February 9, 2009

"Forget Me Not" Sambusik Cookies

I'm not a big cookbook collector, it takes a really impressive collection to get me to commit to buying one. There are just too many recipes to try online, in magazines, etc. However, I leap at the chance at anything new to read that is food related. Fiction involving food is always welcome but the genre I really love includes the histories, science discussions and memoirs that revolve around food. My favorites are too many to list but here are some examples you might recognize: On Food and Cooking, Kitchen Confidential, Salt, Garlic and Sapphires, My Life in France. Just point me in the direction of a new book of this nature and a few days later I'll be on the couch devouring it-- it'll only be hours if it's available on the Kindle.

So I loved hearing about the Cook the Books Club. The club's current book is The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber. It's an engaging story of the author's childhood experience that centers around the experiences related to her Jordanian father. The recipe I really wanted to make was the "Nostalgic Chicken Livers", chicken livers with onions and lemon juice cooked in olive oil. It's a dish I order regularly at the various middle eastern restaurants around Detroit and I make it at home all the time. But, have you ever tried to take an attractive picture of chicken livers? I tried, but...

So I decided to play with her Sambusik cookies instead. To make them dairy-free I substituted walnut oil for the clarified butter. This gave the exterior dough a lot of walnut flavor. I also swapped orange flower water for the rose water. Rose water reminds me of a high school French teacher that wore too much rose perfume and I find it cloying. I think the orange flower water goes very well with the walnuts. The cookies were delicious with an enchanced walnut flavor. I think they might be even better with a touch of cinnamon as well. Here's my interpretation of her recipe.

My version of "Forget Me Not" Sambusik Cookies
Adapted from The Language of Baklava
Makes ~2 dozen cookies

3/4 cup ground walnuts, lightly packed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water

1/2 cup walnut oil
6 tablespoons milk (soy worked fine)
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

~ 1/2 cup powder sugar to dust

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
-Stir together the filling ingredients and set aside.
-Mix together the oil, milk, and sugar. Add the flour and knead a small amount until a smooth dough forms.
-Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut out 2 inch circles of dough. Fill each circle with approximately a teaspoon and a half of the nut filling. Fold over the circle of dough and pinch together. Bend to form a crescent shape.
-Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
-Cool and dust with powdered sugar.

I'm adding this to Bookmarked Recipes, an event started by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen's Experiments. Visit the new Bookmarked Recipes site for the roundup of other bookmarked and tested recipes. And give some of your saved recipes a try and post about them! I'm hosting in a couple of weeks.