Apricot Pistachio White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (½ pound) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chunks, about ¼-inch pieces
¾ cup dried apricot pieces, cut into ¼-inch chunks
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped small

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until slightly lightened, about one minute. Add both sugars and beat until light, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add the extract and mix.

2. Add the flour and baking soda, and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate and the apricots, and remove mixer from stand.

3. Divide the pistachios in half, and spread them out on along the middle of 2 pieces of 12” x 18” parchment. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log, about 12 inches long and 1 inch wide. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, brush the outside of the logs. Place them onto the pistachios, and gently roll them in the nuts to cover. Roll up the logs and twist the ends to keep them round.

4. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.

5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º F. One log at a time, slice into ¾-inch slices, and place 1 inch apart on parchment lined half sheet pans. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool on a rack.

Cauliflower Cashew Bisque

A bisque is a smooth, pureed soup that is often thickened with cream or flour or rice.  Sometimes, it is finished with a bit of cognac.  Occasionally, larger pieces of the primary ingredient are added at the end to enliven the texture.  This unusual member of the bisque family is deliberately mild, not aggressively spiced.  Here the cashews provide most of the richness, requiring no additional thickening.  Their flavor is so buttery that the quantity of cream is less than expected in such a hearty soup.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes; Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 filling servings

2 tablespoons mild olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger root
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups roasted cashews, roughly chopped
1 head cauliflower broken into florets, stems removed
8 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp cognac

1. Heat the oil in a 3 quart sauce pan over medium heat.

2. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt stirring occasionally, cooking vegetables until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the cashews, cauliflower and stock.  As you bring the soup to a boil over high heat, don’t be surprised if the tops of florets pop up above the liquid.  A quick simmer will help them drop below the surface.  Keep the soup at a simmer and stir occasionally, cooking for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are very soft.

4. Puree the soup carefully with a hand-held  or a standard blender.  Add the heavy cream and the cognac and season with salt and pepper to taste.  The soup should be completely smooth and the color of aged parchment.