nana’s meltaways

wire rack
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that baking needs to come to an end. The cold of winter with its howling winds and powerful storms has had me hiding indoors. I find a nice way to get the apartment extra warm is to turn on the oven and bake something. A perfect excuse to make something sweet.

This recipe comes from my Nana. She was an expert baker, and this cookie is one of my favourites that she would make. It’s simple and buttery, and not too sweet. As the name suggests, it melts in your mouth! I made them recently with a girlfriend, then when I was home for the holidays, my mom said she had found a bag of the little silver ball candies that my Nana would used to top her Meltaways with, so of course, I had to make them again.

I have cut this recipe in half, and it still makes an outrageous amount of cookies. I counted 76. If you are attending a cookie exchange, or baking for lots of friends and family, then feel free to double this recipe and you’ll get about 150 cookies– they’ll be sure to please.

Ingredients

1/2 lb butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
dragées (silver ball candy), optional

butter cubes
Preheat oven to 325 F, then begin by cubing room temperature butter, and placing it in a large bowl.

cream butter
Using beaters, cream the butter.

butter sugar
Add icing sugar to butter and beat 1 minute.

finished dough
Add vanilla and flour, beating all for 3 minutes. This time, I used whole wheat flour, but the original recipe calls for white all purpose flour, and it really does taste better– well more authentic ‘Nana’, anyway.

parchment uncooked
uncooked
Drop small balls of dough onto a cookie sheet, and space evenly. Dough balls should be very small– these cookies are meant to be a one-bite treat. If desired, top the balls with dragées before baking. Between batches, keep the dough in the fridge.

For Christmas, I got a silicone baking mat and thought I’d test it out for this recipe. Since I wasn’t sure how the cookies would turn out using the mat, I decided to bake half the cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, just in case. Both methods worked well! I was pleased with the results of the mat, and was happy with the easy clean-up. Since the mat is reusable, there was also zero waste.

Place in oven for 12-15 minutes. The trick is to make sure the bottom of the cookies are a delicate golden colour. The tops of the Meltaways should not be browned.

delicate golden

lemon, leek & cremini mushroom risotto

risottolem.jpg
With fall’s cold weather seemingly here to stay, I still find myself craving some of the light-tasting, citrusy flavours of summer. This dish is perfect for a transition to the cooler months.  It is simple, yet bursting with flavour, and rich and creamy without being too heavy.

Ingredients

3 leeks, trimmed and chopped
10-12 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbps extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
6 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
1 generous glass of white wine*
4 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth
juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest of a whole lemon
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mixed chopped chives and flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, if desired

slice leek
Start by cleaning your leeks. The best way to get all the dirt and grit out is to cut off the tops and bottoms of the leeks, then make a lengthwise slice, as pictured above. You will be able to spread the layers apart, and really open up the leeks to get them nice and clean. Next, chop them up.

peel mush
Equally as important to clean are the mushrooms. Mushrooms act as sponges, so it is a good idea to peel them before rinsing them off with water. Otherwise, all the dirt from the outside will just get sucked to the inside, and despite your best effort to clean them, you will end up with an equally as dirty mushroom. Peel the skin off the mushrooms, as pictured above, then rinse with water, and slice.

leeks mush2

Next, add oil to a large pan, and cook the garlic. Garlic will burn quickly, so make sure the heat is not set too high. After about 1 minute, add the leeks and mushrooms, and coat them with the oil and garlic.

set aside
After about 10 minutes on medium heat, the leeks will become soft and start to brown slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

melt butter
Using the same pan, add about 1/2 the butter, and let melt.

butter onions2
Add the chopped onion and salt to the buttered pan, and cook until onion becomes translucent, very soft, and slightly browned (about 15 minutes on medium heat).

add rice
Add the rice to the onion, and give it a good stir so that it is well-coated in butter. Then, add that generous glass of white wine, and make sure you have a glass yourself.  Continue to stir until the liquid has been absorbed.

*The wine that I used for this recipe was Cono Sur Viognier 2012 from Chile. It worked well in this recipe because it is quite aromatic and not too sweet; it complemented the creaminess and zest of the dish very nicely.

add stock
Stir in about 3/4 cup of veg stock at a time, until it has been absorbed. Stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn. I like to use a heat-safe rubber scraper so that I can make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep adding stock and keep stirring constantly until finally all liquid has been absorbed and rice is cooked through. It should be a creamy consistency, without being gluey or mushy. Remove from heat.

add herbs leeks
Add the rest of the butter and the Parmesan cheese to the rice, and stir until melted. Next, mix in the pepper, lemon juice, zest, leek mixture, and fresh herbs. Stir until combined.

plated header
Garnish with parsely, lemon wedge (and/or zest) and Parmesan.

Though I have made a few minor tweaks, the original recipe can be found at So Good and Tasty.