Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13 & 14 - Lemon Shortbread

The Man Himself...
Went back to the Family Farmed Expo today to see Rick Bayless do a cooking demo.  He seems like such a great chef (I've never had the experience of eating at Frontera...I must be the only Chicagoan who hasn't).   He is so passionate about using fresh, local produce and about helping the American farmer that he makes you excited and enthusiastic to take up the cause.  Also, I didn't realize that he formed the Frontera Foundation which gives grants to farmers in need of supplies and equipment to expand their businesses.  

He made a simple potato and poblano soup topped with Chorizo, cilantro, and cheese..nothing fancy.  It was pretty interesting to hear his take on food and the household tips he shared with all of us.  And there were a lot of us there.  Luckily my friend Tommy and I got there a little early to grab a seat.  There must have been a hundred people sitting and about fifty more people standing around.  This guy can really attract a crowd.  As much as I think he is talented, I didn't swoon over him like some of the people did around me.  Jeeze, you'd think by the way these people were talking he was the second coming of Christ.  I don't get enamored with famous people.  Yeah, it's cool to see them, but I don't need to bust out my phone and start taking pictures from the back row.   "You see this little dot right there...yeah, that's Rick Bayless.  YES THE RICK BAYLESS!  OMG Could you vomit?  He is a genius.  No not a genius, he is a culinary god!"  Settle down people, it's food.  Mark my words, if I ever become a celebrity chef, I will never complain about the way the demo kitchen is set up.  And, I will take time to personally talk to everyone...except for the scary looking people who want a lock of hair. 

The Recipe

Flour: had
Sugar: had
Cornstarch: had
Lemon: $0.33
Salt: had
Butter: had

Total: $.33

Honestly, I was really worried about this recipe turning out.  It (the "dough") looked way too dry.  I love in the description that it says "the secret to tender shortbread is to avoid overworking the dough".   Umm, I basically had crumbs that I was trying really hard to press into the pan and hope to god they'd stay together.  There is no way to NOT overwork this "dough".  We'll see what happens.


Fast:  Yeah.  It only takes about 5 minutes total to get this prepped out and into the oven.  The cooking time, however, should only be 30 minutes and not 40.  I pulled it at 30 minutes because it looked golden brown and had a really strong baking smell (it was to the point that if I would leave it in longer, the bottom would burn.

Easy:  Basically you're skipping the traditional hand cut-in method and using a food processor.  The prep really couldn't be easier.  The pressing into the pan was a little difficult because it really wasn't a true "dough".

Fresh:  It's lemon shortbread.  Tastes like a crumbly lemon cookie.  Fresh?  I'd say no.  If you disagree, then make it and let me know.  (Can you tell this is a tender spot for me?)

Overall: Well, it worked.  I was suprised it held together.  It actually is a quite simple and, surprisingly, a quite good recipe.  I'd like to do an orange-rosemary shortbread next time.  I think that would be wonderful.  Some orange zest and a little chopped up fresh rosemary.  It would be a different take on an otherwise boring cookie.   (Also, I dusted the top with powdered sugar to make the picture a little more exciting.  No, that isn't flour.)

My friend Tommy and I are working on a chef experiment.  I won't give it away, but I should be ready to post it on Tuesday.  It's going to take all weekend to do.  Did I pique your interest?  See ya Tuesday!

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