Pistachio Cheese Shortbread


A little while ago I attended my friend Megan’s baby shower. There was an enormous amount of awesome food, and her mom Cheri had made these savoury shortbread. She served them with a delicious olive tapenade, and they were my favourite thing on the table. So of course I had to ask for the recipe. I brought them to a Christmas party recently, to rave reviews. With or without olive tapenade they are delicious, but I do recommend a glass of red wine to go with them.

The recipe is from Everyone Can Cook Appetizers by Eric Akis, and makes about 4 dozen cookies which can be frozen or consumed within days of eating. They are great to have in the freezer and pull out if you need a few for a last minute appie or a small bite with a glass of wine.

They require refrigerating the dough for a few hours, so you do have to plan ahead, or make the dough up to a few days ahead of time. Makes life simpler on the day of a party if you do this.

What you need:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Beat the butter until very light.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne and salt. Stir in the cheddar, Parmesan and pistachios. Add this to the butter and mix with your hands until you have formed a soft dough.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a solidly packed roll of about 4 cm in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or longer.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the logs into 5mm slices and place them on the baking sheets about 2 & 1/2 cm apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container. You can freeze them too.

Fig & Anise Crisps

Terra Breads makes this fabulous fig and anise bread.  I just made up a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup, brushed it on and toasted it to makes these darlings.  They were delicious with some salty olive tapenade on top to play off the sweetness of the figs and maple syrup.

What you need:

part of a loaf of fig & anise bread, thinly sliced

olive oil

maple syrup

What you do:

1.  As thinly as you can, slice the bread.  Place the slices onto a baking sheet.

2.  Mix some olive oil with some maple syrup, less syrup than oil.

3.  Brush a little of the mixture onto each piece of bread.

4.  Toast them in the oven on about 250-300F, watching closely so they don’t burn.

They were great with the olive tapenade, but I would imagine a sharp cheese or some cream cheese would be fantastic.

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade

These little chops are so easy and tasty – I’ve fallen in love with them.  I don’t cook lamb very often, so I wanted to find an amazing recipe, and after much searching I found it at Smitten Kitchen.  Olives and nuts, well right there you’ve got an amazing combination that works so well with the lamb.

If you want to try out this recipe on someone, feel free to invite me over!

I served them with tiny baked potatoes roasted with some duck fat, rosemary and salt, along with a green salad with vinaigrette, strawberries and toasted slivered almonds.

What you need:

1 rack of lamb or 6-8 chops

1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted

1/3 cup pitted green olives

1 & 1/2 tablespoons capers

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh oregano

1 & 1/2 tablespoons parsley

olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

What you do:

1.  Cut the rack of lamb into chops, the salt and pepper each one.  Let these sit while you prepare the tapenade.

2.  To make the tapenade, place the pistachios, capers, garlic, oregano, parsley and lemon zest in a food processor.  Add a little olive oil at a time to make it into a thick paste.

3.  Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Heat a frying pan to medium-high, then add some olive oil.  Cook the lamb chops for 2 minutes per side, or until they are browned.  Remove the chops to a baking pan and smear some of the tapenade on each.  Place the chops in the oven and cook for 4-5 minutes, which will give you lovely rare chops.

4.  Remove the chops from the oven and let them rest 5 minutes before serving.  Savour!

Olive Tapenade

This one’s really easy to make, and works great as an appetizer.  Rosemary crackers work really well with it, as does a crusty loaf of bread.

What you need

about a cup of black or green sliced olives

1 tablespoon capers

a drizzle or two of olive oil

a little squeeze of lemon (optional)


What you do

1.  Throw all the ingredients in a food processor.  Whiz it around for a few seconds so it is chopped up but not too finely.

2.  You can serve right away, but it also keeps for a while.  I prefer serving it at room temperature, so I take it out of the fridge a while before I’m going to serve it.

Rosemary Crackers

I just happened to be making these crackers on Easter weekend, so they are in the shape of little bunnies.  It’s pretty easy to make your own crackers, just mix, roll, cut and bake. I like the idea that I know what is going into my food, so I try to make as much of it from scratch as I can.

I got this recipe from a cook book called 100 Perfect Pairings, and the original recipe used fennel seeds instead of rosemary.  The crackers are brushed with red wine before baking, giving them a pink hue – this is optional, as I didn’t find I could actually taste the wine.  So if you want pink crackers, brush away!

I served mine with olive tapenade and goat cheese, but other sliced cheeses would work well too.

What you need

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little more for rolling

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 & 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine (optional)

3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel for sprinkling

What you do

1.  Combine the flours, salt and rosemary in a bowl.  Add the oil and 1/2 cup of water, working it until it combines into a crumbly ball.

2.  Preheat the oven to 450F.

3.  Cut the dough into three pieces and wrap two of them in plastic wrap.  Work with one of the balls, rolling it out on a floured surface until it is about 2mm thick.  Cut the dough into squares, or into any shape you desire.

4.  Lightly brush the dough with wine, then sprinkle with a little fleur de sel.  Move the crackers to a baking sheet.

5.  Bake for 7-10 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn.  While they are baking you can roll out the next batch.

6.  Allow the crackers to cool on a wire rack. After they are thoroughly cooled you may store them in an airtight container for about a week.