Suzi’s Blog

Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal

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It's 4th of July Weekend. You need dessert. American dessert. Cookies. Peanut butter. Strawberries. And beer. Thankfully, no barbecue sauce, although the taste here will be that intense.

What can you do with some fresh, first-of-the-summer strawberries and a bottle of beer? Lambic beer, actually, providing a cidery, almost berry taste.

You could make jam. And you can put the jam on toast. Or, or you can make peanut butter thumbprint cookies and fill the dent with your new Strawberry Lambic Jam.

Yes, here is a cookie that is peanut butter and jelly on sugar steroids. This bright idea comes from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal. Mindy’s book is filled with beaming ideas that will make you realize there is no such thing as a “mere” cookie. Give this cookie a try, and you’ll be getting your own copy of Cookie Love.

She has Peaches and Cream Thumbprints, too, with homemade Honey Peach Preserves and a custard of sour cream, heavy cream and orange rind.

Yes, you are right. Get your copy now.


Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam

Yield: 40 cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

For shaping and filling:

  • 1 scant cup Beer Nuts or roasted, red-skinned peanuts
  • 1 cup Strawberry Lambic Jam [recipe follows]

Preparation:

To make the cookies:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 65 to 10 seconds. Add the sugars and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Add the peanut butter and mix on medium speed to combine thoroughly, approximately 1 minute.

Crack the egg into a small cup or bowl and add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salts.

On medium speed, add the egg to the butter mixture and mix until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 10 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.

Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix for another 10 seconds on medium speed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.

Stretch out a long sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and put the dough on top. Pat into a 6 by 8-inch rectangle, using the bench scraper to square off the sides. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

To shape and fill the cookies:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a couple of half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pans with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse the Beer Nuts until a fine meal forms but before they turn into peanut butter.

Cut the dough lengthwise into 5 even strips. Roll the strips back and forth into logs to round out the edges. Sprinkle the ground Beer Nuts over the work surface and roll the logs in the nuts to coat.

Using the top half of your thumb as a guide, cut each log into 8 pieces but keep the log together. (You will get approximately 8 pieces out of each log.) Roll the logs again to round out the edges, then pull the pieces apart and place cut-side up on the prepared pans, evenly spacing up to 20 cookies per pan.

With the tip of your index finger, make an indentation into the center of each cookie. Spoon the jam into the center of each thumbprint.

Bake one pan at a time for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies have slight cracks on the top and are set, another 6 to 8 minutes. When ready, the cookies will have set around the edges and the bottoms will be light brown, but the cookies will still be soft. Let cool completely on the pan.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.


Strawberry Lambic Jam

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces washed, hulled, and dried strawberries, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 12-ounce bottle berry lambic [fruit beer]
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Preparation:

Combine the strawberries, lambic, and sugar in a bowl. Let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a high-sided, heavy pot, heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the lambic starts to boil and foam [stir the pot to prevent the lambic from boiling over].

Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick enough to coat a spoon, approximately 30 minutes. The jam with thicken slightly as it cools.

The jam keeps in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.


Source: Cookie Love by Mindy Segal [Ten Speed Press, 2015]

 

 

Cucumber and Tomatillo Gazpacho from Corinne Trang at Cooking by the Book

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Last week I posted a recipe for Watermelon, Cucumber and Tomato Gazpacho. It’s sublime particularly as the flavor mellow and blend. The color is a soft watermelon red.

This week the gazpacho is quite different. Red is gone. Tomatoes are gone from the soup itself, but do appear in a garnish — though you won’t see them in the picture here for they have deep dived to the bottom of the bowl!

No, for the soup we’ve gone green. All in green. The core ingredients here are cucumbers and tomatillos. Those tomatillos don’t super dominate, but they do provide a lingering sense of heat. This soup is quite beautiful to the eye. As that first spoonful comes towards your opening mouth, you’ll get the first whiffs of tomatillo and apple cider.

Like any gazpacho, this soup evolves over time. It’s wonderful after it is first made — with an hour of chilling of course — but becomes different and more interesting with a day or two for the ingredients to marry in your fridge.


Cucumber and Tomatillo Gazpacho

Yield: serves 8

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 4 medium-large cucumbers (not English Hothouse; higher water content of regular cucumbers necessary), peeled cut into large chunks
  • 3 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 3-4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

For the garnish:

  • 2 whole ripe plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 whole jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 whole large shallot (½ small red onion), peeled and minced
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, trim stems, finely chopped
  • Toasted cumin seeds
  • Tortilla strips, optional

Preparation:

In a blender, add the cucumber, tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, Tabasco sauce and salt. Process until smooth, (adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary). Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill for 15 minutes, unless ingredients are already chilled.

In a small bowl, toss tomatoes, jalapeno and shallot together.

To assemble, divide gazpacho among 4 to 8 servings and add a heaping tablespoon of tomato mixture. Garnish with cilantro and toasted cumin seeds.


Source: Corinne Trang for Cooking by the Book

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/50th second at ISO‑400

 

TBT Cookbook Review: Fashionable Food by Sylvia Lovegren

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Fashionable Food is fabulous. It was published in 1995 and, I am sorry to admit, I just discovered our copy. Suzi and I have a lot of cookbooks, a lot. And sometimes things go onto shelves so you can read them soon, and then soon becomes a lot of years, a lot.

Did I say this book was fabulous? Or fascinating? Heck, it’s both.

Sylvia loves old cookbooks and is herself fascinated by the history of cooking. This book discusses food fads, both wonderful ones and — as you will see — some pretty incredibly bad food idea. She covers seven decades, the Twenties through the Eighties, with each decade getting its own chapter. And I’ve only made it through that first chapter on the Twenties, but already I can heartily recommend this book. If you love food history, if you wonder how our food culture has changed, then this book is superior.

It’s a combination of cookbook and culinary history. Each decade is discussed in terms of the changes taking place: what new foods and equipment arrive, what are the “in” dishes, what changes occur in how we cook. And interwoven in that discussion are sample recipes: some good ones, some pretty outrageous ones, but all of them authentic to that time period.

The Twenties were a decade of decisive change in how we cook and eat. Prohibition had a numbing effect: restaurants, who survive on the margins of spirits and wine, faded away and were replaced by Tea Shops. French chefs returned home. And a changing economy meant that middle class families often now made do without a maid to absorb the burden of cooking. It was up to Mom.

The food industry truly began to dominate our culinary lives. They provided both food and propaganda. The benefits of canned fruit, over that dirty stuff that was fresh off the farm, was lauded. Canned pineapple appeared in almost everything. And the Burpee Seed Company was able to dominate the lettuce market with something called Iceberg, the head lettuce that became synonymous with the word lettuce.

Salads were a big deal, but they trick was to hide those “natural” ingredients and make sure that sweetness was dominant flavor tone. So you have very popular tomato-pineapple salad:

Water Lilly Salad

  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled with stem intact
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1 16 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • Mayonnaise

Cut the tomatoes in sixths, partly through to the solid part at the stem. Press gentry apart until the tomato is like a water lily, about two-thirds open. Place the tomatoes on lettuce leaves and fill the centers with crushed pineapple. Garnish with mayonnaise.

Okay. What can say? Yummy? No, it pretty ghastly. If you tried to serve this to your family now, you’d be faced with divorce and children seeking emancipation.

But, it gets worse. There’s a Banana and Popcorn Salad using a sliced banana topped with popcorn and mayonnaise sitting on a lettuce leaf. At least it does not involve peanut butter.

Sylvia goes at lengthy about the way “new” things were put to use. Gelatin, aspic, and Jell-O were major players in fashioning salad meals. Ever had aspic? You should do it once. Just to say you have.

Refrigerators began to appear in the Twenties, replacing the old ice boxes. It was a slow process. Only two million homes had refrigerators by 1937 and only 80% by the mid-Fifties. Though, in contrast, only 8% of British homes had refrigerators by 1956.

General Electric supplied both the refrigerators and recipes. They loved frozen things. Like salads, yes, frozen salads. They created a Fruit and Flower Mission Frozen Cheese Salad where you mixed cream cheese, mayonnaise, and whipped cream with pimientos, bell pepper, pecans, and paprika. You froze it and then served it. With mayonnaise. Iceberg lettuce leaves were optional.

I read the Twenties chapter this morning and this book is a real page turner. Every turn of the page has me asking, “They did what?”

Now, not everything is bad. The original Lady Baltimore Cake is here. Those same yellow cake layers can be employed in a lovely Marshmallow-Coconut Cake. And Devil’s Food cake, that first appeared in 1898, now arrives in a more refined recipe complete with classic vanilla boiled icing.

And there’s a new cake that, in the Twenties, thrilled everyone and was the centerpiece for any upscale dinner party: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

You have to give those people at Dole credit for some of the earliest mass marketing masterpieces.

I’m off to read about the Thirties. I love this book and you will too, just find a copy and settle in.

Sylvia wrote this 21 years ago. I looked her up and was delighted to see that, after all that time, she has a new book: Melon, A Global History. I’m getting my copy of that now. I’m not wasting another 21 years.