"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls

These cookies were nothing but trouble, but oh, what a pay-off!

Delicious, beautiful cookies. Here, look at my pile.

Why were they trouble?

Well, it started with not being able to find the spice grinder so I could grind up the anise seed. I used a mortar and pestle, and made a little anise dust, but otherwise came to understand that those little suckers are tough and not easily ground.

I did, however, learn a Russian rhyme for finding lost things. I won't slaughter it with my poor phonetic spelling, but it basically translates to this:

Little devil, little devil,
if you're done playing
with my ____________
won't you please return it?

Supposedly your ____________will show up pretty quickly after that, and my grinder did make an appearance on the counter the next day--but I think that's only because Zoritsa combed the shelves and cupboards for it.

My next issue was with the date and fig filling, which is to be spread on the anise-scented cookie dough. The recipe says you can grind these (with a little water and sugar) either in the blender or the food processor. I chose the blender, but the dried fruit didn't really blend all that well--it wasn't breaking down, just sticking to the sides of the blender where it had gotten flung up.

This is where I made a serious mistake. Some people call it "user error", in this case it was user idiocy.

You know how they have those lids for a reason, right? Like to prevent things from flying out, but also to keep you from sticking things down near those blades that shouldn't be down there?

Now, being the resourceful gal that I am, don't think I didn't wonder if I couldn't just extract the wood from the contents of the blender and proceed from there. If I had been making, say, a raspberry coulis, I might have been able to swing that.

But as I mentioned before, my dried fruits were chunky, sticky, and the exact same color as the wood.

Into the trash it went.

I have to say I have a new respect for blender blades.

I tried again the next day with dates that were softer (medjool instead of "Dole"), and dried figs that had just been packaged at the local health food store. AND I used the food processor, which doesn't mess around in the pureeing department.

From that point on, it was an easy operation--spread the filling, roll it up, refrigerate, cut, and bake. OK, if you're into instant gratification, this recipe might not be for you.

But they are gorgeous, once you finally get your hands on them.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I had a similar incident happen...I was in the middle of a recipe and a plate fell onto the counter and EXPLODED--shrapnel everywhere, I had lots of little cuts, and I had to throw out everything that was getting made because I couldn't separate out the plate shards.

I threw out the matching plates too--no loss, they were ugly :)