Aug 26, 2010

i am an incredibly lucky woman. this has hit me more and more as i've grown older, and especially now, in my 7th month of pregnancy, as i reflect on the easy time i've had so far being with child. i've had a flexible work schedule with understanding employers, the freedom to rest and put my feet up when i really need it, a supportive husband who waits on me hand and foot and doesn't hesitate to give me a message at my slightest demand, and a body that so easily adapted to pregnancy i'm still in awe by it. other than the 6 or so weeks of constant nausea (that i have nearly forgotten the extent of by now), pregnancy for me has been a breeze. i'm incredibly happy with how i've been carrying this child, my body hasn't changed dramatically except for the basketball i'm carrying in front of me.

people keep asking me if i'm done being pregnant yet, if i'm exhausted by it and ready to have my body back. my answer: not yet. i'm still glowing and happy and comfortable with this baby in side of me. i love feeling him move, even at 4 am. i miss laying on my stomach, but it still makes me laugh when he kicks in protest as i inadvertently put pressure on my belly. i am looking forward to shopping for "normal" clothes again this winter - dresses with defined waists and shirts that don't have to be stretchy - but i'm loving my pregnancy wardrobe. (those full panel maternity leggings are the best invention ever!) i have been lax on the recommended food restrictions -i've really only totally avoided raw fish and shellfish and unpasteurized dairy (not that i come across it on a regular basis anyway) - but i do miss having a manhattan. i've had a half glass of wine or beer here and there, but bourbon, oh how i miss bourbon.

my motto for the past 7 months, and for the foreseeable future: keep it simple. don't overdo it. take it easy. i have to remind myself as i prepare for house guests, make plans with friends and family, plan for this baby and organize his nursery, and cook dinner. it's a good attitude to adopt in general, and i hope my logistics loving self can keep it after my son is born.

i love simple rustic food, sometimes with timely preparations, but using simple ingredients cooked in basic ways. roasting a chicken, braising a pork shoulder, simple grains and salads. these are the staples for the way that i cook. foods like these are comforting and casual, easy to share. and one of my favorite deceptively simple things to make is shortbread. 4 basic ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen, plus one or two extra if you want to be fancy. and who doesn't love a good shortbread cookie?

here's my basic recipe, with recommendations for just a few of the endless options for additions. i hope you enjoy it!

oh so simple shortbread
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
dash of kosher salt
granulated sugar to top

optional flavor additions:
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herb (basil, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary)
1 tbsp finely grated lemon or lime zest
a little more salt, plus flaky maldon sea salt to top (my favorite)
2 -3 tbsp cocoa powder

preheat oven to 400 degrees. throw everything into a food processor and process until dough comes together, just 2-3 minutes. from here you can do two things: press the dough into a parchment lined jelly roll pan, spread until smooth and chill for 30 minutes, or wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes to roll out and use cookie cutters. if you decide to use the jelly roll pan, press it into the pan making sure it is about 1/4 inch thick. use a knife to score the top of the shortbread to make cutting or breaking apart easier after baking. if you decide to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters, make sure the dough is very cold, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick, using a bit of flour to prevent sticking, and a floured spatula to help lift the cookies from the work surface onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. sprinkle extra sugar on top of the shortbread and slide into the oven. turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 10-15 minutes, (a little longer for the jelly roll pan to allow the center to cook evenly), turning the pan halfway through, until ever so slightly brown. the cookies won't look done, but if check the bottom of the cookie and it is lightly brown, it's done. it is important not to overbake these. if you wait until the edges crisp and the top gets medium brown like a chocolate chip cookie, you'll have crispy crackly shortbread instead of the crumbly cakey shortbread we're after here. cool on a cooling rack and enjoy.

i like to serve mine with homemade ice cream or sorbet, but they're also great as sandwich cookies with a little buttercream or chocolate ganache.

...or more appropriately simply by themselves with a cup of coffee or tea.


No comments: