Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Recipe Time #7: Get Me Onto Food Network (Not!) Ginger Rose Shortbread Cookies

Ok, I went to the open casting call for "The Next Food Network Star" -- and ironically, the experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth. But hey, I had delusions of meeting FoodTV celebrities and even bigger ones of an expense account as I, ahem,... do research... on tasting menus... all over U.S. (and beyond.)

My interview with the casting producer lasted all of three minutes (even though I was told I have four minutes to pitch my show--I decided not to mention the tasting menu research aspect of it.) And of course, being calm-under-pressure person that I am -- I lost track of all my speaking points and wound up sputtering a mix of favorite dishes, name-dropping celebrities met (via books & shows) and replying, multiple times, that "no, I do not have formal culinary training, but--"

If the "personality" they are looking for is a mumbling idiot, I would've been a shoe-in. But since they didn't call back, guess not --

Ok, so I may not have the eternal effervescent perkiness of R. R. or a certain S. Lee's ability for semi-homemaking things, nor can I mercilessly dish out bacon grease, butter and margarine without guilt like a P.D. we're all too familiar with. But dammit, I can write and talk about food and I can definitely cook (yes, despite the fact that I had no formal culinary training) and set things straight with my batch of Ginger Rose Shortbread Cookies, which I taste-tested the night before and found quite aromatic & delicious--though apparently not enough to compensate for my personality or my lack of attendance at a formal cooking school.

I'm not bitter--honest! :) (hmm... where's that strand of hair for my voodoo doll?)

Ingredients (for 8-12 cookies, around 3" diameter):
1 cup all-purpose flour, with extra for rolling cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. rose extract/essence/alcohol (but not rosewater, whose fragrance is much more diluted)
1/2 tsp. table salt
5-7 slices crystallized ginger
For garnish: candied rose petals or pink sugar sprinkles

1. Cream the butter with the sugar until well incorporated, then mix in the vanilla & rose extracts.

2. In a separate bowl, combine salt, flour and ground ginger -- slowly sift and stir into the butter mixture. After all the ingredients are combined, it should have a slightly sticky cookie dough feel.

3. Chop crystallized into little pieces (about size of small peas) and mix into the cookie dough. Flatten or roll out dough into quarter-inch thick disc, cover up in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least an hour (also freeze-able for up to a week, make sure to use a wrap/bag that prevents freezer burns). Eat leftover dough off the bowl and enjoy a cocktail while rehearsing your show pitch.

4. Preheat oven to 375F. Take dough out and place on well-floured cutting board.
~For neat-shaped cookies, use a cookie cutter -- flouring the cutter every 1-2 cookies to ensure clean cuts and easy drops.
~For more humble-looking homestyle cookies, simply tear out pieces of the dough, roll it into a ball in your hands and flatten it with your palms or a glass bottom (again, keeping it well-floured to avoid sticking) till it is, once again, quarter-inch thick disc about 3" in diameter.

5. Place cookies on a parchment paper on a baking sheet & decorate with candied rose petals (gently tuck into the dough) or sugar sprinkles.

6. Bake for 8-11 minutes - keeping a fairly close eye towards the latter half of the baking process (it's done when the edges get golden brown).

7. Bring out and let cool for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy!

And there you have it: a quick, simple recipe for very delicious cookies that are fragrant, spicy, crumbly and buttery -- and you'll never go back to store-bought shortbreads again! Rose extract is a fairly pricey ingredient, but a little goes a long way and it definitely adds class (and wonderful perfume) to many sweet, and some savory, dishes -- so a wonderful investment indeed.

This recipe is also very adaptable to different flavors depending on your preferences, just swap in & out the different extracts & flavor ingredients -- lemon-ginger, or a vanilla-almond, or even simply vanilla (Note: I would keep the vanilla extract in all shortbreads just for that rich, warm and familiar aroma.)

And while the recipe may not turn you into a cooking celebrity, I'm sure it will win over the palates of you and your guests - happy eating! (now where is my shruken skull and cursed needle?)


Chubbypanda said...

You know, you wouldn't have the expense account, but in this day and age of Podcasts and dedicated Youtube channels, it's not too hard to make and produce your own video segments. I've been toying with the idea of doing it myself for a while.


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