Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scottish Shortbread

I'm a big fan of Michael Ruhlman and have been ever since The Making of a Chef was first published. It made me fall in love with the idea of going to culinary school. I ultimately realized that wasn't my path, but my infatuation with the Culinary Institute of America is alive and well.  A few years ago I attended a pastry boot camp there and it was one of the best weeks of my life. Ruhlman's prose is beautiful and his passion for food so evident; he respects and honors food and the creative process of cooking. Ruhlman dedicates much of his energy to getting people excited about cooking at home and gathering around something worth eating.

Last year, he published Ratio, a book that teaches the home cook the ratios that are the trained chef's secret. While at boot camp, I learned the ratio for tart dough and butter cookies, called 1-2-3 for the ratio of ingredients by weight. The ratio makes it possible to scale the recipe to a single cookie or enough cookies for every child in your son's school.

When I saw Ruhlman write about this shortbread on his blog, I was reminded of the times I've made shortbread and it fell short. Overhandled, dry, crumbly. This recipe has four ingredients, one of which is rice flour, and is made in the mixer (though you can do it by hand). The simple elegance of the recipe belies the crisp, buttery cookie. Leave a stick of butter on your counter when you go to work and you can come home and make an impressively simple and delicious cookie. It will pair wonderfully with leftover ice cream; dipped in melted chocolate it's a special treat.

Try it soon, but remember that the recipe gives you the foundation to take off from. Mix up the flavors and make it your own. Made with vanilla sugar and the scrapings of a vanilla bean, it's a different cookie. With the addition of chopped candied ginger, it becomes a sweet, spicy treat to be enjoyed with tea or chai. Go savory with finely minced thyme or rosemary. That's the beauty of his book. It gives you the framework to make these things easily and make them your own.

NOTE:  Lethally Delicious is on vacation! But I'll be back soon... In the meantime, have you entered my giveaway? You can find it here.


natalia said...

Cioa ! I don't know about this chef but it sounds very interesting ! I'd love to try your shortbread !

Anonymous said...

I love shortbread - it's so simple and so delicious.

Agreed about pastry boot camp! I haven't read The Making of a Chef, but it's on my list.

Anonymous said... scottish shortbread, but I had to comment here because that is the most perfect cinnmaon swirl I have ever seen in a cinnmaon bread! My swirl always separates :( How did you adhere it..with butter? Egg? Oh, wait..maybe I should read the recipe lol Gorgeous bread!!

Mimi said...

Nothing like a buttery shortbread cookie.

TeaLady said...

I adore shortbread. Nice to know it can be made without being majorly 'crumby'. Looks perfect.

Mary said...

I love shortbread, but only think to make it during the holidays, when there are so many other sweet treats around. This looks fantastic, and have to make it soon!