I had the opportunity to attend the latest Macy's Culinary Council demonstration here in Minneapolis last week with Chef Nancy Silverton. I love attending these events and getting a chance to see some of these great Chefs up close and personal.
This time I also got to sit down with Nancy before the demonstration and ask her a few questions about some of her inspiration and things that she's been working on recently.
She's very passionate about what she does and it was fun to hear her talk about her focus on the traditional aspects of cooking. She has a great respect for food and is encouraged by seeing more and more new young cooks who show that same respect. She mentioned multiple times her general avoidance of anything that plugs in and you can see in the way that she prepares food, that her sense of touch and feel guide her in each dish that she makes. While I certainly have my appliances that I love to use, I also recognize the importance of being able to touch your food and understand how it reacts in different stages, especially in baking.
As I sat and watched her throughout the demonstration, I really felt her love of the food and although I'm sure these aren't always her favorite things to do, her passion really came through. She talked about her love of spending evenings preparing food in front of customers at the Mozzarella bar in her restaurant and how much more she loves that than being hidden back in the kitchen all night. I would love a chance to get out to LA and be able to try some of her restaurants first hand.
The last dish she shared in her demonstration were these Rosemary-Pine Nut Cookies. I wish I could have had more there and I knew that's what I wanted to make first. The combination may cause you to do a double take at first but it's one you're going to love. This is the perfect dessert for those that don't love things overly sweet but the problem is that you just keep eating them. The best part though is the smell as they're baking. You get the richness of the butter cookie and then the rosemary as it bakes releases it's deep scent that fills your kitchen.
Rosemary-Pine Nut Cookies
Recipe from The Mozza Cookbook
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour, sifted
1 fresh rosemary sprig
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the pine nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until the nuts are light golden brown and fragrant. Watch the pine nuts closely, as they burn easily. Pour onto a plate and let cool.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream, honey, sugar and butter. With the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean into the pan. Place over high heat and cook, stirring only once to ensure even cooking, until the mixture registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk in the flour.
Turn the mixture into a bowl and fold in the pine nuts and rosemary sprig. Let infuse and cool for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup medium-grind polenta
1 sprig rosemary
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and confectioner's sugar and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until creamy and smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and polenta, and mix until fully incorporated. The dough will be soft.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough1/4 inch thick, dusting with additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. using a 1 1/4 or 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible. Arrange them on the prepared pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Gather up the scraps and return them to the refrigerator to chill slightly before rolling them out and cutting out more cookies.
Pinch off a small piece of the room-temperature nougatine and work it between your fingers to create a thin disk about the size of a dime or quarter for the larger cookies. Place the nougatine disk on the dough circle. Repeat to top all of the dough circles with a nougatine disk. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprig, and put about 3 leaves on top of each cookie.
Bake the cookies, rotating the pan 180 degrees at the midpoint for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown and the nougatine has changed color to a light hazelnut brown. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.