Shortbread Jammers

Over the summer, I brought these fabulous cookies to the beach when we went to enjoy the sunset. They transported very well and everyone loved them. 🙂 Any type of thick fruit jam or marmalade can be spread over the top of the cookie base. By using raspberry jam, I thought that they could be renamed “Easy Linzer Cookies.”

The recipe was adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion via The New York Times, contributed by Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan. I baked the cookies in a 9×13-inch pan, per the original recipe; The NYT recently modified the recipe to bake in an 8×8-inch pan. I thought that they were perfect as is, but may “have to” try the thicker version to compare. 😉

Rice flour is suggested to make the cookies more tender. I used all-purpose flour instead and was pleased with the results.

Yield: 24 cookies (9×13-inch pan) or 16 cookies (8×8-inch pan)

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted)
  • 1 cup thick fruit jam, preserves or marmalade (I used raspberry preserves)
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch or 8×8-inch baking dish. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. (I used a lined, metal 9×13-inch baking pan.)
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.
  5. Add the flours and continue to beat until the dough comes together.
  6. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Prick it with a fork in about 20 places.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, or until golden around the edges. Slide a dull knife along the edges. Cool for 5 minutes. (an 8×8-inch pan may require a longer baking time)
  8. Using the parchment, lift the slab of shortbread out onto a clean surface.
  9. With a knife, trim 1 inch from one of the sides. Crumble the trimmings into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Cut the rest of the shortbread into 24 squares (9×13-inch pan) or 16 squares (8×8-inch pan) and allow to cool.
  11. Spread a thick layer of jam on each square. (I kept the cut cookies together and spread the jam over the top of the entire surface.)
  12. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.

Note: Layered between plastic wrap or wax paper in an airtight container, the cookies will keep for 3 to 4 days.

Tender Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I have two sourdough sandwich loaves to share. This recipe makes two tender and delicious loaves, absolutely perfect for sandwiches. The inclusion of dry milk and butter resulted in a prolonged storage time compared to typical sourdough loaf. It sliced very easily as well.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. The levain is prepared the night before making the dough. The dough also incorporates instant yeast to expedite the rising times.

Yield: Two 8-inch loaves

For the Levain:

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) cool water (60° to 70°F)
  • 3 tablespoons (44g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter

For the Dough:

  • 5 1/4 cups (631g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • scant 6 tablespoons (50g) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) water (70° to 80°F)
  • all of the ripe levain

To Make the Levain:

  1. Mix all of the levain ingredients together and place in a covered container with room for the levain to grow. It will almost double in size, and will take about 12 hours to ripen (ferment) at room temperature (70°F). When perfectly ripened, there’ll be large bubbles (mostly below the surface) creating a somewhat rippled effect. It’ll appear almost fluffy. If the levain is covered with a froth of tiny bubbles, it’s a bit over-ripened; but don’t worry, you can still use it.

To Make the Dough:

  1. Mix and then knead together all of the dough ingredients, including the levain, to make a smooth, supple, and not overly sticky dough. (I used a stand mixer.)
  2. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. (I used a proofing oven.)
  3. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into 8″ logs. (I used a scale to divide the dough evenly, about 710 grams per loaf.)
  4. Place the logs, seam side down, in two lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pans. (9″ x 5″ pans will also work)
  5. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’ve crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (or up to 2 hours). (I used a proofing oven.)
  6. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the sides of the loaf feel firm.
  8. Remove the loaves from the oven, and turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool. Let them cool completely before slicing.

*All-purpose flour will produce a somewhat stickier dough.

Note: To prevent a wrinkled top surface: Slash the top of the loaf several times before baking, much as you would a baguette. This helps release the steam that gathers under the crust, which can produce wrinkles as the baked loaf cools.

Honey Beer Bread

My son has become obsessed with making this bread. It is absolutely delicious and he can make it completely independently. He has experimented with several types of beers but his favorite is a light lager because the flavor it imparts is more subtle.

This recipe was adapted from Little Sweet Baker. We have made it several times to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches- a great combination. The bread is buttery and has a chewy texture. Great!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
  • 1 bottle of beer, of choice (330 to 355 ml) of choice, at room temperature (our favorite is Trader Joe’s light lager)
  • 4 T melted unsalted butter, divided (I melt the butter in the microwave in separate 2 T portions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  3. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then whisk in the baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, followed by the honey and beer.
  5. Stir all the ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.
  7. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove the bread to cool on a wire rack.

Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Tomato Gravy

Like my last post, this special and indulgent feast was also included in Food and Wine Magazine’s “40 Best-Ever Recipes” issue celebrating the 40th anniversary of their publication. I made it for the second year in a row to celebrate my husband’s birthday! 🙂

The recipes were adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock, the then chef at Watershed in Decatur, Georgia, and co-author Edna Lewis, the legendary Southern cook, his mentor and close friend. I modified the cooking techniques and substituted sunflower oil for lard. Last year, I made Lewis’ wonderful biscuits from this full menu, but, this year I served the chicken and gravy with sourdough biscuits.

The chicken is double-brined, first in salt water and then in buttermilk, and then fried in a cast iron skillet filled with oil (or lard), butter, and bacon fat. It was very tender and juicy. The creamy and rich gravy is reminiscent of Italian vodka sauce. Pretty delicious. 😉

We ate the chicken, gravy, and biscuits with macaroni and cheese (my favorite version), and iceberg wedge salad on the side. My husband’s birthday meal is not complete without his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. ❤

For the Fried Chicken & Tomato Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • One 3 1/2 to 5 pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces (I cut each chicken breast in half)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 oz, 180.7g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch (optional) (I included it)
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lard or solid vegetable shortening, for frying (I substituted 2 cups of sunflower oil)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 pound sliced bacon (I used 4 thick slices)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (from three 14-ounce cans)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

To Make the Fried Chicken:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the kosher salt in the cold water. Add the chicken pieces; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Drain.
  2. Put the chicken in a large bowl, add the buttermilk and turn the pieces to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. (The chicken can be refrigerated overnight at this point, if desired.)
  3. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag, combine the flour, cornstarch, potato starch, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and shake.
  4. Set aside 1/2 cup of the flour mixture for the gravy.
  5. Lift the chicken out of the buttermilk, wipe off any excess and set the pieces on a wire rack; let dry for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, to the flour mixture in the bag; shake to coat.
  7. Dry the rack. Shake off any excess flour and return the chicken to the rack.
  8. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet, melt the lard (I used sunflower oil) and butter over medium heat. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  9. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; reserve the bacon for another use. (I crumbled the bacon over our wedge salads.)
  10. Add the chicken, in batches, and cook over moderate heat, basting and turning, until golden, crisp and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Lower the heat if necessary. (I kept the cooking oil temperature between 300 and 340 degrees. I also completed cooking the larger pieces (especially the breast pieces) in the oven at 300 degrees, until they reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.)
  11. Set the chicken on a clean wire rack to drain.

To Make the Gravy:

  1. Transfer 1/4 cup of the chicken cooking fat to a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. (I chopped the onion and garlic in a food processor.)
  3. Add the reserved 1/2 cup of seasoned flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained tomatoes and thyme and stir constantly until blended.
  5. Whisk in the cream and milk until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes.
To Serve:
  1. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter.
  2. Pour the tomato gravy into a gravy boat and serve with the chicken.

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons single-acting baking powder or double-acting baking powder (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into pieces (I used bacon fat)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the lard just until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times.
  6. Roll out or pat the dough 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet.
  8. Pat the dough scraps together, reroll and cut out the remaining biscuits; do not overwork the dough.
  9. Pierce the top of each biscuit 3 times with a fork and brush with the butter.
  10. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes, or until risen and golden. Serve at once.

Note: The unbaked biscuits can be frozen in a single layer, then kept frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw before baking.

Buttery Sourdough Sandwich Biscuits

I usually eat my favorite Saturday morning fried egg over a bed of arugula with Swiss cheese and extra pepper. This biscuit sandwich brought it to the next level! The bacon was a nice bonus too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur flour. I grated the butter and modified the baking time. They were very buttery and full-flavored.

Yield: 6  3-inch biscuits

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection, with a rack in the upper third.
  2. Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Work the cold, grated butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
  5. Add the starter, mixing gently until the dough is cohesive. If necessary, depending on the consistency of your starter, add buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make the dough come together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (a piece of parchment works well), and gently pat it into a 6″ round about 1″-thick.
  7. Use a sharp 2 3/8″ biscuit cutter to cut four rounds, cutting them as close to one another as possible.
  8. Gently push and pat the scraps into a 2 1/2″ x 5″ rectangle. Cut two more biscuits.
  9. Push and pat the remaining scraps into a 1″-thick biscuit; it’ll be slightly smaller than the others.
  10. Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2″ between them; they’ll spread as they bake.
  11. Bake the biscuits in the upper third of your oven for 17 to 23 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
  12. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and serve warm.

Note: Once cooled completely, the biscuits can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for several days. Freeze, well-wrapped, for longer storage.

*To make smaller biscuits: The dough can be patted 1/2-inch thick, cut into 2-inch rounds, and baked for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown.*

Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

After reading the printed version, I received multiple emails from The New York Times about this dish. Sam Sifton was over the moon about this recipe and the book, Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking. He described the book as “excellent and invaluable” and noted that this was his favorite recipe in it. I had to try it.

I agreed with Sam Sifton. 🙂 Lemon-caper sauce is incredible! This wonderful dish was prepared very quickly and was packed with flavor. Tipton-Martin learned the sauce technique that elevates these smothered pork chops from restaurateur B. Smith.

I added additional flour to the sauce to make it more of a gravy. We used fresh bread to mop up all of the remaining sauce on our plates. I served the pork chops with sautéed spinach and roasted red and sweet potatoes on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking, via The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I slightly modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 4 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each) (I used 5 boneless pork chops)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 very small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T drained capers
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, plus 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • hot sauce, optional
  1. Dry the chops with paper towels, and season aggressively with salt, pepper and the thyme.
  2. Swirl the olive oil into a large skillet, and heat over medium until the oil begins to shimmer.
  3. Add chops, and cook until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate, and cover to keep warm.
  4. Drain most of the fat from the skillet, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over medium heat until sizzling.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until the aromatics soften, reducing the heat if necessary, about 1 minute.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the wine and chicken stock, raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and hot sauce to taste (if you’re using it)(I omitted it), and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s melted and the sauce looks smooth.
  10. Nestle the pork chops into the sauce, and allow them to warm up for a couple of minutes, then serve, pouring sauce over each pork chop to taste.
  11. Garnish with more fresh parsley.

Indian Butter Chickpeas

This is an incredible vegetarian adaptation of the much loved classic Indian dish. It was also a fabulous weeknight dinner. I served it with steamed spinach which paired perfectly. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, used San Marzano tomatoes, and served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan. Great.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika or smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
  • 1 (13.5 to 15 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
  • ground cayenne
  • cooked brown or white rice, for serving
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
  • naan, for serving, optional
  • steamed spinach, for serving, optional
  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to medium-high; keeping the heat on medium ensures even browning without burning the butter.)
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook another 1 minute.
  4. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon or flat spatula, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot (or you can use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can).
  6. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to mash up the tomatoes if necessary to help them break down.
  7. Stir in chickpeas and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
  8. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  9. Serve spooned over rice, topped with cilantro, with warm naan and steamed spinach, as desired.

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