Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bring On The Grunge

Awhile ago we found ourselves in one of the many grungily beautiful cafes of Buenos Aires, there for a casually organized jam session that was actually really a birthday party (Was it weird that we didn't know the birthday girl? Kinda. They gave us cake anyway.)

The walls were covered with definitions of lunfardo, an Argentine slang with Italians roots that was originally used by prisoners in the jails here. But it's now been around for many years and has its own nostalgic elegance. I have a hard time imagining that even after the passage of 100 years, the words "ho" and "grip" might evoke anything as poetic as Carlos Gardel in a derby hat. I also find it unlikely that grimy La-Z-Boy recliners will find any hidden glamour after the passage of a century. At any rate I can tell you that from my experience, in the here and now nowhere does grungy antique chic quite like Buenos Aires. 
See these cookies?

You can´t tell by the picture, but as far as I´m concerned they are the picture of gritty elegance as far as cookies go. They aren´t so pretty, and their rustic black and whiteness would make them entirely at home in a run down tango bar. But, oh, wow, they are so good in every way, and though you didn´t know they were missing from your life you will know soon, right after you make them for the first time. Buckwheat might sound a bit too health foodish and slightly grannyish for a cookie, but trust me, it works-- it makes for a wonderfully soulful, deep-flavored and slightly nutty-tasting butter cookie, classy without being flashly. Consider it a start to the legacy.

Buckwheat Cookies
     adapted from Alice Medrich

8 oz. (2 sticks or 225 g.) butter, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. (5.6 oz. or 160 g.) white flour
3/4 c. (3 oz. or 85 g.) buckwheat flour

Beat the butter, sugar and salt together until creamy, about 1 min. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flours and mix just until incorporated. Bring the dough together with your hands to create a coherent mass and form it into a log 2 inches thick. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight, wrapped in plastic. 
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the log into 1/4 in. thick slices. Place the cookies on a baking sheet leaving 1 1/2 in. between the cookies to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies begin to color around the edges, rotating the baking sheet 180º after 5 min. Gently remove the cookies from the sheet to a rack, then continue with the rest of the dough. Makes approx. 4 dozen cookies.

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