One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.

-Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, "Pavarotti, My Own Story"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pumpkin Seed-Lime Cookies

One of my favorite sayings is: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." It's a great reminder to be strong in life, to stop complaining, to keep my head high. However, even the tough find themselves in need of a little help sometimes. I recently failed at something I had set my mind on doing and had a pretty lousy evening as a result - the kind of evening where you feel lost, lonely and powerless, where  the phone doesn't ring no matter how much you want it to and the air in the house hangs heavy with silence. If I'd had any sort of musical talent, like this lady here, or this one, I'm sure I could have turned my angst into some killer song lyrics that night. Failing that, I sat around and moped until it occurred to me that I hadn't cooked anything in a long while. 

It isn't easy to pinpoint why cooking is, in many ways, my ultimate escape. Sure, there's the thrill of biting into something I've made for the first time and having it taste great, of being in control and knowing how things will turn out. More than those, however, I love the sensory experience of cooking. Just like listening to the high whine of a Supertramp harmonica with my eyes closed, or receiving a big hug from a loved one, something about the sizzle of onions hitting hot oil, the sour lash of lime on my tongue and the powerful aroma of herbs calms me down, fills my chest to bursting with a slow, deep exuberance. By concentrating on cooking, I can forget my silly first world problems, at least for a little while, and leave my house with a smile the next day. In any event, it's hard to be down when the smell of cookies is wafting through your kitchen.

This recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, Homesick Texan. This blogger's recipes are foolproof and inventive and I love the way she writes with so much passion about the cuisine of her home state. These cookies ingeniously pair the Mexican ingredients of lime and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and are deliciously light, crumbly and nutty. The tang of the lime juice in the cookies is unexpected but addictive. I can also imagine substituting the pumpkin seeds and lime with other nut-citrus combinations. Hazelnuts and orange or almonds and lemon would be great pairings.

Pumpkin Seed-Lime Cookies
Adapted from here.  My only change to the recipe was to add a bit of roasted coriander seed, which gives the cookies a subtly warm, toasty aftertaste. You can skip the coriander if you'd like. Don't overcream the butter and sugar or your cookies will spread in the oven. I halved the original recipe. This amount makes 15-16 cookies.

3/4 cup (100 g) hulled pumpkin seeds 
3/4 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
8 tbsp (1 stick/110 g) room temperature butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup (60 g) sugar
1 cup (125 g) flour
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one lime
Juice from half a lime
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1. If using the coriander, toast it in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then grind.

2. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, stirring occasionally, until golden. (Skip this step if your pumpkin seeds are already roasted.) Let cool, then pulse to a coarse powder in the food processor. Don't grind continuously or you will end up with a paste rather than a powder. 

3. Put the butter in a medium bowl. Using a fork, incorporate the sugar into the butter.

4. Work the ground pumpkin seeds, flour, salt, coriander and about three quarters of the lime zest into the butter-sugar mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the lime juice and mix until dough comes together. Cover and chill 30-60 minutes.

5. Roll tablespoon-sized lumps of dough into balls, then roll the balls into 3-inch logs and curl the ends to form crescents. Don't make the crescents too flat. Line cookies on a baking sheet, leaving at least half an inch of space between them, and bake in a preheated 350F (175C) oven for 15 minutes, until slightly golden on top. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. 

6. Grind the remaining lime zest with the powdered sugar in a food processor. While the cookies are still slightly warm, dip them on both sides into this sugar mixture.

1 comment:

  1. nicely written! life always throws nasty stuff at us, i like your way of battling it - KUKEEZ! now if only we could taste them ..