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More Cooking from 'Cook This Now'

Fresh off my successful, but tiring, completion of Melissa Clark's "Stupendous Hummus" recipe, I tried two others in her new cookbook, Cook This Now.

Her cookbook is organized around the seasons, and is broken down by month. I tried her Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Walnut Oil.

With each recipe, Clark included a "What Else?" follow-up section, with tips and suggested alterations. I'm glad I read it before attempting this recipe. 

"If you're not doing this already," she wrote, "be sure to store our nut oils in the fridge. They will go rancid really quickly if you don't."

EEK! I realized I had an opened bottle of walnut oil sitting in my cupboard. I opened it months ago.

After buying a new bottle, I sampled a little bit of each oil. AH, so THAT'S what rancid tastes like! The cupboard-stored oil was sharp and slightly bitter. The fresh bottle: mellow and smooth.

Even with the new walnut oil, I was hoping for more walnutty taste with this salad. I'll have to experiment next time with the seasonings. 

Pistachio Shortbread, with spelt and organic cane sugar.I also tried her Pistachio Shortbread. Clark has received training as a pastry chef, and she calls shortbread her "signature dish."

She said she's made shortbread in every possible variation she can think of, so I was emboldened to make my own changes.

Her recipe calls for pistachio nuts AND orange blossom water. The combo sounds yummy, and I'll have to try it ... once I find out where I can get orange blossom water! I had the pistachios, though. I also wanted to play with alternatives to the refined wheat flour and confectioner's sugar called for in the recipe. 

I used spelt flour instead of wheat flour, and organic cane sugar instead of confectioner's sugar. The resulting shortbread (pictured right) was a bit more delicate and crumbly. The spelt gave it a warm, nutty taste, which probably would have been better served by walnuts, or hazelnuts. It was still good, though, and super simple to make.   

With all the rain in the forecast for this weekend, I'll be spending it in the kitchen, trying more of Melissa's recipes.