in a pickle

dscf7122.jpgPickle is such a great word. I love its air of transformation, its fortitude. It defies the odds. A pickle is something that’s lived two lives and perseveres, salty, for *you*. And yet, the colloquial expression, “to be in a pickle,” means you’re in difficult situation. I can see that being stuck in a briny solution, your fluids being drained out of you as salt works its magic, would present a problem for you.

But pickle, in my house, is also a celebratory word. It means I’ve secured something like French haricot-style skinny green beans or tomatoes or, say, a few pounds of Korean cucumbers that miraculously showed up fresh and pretty at Sunrise Market the other day. Yay for greenhouse gardening!

My husband, being an East Coast boy, hankers for the half-sour, or “new,” pickles one gets at Jewish delis in New York (and, if you’re very lucky, Northern California). The ones made by Bubbie’s are all right, but nothing like homemade. So I decided to surprise him — fresh home from a week of eating British food (ugh), mostly at a cafeteria in Cambridge (UGH!) — with some love pickles. They won’t be ready for a few weeks, but he can at least look at them and dream of pickle heaven.

My dill pickles were made without vinegar in the Mittel-Europe style. Instead, I use whey made from organic local yogurt and a salt brine. As with the sauerkraut, I don’t feel confident about my recipe, which was cobbled together from several sources, to share it until I’ve tasted the pickles, but I will once I can prove no one will die eating these beauties. That would be a pickle, indeed.

And speaking of which, I will literally be in a pickle come April, when I begin my certification as a Master Food Preserver. Oregon State Extension, housed locally at our fairgrounds in Eugene, has an excellent program, operational for almost 30 years, for disseminating information about food safety and preservation during the summer months. Volunteers in the Family Food Education/Master Food Preserver program receive over 40 hours of in-house training, take a state exam, then volunteer for another 40 hours per season handling questions from the community on a hotline and at workshops and booths at our many local venues for such things. Since the training requires a full day once a week for a few months, I normally wouldn’t be able to devote the time, but since I’m now only (only!) working on my dissertation and not teaching, I am able to do it this year! YEAH! GO TEAM PICKLE!

I’m also really excited about being able to volunteer for our community in a way that shares information about my two passionate hobbies: cooking and gardening, and to meet new people. It gets lonely sitting here all day by myself! Canning has such a devoted niche of followers, and there’s something kind of exxxxtreme sports about it, too. It’s like the snowboarding of cooking. During my interview for the program, one of the women in charge urged me to take her class on canning fish. Canning FISH? That is so badass. She looked like a sweet, grandmotherly type, but I could just tell she had a can of sardines tatooed on her bicep and could stick her bare hand in a pot of boiling water to retrieve a Ball lid without even flinching.

And this, this is what I yearn to become.

when life gives you cabbage…



My first college roommate was a kooky vegetarian save the world hippy-type who is now a kooky vegetarian save the world hippy Ph.D. head of something important-type. I love her and always have, which means I would tease her mercilessly. We would monitor her activities and giggle at the horror of it all. Of all the fascinating things she did, cooking was absolutely the best. On Saturdays, she would bike down to the farmer’s market and buy glorious vegetables and fruits, then cook them up with no salt or sugar or fats and try to share them with us. Oishiku-nai… our Japanese friend would whisper to me when she left the room, it is not delicious!

dscf7085.jpgOne of the funniest things she ever said was “if life gives you apples, make applesauce!” I absolutely love the irony of having a life full of luscious, red, crunchy, wisdom-bearing fruit that you would then smash to a pulp and cook until brown and goopy. Ah, but I’m sick like that.

So life gave me cabbage and I thought of my roommate’s lesson. Sweet, pure, pale green cabbage, heavy and bright. I saw no reason not to slice it to ribbons, torture it with salt, and then leave it to stew in its juices. For life had also given me a totally kickass five-liter Gärtopf pickling crock. OK, it was actually my second college roommate, my ex-boyfriend, dear friend, and cook extraordinaire in his own right. He mailed me one last year for my birthday. I helped him make sauerkraut in his crock last fall, and had a chance to sample the wares on my way back to Oregon last winter.

Wow. We made choucroute garni with the jar he gave us, and I thought I could sit there and eat the wine-baked sauerkraut for the rest of my life. I liked it even better than the smoked meats that are the raison d’être of that dish.

dscf7107.jpgSo I decided I needed my own 5-8 lbs. of sauerkraut. I posted my mother’s least favorite post a couple of weeks ago — the one where I remember the crock pot and smelly sauerkraut-and-kielbasa growing up. (Sorry, Mom. But remember, I do owe everything I know about cooking to you, and I *still* love you.) She was duly surprised that I was going to make sauerkraut. Then I called my grandma, who was also surprised that I was going to make sauerkraut, not because I had pooh-poohed the crockpot sauerkraut on a regular basis while growing up, but because her own father made sauerkraut when she was growing up. Apparently, homemade sauerkraut was a staple in their house. So I’m kind of excited that it’s a multi-generation tradition for me, even with the Times of Trouble in the middle.

So it’s made, and so we wait. I added juniper berries and caraway, in honor of my great-grandfather. If the sauerkraut turns out well, I’ll post the recipe, which is a bit tricky with the measurements and particular to the Gärtopf crock, so I’m not sure if anyone will find it useful but a few weirdo picklers like me. If it’s oishiku-nai, I’ll just try to shove it off on my friends.

And p.s. homemade sauerkraut, like all naturally fermented foods, is good for you. I’m obligated to say this as a modern-day food blogger, especially after I’ve dissed healthful cooking in my sordid past. Yum yum.


Use 3 T. of canning salt per 5 lbs. of cabbage.  If you add spices like juniper or caraway, be sparing, since it’s a pain to pick out the former and the latter really packs a flavor punch.

After you slice the cabbage thinly, be sure to press it/pound it down until there is a good layer of liquid over the cabbage to cover it completely in the crock or jar.

***Remove all bits of stray cabbage you can find on the crock, because they will mold.***

To keep the cabbage submerged:

If you’re using a crock like mine above, follow the instructions that came with the crock to insert the weights.

If you’re using a jar or crock without weights, place a ziploc bag filled with brine (1.5 Tbsp. canning calt per quart water) atop the cabbage as a weight, cover jar with a clean towel, then put it in a large brown paper bag (to preserve color and vitamins).

Store in a relatively cool place (65-68 degrees is ideal, and avoid fluctuations in temperature in a place like your shed) until done to your liking. I usually wait about 3 weeks in cooler weather. Hot weather will make it process faster. Check after a week or so and then every few days, skimming off scum from top, if necessary.

while the cat’s away, the mouse will eat garlic chicken


When I eat garlic, it lingers on my breath for days. For some reason, I am extra sensitive to its effects. It oozes out of my pores. I leave a faint (or not so faint) whiff of garlic as I breeze through a room. Because this is unpleasant to my close associates (read: my husband), I am forbidden to indulge in some of my favorite binge eating. Do other people do this, too? I wonder what the taboo foodstuffs are in other relationships.

Sometimes, I dream of being single again. When I lived alone, I used to roast a head of garlic or two and spread the creamy, carmelized cloves on hunks of baguette. Now I just save these gloriously gluttonous moments for when Retrogrouch goes away for several days. I’m very responsible about it, too. I plan for mid-week, so I’ll have a couple of days to clear the stuff out of my system.

This week, I decided to binge like a mofo. I started planning for a Thai garlic pepper chickenfest. I haven’t had much chicken since I taught the food politics class in the fall. The articles we read, and the papers my students wrote, really made me re-evaluate eating cheap chicken. But suddenly, I wanted good chicken, and I wanted it with garlic, and I wanted it NOW.

One of the miracles of Thai food is garlic pepper squid — squid flash-fried with white pepper and a bit of coating, then mounded over lettuce leaves with a huge pile of fried, chopped garlic. A friend took classes with the celebrated Bay Area Thai cookbook author and teacher, Kasma Loha-Unchit, and then he practiced on us. My eyes nearly rolled back in my head when he introduced us to this dish.

I soon discovered you can make this with any seafood or meat, but chicken is particularly good. I think tofu would work as well, but since it takes a longer time to fry up golden than meats, be sure that the pieces are small. And by all means, check ahead to confirm that your dining companions and loved ones are ok with garlic eau-de-cologne.

And sorry, sweetie, I know you’re in England, where the food is not exactly jolly good, and I know you love this dish, too, but believe me, I’m doing it for our relationship.



Thai Garlic Pepper Fried Chicken

(adapted from Kasma Loha-Unchit’s recipe in It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions, and the Joys of Thai Cooking)

4 chicken half-breasts (i.e., one small package)

2 heads as-fresh-as-possible garlic, chopped

2 t. ground white pepper, or more to taste

2 T. fish sauce

2 t. cornstarch

3 T. white flour

vegetable oil for frying

Slice chicken breasts into thin strips. Chop all the garlic by hand into small pieces. Smashing the cloves with the back of a cleaver first will help make this process easier. Add to bowl with chicken. Add rest of ingredients to bowl, and mix thoroughly, being sure that each piece of chicken is coated well. The chicken and garlic will look dry. If it looks wet, add a bit more flour.

Fry chicken in several batches to avoid over-crowding in a wok with about a cup or two of vegetable oil. Watch carefully, since the garlic can burn. When chicken and garlic are golden brown, remove to dish with paper towels, then transfer to platter lined with lettuce leaves. Between batches, be sure to remove ALL stray garlic pieces with a fine strainer so they don’t burn in the oil. The oil can be cooled, strained and reused in stirfries, since it will pick up a nice garlicky odor.

Serve with other, more reasonable dishes with vegetables and jasmine rice. Or, if you’re completely alone and without hope for future alliances, half the recipe and serve with kimchi radish pickles and rice. I like to wrap up the chicken pieces in the lettuce with bits of garlic. Heaven.

Serves 2-3, if you can restrain yourselves.

dandelion dyed eggs

Retrogrouch is away at a conference and I’m enjoying the quiet house.  Didn’t do a thing for Easter, even make my grandma’s Easter soup with kielbasa (though I may still do it, having the ingredients in the refrigerator).  I just don’t feel like cooking for myself.  I did take one for the team and attempt to eat at Kowloon in North Eugene this afternoon.  Now I’m so sick to my stomach I can’t even fathom dinner.  Ugh.  That is NOT a good restaurant.  I should have known it wouldn’t be good when I saw that all of the lunch specials were either chow mein, fried rice, fried things, or a combination of the three.

dscf4015.jpgSo, I’ll give you a Easter Monday story and a recipe for next year.  First, the story.  In Hungary, on Easter Monday, the boys sprinkle perfume on the girls and sometimes douse them with water, chanting a little rhyme that claims the girls are flowers and they need water so they’ll bloom and not wilt.  A reminder to drink your 8 glasses a day, if you don’t live in Hungary.

Second, a recipe.  Easter was too early this year to take full advantage of an old way to dye Easter eggs.  Apparently, the old-timers used dandelions to dye their eggs. After my sister told me last year that her husband’s grandfather’s favorite eggs were the dandelion-yellow ones, I went out and did a U-pick on my garden in the rain. It solved two problems: getting rid of the seed heads from those lawn-gobbling dinner plate-sized weeds, which grow monstrous in Eugene, and it gave me purty pale yellow Easter eggs. I boiled about two cups of the flower tops for about 15 minutes, then added the cooked eggs and let them soak for about 6 hours. The picture doesn’t really show the color well, but they were a lovely pale yellowy green with slight mottling from contact with the dandelion heads. The granola sites say that if you boil the root of the dandelion plant, you’ll get magenta dye, by the way. Maybe next year.

jefferson street grill?

What happened to the Jefferson St. Grill on Jefferson and W. 19th, and even more importantly, what will happen with the space? It just opened last year and friends say it’s now closed. We have eaten there a couple of times, and although it’s unquestionably nicer than Jake’s Place, which preceded it, there was something dissonant about a moderately upscale restaurant (e.g., prime rib, full bar) next to a convenience store. Or maybe it was the big OREGON LOTTERY sign on the restaurant marquee.

I’m going to cross my fingers that a neighborhood restaurant will open up that has more of a neighborhood feel — a lower-priced menu, more casual food (but not pub food, or wraps-n-sprouts in them, since we have way more than we need of those types of restaurants). It always felt too formal for us to eat there mid-week, on a budget, and yet too casual to go there when we wanted to splurge. It just didn’t fit the space. I guess others agreed.

Why not a sweet little bistro along the lines of The Vintage? Or even a café that serves soups and sandwiches? It’s too far away from downtown to be a bar of any weight or traffic, but it’s a busy and central enough location for folks commuting from work downtown or from the university to grab a bite.

dining with Porkchop and Meatball

My husband had two imaginary friends when he was little: Porkchop and Meatball. I decided to give them an honorary banquet yesterday. Or rather, eat them at an honorary banquet yesterday.* Inspiration is a treacherous thing. And yet, it all looks so normal, donnit? The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie.

dscf7022.jpgLe Menu

Moroccan carrot purée and pita

Harissa spiced meatballs with lemon sauce

Green herbed couscous (kale, dill, parsley, scallions)

Pan-seared brined porkchops over white Russian kale with Noris butter and garlic

Retrogrouch’s salad with lemon mustard dressing

Store-bought cookies, Dagoba chocolate, and Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream




(Not pictured: Meatball.)

We had over a colleague from his work, and the evening was full of wine. I’m now feeling too full and lazy to post recipes, so I won’t.

And I’m so full of CSA love right now…I had never prepared Russian kale before, just regular, and it’s much more tender and pretty, with ruffly, small leaves. I used CSA dill in my couscous, their carrots in my purée and in the meatballs, their garlic and their kale, and their lettuce for the salad. Yay for local vegetables! Yay for nutritiony goodness!

The Russian kale was fantastic. I seared the pork chops, then sauteed the kale in the same pan, so it picked up the drippings. If you’re not going to simmer greens in pot likker with ham hocks, this is a method I would absolutely suggest.

*Hey, my imaginary friends were cats. It could be worse.


couscous for the slow cooker, in desperation


I make couscous frequently. It’s one of our favorite meals. It can be vegetarian or carnivorous, depending on what’s at hand. One can make bountiful substitutions and it still tastes good. In fact, every time I make it it’s a new dish. The bright colors and root-veggie goodness are fantastic pick-me-ups in the dreary PNW late-winter, like little chunks of sun we’re promised will come again.

Last year, after we bought our fixer-upper house, a cute little post-WWII cottage with great bones but needing a major face lift, I discovered that the worthless previous owners had been cooking on a stove that had caught on fire. The wires connecting the burners were frazzled and burnt. The electrician advised not using the stove, wisely, so I waited for a couple of months until we could afford todscf3137.jpg convert to gas and buy a new unit.

This was the middle of a cold winter, so, with trepidation, I bought a slow cooker for my winter stews. The crock pot was a major feature of my childhood. We had crock pot meals all year ’round, at least twice a week. Sometimes the reek of sauerkraut and kielbasa would be so bad that I’d get a headache, because there’s nothing quite like cooking sauerkraut all day long, even if you live in a large two-story house. I still associate crock pot smells with nausea. It’s so deeply ingrained in me that I actually felt a bit sick when the odor of my couscous permeated the house. Ah, le temps perdu. Proust had his madeleines, I get crock pot meals.

Anyhoo. The couscous turned out pretty well, and I’m far more sensitive now to those with compromised kitchens. For those of you who are similarly compromised, or if you just like the crock pot, the adjusted recipe follows.

I’ll have to admit that I like couscous better on my new stove, so I give notes that allow you to cook this recipe on the stove, as well. Lately, I’ve been forgoing the meat and simplifying the spices to only cinnamon, salt, red pepper flakes and cumin. We also had a version adding ground lamb and green beans that was good. See? Flexible as can be.

Slow Cookin’ Couscous Stew

Note:  I usually cook this stew on the stove, so you can easily modify it for stovetop cooking by browning the beef and onions, then adding stock/water and seasonings.  The root vegetables should be added after about an hour (if you’re using chuck beef) and the other vegetables near the end of cooking (about two hours or so).

2 lbs. cubed beef chuck (or pork shoulder, or lamb, or chicken thighs…)
1 large onion, chopped

Seasonings: 1 T. cinnamon, 2 t. salt, 1 t. coriander, 1/2 t. turmeric, 1 t. cumin, 1 t. allspice, 1 t. onion powder, ground pepper.

At least 3 root vegetables, 1 each, cut into largish (2-inch) chunks. I use turnip, rutabaga, yam, white potato, winter squash, leeks, carrot, parsnip. Cabbage works too, cut into 3-4 inch wedges, but it isn’t very pretty because the wedges fall apart. Russet potatoes and sweet potatoes will dissolve and make broth thicker, which is fine, but may be disappointing if you want chunks.

1 andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 can chick peas, drained
1 cup large raisins (white ones if you can get them)
3-4 dried red hot peppers

1 zucchini, cut into 2-inch long fingers
1 red pepper
1 green pepper (Retrogrouch likes these — I’d rather use roasted pasilla peppers I keep in the freezer or nothing at all)


about 4 cups chicken stock or water

In a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, layer beef, onion, seasonings, root vegetables, sausage, chick peas and raisins, in that order. Don’t mix. Add enough chicken stock or water to cover most of the vegetables (about 1/2 full?). Cook on high for first hour or so, then cook on low for 5-6 hours.

In last hour of cooking, mix in zucchini, red pepper and green pepper, plus a spoonful of harissa and some chopped preserved lemon, if you have some. Taste for salt and heat. Serve with couscous. If you want to be fancy, mix couscous with cilantro and chick peas. Makes a huge pot.

wearing o’ the green — wasabi tasting


Yeah, I know, wrong culture. But a wasabi taste-test is just what the day needs, in the face of all that corned beef and cabbage. Not that I have anything against Irish food. Or even Irish-American food. I did my corned beef and cabbage, my colcannon, even my “Irish Reuben” (corned beef grilled on rye with Swiss and buttermilk coleslaw at McMenamin’s North Bank) already. So now it’s about working off my beef to the heels, and the best way to do that is with Japanese food.

So. You’ve always wondered if there are any differences in supermarket wasabi, you say? You are a much more savvy shopper than me. Sure, I knew that there was a difference between freshly grated wasabi, which I’ve eaten at nice sushi restaurants a few times, and the powdered stuff. I don’t eat the tubed stuff, so I can’t comment on that. Then I happened upon a description of the ingredients of the cheapest line of powdered wasabi in my Penzey’s spice catalog: horseradish, mustard, wasabi and tapioca starch. Tapioca starch? I noticed, too, that Penzey’s offered three “levels” of wasabi, with increasing natural-ness: chump wasabi, the cheapest, a blend with “pure Wasabi powder” and the same fillers as above, and the 100% wasabi stuff.

Clearly, this matter needed more investigating.

In a serious lapse of judgment a few weeks ago, we ran out of wasabi and I sent Retrogrouch off for an emergency run to the store. He ran to Market of Choice, which only stocks White People Wasabi in a fancy jar. How different could it be? Quite. I mixed it up, and it turned a foul dark olive green. It was made of 100% wasabi, which is unusual, so I thought the color reflected the lack of dye. So we tasted it and deemed it unsuitable, shoved it on a back shelf, and bought new powdered stuff from the Asian market for our next sushi round.

The list of ingredients in the Penzey’s catalog got me re-evaluatin’. We now had three kinds of powdered wasabi: Sushi Sonic (100% wasabi), Hime (available at Safeway, containing horseradish, mustard flour, cornstarch, corn flour, yellow no. 5 and blue no. 1) and Kaneku (available at our local Asian grocery store, Sunrise, containing horseradish, red pepper, ascorbic acid (as preservative), citric acid, blue no. 1 and yellow no. 5). Each of these had ingredients different enough to raise some questions. I assume that the “horseradish” in Hime and Kaneku is mis-translated wasabi, but who knows? It is notable that Kaneku has added acids, which could change the flavor, and red pepper. Hime, on the other hand, seems to contain too many corn products for my taste. All cost about the same, with Sushi Sonic just a shade more expensive.

I decided to do a taste test, putting each wasabi through a grueling run of three applications. First, tasting plain. Next, tasting on rice, smeared on the inside of a spicy tuna roll. Third, mixed in soy sauce as a dipping sauce for a sushi roll. Here are the results.


Sushi Sonic: awful dark olive color, chalky consistency. Pond algae, with overtones of seaweed with a slight wasabi kick. Fail.

Hime: brightest light green of the lot. Classic “wasabi” green. Taste was gritty, though, and much, much stronger than the Sushi Sonic.

Kaneku: pale light green. Slightly sweet. Smooth texture, a thousand times stronger than Hime. The red pepper actually does add punchitude. Can I taste the citric acid, too? Beware.

In Sushi Roll

Sushi Sonic: can’t taste it. Should have used more. Would that have meant more algae taste, though?

Hime: could taste the punch and the grittiness disappeared in the filling. Perfectly acceptable.

Kaneku: oh sweet mother of god. Too much. Cleared sinuses. Beware.

In Soy Sauce

Sushi Sonic: this makes a lovely addition to soy sauce! It was by far my favorite of the three, subtle and delicious. It actually enhanced the taste of the soy, not just made it spicy.

Hime/Kaneku: indistinguishable, added punch to soy sauce. Acceptable.

So, surprising results. I’d not suggest that you keep Sushi Sonic on hand for just adding to soy sauce, but it was nice to know it won’t go to waste. If I had a choice between Hime and Kaneku, I’d choose Kaneku, and tread lightly. I don’t like the preservatives in Kaneku, but since we use so little of the stuff in one sitting, it doesn’t matter that much to me.

I haven’t tried Penzey’s yet, but it will be interesting to see if the tapioca makes a less gritty filler than the cornstarch used by Hime, and if the lack of artificial colors/preservatives makes a difference. I’m guessing it might very well indeed. It’s worth noting that Penzey’s cheapest wasabi is a bit less expensive than Kaneku (K=$2.39 for an ounce and P-$1.99 for .9 oz.), but the price increases rapidly, at $3.59 for .9 oz. of the mid-level wasabi, and a whopping $13.59 for a .7 oz. jar of pure wasabi powder. But if it doesn’t taste like slime, it might be worth the cost for some.

hazelnut punitions for naughty oregonians

I’m fond of a good sadomasochism joke; it’s no lie. And visual puns all the better. But when it involves cookies AND a story AND France AND corporal punishment, well, there’s just no stopping me.


Punitions are petite butter cookies made famous by the French bakery Boulangerie Poilâne, where you can help yourself out of the basket by the register as you pay for your pain Poilâne or buy ’em by the box. Une punition is ‘a punishment’ in French, and M. Poilâne tells Dorie Greenspan that in Normandy, grandmothers baked these simple cookies and then called in their charges for ‘punishments,’ beckoning them over while hiding the cookies behind their backs. This is how they do punishment in France, you see: eat this, become as fat as an American! OK, that last part was my embellishment.

The important part of punitions is that you need absolutely pristine, lovely, unsalted butter. These are butter cookies, and with so few ingredients, one must use the best. I use, of course, our excellent local Noris butter. I found this tastier than the cultured Vermont Butter and Cheese Company butter, somehow clearer and purer in heart. (Oregonians, the Noris website is up again, and you can check out their products here.)

Something else I love about these petite punitions is that they’re delicious as is, but you can also add one (ONE!) extra ingredient to personalize them. For us, that would be fresh roasted Willamette Valley hazelnuts, the best example of the specimen in the whole world. The internet tells me that up to 99% of the country’s hazelnuts are grown here in the Willamette Valley, and they’ve been grown here for 150 years. We get hazelnuts that are huge and plump and roasty, collected from local trees and sold at markets in the fall. I’m not sure if the variety that remains here is different than what is shipped out, but man o man, is it better than what you can get elsewhere.

But in the interest of keeping it local, I’d suggest you substitute hazelnuts for whatever local add-in might be yummy. I could see adding macadamia nuts to punitions in Hawaii, or a bit of candied Meyer lemon peel in the SF Bay Area, or a few dried cranberries in Bandon, OR, or some maple sugar in rural Connecticut. One more ingredient is the limit, though. I wouldn’t recommend doing anything fancier with them, although the temptation is huge. NO SPRINKLES. You’ll get a spanking. I mean it.

You can see from the Poilâne website or Chocolate & Zucchini (both linked above) that punitions are tiny, with fluted edges. When I bake mine with hazelnuts, I prefer to chill the dough in a log and slice thin, irregular, rustic-looking cookies with a sharp knife. But you might prefer to roll them out and cut them in fancier shapes. My only advice is to keep them small.

Retrogrouch recently ate a plate of these cookies made from local eggs from our CSA, Oregon flour, and the Noris butter, plus some Willamette Valley hazelnuts; he’s a glutton for punishment.

I liked those munitions cookies, he said, they were tasty.

Bang bang, I said, in complete agreement.

Hazelnut Punitions

(adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in Paris Sweets)

5 oz unsalted, fresh, high quality butter (1 1/4 sticks or 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup), at room temperature
Slightly rounded 1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

Process butter until smooth in a food processor with the metal blade. Scrape down, add the sugar, and process until thoroughly blended into the butter, scraping down the sides once or twice.

Add the egg and continue to process, scraping down the bowl as needed, until the mixture is smooth and satiny.dscf6894.jpg

Add the flour all at once, then pulse 10-15 times, until the dough forms clumps and curds and looks like streusel. Add hazelnuts and pulse a few more times to blend.

Roll dough into log on saran wrap and wrap tightly, chilling in the refrigerator for at least four hours. If you opt to roll out the dough later instead of slice it, form the dough into two equal-sized flattened disks instead.

When you are ready to bake, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

You’ll want cookies that are between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Either (A) cut log in slices that are no more than 1/4 inch thick with a sharp, thin knife, or (B) roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, and cut with a cookie cutter no more than 2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheets, leaving about 1 inch space between them.

Bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they are set but pale. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Greenspan says the dough can be wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The finished cookies can be kept in a tin at room temperature for about 5 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 1 month.

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.