Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Club and Cookies: Good for your Heart..

     I added a few grains of sea salt to some of the cookies ... Wow.

Our Book Club (no-name) meets the first Wednesday of every month.  You pick your month by figuring out when you have time to clean your house and bake a couple of cookies or buy a bottle of wine.  We're kinda new at this; we just met for the third time.   We seem to be growing by small increments, adding one new person each time.  So far, we're all women.  Until now, we all lived in the same small up-on-the-mesa neighborhood.  Last night we had a good friend of mine join; she lives in the north end of town.  We agreed:  when it's time for her to host book club, she'll rent my house.  We don't want to drive.  The wine may have something to do with liking to walk.  Perhaps this is a bit exclusive.  I don't think we care.  Boy.

So last night was my night.  The book was MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather.  What a book.  It sparked lots of conversation about life on the plains, immigrants, and our own nationalities and backgrounds.  Maybe more than about the book itself.  Two of us discovered that each has an American Indian grandparent.  We all found out that one of us went to a  one-room school house; her father went to the same school.  Another still has a few words of German, even though her family came from Germany in the 1850's.  We now know who feels at home in Colorado Springs and who would rather be elsewhere.

We work it this way (so far):  if you host, you choose the book for the next meeting.  The library has an extensive collection of book club books and we've been able to find one each time and get free copies for everyone.  Cool... and it's accessible in lots of ways with a six-week check-out period. 

Well, this is a food how about a little about the food?   I served wine:  a nice California zin (Cigarzin) and an Alsatian Pinot Gris (Helfrich) to accompany a little cheese spread that's great for spring.  Note:  I heard "Giada" talk about this spread and remembered it--not original--except for the addition of black pepper.

Mix equal amounts goat's cheese and ricotta.   Add grated lemon rind and minced fresh basil to taste.  Optional:  a little fresh ground pepper on top.  Serve with skinny, crispy crackers.

(I saw this made on the Food Network--Giada, I think.  I don't know if there's a real recipe.)

I also served coffee and some sweet little cookies.  These are a riff on a cookie from Ina Garten's BAREFOOT CONTESSA PARTIES, and Ina got the recipe from Eli Zabar.  Hmph.  Cookbooks bring people together; never doubt it.  Here's how I did it:

BOOKCLUB COOKIES (Tiny shortbreads dripped, no--dipped! in chocolate)

3/4 # butter, unsalted (3 sticks) at room temp
1 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt

3.5-4.5 oz dark chocolate  (I like Valrhona Guanaja; you can try orange Lindt as well)

1/4 c sea salt, optional

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffly.  Add vanilla; beat 30 seconds.   Mix salt (yes, it's really only 1/4 t) into the flour and beat together with the butter-sugar mixer until the dough holds together well.  Dump dough onto counter and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill 30 min.

*Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove dough from refrigerator. 

*Roll the dough out 1/4-1/2" thick (your choice).  Cut out with 2" fluted cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake about 15-20 min, depending on thickness.  Cookies should remain fairly pale, but are done when they just begin to brown around the edges.  Cool on racks.

*Melt chocolate by placing in a deep, microwave proof small bowl, covered with a plate.  Microwave on low for about 2 minutes.  Stir; heat a little more if required.  Note:  some people would rather melt chocolate in a double boiler.  If you'd like to do that, bring a small pan of water to simmer and place a pan with the chocolate on top of the pan with water.  Make sure the chocolate bowl doesn't touch the water.  Let chocolate melt slowly, stirring often until completely melted.

*Set out large cookie sheets or platters (2-3) and line with waxed paper.  Take a totally cooled cookie and dip its edge into the melted chocolate.  Let drip (you can wave it a little) a second or two and carefully place it on the waxed papered tray to cool and harden.  Add a couple of grains of sea salt if desired.    Repeat (this is time consuming) until all of the cookies are done.  Let sit just like that 2-3 hours until chocolate is solid.  Store covered with wax paper between layers. 

*You can also choose to leave the cookies plain, in which case they will keep longer--for weeks.

Sing a new song; bake a new cookie; read a new book; get to know your friends better....

TWO-DOG KITCHEN  --up again.  Sorry if you missed it!


  1. delicious cookies alyce!!

  2. You're welcome; there are still a few left!
    Thanks for the comment.

  3. What a quick and easy shortbread recipe and your right good wine makes the converstion flow so you don't want to get rid of that!

  4. Thanks! Cookies. Wine. Why not? It's all good.


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