Wednesday, March 13, 2013

celeriac and parsnip puree

The more you cook, the less time you have to write and post: catch 22?

I've got two new(ish) food-related jobs, so I find myself cooking and thinking about food more (awesome!) but having less time to post and reflect on this deliciousness (not so awesome).

A few nights ago, I was flipping through Dorrie Greenspan's Around my French Table. It's the kind of cookbook that all your favourite chefs tell you to buy, over and over and over. The kind that gets shout-outs from Ina Garten and Lynn Rossetto Kasper. A woman who gets called a 'culinary guru' by the New York Times. As a side note, never read a cookbook before going to bed. Your dreams will be full of gnocchi  chasing buckwheat blini and you'll be ready to gorge on pancakes come breakfast. Back to the book - I was looking for a classic beef stew for my boyfriend, one that I could modify for myself (with mushrooms, of course).

This woman is amazing! I decided to make a celeriac puree to go along side her beef daube. If Dorrie Greenspan tells you to simmer something in milk, then discard all that milk, you do it. Even if it feels wasteful and strange. And then you will find yourself licking every last bit of celeriac puree off your food processor, smiling because it's so freaking delicious.

(Here it is, with a rich mushroom stew, and my cat Pipi stealing into the frame, because she thinks I made it just for her.)

Celeriac and Parsnip Puree
From Around my French Table, by Dorrie Greenspan. I added parsnips, but you could omit them (and double the celeriac instead).

3 cups milk
3 cups water
1 tbsp sea salt
2 large celeriac roots OR 1 celeriac and two medium parsnips, peeled and cut in 2 inch cubes
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut in 2 inch cubes
1 onion, peeled and quartered
5 tbsp butter
salt + pepper
chopped fresh chives (optional)

Bring milk and water to a boil in a large pot. Add celeriac, parsnip (if using), potato and onion. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes, until veg are tender.

Drain and discard cooking liquid. Puree vegetables and butter in a food processor, possibly in batches, if your food processor is as frustratingly small as mine. Season with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with fresh chives.

This would be delicious with any rich hearty stew - I suggest Dorie Greenspan's Beef Daube. I made it, as well as a veggie version by substituting mushrooms for the beef and bacon. You'll probably need two bottles of red wine, not just the one called for in the recipe - because what goes better with a rich, warm dinner than a bottle of wine?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dorie Greenspan's Beurre & Sel Jammers

On my list of destinations next time I visit NYC: Beurre et Sel. It's a cookie store, created by award-winning cookbook author and chef Dorie Greenspan. And if this recipe is an indication of the cookie quality at this store, then I'm sold.

I will sit on a blanket in Central Park, drink a perfect latte and eat buttery cookies with just-the-right-amount-of-salt. There will be tickets to a musical tucked into my guide book, and a bike lying on the grass beside my picnic blanket. Manhattan, it's been too long!

Around this time of year, I start looking through my cupboard, taking stock of what jams, jellies and preserves have made it through the long winter. It's time to make room for this spring and summer's new jars - and what better way to get rid of jam then to dollop it in a buttery, crispy cookie, and surround it with streusel! Don't be put off by the recipe's instructions to make the cookies in muffin tins. I too was skeptical, but was won over by the perfect shape and texture of the cookie. This is not a simple drop cookie you can churn out in 10 minutes, but the extra time and preparation makes for an out-of-this-world cookie. I might go as far as to say this is the best cookie I've ever baked.

(here they are - filled with blueberry jam and pear-ginger-orange conserve)

Beurre et Sel Jammers
Makes about 34 cookies. From this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine. I used local/organic k2 Milling's Red Tail Flour, which is a mix of spelt, oat and wheat flour. However, if you can't find that, I would use all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour. There's lots of steps to these cookies - if you want, you can make the dough and streusel 1 or 2 days ahead of time, leaving them in the fridge/freezer.

cookie dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (see note)

streusel and assembly:
3/4 cup flour (see note)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
5 1/2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup thick jam of your choice

things you need:
2 inch cookie cutter
3 standard 12-cup muffin tins

make the dough:
Beat butter in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add sugars and salt, beat 1 more minute. Change speed to low, and mix in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour, and mix until just combined.

Divide the dough (very soft and sticky) into two balls. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper, one at a time, flattening the dough until it's 1/4 inch thick. Stack the two large, thin circles of dough (still sandwiched in the parchment) onto a cookie sheet or large plate that fits in your freezer. Freeze until very firm, at least 2 hours.

make streusel:
Mix together flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using your fingers, rub in the cold butter and vanilla, until the streusel looks like crumbs, and holds together when you squeeze it. Put it in the fridge to stay cold.

assemble the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350. Using the cookie cutter, cut out circles from frozen dough. Gather scraps and repeat, until you have around 34 cookies. Press the cookie rounds into the muffin tins, then put them back in the freezer for another 30 minutes.

Finally, remove the cookies from the freezer. Spoon 1 teaspoon of jam into the centre of each, then use a small spoon to sprinkle about 1 tbsp of streusel around the jam. Bake cookies for 20-22 minutes, until streusel and cookie is golden. Let cool for 15 minutes in muffin tins, then remove by running a knife around the edge of each cookie. Cool the cookies the rest of the way on a wire rack. Cookies will keep for 3 or 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

(dreaming of New York City today.)