twice-baked shortbread – smitten kitchen

[Note: The shortbread got some fresh photos in 2019.]

I spend much too much time trying to figure out why some recipes we try out burn a hole in my laptop until I can get them up on the site–sometimes, even a day seems too long to keep something from you, like last week’s soup–and why others can linger for months. Sometimes, I’m just not that into them, but don’t want to admit it publicly and perhaps hurt their feelings, or even yours, if you happen to fall for them. Other times, the pictures just came out horrendously, and oh, we all know an ugly-looking recipe is a hard sell (sorry, big-name food magazine whose October cover picture actually convinced me to not buy it).

But then there are times that it is none of the above–the recipe was good, the photos were acceptable and there’s not a single good reason for me not to pass the word on, and yet, three months later, here is this Zucchini Rice Gratin. So, without further ado, bear with me as I clean some stuff off my hard drive today; I might want to try these again before I insist that you laminate and frame these recipes, but it doesn’t mean that they were any less worth sharing.

roasting tomatoesonions and rice, nomzucchini rice gratinzucchini rice gratin

Zucchini Rice Gratin: Caramelized onions, rice, lightly roasted tomatoes and zucchini layered in a baking dish with grated parmesan and oh my gosh, this was really delicious. Small problem, though, I was rushing when I cooked it; rushing like crazy. We were going out of town the next day and I had bought the ingredients many days before and I was physically unable to let them go to waste. So, I rushed. And well, I forgot to add the egg, I mean eggs. The result? Tasted good to me, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it would have been with some more cohesiveness. Tomatoes aren’t looking that great these days, so I suspect it will be a while before I find out. [Update: In fact, I wrote about this recipe again in 2012]

the best tomatoes, evertomato salad with tahini dressing

Tomato and Onion Salad with Tahini Dressing: Just days after I lightly chided New York Times food writer Mark Bittman for having recipes that could befuddle the home cook, he put a clear as day combination on his Bitten blog that I quite liked. We were past the midway point in tomato season by then; I was still a-smitten with this summer’s batch as I had been in any other year past, but I was getting bored of my go-to tomato salad (any vinegar, olive oil and some flaky salt). Tahini dressing seemed like a great way to bridge tomatoes into fall, and it was even better on the most amazing tomatoes I have ever bought from an organic farm on the North Fork the weekend before. Seriously, these tomatoes were so good that my tomato season ended the day I ate this salad. It wasn’t going to get any better than this, so I thought I should quit while I was ahead. Consider yourself warned on that one. [Recipe]

peeling sweet potatoescooking sweet potatoesdiced sugar snapssweet potato salad

Sweet Potato Salad: Well, here’s a lesson for you: Don’t buy sweet potatoes in August. They won’t be very good. Still, I already had fall on the brain when I wanted to make one last potato salad this summer and the notion of a sweet potato one seemed like a great way to bridge the seasons. That it had a spicy peanut dressing didn’t hurt either, because my favorite things to do with squash or sweet potatoes is to pair them with something with a kick. The end result, however, was as could be expected from sweet potatoes bought months before they were in season–bland. Yet, since everything else about it was tasty, it leads me to believe that if I had cooled my heels another couple months, this could have been a great one. Of course, then might wonder how they can find sugar snap peas worth eating three months out of season, and well, I suppose that leaves us at something of an impasse. [Recipe]

what you'll needbutter, sugar, vanillastir togethersmooth into pan and restafter the first bakeslice, then bake again

Twice Baked Shortbread: Oh, this one is crazy delicious too. It is from a fantastic cookbook I bought months and months and months ago–Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich–that I have made only this single recipe from — so far!

[Update!] I revisited this recipe in 2019 and was consumed with regret for waiting so long — these are best-in-category material. The two untraditional processes (a rest time before baking, and a second bake after slicing) pay off. The rest time lets the flour hydrate and the sugar dissolve, for a better final texture, no powdered sugar (and its slight chalkiness) required. The second baking ensures that the butter tastes absolutely toasty, with a faint suggestion of brown butter. And here’s the best part: I’m not even using fancy butter here, just regular old non-European store brand and with the depth of buttery flavor, you’d never know. Imagine how good they’d be with fancier stuff. [Recipe below]

twice-baked shortbread

One year ago: Arroz Con Pollo
Two years ago: Pumpernickel Bread

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