Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas and Procrastination - Green Tea Shortbread

It's not that I don't have a loving family, wonderful friends, amazing boyfriend and sweet, crazy, perpetually energetic dog.  It's not that we don't have a full celebration despite not really being Christian (we regard Christmas as an excuse to throw lots of color around and give lots of people presents).  It's not that I don't, you know, finally have some free time.  Free time?  What's that?  Oh, it's not very rare, but I've heard myths about it.  It's when you, heaven forbid, don't have work.  Don't have work?  What?  Impossible!

Indeed, truly impossible.  Of course, that's not the reason that I made these cookies two days before Christmas, making extra so I could decorate them.  It's not the reason that a mere 5 remain in the box, still undecorated, on the last day of 2011.  But, you say, it's winter vacation!  You've been on break a whole two weeks!  Heh.  Heh.  Heh.  What have I done with this delightful burst of "free time?"  Let's see, get four hours of paid work done, a half a homework problem, go running twice, see my high school friends a record of three times, bake up a storm yet forget to photograph half of them (I'm a terrible bloger >_<) and oh, read lots and lots and lots of Pioneer Woman.  She's awesome, and hilarious, and I've spent too much time reading her archives since March 2006.  Oops.

My original intention was to bake these cookies, then pipe lines of white icing on them to decorate the trees, then dot the icing with dried cranberries.  Cute, huh?  Yep, that never happened.  Kirbie's original recipe called for leaf cookie cutters, and she rolled them somewhat thicker.  The first time I made these, I used different cookie cutters, but my dad really liked them.  It was also before I started this blog, last summer.  I figured, enough of a reason for a repeat, since I'm pretty fond of them, too.  The dough is surprisingly malleable; it starts out crumbly, then as you knead it gently, forms into a perfectly rollable dough.  The plastic wrap is also a very big help.  Overall, I loved these cookies, green tea-flavored and delicate.  Even my mum, who dislikes green tea in baked goods, enjoyed the texture of these and ate a few.  I usually make half a batch, and the instructions below are for that amount.  

Mmmm, cookies... Balanced on the lid of a steamer :)

Green Tea Shortbread from Kirbie's Cravings (also, she has step-by-step pictures!)
Makes around 36 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter

½ cup (1 stick) butter (I used unsalted, because...that's what my family had)
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon matcha (green tea) powder
Tiny pinch of salt 
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large mixing bowl
1 sturdy butter knife (to cut the butter into chunks)
Either 1 wooden spoon or 1 electric mixer (to cream the butter and sugar)
1 rubber spatula
¼ cup dry measure
1 tablespoon measure
1 rolling pin
1 large cutting board/hard flat surface for rolling
Plastic wrap for rolling (2 sheets, size dependent on size of rolling surface)
Cookie cutter/s
Cookie sheets
Parchment paper for cookie sheets (I reused mine for each batch)


1. Place the parchment paper on the cookie sheets.  You can use butter to help the paper stick to the sheet.

2. Cube the butter and toss it into the mixing bowl, followed by the sugar.  Using either the wooden spoon or the mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the matcha powder and cream again.  Add the flour and salt and mix thoroughly.  It'll be crumbly at first, but you should be able to form a soft ball with the dough.

3. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll out the dough.  Placing them as close as possible, cut out cookies and place on prepared cookie sheets.  Refrigerate the cookies for about an hour, although I found no difference between those refrigerated and those simply left to sit for an hour (I ran out of fridge space, which is saying something).

4. Preheat the oven to 325°F and bake the cookies for anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.  I'd check the sheets at 10 minutes and see from there.  The cookies should be dry to the touch, although some browning is okay.  The cookies just won't be  Enjoy!

It's a small forest of delicious cookies :)  Even the one on the far left.

 Postscript:  I ran downstairs to get the image from my camera.  I'm nibbling on one of the last cookies as I type.  These keep for quite a while, it seems, as it's still delicious.

Friday, December 23, 2011


It's been so long since my last post...  I've technically been on break for more than a whole week already!  Time just seems to fly by.  I guess it started right after Thanksgiving break, though, when I was hit with thermodynamics homework due the Monday after, a Biomechanics midterm that same Monday (which was moved to Wednesday anyway... >_<), Contemporary Biotechnology homework due Tuesday, a project and presentation due the next Tuesday, a 10-page paper based on research in published literature and a 15-page paper based on my own research, all topped off with 4 finals in 3 days!  And I have so many things to share, a birthday cake, scones, a pink velvet-cheesecake confection, green tea shortbread, persimmon bread, peppermint chocolate crinkles and first attempt at petit fours among them.  Where to start...?  None of the above, just to be contrary.  I'll start with my very first restaurant review post.  It seems fitting, since my last night in New York was spent there with my boyfriend and some very good friends of ours. 

I was actually introduced to this restaurant through my friend, who works there.  Her family immigrated from Thailand a few years ago and her parents started the restaurant.  It is small and welcoming, decorated with several Thai elements including paintings, lamps, statues and a flat screen television that displays beautiful scenery.  There's a bar, but I've never seen it in use.  However, most of my friends are still below the drinking age in the U.S. (as am I!), so perhaps the point is moot.  The service is quick, water glasses kept filled and the food brought out as it is made.  The only drawback to this restaurant is the dim lighting.  Most of the light streams in through the large windows, filtered by curtains.  This is about comfortable reading quality in the daytime, but fades to a low, romantic-but-inadequate-for-my-camera level at night.  I will apologize for the quality of my photos now.  If you'll remember, my camera screen was broken a few months ago by yours very clumsy truly, and I've only managed to use the macro setting ("food" label on camera button).  These pictures were actually taken about a week and a half after the accident, with a different camera that I struggled to learn to use, kindly lent to me by my boyfriend's family.

Thai Iced Tea, a delightful starter and accompaniment.
The food is really wonderful, authentic Thai. You can start with some Thai iced tea, a refreshing blend of strong tea and rich sweetened condensed milk that will later soothe your palate if you choose a spicy dish.  Next are appetizers, spring rolls or richer fare like fried tofu, chicken wings and calamari.  Once you find your way to the main dishes, you'll find that the vegetables are fresh and lightly cooked, noodles well-cooked and the whole delicious pile gently seasoned and spiced.  I personally don't eat land animals, but all the people at our table enjoyed their dishes, meat, vegetables and all.  My favorite dish happens to be the Drunken Noodles, with vegetables and tofu.  Many main dishes come as a choice of vegetables and tofu, beef, chicken, shrimp or seafood.  That night I happened to try the Pad Woonsen; it was just as good, but I prefer my flat rice noodles in the slightly spicy Drunken Noodles :)  Unfortunately, my pictures of our dishes were entirely unusable, low light and all.

Also, their fried ice cream is stellar.  Having freshly fried your ball of ice cream and  batter in searing hot oil for barely 60 seconds, your server emerges from the kitchen carrying the ice cream and a small metal dish of fiery liquor.  She lightly drizzles strawberry sauce over the golden-brown orb, pours the flames over your ice cream and places it in front of you.  After a few seconds, it burns out and you are left with a wonderfully crisp shell, still slightly chewy inside, encasing your still-frozen vanilla, mango, green tea or red bean ice cream.  Their flavors vary from day to day, but always remains delicious.  

My friend, carrying a purple flame and fried ice cream!

The website is here, and you can find a menu online.  It's a very simple website, but contains all the basic information.  Prices are reasonable and the portions generous; we usually end up with enough left over for lunch the next day.

Phayathai Restaurant 
735 Hawkins Ave.
Lake Ronkonkoma, NY 11779


Note:  I have no disclaimer.  My friends and I have always paid for our meals, although occasionally we receive drinks, dessert or appetizers on the house.  I think this is due to their eternal niceness and the famous "friend discount," what my roommate called when I sold her a textbook a good deal below market price.  This doesn't take away from the fact that the food is really just plain good.