Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cardamom Almond Shortbread

I love chocolate chip cookies.  I will probably never get tired of trying every corner coffee shop's variation on the old classic.  BUT.  Sometimes I want to be delighted by some different flavors in my cookies.  Ya know?

These cookies really hit the mark for me.  There are so few ingredients, and the end product is a crumbly, warmly-scented shortbread that goes great with an afternoon cup of tea.

Cardamom Almond Shortbread
Adapted from a recipe given to me by my friend, Cynthia Scott

2 c. white flour
1/8 t. salt
¾ c. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. granulated sugar
4 ½ t. ground cardamom
½ c. sliced almonds 
3 T. powdered sugar
sliced almonds 

Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375˚ F. Grease 2 cookie sheets.

Combine flour and salt, set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar and 4 t. ground cardamom in another bowl until fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat at slow speed to incorporate. Stir in ½ c. sliced almonds. 

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon of cardamom in small bowl.  Using your hands, form the dough into one inch flattened cookies.  (This will be a bit tricky, since the dough is really crumbly.)  Place cookies one inch apart on cookie sheet and sprinkle with powdered sugar mixture.  Bake until cookies are light brown, about 14 minutes. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely. 
Makes about one dozen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vegetable craftsmanship.
One of my favorite things about summer is salads.  In case you don't know me all that well, vegetables are kindof my specialty, so when it gets to be growing season, I kindof freak out and try to put them together in as many ways as I can.  Experimenting with different grains and sauce combinations gives me endless entertainment, and this recipe is no exception.

Last week I had a potluck and served Mark Bittman's Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad (which I'll share with you another time), and for this week's grill-out, I went with a little ditty from Molly Katzen, the vegetarian wizard and owner of the famous Moosewood Restaurant.  It's one of my life goals to go visit her someday.

Mediterranean Couscous [er, quinoa] Salad
Adapted from Molly Katzen's Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups water

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tomato, diced
salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
feta crumbes (optional)

Boil water, add quinoa and simmer covered until all liquid is absorbed.  Move cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl.  Combine all dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake it.  Shake it good.

Boil 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Drop in the carrots and blanch for 8 minutes.  Remove and add to the quinoa.  Next, drop in the zucchini and bell peppers and blanch for 2 minutes.  Remove and add to the quinoa.  Add the rest of the veggies and the dressing mixture to the quinoa. Toss and serve.  A little bitta feta crumbles never hurt anyone either.  (Wait - unless you're lactose intolerant...)