Thursday, October 18, 2007

Workplace Romance

i love the people with whom i work. honest. they made my moving here from los angeles two+ years ago ("here" being kansas -- that's right, i said kansas. what of it?) a much easier transition than it could have been by being just excellent humans. they make me laugh, they laugh with me (and at me, thank goodness, because i definitely need to be brought down to earth now and then) and they give good gab. (how alliterate am i? hell-oh-oh?) this may be shocking for some people considering the fact that most people hate their jobs, have at least ONE person in their department who makes them CRAZY and well, you know the drill. while i like my job and that's DEFINITELY cool, it's these folkses that make it freakin' awesome to show up every day. every. single. one of them.

what, you are saying, does that have to do with tonight's recipe? patience, young paduan learner.

nicholas had a band concert tonight, first of the school year and i was running late getting home from work. seems to be a theme here lately... hmm... brandon was supposed to have football practice, but because of the rain last night, it was cancelled. i wanted to make something yummy, but i knew there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY i was going to be able to finesse some faboo meal in pretty much 15 minutes. i also hadn't done the research on our food possibilities last night, which i've kind of started doing in the midst of this, so i was totally flying by the seat of my pants when i got home. i knew i had some fully functional (and decidedly meaty) Hebrew National Knockwurst in the fridge as well as some fresh italian sausages from Whole Foods in the freezer, the leftover potatoes baked with parmagiano and some good salad stuff, but i wanted to make sure i kept to my goal of cooking out of a cookbook each night. and, yes, i know the night nicholas made us dinner and i made the lemon cake don't really count cuz nicholas created the recipe and the lemon cake is from the internet, but let's not get into that. i grabbed a book and looked through and found the perfect thing... or so i hoped. The book is HOW TO BAKE by Nick Malgieri, who is also the guru of my chocolate world (which you'll discover soon enough) and the recipe i settled on based upon what i had on hand, people, is CHEDDAR SHORTBREADS. i figured this would be a nice little nosh to have after dinner, wished i had some pals here who are over the age of 21 to enjoy a crisp chardonnay or pinot gris (i don't think giving my two sons glasses of wine at their age -- at least here in the You Ess of Ay -- is really so smart, at least not on a school night) then went for it.

here's the deal:
8 tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup coarsely gratted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

(you'll also need two two jelly-roll pans or cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper

what to do:
1. Cut the butter into 10-12 pieces and place in food processor. coarsely grate the cheese and add to the processor. pulse until well-mixd, but be careful not to overmix and soften the butter too much. add the salt, mustard and paprika, pulsing to mix them in.
2. add the flour to the processor and pulse until the butter and cheese have absorbed all the flour. remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured work surface and press together.
3. roll into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
4. preheat the oven to 350ºF about 20 minutes before baking.
5. cut the cylinders of dough into 1/4-inch slices and arrange them about 1 inch apart on the pans.
6. bake for about 15 minutes, or until pale golden brown. remove and cool on a rack.

makes about 36 cookies

here's what we did:
first of all, if it tells you to use parchment paper on your cookie sheet for cookies, do it. i know when you're baking and making a cake or something that needs parchment paper, you can usually get away with wax paper in its place. recipes even offer it as a choice. not cookie baking. trust me on this -- and i know this, i always know this, but i had no parchment paper tonight, so i used wax paper and as the cookies baked, all i could think was "ya now, those are gonna be tough to get off cuz of the melty wax factor." which, they kind of were, but none of them broke and all's well.

anywho, we used a mixture of sharp cheddar, monterey jack and queso cheeses -- you know, that mexican cheese mix you get at the grocery store. told you i was grabbing whatever i had on hand. as i've mentioned, when it comes to baking, i tend not to fly too wild or stray too far from a recipe. this was no exception except for one thing: i topped the cookies with shredded cheese after 5 minutes of baking in my evil oven and then baked them for another 2 minutes so they got even cheesier and melty good. when i told my sons what kinds of cookies i was making, brandon dreaded them, because i have another cheese cookie recipe he's tasted before and he didn't really like it. "not cheesey enough, mom," was his comment and i wanted to slug him, but i didn't. because i'm a good mom and i would also get in trouble, because he's a tattletale. this time, however, both nicholas and brandon munched one then asked for another then requested them for their lunchbox tomorrow then asked for more tonight -- even though i had "pre-measured, bought to achieve my football team fundraising goal, didn't make myself and fine by me cuz it's one less thing to worry about although my monolithic sons (nicholas is 5'7" and brandon is 5'6" at ages 12 and 11, respectively) keep eating the raw and frozen' cookie dough in the oven baking for them. it made me seriously smile and feel good about finding another recipe for the same thing that we liked better.

that's the fun thing about recipes to me. cookbooks in general, actually. no two recipes for the same dish are going to be alike and it's fun to have a battle of the kitchen with them. this one triumphed over the other, but i have gotten rave reviews for the other one also, so who knows? and Nick Malgieri's books are elegant in theme without being fussy in execution or presentation. i always feel like such a food network chef when i cook from them because of it. and i mean that in a good way.

to be perfectly honest, the real reason i chose tonight's recipe is so i could make something to bring to work tomorrow for my friends. i've already put a few in brandon and nicholas' lunchboxes, so they're covered. but this is a little salty something for my partners in workplace romance.

and THAT'S what it has to do with tonight's recipe.


Tina said...

okay, now. hold up. so i've read a whole bunch of your posts...are you telling me you cook—like, COOK, cook—every night?

holy cow.

and...where do you live again? what time is dinner, usually? just...curious.

Sarah said...

I am so jealous. Damn cheddar-shortbreadless Albuquerque.

PalateScriber said...

yes, tina. every, freakin' night... i... am... crazy. i have proof. right here.