Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homage three times

Things you should know about my latest recipe:
1. It is mostly made up, or at the very least highly adapted from any real recipe
2. It was a complete accident
3. It pays tribute to 2 places and 1 person

 So here goes. Last night I went to the Corson Building in Georgetown for their Sunday dinner seating.  It was ridiculous. To start, the space is beautiful. It's simple, rustic, and charmingly elegant despite the fact it's tucked away underneath the freeway and right next to the airport.  Even despite a few roaring planes careening overhead a bit too close for comfort, dinning on their back patio-garden is like being transported to a hunting-lodge-family-estate-domestic-dream-house in the middle of France.  Well maybe it's just my dream house, but the country touches like distressed wood, vintage fox hunting wall paper in the bathrooms (I died), and bone handled knives from Paris work so well together I felt far far away from Seattle, WA.

We ate outside on long wooden bench tables and the weather was one of those oh-my-god-why-would-i-live-anywhere-else-the-winter-isn't-so-bad Seattle days.  Everything from the happy-hour cocktail, Limoux with Nasturtium syrup, to the Orvieto from Italy with dessert was exactly what I wanted without even knowing it.  The food was my kind of food. Simple, fresh, and rustic.  The courses: pork rillet, raw beet and heirloom tomato salad, oil cured Tuna and salted zucchini salad, roasted quail (my first time eating quail!) with chanterelles, emmer and radicchio salad, and of course the dessert that inspired it all.

 Since this is a blog about sweets and things I suppose I should tell you about this dessert.  DESSERT. While always my favorite part of any meal, I was a bit nervous that I could possibly eat another bite of anything that would satisfy me more than my last bite. Who was a kidding?  It's dessert. Dessert at the Corson Building.  How many times can I say that? A lot...

Here we go: Shortbread, lemon curd, and blueberries.  In harmony with the rest of the meal, the final course was uncomplicated, effortless, and quite provincial in texture and plating. It of course delighted my sweet tooth and only augmented my love of both lemon and the Corson Building.

 So as you know, I love lemon. What I love most though is lemon curd. Seriously, I could (and will only somewhat shamefully) lick it off the plate/bowl/whatever.   After the first bite I knew there was absolutely no way I could not make lemon curd today.

So lemon curd check. Homage number one check.  Next comes the cookie part of this adventure.  This past weekend I went to Cafe Besalu, my second favorite Seattle bakery. While I often prefer Besalu's savory dishes to their sweets (I almost don't believe it myself) they always have some variation of a cornmeal cookie that melds sweet and savory together in a delightfully chewy and crunchy bite.  I took two things from that visit. 1. I should really try to make Croissants sometime and  2. i need to make cornmeal cookies now.  From that my dream of lemon, thyme, cornmeal cookies was born.

Cookies check.  Or so I thought.  This leads me to my final cookie homage. Mike, the produce vendor at WholeFoods Westlake.  I know it is their job and all to be helpful and resourceful (I used to work there in fact), but Mike is awesome.  I am brining Mike a cookie.  After unsuccesfully locating yellow cornmeal, Mike suggested I try blue cornmeal, which he gave me as a sample.  Although I would have happily paid, especially considering how well these cookies turned out,  I really appreciate free things. I also really appreciate excellent customer service.  Thank you Mike. Seriously, the blue corn is subtle and gives the cookie an earthy stone ground kind of feel. Yum....

Lemon-Thyme-Blue Cornmeal Cookies 

1 cup flour
1/3 cup blue cornmeal. DON'T use yellow. I promise it's worth it
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons soft butter
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (heaping) lemon zest
1 tablespoon (heaping) chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first four dry ingredients. Add in lemon zest and thyme, whisk together, and set aside. In separate bowl cream sugar, butter, and lemon juice together until fluffy. Add in egg. Combine dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir till just combined.  Roll dough into small 1 inch balls. These cookies will spread out A LOT. So if you want even, round, cookies for eating or for making into lemon curd cookie sandwiches then air on the side of really really small.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden brown I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper, which worked well. Cool.

This part is optional.  Making lemon curd for me is never not an option if I can find a reason for it and I usually can, however, I made some lemon curd cookies and left some plain for snacking.  The lemon curd itself is powerful, so you loose the subtle thyme flavor of the cookie. For the curd I used a recipe from Joy of Baking and stuck to the recipe.  I may have snuck a bit more lemon in there, actually, but I really don't think it needed it.

After the cookies and curd are completely cool. I layered two cookies with a smear of lemon curd and pressed them together like little macaroons.  Some of my cookies were small enough (batches 2 and 3 out of the oven) however my first sheet to go into the oven were enormous and oddly shaped. I used a cookie cutter to cut rounds out of the larger cookies to make the little sandwiches.  That seemed the best method for making small, consistent, soft cookie-curd-wiches.

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