Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fine Cooking: Leek Tart with Bacon & Gruyére


If your Christmas morning breakfast is anything like my family's, everyone is messing with their new toys and no one wants to have to set everything down and go in the kitchen and cook.  I mean, who in their right mind would choose labor over fun??  My mother and me, apparently.

My mom wanted to try something different this year for Christmas breakfast (what was wrong with the breakfast casserole of my youth??), so I helped her make this Leek Tart with Bacon and Gruyére. Only it took so long to make, that it was more like a late afternoon snack than a breakfast. Poor planning on our part.  And all that time wasted that I could have been playing!

Once we managed to get the thing cooked, it was actually pretty darn good. I especially loved the thyme in the crust. Nice touch.  I'm always a fool for anything quiche-like. Oh, and bacon really does makes everything better.

Leek Tart with Bacon and Gruyére
From Fine Cooking magazine, December 2007

For the tart shell:
9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5½ ounces (11 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
5 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water

For the filling:
3 thick slices bacon, cut into small dice
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3 large leeks (white and light green parts only), cleaned and sliced crosswise ¼-inch thick to yield about 4 cups
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
⅓ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup whole milk
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
⅔ cup grated Gruyère (or Emmentaler)

Make the tart shell:

In a food processor, pulse the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper to blend thoroughly. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are about the size of rice grains (about eight 1-second pulses). Add the ice water 1 Tbs. at a time through the feed tube while pulsing in short bursts until the dough starts coming together. It may still look crumbly, but if you press it with your fingers, it should become compact. (Don’t add more water than absolutely necessary to get the dough to cling together.) Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and, using your hands, gather and press the dough into a rough ball, blotting up the stray crumbs.

Transfer the dough to a piece of waxed paper, shape it gently into a disk, and wrap it tightly to keep it from drying out. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead.) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Unwrap the dough, set it on a lightly floured surface, and if necessary, let sit until pliable. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch circle about ⅛-inch thick.

Transfer the dough to an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press it carefully into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Let the edges of the dough hang over the rim of the pan and then roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut away the excess dough. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork, line it with parchment, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Put the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the edges of the tart shell are dry and flaky (but not browned), about 10 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment; the center should still be moist and raw. Prick the bottom again and return the shell to the oven. Bake until the bottom surface is completely dry, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.

Make the filling:

In a 12-inch skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until it’s crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a dish and set aside. Discard all but about 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat. Set the skillet over medium-low heat, add the butter, let it melt, and then add the leeks. Stir to coat them with the fat, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the flour into the leeks and cook uncovered, stirring, for about 2 minutes to cook off the raw-flour flavor. Set aside and let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the cream, milk, salt, nutmeg, and several grinds of pepper and whisk until blended. Add the bacon and leeks to the mixture and stir to combine.

To assemble the tart, scatter ⅓ cup cheese over the cooled tart shell and pour in the egg mixture. Spread the leeks evenly. Scatter the remaining ⅓ cup cheese evenly over the top. Bake until the custard is set and the top is light golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CDkitchen: Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms and Giada de Laurentiis: Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets

Tonight we went to my sister's house for a little pre-Christmas party and gift-opening session for those in the family who would not be making the journey to the back woods for Christmas day. Of course we each had to bring an item or two, so I did my two standby favorites that always seem to go over well. The first was Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms. I also made some Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets, adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis. The only major change is that I use smoked gouda instead of the Fontina cheese. I just love the deep flavor it gives the pastries.

Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
From cdkitchen.com

40 large mushrooms
½ cup grated Romano cheese
¾ cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup grated onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ cup olive oil

Wash the mushrooms. Remove stems and chop. Mix all ingredients except mushroom caps and oil. Stuff caps. Pour a bit of oil into baking pan; arrange mushrooms in pan. Pour remaining oil over each mushroom cap. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the tops.

Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets
From Giada de Laurentiis

12 frozen puff pastry shells, unthawed
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1¼ cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 to 5 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Arrange the frozen pastry shells on the baking sheet and bake until they puff and become golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Using a small knife, cut out the center of the pastry shells.

Meanwhile, stir the cream, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.  Stir in the spinach, Gouda cheese, Parmesan cheese, and green onions.  Spoon the spinach mixture into the baked pastry shells.  Bake until the pastries are golden brown and the filling is hot, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer the pastries to a platter and serve.

Makes 12 servings

Monday, December 22, 2008

Betty Crocker: Crisp Chocolate-Espresso Ribbon Cookies and Martha Stewart's Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies


It is nearly Christmas, therefore I must bake cookies. It's like a law of the universe. It cannot be violated. And no, the linzer sables and the sugar cookies I made recently do NOT fulfill the quota. One of my favorite childhood memories was flipping through a cookie cookbook my mom had, and I would spend hours staring at all the amazing little things that fell under the heading "cookie". It was better than any Nancy Drew novel. Yes, I was that child. Anyway, the gingerbread cookies are amazingly spicy and delicious, while the ribbon cookies made my whole kitchen smell like a Starbucks. Bonus.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
From Martha Stewart's Cookies

7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into ¼-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger,cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1½ teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

Heat oven to 325°F. Roll dough into 1½-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Crisp Chocolate-Espresso Ribbon Cookies

1 pouch sugar cookie mix
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, slightly beaten
⅓ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
½ cup coarsely to finely crushed chocolate-covered espresso coffee beans
⅓ cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds

Line bottom and sides of 9x5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, flour, butter, almond extract and egg until soft dough forms. Divide dough in half; place half of dough in another bowl. Stir melted chocolate into half of dough. To remaining half of dough, mix in espresso beans and almonds.
Firmly press half of chocolate dough evenly in bottom of loaf pan. Evenly press half of espresso dough over chocolate dough in pan. Repeat with remaining chocolate dough and espresso dough. Fold plastic wrap over dough to cover. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
Heat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from pan; unwrap. Place dough on cutting board. Cut dough crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Cut each piece crosswise into ¼-inch slices. On ungreased cookie sheets, place slices 2 inches apart.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Corn Bread


I'm a big fan of cornbread. Mainly it's because I'm lazy, and I like a bread that can be made in one bowl without any associated wrestling or beatings. Corn bread is just so simple. It's so pioneer-days. It's so earthy. And I thought my sour cream cornbread was awesome, but now I have been shamed.

Peter Reinhart claimed that this particular cornbread recipe was the best he had ever had. That's saying a lot coming from a man that eats, sleeps, and dreams bread. Well, he actually already won me over when I saw that bacon fat was involved, but still.  Did I mention the bacon fat? Yes, the entire pan is coated in bacon fat, and then the batter gets poured on top. And then crumbled bacon is poured on top of that.  You may proceed with drooling.

Corn Bread
From The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

1 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
2 cups buttermilk
8 ounces bacon (approximately 10 thin slices)
1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour or a combination)
1½ tablespoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (cut from approximately 3 fresh ears of corn)
2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat

The night before baking the corn bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

The next day, to prepare the bacon, preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay out the bacon on 2 sheet pans. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. Using tongs or a fork, remove the pieces to a pan lined with paper towels to cool. Drain off the fat into a can or stainless steel bowl and save for greasing the corn bread pan. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.

Lower the oven setting to 350°F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the granulated sugar and brown sugar. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs. Add this to the soaked cornmeal mixture. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth. It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter. Stir in the corn kernels until they are evenly distributed.

Place 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat into a 10-inch round cake pan. Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the fat gets very hot. With good pot holders or oven mitts, remove the pan, tilt it to grease all the corners and sides, and pour in the batter, spreading it from the center of the pan to the edges. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon pieces evenly over the top, gently pressing them into the batter.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the corn bread is firm and springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be a medium golden brown. The internal temperature at the center of the corn bread should register at least 185°F.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares or wedges. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies


Okay, I'm going to admit something here that will probably scandalize my mother. I HATE sugar cookies. No, not the big soft cookies with the fancy large-grain sugar sprinkled on top. I'm talking about the thin, tasteless cookies of Christmases past, that I gleefully gooked up with canned frosting when I was a kid. Now that I'm past the sugar-rush age, they just don't do it for me. But I'm a sport, so I figured I'd try Dorie's. But I'm also lazy, so no cute cut-outs of Rudolph frolicking with Santa's sleigh.

I decided to make these roll cookies, but since it IS the holidays, I broke down and bought some green and red sugar for the edges. I also tested my brand new silicon mats for the cookie sheets, and damn, why didn't I find those before?? I don't even need a spatula anymore.  And......the cookies themselves turned out exactly as I expected: tasteless and hard. My dad loved them, though. Go figure. But as soon as I find a good soft doughy sugar cookie recipe, you can bet it's getting posted.

Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably one fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated - because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy, and malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap it in plastic.  If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you - I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼-inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly.  Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies - I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for re-rolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving 1½ inches between the cookies.  After you've rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches of space between the cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

(Voodoo)Lily: Ham and Cheese Orzo Casserole

As a white Anglo-Saxon protestant in the US, I grew up on casseroles. Tuna noodle, hamburger pie, scalloped potatoes, anything you can imagine. It's a part of WASP life. So when I saw this oh-my-gosh-amazing cheesy, hammy, oniony dish of goodness, I knew I had to make it. I bided my time, and luckily Heather from Gild the (Voodoo)Lily eventually posted her recipe (after just about everyone on the internet begged for it). I paid attention when I was cooking so I could clarify it a little more, and it appears below. Oh, and I changed the name.

The Best Damn Casserole....EVER
From (Voodoo)Lily blog

½ pound orzo
1 (32-ounce) box chicken stock
3 tbsp butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups whole milk
6 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese, divided use
2 ounces shredded Gruyére cheese
Salt and pepper
8 ounces ham, cubed
1 bag broccoli flowerets OR 1 pound fresh broccoli, stems removed OR 1 box frozen broccoli, defrosted
3 ounces french fried onions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add orzo and cook until liquid is absorbed and orzo is al dente, about 9 minutes. The orzo should absorb all of the liquid, and some hot water may need to be added until cooking is complete.

In large saucepan, melt butter. Sprinkle flour over top, mix in with butter, and cook until nutty and slightly browned. Remove from flame and whisk in milk. Return to heat and cook until mixture thickens and bubbles. Add 4 ounces of Cheddar cheese and all of Gruyére cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper.

Add ham, broccoli, and hot orzo to the cheese sauce, and mix to combine. Pour mixture into a casserole dish, and top with remaining 2 ounces of Cheddar cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove casserole from oven, sprinkle with french fried onion, and bake an additional five minutes until onions are warm and crispy.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Shrimp in Brandy Cream Sauce Over Orange-Scented Rice

This month's Paper Chef challenge was to use rice, brandy, blood orange, and crustaceans in a dish. I scoured several grocery stores in my area, but I guess blood oranges haven't made their way to New Jersey yet. I settled for a Satsuma orange. For the crustacean requirement, I decided to pick shrimp since I haven't had them for a while. What came together was a shrimp in brandy cream sauce over orange-scented rice. And let me tell you, it was fantastic.

Shrimp in Brandy Cream Sauce Over Orange-Scented Rice

1 pound extra large shrimp, uncooked, shells reserved
6 cups water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
2 large shallots, finely chopped
3 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ cup brandy
⅓ cup heavy cream
1½ cup medium grain rice, washed
1 satsuma orange
Salt and pepper

Pull shells off of shrimp and put in a large pot with 4 cups of water. Boil shells for at least half an hour to form a shrimp stock. Strain stock of shells and set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 12-inch skillet. Add chopped shallots, and sauté for approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle shallots with flour and Old Bay seasoning, and mix in with wooden spoon. Add two cups of reserved shrimp stock; stir to combine. Heat mixture over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Simmer mixture until it is reduced by half. Add brandy. Brandy may be flamed off or simmered off. Add cream, and simmer gently until sauce is thickened.

In a separate pot, add washed rice, remaining 2 cups of water, and the peel of the satsuma orange. Reserve the pulp and juice. Bring rice to a boil, and cook according to package instructions until done. Remove peel. Crush orange pulp and pour the juice into the cooked rice. Fluff with a fork to distribute the juice.

Once sauce has thickened, add shrimp and remaining 1 tablespoon butter to saucepan. Simmer for five more minutes, or until shrimp are pink. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the shrimp over the orange rice.

Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Betty Crocker: Almond, Apricot, and White Chocolate Decadence Bars


I love the taste of almond, especially almond extract added into baked goods, but it seems to be a flavor that isn't often used anymore. And as for almond paste, I can honestly say I've never used it. So when I saw the recipe for Almond, Apricot, and White Chocolate Decadence Bars, I knew I had to try them. And they turned out much more flavorful and rich than I would have expected for a Betty Crocker recipe. Some issues I had: don't cook the sugar cookie base too long, or it gets really dark by the end; the almond paste is pretty dry, so a regular electric mixer doesn't really cut it, but if you have a KitchenAid with paddle attachment, it might work better; all of the white chocolate chips don't necessarily melt with just the heat of the hot cream, I had to heat the whole thing a little longer.

Almond, Apricot, and White Chocolate Decadence Bars
From Betty Crocker

Cookie Base:
1 pouch sugar cookie mix
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Filling:
1 (8-ounce) can almond paste
½ cup granulated sugar
1 (6-ounce) package dried apricots, finely chopped
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Topping:
1 (11-ounce) bag Ghirardelli white baking chips
⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Spread the dough in the bottom of an ungreased 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until set. Cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the almond paste and sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until crumbly but blended. Add the apricots; beat on low speed just until combined. Add the cream cheese, eggs, and lemon juice; beat on medium speed until well blended. Pour over the warm cookie base. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set. Cool 30 minutes.

Place baking chips in a small bowl. In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the whipping cream just to boiling over low heat, stirring occasionally; pour over baking chips. Let stand 1 minute. Stir until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour and spread over the filling. Sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until set.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Linzer Sables


I'm in love with the linzer cookies at la Madeleine. They're so delicate and beautiful, and they have such a cute little peep hole in the middle. Perfectly frilly and fancy for the holidays. I didn't realize that they had ground almonds in them, but that just endeared them to me even more. What's better than almonds in baked goods? Almost nothing. Except butter. And maybe vanilla bean. But still, almonds rock.

For my linzer sables, I decided that I would forego the traditional strawberry or raspberry jam filling and go whole hog with...NUTELLA. Yes, that wonder of the spread world. That deliciousness in a jar. And it turned out just as wonderfully as I thought it would.

Linzer Sables
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1½ cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Scant ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
2 teaspoons water
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup raspberry jam or strained apricot jam plus 1 teaspoon water

Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Using a fork, stir the egg and water together in a small bowl.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough too much once the flour is incorporated. If the dough comes together but some dry crumbs remain in the bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a rubber spatula or your hands.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, put the dough between two large sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk, then grab a rolling pin and roll out the dough, turning it over frequently so that the paper doesn't cut into it, until it is about ¼-inch thick. Leave the dough in the paper and repeat with the second piece of dough. Transfer the wrapped dough to a baking sheet or cutting board (to keep it flat) and refrigerate or freeze it until it is very firm, about 2 hours in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer. The rolled-out dough can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 2 months. Just thaw the dough enough to cut and go from there.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from one piece of dough and, using a 2-inch round cookie cutter - a scalloped cutter is nice for these - cut out as many cookies as you can. If you want to have a peekaboo cutout, use the end of a piping tip to cut out a very small circle from the centers of half the cookies. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheets, leaving a little space between the cookies. Set the scraps aside - you can combine them with the scraps of the second disk and roll out and cut more cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden, dry, and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the second disk of dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches. Gather the scraps of dough together, press them into a disk, roll them between sheets of waxed paper and refrigerate until firm, then cut and bake.

Place the jam in a small saucepan or in a microwaveable bowl and stir in the 1 teaspoon water. Bring to a boil over low heat or in the microwave. Let the jam cool slightly, then turn half of the cookies flat side up and place about ½ teaspoon jam in the center of each cookie; sandwich with the remaining cookies.

Just before serving, dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Makes about 25 sandwich cookies.