cat

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  3. Freya - Me either, I will have to try a Nutella version soon!

    Angela - Thanks!

    Cat - I did see - thanks!

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  4. I love this site!

    Carrot salad seasoning is good but needs more liquid. I don't want it swimming but the carrots are really dry.

    Thanks for all of your work!

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