30 September 2008
SUGAR COOKIES :
C is for cookie …. well that all depends on where you come from. In England & Australia B is for Biscuit and in Spain G is for Galletas, whereas in Italy they have a completely different range of names from amaretti to biscotti.
Going back to the root of the English word ‘cookie’, we find that it was derived from the Dutch word koekje, meaning small/little cake. According to culinary historians, these little cakes were the product of chefs using small amounts of batter to test the heat of their ovens before baking. I will soon be taking a trip over to Holland, to visit my brother and to taste the local delicacies – he says they have excellent local cheese & yogurt, so I will be reporting back!
In regards to reporting back, each year I find that the decrease in autumn temperature, brings with it an increase in my desire to cook with fragrant spices. However when it comes to my spice rack, I fear I have lately been playing favourites …. exploiting certain spices while marginalsing others to their traditional roles.
A good example of this is nutmeg – great for beshamel sauce, perfect for rice pudding and even better when used in savoury spinach quiche. But should that be all? Is that everything this little “nut” has to offer?? Perhaps I should be looking outside the recipe box, to the sweeter side of life. Which got me to thinking about my mother’s delicious sugar cookies and how nicely they would compliment the aromatic flavours of nutmeg. And as they say, whoever they are, the rest is history!
NUTMEG – A History
- Native to the Banda islands of Indonesia
- Nutmeg is a seed from the evergreen tree
- The tree produces small yellow flowers that bear fruit – inside is the nutmeg seed
- Name derived from the Latin nux muscatus “musky nut”
- The Pericarp (exterior fruit/pod surrounding the nutmeg seed) is not waisted : in Grenada it is used to make ‘Morne Delice’ jam, in Indonesia for making candy, “nutmeg sweets”
- Prized / costly spice in medieval cuisine : St. Theodore (ca.758-826) supposed to have allowed his monks to sprinkle nutmeg on their pea pudding!!!
- Valude for its medical properties : remedies for nausea & indigestion
- Use : Best grated fresh!
RECIPE – ERIKA ALLISTON – Sweet Pea Blog
- 175 gr (3/4 cup) softened unsalted butter
- 170 gr (1 cup) packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
- 300 gr (2.5 cups) white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
- Beat the softened butter until light in colour & texture
- Now add in brown sugar in 3 lots
- Next beat in egg & vanilla
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder & salt, mix well.
- Now add to butter mixture in 3 lots
- Make a round flat ball with the dough, divide in 1/2 & cover in plastic wrap
- Chill for 1 hour
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F)
- Using 1/2 the dough at a time, roll out on a well floured surface & rolling pin (approx. 0.5cm thick)
- Cut out shapes using large cookie cutters
- Place on a non stick baking sheet at least 1cm (1/2 inch) apart and bake for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on your oven and how chewy you like the cookies to be!)
- Let cook on a cookie rack.