I made it back from Italy. In the 10 days we were there, I was able to navigate the cities of Milan, Rome, Naples (Napoli), Siricuza, and Catania in all their gluten free glory. I also ate gluten free at some truck stop somewhere in the general area of Tuscany.
It was truly delightful, and the food has a much different quality than it does in the United States. It's so much more pristine, so much more from the earth. You can buy fresh squeezed orange juice (made right in front of you) at the truck stops. The fruit at the hotel continental breakfasts is not covered in wax, nor was it genetically modified (the apples, oranges, tomatoes, figs, and other fruits were clearly heirloom varieties). The flavors of the cooked food are simple, and not quite so over-spiced, over-salted, and complicated. It was a land of bounty. I have pictures of all the gluten free food I ate there, but that's for another time. Italy will treat you well, as long as you don't mind fish in its whole form, risotto that melts in your mouth, and fresh peaches off the trees. Really, you'd like it. And you wouldn't even feel like you were missing out.
After I arrived home, there was much to do to recover from more than a week on the road. As my traveling companion told the customs officer when we arrived in the Chicago airport, standing under the "U.S. Citizens" sign, "I brought home some Fanta, some chocolate, and a lot of dirty clothes." I actually brought home a beautiful torte from the local Sicilian mega-mart, as well as some of their packaged gluten free goods that I had bought to try. So, I had to declare my fruit torte at customs. The laundry in the wash, the dishes done, and freshly showered, I set to work in the kitchen. I missed cooking, of all things!
These quick, "split second" cookies are the easy way to get jam thumbprint cookies, and without so much work. The shortbread is tender, even though it's not dairy free, and they are even good after they've been sitting on the counter for a while and have crisped up a bit. (I realize that statement is coming from Utah, where it's hopelessly dry. If there were sitting on the counter in a humid place, it might be another story. I love me some desert air.) They've even got less butter than a regular shortbread, both for structure and to make them a bit healthier for you and me!
Last Year: Gluten Free Cranberry Toffee Bars
Two Years Ago: Simple Egg Breakfast Sandwich
Split Second Cookies
adapted from this recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or 5.0 ounces brown rice flour
1/2 cup or 2.5 ounces millet flour
1/2 cup or 2.5 ounces tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raspberry jam or preserves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the room-temperature egg and vanilla, and continue to cream. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Once the dough comes together, it will be slightly sticky to the touch. Divide it in four balls. Roll each ball out like a snake, forming a 12 inch by 3/4 inch long row, and place it on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining three balls.
This dough is a little tricky at this point. You want to be sure to keep the rows as narrow as possible (no more than an inch), because they will spread slightly in the oven. If they spread enough that they touch each other, it's no problem, just be aware that they will spread.
Before baking, using the back of a wet spoon, press a small depression down the middle of each row, lengthwise. Then, fill the depression with jam, trying to keep the jam inside the small line you have drawn.
Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the shortbread have the lightest brown on the edges, and the jam is bubbling a little. Remove from the oven and leave on the pan to cool. After about 10 minutes, use the edge of a sharp spatula to separate any of the rows that may have joined together during baking. When completely cool, use a knife or the edge of a sharp (metal) spatula to cut each cookie on the diagonal, to make beautiful, flaky cookies.
Check out the others this week at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays!