Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spicy Pecan Cookies--Something out of Nothing

Last Friday I attended an exhibition of South African bead jewelery and met several South African ladies. Talking to them brought back to me the memory of the friend whom I met in Switzerland. She was born in Portugal, but spent most of her life in South Africa. I must admit that she had a huge influence on my culinary education to the point that I could call her my culinary mentor. Some of the best dishes I still cook today come from her personal cookbook. Many of them come from Portugal, where she spent her summers, others come from several other countries she lived in.

I watched and admired her when, with a little bit of touch and nice presentation, she was able to arrange a tea event, or a nice lunch, often out of nothing. She taught me many good host's do's and don'ts that I try to follow every time I have any guest in my house. On top of all that she was also the one who introduced me to a wonderful South African wines, especially from Stellenbosch or Nederburg. I still like to serve it to my guests if I can only buy it here.

Unfortunately, I have lost touch with her, but I hope to reconnect again one day. I am sure she would be very proud of me writing this blog (especially in English). Thinking about one of the Romy's golden rules not to waste any food, I came with an idea of making spicy cookies, from an old and dry piece of blue cheese that got lost in my refrigerator. The inspiration came from the well known nut cookies. I used some pecans that I always associate with Thanksgiving pies, and I just added cheese, salt, and a little bit of rosemary to turn them into wine accompaniments. Here is my experiment.

Spicy Pecan Cookies

1 stick butter,
1 cup flour,
1 tsp salt,
1 cup minced pecan nuts.
coarse sea salt,
a brunch of rosemary.
about 4 oz of blue cheese, but I am sure that any will do, for example, Parmesan or Cheddar.

1. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and working with hands make first crumbs which as you work will turn into a dough.
2. Form a dough into a log, wrap in the food foil, and chill for half an hour.
3. Heat oven to 375 F.
3. Cut a cold dough into a quarter inch thick slices and arrange on a baking tin greased with butter.

4. Spread salt and rosemary on top and bake for about 20 minutes.

Serve cold on small plates, as they are very short. They taste particularly well with a glass of red wine (especially a good Nederburg).

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