Friday, October 31, 2008


Happy Halloween, everyone. After all the costume-donning, candy-nibbling, and running around after tiny goblins, you may feel the need to sit down for a breather. Just be sure to check your tuffet first for spiders.

Isn't this an awesome pumpkin? My dad, whose pumpkin carvings are legendary, carved Miss Muffet's little friend this year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What to Feed a Cold

How does it go? Feed a cold, starve a fever?

Like many of you out there, I have a cold. I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling out of sorts, a bit anxious for no reason, and very tired. I drove home from work that night with a raging sore throat and a headache. To my embarrassment, I was also a little weepy and feeling very sorry for myself. I wanted my mom, who lives two thousand miles away, to put her hand to my forehead and murmur, "You're a little warmish," then make me some soup.

My befuddled mind decided to attempt a spicy chickpea soup. I found that the soup's main virtue is that it can be made almost entirely from the canned contents of your pantry, so it could be one of those "in a pinch" meals upon which we all rely from time to time. That said, my first, diseased attempt at this recipe wasn't great.

So we'll skip it (and who wants a soup that was made by someone with a nasty head cold anyway?). Instead, I have another Southern recipe for you, something that I made before getting sick. So it's okay to try, don't be concerned.

Shrimp Burgers.

Now, I was a tad put off by the title. Burgers, for me, should be beef (and not tofu or tofurkey, or anything else that masquerades as something it is not). If it's not beef, it should be described as a sandwich. This may be a narrow-minded perspective, but I'm standing by it.

Steve really was fired up about the recipe, though, so I decided to give it a whirl. After all, I like shrimp and I like burgers. Stands to reason that I might like shrimp burgers, especially when they contain lemon zest and ginger.

Oh my, are these good eating. These are early-fall, bonfire on the beach in rolled up khakis good eating. They are bottled beer and a frisbee good eating. They are delicate little morsels of shrimp sweet with fresh corn and tangy with pepper vinegar and high-quality mayonnaise. Try 'em.

Shrimp Burgers
Adapted from the Lee Bros. Cookbook

1 pound of deveined, shelled shrimp
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon pepper corns
1/4 cup of salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon scallions, chopped
1/8 cup fresh corn kernels, sliced directly from the cob (canned and frozen will not work here)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Pepper vinegar to taste (recipe follows)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

In a large saucepan, bring a quart of water to a boil, along with the bay leaves, pepper corns, 1/4 cup of salt, and cayenne pepper. Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat, add the shrimp, and cover. When the shrimp turn pink, within about 2 minutes, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Coarsely chop the shrimp into small pieces.

In a large bowl, gently mix the shrimp with the scallions, corn, parsley, ginger, and lemon zest. Stir in the mayonnaise and bread crumbs, then add salt, pepper, and pepper vinegar to taste. Fold in the egg until it is evenly distributed. If the mixture seems too loose and wet, add bread crumbs in 1 tablespoon amounts until the shrimp mixture just holds its shape.

Form the shrimp mixture into 2 patties. Wrap the patties in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the patties from the refrigerator and unwrap. Heat the canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, then add the patties and saute on both sides until golden-brown.

Serve on a toasted roll with tartar sauce or a squeeze of lemon.

Serves: 2

Pepper Vinegar
From the Lee Bros. Cookbook

1 cup of white wine vinegar
1 fresh Serrano chile, cut in half lengthwise

Combine the ingredients in a resealable container and swish around. Refrigerate for 24 hours, then use as your little heat-seeking heart desires. Keep the container refrigerated.

Makes: 1 cup

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

. . . or a bowl of fried apples with bourbon caramel.

. . . topped with some cinnamon whipped cream. Happy fourth wedding anniversary, baby! Here's to another wonderful year.

Fried Apples with Bourbon Caramel
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Cookbook, winner of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year Award

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1/4 cup water
1/8 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/4 teaspoon for cinnamon whipped cream
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus 1/2 cup for whipped cream
1/8 cup Kentucky bourbon

Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized skillet until the froth begins to fade and the butter begins to turn gold around the edges. Add the apples and stir to coat in the butter. Cook over medium-high heat until the apples begin to soften, between 3 and 5 minutes.

Stir in the water, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, then continue to cook until the liquids have reduced almost completely to a thick film on the bottom of the pan, about 6 minutes. Add the 1/8 cup of heavy cream and stir, then cook until the juice is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the bourbon. Allow the skillet to rest for 1-2 minutes, which will allow the alcohol to evaporate.

Meanwhile, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of cream and the 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in an upright mixer on high speed until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks.

Serve the apple slices in a shallow bowl with plenty of the bourbon caramel spooned over them, then top with a generous dollop of cinnamon whipped cream.

* With thanks to Jane Austen for the title and opening sentence of this post.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And I Think Very Fondly of Food

Well. I come to you with a sheepish smile and an apology.

I have no recipe for you today. I tried, I really did. I made meatballs with smoked paprika on Monday night and I nearly convinced myself that they were a success. And looking back, I now see that the flavor of the meatballs hid behind the full skirts of the 2006 Peter Kemmer Pinot Nero that we were drinking that night. The meatballs looked good, but the wine was inherently better in taste. A chorus girl next to an opera singer, that's what we had.

The next day, I ate a few leftover meatballs for lunch and that's when I saw through the stage makeup and frou. They were kind of meh, to be exact.

Plus, you know what? Meatballs do not photograph well at all.

So I'm not going to foist that recipe upon you.

Instead, I want to ask you a question (or two). If you could keep only five of your cookbooks, which ones would you keep and why?

The latest volume of The Art of Eating poses this question. If you are not familiar with AoE, it is a literary, geographical read about food and I have been enjoying its quarterly publications for about a year. Edward Behr, the publisher of AoE and the author of this particular piece, found that his selection of nine skewed toward the cuisines of France and Italy. He writes:
The cooking of Provence is so much home cooking, and the Mediterranean flavors are so much an antidote to the northern place where I live, that this is the everyday food I'd like to eat for most of the rest of my life.
Because Mr. Behr presumably hopes to sell as many subscriptions to AoE as possible, I tactfully will refrain from listing his selections, interesting as they are.

Instead, I'll give you mine, a list of five:

1. The Foster's Market Cookbook: Recipes for Morning, Noon and Night, by Sara Foster
2. Christina's Cookbook: Recipes and Stores from a Northwest Island Kitchen, by Christina Orchid
3. The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
4. How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman
5. The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger

The first two cookbooks are firmly rooted in geography. Foster's Market is located in Durham, North Carolina and offers excellent New South cooking. Christina's is a restaurant on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest offering micro-local food. I like to open a cookbook and feel like I can understand a place better through its dishes and ingredients. When I read these two cookbooks, I feel rooted in their time and their place.

The New Basics and How to Cook Everything are favorites of mine for their breadth. These two have the recipe you need, no matter what you're cooking. The New Basics was published in the mid-eighties and reflects some of the affectations of the time. However, I find that it has aged well and the recipes are reliable. How to Cook Everything is one of the cookbooks that helped me dip a toe into the waters of cooking. I refer to it frequently and compare recipes that I find online with ones in Bittman's book to help me evaluate whether an online find is likely to be a success.

Finally, The Food You Crave might be dismissed by snobs as mere offspring of the Food Network, but let me tell you, I love this cookbook. Ellie Krieger, a registered dietitian, offers low-fat, low-sugar recipes that are utterly satisfying and she does so without using "diet" products such as Splenda. I do not think of her cookbook as a volume of diet food; I think of it as good, hearty eating.

Those are my five. How about you?

* With thanks to Ogden Nash for the title of this post. It comes from "The Clean Plater."

The photographs in this post were taken at the Wilmington, North Carolina Farmer's Market in September.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seeking, Finding

How do you decide what to cook?

This is a question that I hear a lot. I used to shrug; recipes would just jump out at me, I would try them, then I would write about them.

To a certain extent, this process still works for me. I browse online collections of recipes in search of something interesting. In doing so, I make myself available to whatever recipe wants to jump out at me. My criteria for those "jumpers outer" aren't special and vary with my mood. My eye may be caught by an unexpected combination of ingredients, an exotic-sounding dish, or just something that sounds like it will photograph well and taste wonderful.

Sometimes, though, I want something specific. That kind of search is easy: I just need to narrow down a million "lamb ragu" recipes to the one that suits me best.

And then there are the days when I feel like I want something particular, but can't put a name to the desire. Is it a baked good? A vegetable dish? Does it include cinnamon? Those days are tough. My patience gets tested over and over as I click past dozens, sometimes hundreds, of recipes in a random search for that one I know I will want, if only I could find it.

Last Thursday was just such a day. Around lunchtime, I started sifting through recipes. No, not this one; I'm tired of pork. No, that one does not grab me. Maybe I want something green and leafy? No...

This went on for a while. By late afternoon, I was grumpy and still had no ideas for that night's dinner.

Then, I found it: Caramelized leek soup.

The leeks are cooked in a bit of butter until they caramelize, then the pan gets deglazed with vermouth. Chicken stock rounds out the edges. At once rich and nuanced, this soup might be best served from a warm coffee mug, the big ceramic kind whose handle is large enough to be grasped by four of your fingers. If you spill a little on your sweater as you spoon mouthfuls of buttery, nutty leeks, you'll just shrug and continue eating until the last little bit is gone.

Caramelized Leek Soup
From this January 1998 Gourmet recipe, available on Epicurious

2 pounds leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 bunches)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup vermouth
3 1/2 cups chicken broth

Halve leeks lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. In a large bowl of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a large sieve to drain. In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until some begin to turn golden, about 40 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and most leeks are golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Deglaze kettle with 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes more, until liquid is evaporated and leeks are deep golden. Add remaining 3 cups broth and bring soup just to a boil. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve soup, garnished with chives.

Serves: 4

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Things We Cherish

I come to you today with a public service announcement, prefaced by a question or two: When was the last time you backed up the files on your computer?

A week? A month? Never?

Folks, it might be time to do a little autumn cleaning. Consider the stuff stored on that computer of yours. I did not give it much thought until ours went kaput during a thunderstorm three weeks ago.

That Sunday evening, as Steve and I sat chatting, an almighty bolt of lightening illuminated the room, sucking away the light from our lamps and causing us to jump (and me to screech) at the blast of simultaneous thunder. A nearby transformer popped like a turquoise firework.

When the lights came back on, our computer was dead and unresponsive.

As if trapped in a near-death experience, I caught mental glimpses of what we had lost: our wedding vows; photos from our pre-marriage years, from our wedding, our honeymoon, our family gatherings, the infancies of our niece and nephew. A photo of my husband's grandfather, whom we lost in August, teaching my husband how to carve a turkey at our first Thanksgiving dinner as a married couple.

We had not backed up any of it, the most important things we own.

I could not even cry. Steve went into overdrive the next morning, searching for companies that could rescue hard drives. And, bless him, he found a place that would operate on the machine and tell us whether our information could be recovered.

It could and they did.

This weekend, Steve transferred all of those precious things to our new computer. We have a backup as well.

So, what's on your computer? Perhaps you should think about backing it up, just in case.

I tend to make risotto during times of emotional turmoil. The computer crash called for comfort food, big time. This recipe has all the creaminess of good risotto, plus savory roasted squash and a zing of goat cheese. It is good for the worried soul.

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with Roasted Acorn Squash and Goat Cheese
A Fritter Original

1 whole acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1/8 cup of shallots, minced
1/2 cup of risotto rice
1/4 cup of Amontillado sherry (a tawny sherry with caramel notes)
6 cups of chicken stock
1/2 pound of fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and wiped clean, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons of soft (sometimes labeled "fresh") goat cheese
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, divided into 1/2 teaspoon amounts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take the acorn squash halves and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, then place the squash cut-side down on a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Roast the squash for 25 minutes, until tender (insert a knife through the rind; if it slides in easily, the squash is done). Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock over medium-high heat until it simmers. Reduce the heat to low and cover.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir to coat in the olive oil. Saute the shallots, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent.
Add the risotto rice and stir to coat the rice in the oil and shallots. Allow the rice to toast, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir the Amontillado sherry into the rice and reduce the liquid by half (about 2 minutes), while continuing to stir.

In half-cup amounts, begin adding the hot chicken stock. Continue to stir between additions of stock, until the liquid is absorbed almost completely. You will start to feel viscosity as the time to add more stock approaches. Continue adding stock until the rice is al dente.

Meanwhile, cut cubes of roasted squash away from the rind. Once the risotto is al dente, add one more 1/2 cup of chicken stock then gently fold the squash and shiitake mushrooms into the risotto. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and reduce the heat to low. Let the risotto sit until the mushrooms and squash are heated through.

Ladle servings of risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle the fresh thyme leaves and goat cheese over the top. Serve while piping hot.

Earthy red wines pair well with this dish. We drank a 2002 Don Pascual Tannat that complemented the subtle shiitakes in the risotto.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Umbrian Fish Stew

I can't prove this, but I am positive that I was a normande fish wife in a previous life. I have never met a fish I didn't like (except gefilte fish, but that's a story for another time).

Not everyone feels the same way, I understand.

This dish calls for cod, but it would be wonderful without fish. For one thing, it is pretty to look at, in a colorful way. For another thing, it is full of vegetables, with just enough citrus to make you lick your lips in appreciation. Give it a try!

Umbrian Fish Stew
A Fritter Original

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/4 cup of carrots, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded, cored, and chopped
1 cup of dry white wine
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 28-ounce can of whole or crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 pound of cod
1/8 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and fennel and stir to coat with the olive oil. Saute the vegetables until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Add the orange bell pepper and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the wine. Allow it to reduce for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the water, orange juice, and tomatoes. If you are using whole tomatoes, crush them a bit with your spoon. Add the bay leaf and smoked paprika, and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then stir in the parsley. Nestle the cod into the stew so that it is covered completely, and cover the pot and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the cod is opaque when you lift it. Gently flake the cod into chunks.

Serve while hot with crusty bread, a green salad, and a glass of the wine you used in the stew.

Serves: 4

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Studies Abroad

What's the first dinner dish that you learned to prepare? I mean, the first one that was not the result of a can in one hand and a can opener in the other.

Maybe it was grilled cheese, maybe it was a salad of some kind.

For me, it may have been baked pasta. (I say may have been because I recall making 3-Alarm Chili from a packet around the age of twelve. However, sticking to my own rules, that chili technically came from a packet, so it does not count.)

This is baked pasta, as prepared by a twenty-year-old with a small dorm kitchen: you boil some penne or rigatoni, smother it in a sludgy sauce, spoon some ricotta over it all (okay, okay, the ricotta came from a container), then top it with shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and devour like a starving wolf with your closest friends.

Even though I'm a bit older and own better appliances, I still enjoy baked pasta in all its carby forms. I just prefer some nuance with my meals now, so when I came across this version of Catalan fideua, it clicked in my mind as something worth learning.

Catalan fideua is, essentially, a Spanish baked pasta dish. Unlike my dorm room version, fideua has dazzle. The chorizo gives it a mighty kick of spice, while the paprika mellows the whole plate with sultry, smoky undertones. When you take the pasta out of the oven, you will find a lovely crust of pasta covering a steamy, tomatoey mound of pasta, sausage and vegetables.

This is the baked pasta of your college years, after spending a semester abroad in Barcelona.

Catalan Fideua
Adapted from this recipe at Epicurious

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a pinot grigio with good results)
2 links of Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/2 slices on the diagonal
1/2 pound fideo or angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy, deep skillet, such as a paella pan.

Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and cayenne and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato and green pepper and sauté another 2 minutes. Finally, add the chicken stock, wine, and chorizo.

Bring the mixture to a simmer. Break the pasta in half and nestle it into the liquid in the pan. Cook until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Set the skillet in the oven and bake until all liquid is absorbed and pasta is crusty, about 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Serves: 2

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Don't you love those little unexpected moments of elegance in life?

I'm not talking about the fancy-shmancy event that forces you and your significant other into black tie and stiff shoes. I'm talking about the unanticipated moments; the ones you don't see coming, the ones that seem almost out of context.

Take roast chicken, for example.

I do not for the life of me know how chicken could seem sophisticated to me, yet the smell of a whole bird roasting in my oven gives me a little thrill. Usually, I roast a chicken on a Sunday afternoon while I'm wearing a pair of jeans and doing something pedestrian like watering my African violets or sorting the recycling. In spite of this, a whiff of roasting chicken and thyme makes me think of grown-up dinner parties, of dangling earrings, of funny stories being told over adult laughter, and of good wine. I think of white taper candles flickering in tall holders, of jazz and old standards audible through the lively conversation.

Is this a memory from my childhood? From my own adulthood?

I can't recall this exact meal from anytime in my past, that's the odd part of this impression. Yet it strikes me whenever I roast a whole chicken.

Memories or impressions aside, roast chicken is a terrific entree for an intimate dinner party of friends. For one thing, it presents so beautifully. For another, it is delicious.

Maybe I'll wear a pair of dangling earrings tonight, just to do this bird justice.

Roast Chicken
A Fritter Original

1 whole 3-pound chicken, innards removed
2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus 1 additional tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lemon, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled but sliced open at the ends
1 handful of fresh thyme, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled, and chopped in half
1 fennel bulb, halved and ends trimmed
2 parsnips, peeled and ends trimmed
4 strips of bacon

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, setting your oven to "broil."

Rinse the bird and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast side down into a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof skillet. Roasting any bird breast side down ensures juiciness and prevents the over-roasting of the breast meat, which cooks faster than the thighs.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the bird and coat it using your hands. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper inside and out. Insert one of the lemon quarters, the fresh thyme, and the garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken. Spread the strips of bacon evenly over the top of the chicken.

After carefully washing your hands, assemble the onion quarters, carrots, fennel, and the remaining lemon quarters around the chicken and drizzle these with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the vegetables.

Broil the chicken at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes, until the skin starts to brown. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and cook for another 30-35 minutes. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees, and the juices in the space between the breast and the thigh run clear.

Carve the chicken by carefully turning it over and running a sharp knife down the center breast bone. Then carve a parallel line down toward the wing then toward the thigh, meeting the first cut at the breast bone. You should come away with the whole breast. You can pop the thigh bones out by inserting a knife into the joints and breaking off the bone. Wings can be separated in a similar manner. Additional carving assistance can be found here.

Assemble the meat on a plate , garnish with a few sprigs of thyme, and surround with roasted vegetables. Serve.

Serves: 2 hungry adults

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cranberry Jam Cookies

We have a lot of desserts here at Fritter, don't we? It's no secret that I would eat dessert first if I could. Even when I have a lovely eggplant salad or savory rainbow trout on my plate, I've got one eye trained on the platter back there in the kitchen, hiding under a tent of aluminum foil. I know what's under there; it's dessert.

And it's waiting to be tasted.

If I really had to choose (don't make me), cookies would be high on my "can't live without" list of desserts. Except for the saturated fat and the calories, cookies are--in many ways--a perfect food item.

Think about it. When someone hosts a potluck party and they ask you to bring a dessert, what should you bring? Not cake, wonderful as it is, because cake is so high-maintenance. It requires additional plates, additional silverware, and some kind of serving piece. The same goes for pie and pudding. Plus, you worry about smudged icing and collapsing interiors as you nervously drive over to your friend's house.

Cookies, on the other hand, require no such concierging. Cookies are a one-bite wonder. You can stack them in a container and go. You can pass a plate of them around without the need for anything other than a napkin.

I made these cookies twice in the last week, once for a get-together at my friend Lauren's and again for last night's Rosh Hashanah dinner at my in-laws. They were a hit both times, so I decided to share them with you.

My friend Sara enjoyed them so much she decided to experiment with the filling. She reports that you can fill the cookies with chocolate if you melt it first, then add it to the indentations.

Cranberry Jam Cookies
Adapted from this recipe at Epicurious

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of cranberry jam (I used FiordiFrutta, which has a smooth texture free of large fruit)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a separate mixer, beat the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, mix in the flour mixture in 3 batches just until a crumbly dough forms. Divide the dough in half and form two well-packed logs, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

When the dough is thoroughly chilled, preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Slice a 1/2-inch piece of dough from the end of one of the logs and roll the dough into a ball in the palm of your hand. Then, flatten the ball slightly into a disk (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick). Make a deep indentation in center of the round with wooden spoon handle. Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.

Fill the indentations in each cookie with about 3/4 teaspoon of the cranberry jam, then place both cookie sheets in the oven.

Bake until the cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Makes: 18 cookies