Remember when I said I'm not much of a baker? All the cookies I've been trotting out lately would suggest otherwise (and I'm shy about the cakes waiting in the wings). That's the problem with blogs. All my casual pronouncements come back to haunt me. I've always warned my loved ones not to put too much stock in what I say--I'll probably change my mind tomorrow. Consistency of character is a value of mine, but consistency of opinions is not. There's so much new information to take in--being "open to influence" is more important to me than staying the course. When Mr. Bush insisted on continuing the Iraq war, I wasn't impressed. All of us should change our minds sometimes.
So I change my mind about not being a baker, especially since my friend Megan sent the recipe for these rosemary butter cookies. I finally have two thriving rosemary plants in my front yard--they even made it through last winter when lots of other ones in the neighborhood died. I love knowing they are out there, strong, green, and full of needles, ready for picking and chopping. I used to HATE it when recipes called for fresh herbs. Jamie Oliver, for instance, cooks with loads of fresh herbs, and I'd argue with him in my kitchen--Look, buddy. Not everybody has a big English garden like you. Not everybody has the money to buy fresh herbs, either. You're cute, yes, but you're out-of-touch. Phooey on you and your fresh herbs. And it's true--buying them in those little cello packages at the grocery store is expensive and uninspiring. But if you can find it in your heart and schedule to plant a few things come springtime (my basics are mint, thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary) you will feel more kindly toward me (and Jamie Oliver).
Megan said she "loses her manners" when these cookies are introduced, and I can see why. They're not crunchy like shortbread--they're more like slightly firm sugar cookies. The rosemary counters the sweetness perfectly, and they are the consummate tea cookie. Another lovable feature is how long they keep. These make a huge batch, and even after giving several away, we were eating them a week later. Stored in an airtight container, they were just as good as the day they were made.
Megan is a high school friend who's resurfaced in my life because of her amazing blog Penny Carnival. She writes about crafting, mothering, gardening, cooking, running, and living an engaged life in Spokane. And she's a fabulous writer, which is always my criteria for visiting any blog twice. After sitting in Honor's English together 20 years ago, it's fun to cross paths --still writing, but with more than snickering teenagers for an audience. Thanks for a week of delectable teatimes, Megan.
Rosemary Butter Cookies
Makes 2 1⁄2 to 3 dozen cookies. Courtesy of Luna restaurant near where Megan lives. If you don't have fresh rosemary, I wouldn't substitute dried. It's the rosemary that really makes these, so I can't think of a suitable substitution. You're welcome to come pick some from my yard or steal some from a hedge. Just do it in the dark so no one gives you a dirty look.
1 pound (4 sticks) butter
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups flour
1 ts. salt
1/8 cup rosemary, chopped
Crystal sugar, for coating outer edges of cookies
Preheat the oven to 350.
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend until smooth again.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the dry ingredients with the butter mixture, beating until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add more flour to get this consistency.
Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.
Using wax or parchment paper, roll the dough into a 1 and 3⁄4-inch diameter log, then roll the log in a shallow bowl or tray containing the large granulated sugar. Slice the log into 3⁄4 inch-inch thick wheels and lay on a cookie sheet. Bake just until lightly golden on the outside, about 8 minutes.