Advent 2013: Savory Parmesan Shortbread

Parmesan Shortbread

This is for my friend Jordan.

Jordan recently moved back to the West Coast after being in NYC for 4 years, and I keep quizzing her about all the things she misses. She told me about some parmesan shortbread she used to get at a favorite coffee shop, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I don't want to embarrass her, but Jordan is a tastemaker. If she likes something (shoes, pencils, or shortbread), you'd best pay attention. She's got the magic touch just like my mom or sister or other artists have. And another thing--making her happy makes me happy. It's not hard to make her happy. I can make a salad, send a card, or compose a photo that gets a "LOVE!" out of her. I told her recently that I get inspired when I'm around her--inspired to see things differently, to find more beauty in everyday things.

I find it pretty easy to appreciate people and things, but I'd put inspiration in another category. Being inspired by someone or something usually means I'm spurred to some kind of action or resolve that wasn't there before. Something moves. Besides Jordan, here's some other people in my world that have inspired me this year:

  1. Molly who started meditating, somehow, in the middle of parenting four boys and cutting people's hair
  2. My sister who landed an amazing, scary job that's kicking her out of her comfort zone
  3. Emily who's interning as a chaplain at the King County Juvenile Detention Center
  4. My dad who's going through a forced career change at 61 and finding joy and peace anyway
  5. Kristen, who finds time to paint breathtaking canvases in her studio after teaching art to high schoolers all day and caring for her family
  6. Kerri who worked her butt off to help her twin daughters get into a great college and bravely said goodbye to them
  7. Jenn who's living life (very unexpectedly) as a single parent and staying present to all of it

Cheers. Parmesan shortbread for all of you.

Savory Parmesan Shortbread
From Nigella Lawson. I changed the recipe the tiniest bit with the addition of rosemary (guess I'm into that these days--it's my one garden plant) and flake salt. EASY and addictive. You'll want to make these for every dinner party. And they make a wonderful gift, maybe with a bottle of wine and some spiced nuts. This recipe makes one log--I quadrupled it and kept some in the freezer.

1 c. flour
3/4 c. grated parmesan
7 Tb. softened butter
1 egg yolk
2 Tb. chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
flaked salt for the top

Combine flour, parmesan, butter, and egg yolk in a mixer, food processor, or with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a lump. Separate into two balls. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 30 seconds until smooth. Do the same with the other.

With your hands, roll the doughs into a cylinder, as uniform as possible without stressing it, about 1 1/2" in diameter. Flatten the ends, too. Roll these up in a piece of plastic wrap then twist the ends. Put them in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350, take your cylinders out of the freezer, and cut into 1/2" coins, and sprinkle a bit of flake salt on each. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until just barely golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Parmesan and Lemon Slaw

lemony slaw

I had an almost perfect week. Summer has really started around here. Camping with Bethany and Chris at Deception Pass, staying on a gorgeous Whidbey Island beach with my parents, sister, niece, and nephew. We encrusted all our earthly possessions with sand, dirt, and campfire smoke, and consumed at least 1,000 more calories per day than usual.

mutiny bay sunset

I love how filthy the kids get in the summer. Neither Wyatt or Loretta has even a small bit of squeamishness or fastidiousness where dirt and grime are concerned. I have determined never to quit buying baby wipes. They are indispensable for marshmallow-covered faces and righting the wrong of offering Cheetos on a car trip. (What mothers do that?! They must be crazy.)

One of my favorite hours was the one spent doing laps on Chris' Korean bike. Chris picked up a "camping bike," as he calls it, a three-seater which an adult pedals while schlepping two smaller people. It even FOLDS. I must have done a dozen laps around the campground with Loretta and Pippa, who kept saying "One more! One more!" Every camper we passed smiled, waved, or commented on the bike, and I felt so happy to be part of our threesome, taking delight in repetition, in their small hands around my waist.

camping bike

Speaking of repetition (and ungainly segues), I've made this salad a million times since last summer when I saw it on Orangette. It was the first thing gone at our family BBQ this week. Even Wyatt was shoveling it. I think lots of folks expect coleslaw to to be heavy, creamy, maybe even downright unappetizing. Of course, you and I know better. We know about the unsung virtues of cabbage--how it stays crisp and pairs with a surprising amount of flavors, how it's full of fiber and keeps forEVER in the fridge. I often bring this as a side dish to summer potlucks--I can often make it without a trip to the store, which is priceless.

P.S. I can't believe my niece HannahMae will be in kindergarten this fall. Watch out, world. She'll rock it.


Parmesan and Lemon Slaw
This serves six as a side dish--double it for a crowd. Thinly slice 1/2 head of green cabbage--as thin as you can get it with a knife, but not shaved. In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with 1/2 c. finely grated parmesan, the juice and finely grated zest of one lemon, salt, pepper, a big glug of good olive oil, and finely chopped lemon thyme. Best not to let this sit around a super long time before eating it.