Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lessons Learned from the BFC

Ever since I got my new mixer, I've been dying to make things in it, but haven't really had much to mix. This weekend seemed a good opportunity to use it and I was watching the Barefoot Contessa and she was making some beautiful little mini linzer cookies, a take off on linzer tarts.

They looked delicious, fairly simple, and best of all, she used her mixer to make them.

In fact, there was nothing simple about the freakin' things, and it took me all damned night to make them (I literally pulled the last pan of cookies out of the oven at 2am Monday morning). They were delicious, sure, but I put in hours of work for a yield of about 20 damned cookies.

So, I've learned that baking is easy if:

1. You have a small army of sous-chefs at your disposal (my sister and I have dubbed the BFC's sous chef "Armand");

2. You have a kitchen the size of my entire house;

3. You live in the fabulous Hamptons and have fabulous friends for whom you fabulously cook all the fabulous time (fabulous friends? check! Ha, BFC!);

4. You start cooking approximately 15 hours before you want to actually eat anything;

5. You actually have all the ingredients handy and don't have to run out to the store a few times to find those impossible-to-locate ingredients;

6. You snag a nip of hard liquor now and again during the process;

7. You have a refrigerator the size of a small cavern.

I must confess, it was the best damned shortbread I've ever sunk my teeth into, but the rolling and cooling and heating and re-refrigerating and dusting and kneading and baking was a royal pain in the ass.

By contrast, I made the Queen's scones from Cooking Royally the next morning, and it took me approximately 20 minutes from bowl to oven. And that's for HRH for cryin' out loud!!!!

Still, I love watching BFC on occasion just to laugh at the utter pretentiousness of it all and get a glimpse of the other side (after the debacle last December, I will confess BFC is one of my top 3 favorite FoodNetwork chefs, and I think it's in part because she bring a shrimp salad picnic to the beach and not get one grain of sand in the food). This is my second recipe of hers I've tried, and the first, while delicious, produced enough chicken stew to feed a crowd of 300 hungry sailors, but wasn't to the liking of either my sister or my husband. And the miracle of that was I prepared it in Centreville, where I had approximately 2 square feet of counter space.

That was 3 years ago. I wonder which of her recipes I'll try in another 3 years...

The BFC's Mini Linzer Tarts

This is a variation of Eli Zabar's delicious shortbread cookies. (SK's note: But of course it is!)

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry preserves
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or spade shaped cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners' sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners' sugar on the top.

1 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Cindy said...

I love the food network, but sometimes their recipes can be a little daunting. Even 30 minute meals uses stuff I've never heard of.

I love Paula Dean. Basically because she uses a pound of butter in everything she makes, and nothing tastes bad with a pound of butter.

My favorite is Alton Brown. We've made his chocolate chip cook ie recipe since we saw the episode that featured it, and I've never had a bad cookie. DH wants to try brisket in two clay pots or something that he saw. I can just see it now - my backyard on fire, and DH standing over his two clay pots as he broils or bakes or whatever you do in two clay pots.

Oh, and I'll post this here since I don't seem to have your email. This is in response to your comment on my blog about the melting pot gift cards -
The other thing that sucks is it isn't a $10 gift certificate like they told my husband. I mean, it is, but you can only use it on two specific meals. So, we couldn't go for just chocolate fondue or something like that. We might be hard pressed to go by December! Maybe I'll forge a little and put 08 as the year. They just put 12/30. Hehe. I'll be sneaky!!