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    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

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    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

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    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
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    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

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    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
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    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
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    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

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Entries in cookies (3)


Awaken and make Nooneh Berenji -Rice cookies for No Ruz 



Some of the mother's famous cookies. I will get to them all soon. Patience people.

The Equinox happens tonight; officially it is the start of the Persian New Year, but a tad too late in Seattle  for anything but a few phone calls and kisses around the family. Tomorrow night, I will be going to my parents for a dinner replete with all the traditional foods – the kuku sabzi, the sabzi polo and the smoked white fish with herbs (mahi bah sabzi). Yes, it’s all about herbs and green, a meal that Kermit the frog would love.  However, this is just the start,  the holiday continues with open houses galore – “Aid Deedany”, where you go visit your relatives, the older ones first out of respect, and then you move on to see your friends far and wide. In Iran, it is a two week process, here we try and do it in a few weekends.  Most of the visits are after dinner – usually tea, fruit, ajil and an array of cookies.  My parents are hard to pin down during these few weeks; they are out and about doing the rounds. Good for them. Spring is a great time to start emerging from the Seattle Slumber.  The Slumber is the time between November 5th and March 20th, when most of Seattle goes into seclusion to only come out for special occasions – winter beer releases, Husky basketball games or to piss me off in line at the airport.  Now is the time for all good people of Seattlandia to get out of your house and attempt to become one with your friends and neighbors, use this as a great excuse.  I miss you all, really.

My mom makes a nice array of cookies for the holiday (pictured above).  Persians are not big on chocolate, nor cheesecake or any strange concoction that we are likely to call dessert at the big table.  They are big into orange blossom, rose water, honey, cardamom, almonds and walnuts along with delicate fruit flavorings.  Some of their inspiration comes from the French with pate au choux and mille feuilles, but mostly are just plain Persian.


Cookies getting ready to hit the oven.

One of my favorites is “nooneh berenji” or rice flour cookies. These are amazingly delicate and powerful little cookies that melt in your mouth. You would have no idea that they are rice flour, they have a nice subtle rose water flavor with a little cardamom added for punch.  They do not travel well, but they are worth picking up at a Persian grocery store when you can find them. If you don’t have one around, try making them. A plus is that they are gluten free. Since I am not a fan of making things with ingredients that are not easily found within a reasonable roaming radius of home, these are pretty swell. It does require learning how to clarify butter, which is something I had never done before, but a New Year means learning new things, doesn’t it?


Fancy cookie press made my Mr. S.

Nooneh Berenji – Rice Cookies topped with poppy seeds
Makes 5 dozen

This recipe requires two things – one is learning how to clarify butter and the other is to have a wooden cookie stamp. If you don’t have one on hand, I would just roll cookies into a ball, make a tiny indentation and then press the poppy seeds into the indentation. My mom has a little collection of the cookie stamps, they are made from wood, a husband of a friend of hers likes to make them.  You can find glass and pottery ones at Amazon, Williams-Sonoma and some specialty cookware shops around your neck of the woods The trick is not to press down too hard, you want the cookies about ¼” thick after stamping.


1 ½ cups (3 sticks, ¾ lb.) unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 – 1 ¼ cup white rice flour (portion them as one cup with a ¼ cup measure in reserve)
1 cup confectioner’s (powdered sugar)
1/3 cup rosewater
½ t cardamom

1/4 cup blue poppy seeds

Melt butter over medium heat, let cool. Skim the foam from the top of the melted butter and then either carefully pour to avoid transferring the solids at the bottom to a clean container or sieve the rest of the melted butter through cheesecloth lined strainer.  If you are still unsure, please refer to David Lebovitz’s awesome tutorial on the subject.

Prep a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Preheat oven to 325 F.

By hand or in a mixer, combine butter with egg yolks added one at a time. Really you are not creaming because the butter is not really in a solid form, but you do want them well combined.  Next add rose water to butter and egg mixture. Mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together, starting with one cup of rice flour and the confectioner’s sugar and cardamom.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix at a low speed until combined. If the dough seems sticky or wet, add additional rice flour by the tablespoonful until a little more manageable and easily handled without overworking the dough.  Remove dough from bowl and start making 3/4” ball from dough and test cookie press to make an imprint. If the imprint works without cracking the dough, then the dough is the perfect consistency. If there is too much flour, add a tablespoon of water, and if it is too sticky, add a little bit of rice flour.  

Once you are happy with the consistency you can start making cookies.  If you are at a good stopping point, wrap the dough up in saran wrap or a zip lock bag and place in fridge for up to two days.  Let come to room temperature before starting to make the cookies.

To make cookies - start rolling the dough into balls, place onto prepared baking sheet with 2” between each cookie and start stamping. Press or sprinkle 10-15 poppy seeds (is that a smidgen) in the center of each cookie.  Check around 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven, once they begin to get a little golden on the edges, take out and cool on a cookie sheet.  Once cooled,  store in a sealed container for up to two weeks.



Gourmet Game Night - Walnut Sables with Maple Walnut Cream


I love my Cookbook Club, unfortunately the Cookbook Club schedule and mine have not collided for the past few months,  and I have missed some great discussions and feasts.  As luck  had it, I would be home in January. In order to bring some sophistication to 2012, the powers that be decided it was time to jazz things up and have a cocktail party with fancy dresses and shoes and adult beverages.The book we chose to highlight was Gourmet Game Night by Cynthia Nims. Cynthia, a northwest native is a is a well known chef and cookbook author, with quite a portfolio of cookbooks to date.  Gourmet Game Night highlights finger food, easy to assemble, eat and manage when you are holding a royal flush at your monthly poker game.

The book also contains all sorts imaginative recipes come some yummy adult beverages will knock your Laboutins off, but can be adapted for the abstaining ones in your party.

So, the royal we donned our fancy dresses - sequins, sparkles, lace and stilletos for a night of gab, sitting by the pool, eating and dissecting all of our great discoveries. As usual, I stuck my head in the sand about the dressing up part.  I never think I have a nice outfit to wear to these events, always happy to be clad in pencil jeans, black sweater and flats. This time I delved deep into my closet and found an awesome lace skirt I hadn't worn since my friend's 40th (He'll be 47 this year) and a cap sleved cashmere sweater. This was paired with a nice pair of Cythnia Rowely lace stilletos and a
girly clutch, contacts and make up suitable for Vegas. I thought I cleaned up pretty well.

As for the food, I couldn't decide on what to make. I had been so bogged down with my AMS meeting that had consumed the whole month of January and had about 12 hours to make a decision. Everything that I had origininally eyed had been taken, so I took another deeper look and found two things that intrigued. One was a stuffed mushroom recipe (to be posted later) and the other
was a cookie. The cookie was a sure thing because desserts are not always plentiful and I had all the ingredients on hand (WIN).

So, folks, I present to you a delicious, partially time intensive but oh so worth your while cookie that
you will end up adding to your repetorie when you want something elegant, not too sweet and not chocolately.

Walnut Sables with Maple Walnut Cream

In her notes, Cynthia says that cookies taste better a day later, and I agree. Let them fully cool before
filling them and after filled store in a sealed container in the fridge and take out a 30 minutes before serving, as if they will last more than a day. Her original recipe calls for using a 2" round cookie cutter. I used my 1 1/2" and made the same amount of cookies. As long as there are two cookies per sandwich you'll be okay.

Prep time - 30 min for dough and frosting

Active time - rolling baking filling - 60 minutes

Eating time - pretty quickly

Walnut Sables
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract

Maple Walnut Cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 T finely chopped toasted walnuts
1 1/2 T maple syrup (I use grade B, or dark, it has a much better flavor)

Toast walnuts, Preheat oven to 300 F. Place walnuts on cookie sheet and bake until they are fragant, about 10 minutes. You don't want them to burn, but you need them to to toast enough to release some of their nutty goodness.  Remove from oven and let cool. I do this by removing them from the cookie sheet and putting them on a plate, to cool faster. When they are finally cool, you can work with them.

Left over toasted walnuts are delicious on oatmeal, just saying.

Place walnuts and whole wheat flour into food processor fitted with metal blade and whizz until walnuts are finely chopped. Add remaining flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt and process until well blended. Add butter, egg yolks, and vanilla and pulse until well blended and if you were to stop the processor and take press the dough together it would hold together like a shortbread. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment or saran wrap, and press together into a flat disk. Wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

In the while, make the walnut cream. In a small bowl, place the softened butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Stir until combined, continue to add the sugar into the butter until well incorporated.  Next stir in the finely chopped walnuts and maple syrup. The mixture should look like frosting. Refrigerate until use.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Take dough out of fridge and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to soften. Roll out dough onto a floured surface (I use parchment on a cutting board), to about 1/4". Using your cookie cutter, 1 to 1 1/2" circle, cut out circles and place onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Fill up the cookie sheets with the cookie cut outs, leaving 1" between each cookie.  Reform scraps of dough and refrigerate to firm up if the cookie dough has become to soft to work. Bake cookies in the middle racks of the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. I checked at 5 minutes and switched trays from the racks and turned the trays from front to back. Remove from cookie sheets onto a wire rack to cool. These cookies are very delicate - sandy like a sable, so be gentle until they cool.

Continue rolling out dough and repeating process until you have used up all the dough. I ended up with another cookie sheet and about 50 cookies total.

At this point, you can take your cooled cookies and place into a air tight container for a few days until you are ready to fill them.

When it is time to fill them, remove filling from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. The filling is like frosting and should be easily spread between the sable cookies.  Place a grape sized amount of filling onto one cookie and then place another cookie on top and press down gently, use your finger or a napkin to smooth off the filling that may have oozed out the sides.

Let sit an hour before storing.Leftovers, as if you'll have any, should be stored in an air tight container.

Makes 25 cookies.



Alice Medrich in Seattle results in the best cookie exchange ever