Cornmeal shortbread for windy sea days

April 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

After a couple of months of floating around, sort of doing one thing, starting another, the rest of my life until the start of school in September is all but laid in stone. Plane tickets are bought, apartment secured, various bureaucratic forms being sent in. It’s a little surreal — at the start, the idea of having a whole year seems so long and then I got swept up and suddenly I have it all planned out down to the last day. It seems I have a thousand documents open at once: draft articles for my new column, writing samples for journalism seminars, and finally, I’m pouring through past journals, filled with fiction stories and trying to edit, but failing that because well, they’re not really fiction and I’m not really ready to see an editor.

My spring is filled with half-thoughts, ideas that will be realized simply because I have deadlines that need to be met. Meanwhile San Francisco seems to be similarly indecisive about what time it is. The blazing hot afternoon softly melts into evening at the top of my hill. Dogs that I often trip over dart around the dusty paths and I pass the same people over and over again as I complete the sixth mile repeat. There’s something eerie at the shorelines blurring by as I run, at any second in time a different shore of the bay appears across the crosshatch of streets. As the sky darkens, a couple of lights begin to appear among the houses, outlining the city in gold. And then the wind comes out in full force, bringing runners to a standstill, burning the skin with frosty gusts.

The end-all-be-all in non-poetic language is that I am leaving for Prague in about two months, right after the Taste of Mendocino Public Tasting (follow @tasteofmendo), which I strongly urge you all to attend here in San Francisco. It’ll be packed full of wine tastings, food vendors and haystacks and promises to be a good time. Kind of like a weekend away in the country, just a bit more condensed and uhhh…it doesn’t require you to actually leave for the country.

These cornmeal shortbread are a bit of a rustic take on shortbread. I would recommend using superfine cornmeal, though the recipe doesn’t specify. We loved the grainy texture of the cornmeal but could have done without the couple hard crunches. Finally, the recipe says to pipe the dough into spirals using a pastry tip. My dough came to a thick, normal shortbread consistency, that absolutely would not have supported being piped through anything. So, I used the roll and cut method, which worked just fine.

Cornmeal Cookies
Adapted from Saveur

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
21 tbsp. (1/2 lb. plus 5 tbsp.) butter, softened
2 egg yolks

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add butter and egg yolks. Use your fingers to work the butter and egg yolks into the dry mixture until you get an even crumb. Turn the crumbly dough out onto a clean counter and knead into a soft, smooth ball. Place the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with a clean damp cloth for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 300°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Lightly dust a clean work surface. Roll out to dough to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies using shapes of your choice and place on parchment paper. Bake cookies for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden browned. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

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