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Authors: Dorie Greenspan

Around My French Table (5 page)

BOOK: Around My French Table
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Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Working with 1 disk at a time, roll the dough out between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a scant ¼ inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter—I use a cutter with a diameter of about 1¼ inches—cut the dough into crackers. Gather the scraps together, so you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk, chill, and roll them out to make more crackers. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving a scant inch between the rounds.

Bake for 14 to 17 minutes, or until the crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch; transfer the crackers to a rack to cool. Repeat with the second disk of dough (and the scraps), making certain that your baking sheet is cool. You can serve these while they're still a little warm, or you can wait until they reach room temperature.




Just pile these into a basket and serve them with aperitifs, or keep them handy for snacking.


Packed in an airtight tin, the crackers will keep for at least 4 days. While you can freeze them, I find it's better to freeze the dough instead. To make things really simple, roll the dough out, leave it between the sheets of plastic or wax paper, and put it in the freezer. When the dough is frozen solid, peel off the plastic or paper and rewrap it airtight. To use, let the dough soften just enough so that you can cut out the rounds, then bake as directed; the crackers might need another minute or two in the oven if the dough is still frozen when you start to bake.


Slice-and-Bake Crackers.
You can make this simple recipe even simpler by dividing the dough into thirds and shaping each piece into a log. (The diameter is up to you.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours—or freeze them—then slice them into rounds that are a scant ¼ inch thick. Bake just as you do the cutouts.


Pierre Hermé's Olive Sablés

nibble as either a sweet cookie with a spot of savoriness or a savory cookie with a touch of sweetness, but either way you'll have something beyond the borders of the expected and deep within the realm of the irresistible. The sablés (French shortbreads) are undeniably sweet—in fact, that's the first taste you get—but then, just as you're about to shake your head in wonder, up come the salty olives, followed by the base flavor of olive oil. The only thing that's not surprising about these remarkable cookies is that the recipe was given to me by Pierre Hermé, France's most famous pastry chef and the
of remarkable.

The dough for these slice-and-bake sablés includes the grated yolk of a hard-boiled egg, an ingredient not uncommon in Austrian baking, a tradition Pierre knows well. Combined with the recipe's potato starch and confectioners' sugar, it creates a cookie of supernatural tenderness.

I use oil-cured black olives, plain or herb-flecked, for these. You want a meaty, chewy olive with a lot of flavor, so stay away from canned black olives (they won't work in these at all) or the kinds of olives that fall apart or turn mushy when chopped.

The dough should chill for at least several hours, or, preferably, overnight. This rest not only firms the logs enough so that you can work with them easily but gives the olives time to fully flavor the dough.

large hard-boiled egg, white discarded

cups all-purpose flour
tablespoons potato starch (available at health food stores and in the kosher section of supermarkets)
tablespoons (1 stick plus 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

cup olive oil (a fruity oil is best)
cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

ounces (about ½ cup) pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured, chopped

Grate the hard-boiled yolk onto a piece of wax paper. Put the flour and potato starch in a strainer set over a large bowl and sift into the bowl; whisk to thoroughly blend.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it's soft and creamy. Beat in the olive oil, followed by the grated yolk. Blend in the confectioners' sugar, reduce the speed to low, and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough just comes together—there's no reason to beat this dough, and you shouldn't—then stir in the chopped olives. You'll have a very soft, very pliable dough. (If you prefer, you can make the dough by hand, using a rubber spatula to blend the butter, oil, yolk, and sugar and to fold in the dry ingredients and olives.)

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into thirds, and shape each piece into a log about 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least several hours, or, better yet, overnight. If you're in a hurry, you can freeze the logs for an hour or so.

When you're ready to bake the sablés, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Working with 1 log at a time, slice the cookies ¼ inch thick and arrange them on the baking sheet—you want to bake these one sheet at a time.

Bake the sablés for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway mark, or until the cookies are firm but not colored. They may turn golden around the edges, but you don't want them to brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining logs of dough, making sure to use a cool baking sheet each time.




Great with white wine and Champagne, these are also perfect with cocktails.


The logs of dough can be frozen for up to 2 months; there's no need to defrost before slicing and baking.

David's Seaweed Sablés

as you'd guess they'd be from their name. They're truly sablés, sweet, buttery slice-and-bake cookies; truly salty, as salty as pretzels; and truly a Paris trend. Pâtisseries all over the city offer some version of classic sablés with unclassic add-ins like olives (see Pierre Hermé's recipe on
), cheese (see
), bacon, cracked spices, or seasoned salt. The salty cookies are playful, chic, and attention-getting; in other words, the perfect cocktail-party tidbit.

The recipe for these treats was given to me by cookbook author, pastry chef, blogger, American-in-Paris, and friend David Lebovitz. Originally David made these with French seaweed fleur de sel, but since it is not that easy to come by, I use plain fleur de sel and stir finely chopped toasted nori into the dough.

The dough should chill for at least 1 hour.

tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
tablespoons finely chopped toasted nori
teaspoons fleur de sel or 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
cup plus 1 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
large egg yolk

tablespoons olive oil
cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

You can make the dough with a mixer, but if your butter is really soft, the dough is easy to make by hand with a sturdy rubber spatula. Beat the butter, nori, and salt together in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in the sugar, then the egg yolk. Stir in the olive oil, then mix in the flour. When the dough is smooth, stop; you don't want to overwork it.

Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a slender log about 8 inches long. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 1 hour, or for up to 5 days.

When you're ready to bake the sablés, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Working with 1 log at a time, slice the cookies on the scant side of ¼ inch (as David says) and arrange them on the baking sheet—you want to bake these one sheet at a time. If you'd like, sprinkle a couple of grains of salt over the top of each cookie.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm but not colored. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool, and repeat with the second log.




These can be served with red wine, but they're particularly good with white and sparkling wines that are not very dry.


The logs of dough can be kept tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. You can slice and bake the sablés straight from the freezer—there's no need to defrost the logs—but you might need to bake the cookies an extra minute. Seaweed sablés are best the day they are made, but they can be stored overnight in an airtight container.

Mustard Bâtons

with pistachio oil (
), mustard batons are proof that it doesn't take much to make something great tasting, and good looking too. I'm embarrassed to admit that I resisted this recipe for years. No fewer than three friends told me I had to try it, but looking at the ingredient list—puff pastry, Dijon mustard, and an egg for the glaze—I just couldn't drum up the enthusiasm to bake a batch. It wasn't until I was at a party in Paris and tasted the slender strips that I ran home and made them myself. They're a terrific hors d'oeuvre and they're make-aheadable. The only caveat is to make sure your mustard packs some punch—these are best when the mustard is strong. The photo is on

sheets frozen puff pastry (each about 8½ ounces), thawed
All-purpose flour, for rolling
cup Dijon mustard
large egg
Poppy seeds, for topping (optional)

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Have a ruler and a pizza cutter (or sharp knife) at hand.

Working with 1 sheet of pastry at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle that's about 12×16 inches. If necessary, turn the dough so that a short side of the rectangle is closest to you. Measure the length so that you can find the middle, and spread ¼ cup of the mustard over the lower half of the dough, stopping about ⅛ inch from the side and bottom edges. Fold the top portion of the dough over the bottom and, using the pizza cutter (or knife), with your ruler as a guide, cut the pastry from top to bottom into strips about 1 inch wide (I actually use the width of the ruler itself as my guide), then cut the strips crosswise in half. (If you prefer, you can leave the strips long.)

Carefully transfer the bâtons to one of the baking sheets and chill or freeze them while you work on the second batch.
(You can make all the strips to this point and freeze them on the baking sheets, then pack them airtight and keep them frozen for up to 2 months.)

Lightly beat the egg with a splash of cold water and brush just the tops of the strips with this glaze. If you'd like, sprinkle them with poppy seeds.

Bake the bâtons for 8 minutes. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until the strips are puffed and golden brown. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the bâtons rest for a couple of minutes before serving.




These are especially good with white wine or kir (see box,
), the official aperitif of Dijon.


Unbaked bâtons can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months and baked while still frozen. Brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with the poppy seeds, if using them, just before baking.



Tapenade Bâtons.
Spreading the puff pastry with tapenade, homemade (
) or store-bought, makes savory strips that are great on a summer's evening with an iced rosé. Before folding over the puff pastry, I like to sprinkle the tapenade with grated lemon zest and/or grated Parmesan; other good add-ins are teensy slivers of roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, paper-thin slices of onion, and toasted sliced almonds.

BOOK: Around My French Table
3.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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