The French Laundry Cookbook-Yukon Gold Potato Blinis

If I ever find myself in a food rut, the French Laundry cookbook is a goldmine of inspiration. The photography is beautiful and the writing makes it clear that Thomas Keller is an incredibly skilled chef that strives for perfection in his creations. Some of the recipes are a little more involved than others--for example, the recipe for Baby Lamb-Five Cuts Served with Provençal Vegetables, Braised Cipollini Onions, and Thyme Oil involve breaking down an entire animal. I think I'll leave that one to the professionals. 

This is the first recipe I have tried from the book and it's a simple one: Yukon Gold Potato Blinis. Keller notes that this type of potato absorbs more cream and results in the best texture. The blinis are soft, a little dense, and taste faintly of the crème fraîche. The recipe instructs you to serve them as soon as possible. While they do taste best when warm, I served them as an hors d'oeuvre and found that they are fine at room temperature as well.

In the book, the suggested accompaniments are Bottarga di Muggine and Tomato Confit, or Roasted Sweet Peppers and Eggplant Caviar, but these make great bases for other toppings as well. Here, I've served them with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and dill.    

Recipe after the jump

Christmas Special: Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without holiday cookie baking. Rather than the icebox shortbread I usually make, I decided to try a whipped version instead this year. Filling the kitchen with the scent of buttery, rich shortbread baking always makes me feel festive. This recipe is unusual because it requires whipping the batter for 10 minutes. The light, fluffy batter can then be spooned or piped. The resulting cookie is delicate in texture and almost melts when you eat it.

Note: Having the cookie keep its ruffled, piped shape without melting into a blob while baking can be tricky. I tried refrigerating the piped batter before baking it, but had better results baking the cookies right after they were piped (at room temperature). 

Recipe after the jump!