It kills me how early the sun sets this time of year. I’m particularly sensitive to daylight and the lack of it renders me almost comatose. I can’t wake up early and by ten pm I’m practically asleep.
Meanwhile the days seem to be asking a lot more of me. Slow down, I keep thinking, there are only so many hours in the day; I’m doing the best I can. But the best-I-can doesn’t seem to be cutting it these days, unfortunately. There’s packing and moving logistics: forwarding your mail, alerting friends and service providers of your address change, ordering new services; there’s work to be done, deadlines to be met, recipes to be tested and written up (not to mention the rest of writing concerning a book); there are seemingly endless edits of things; there’s a matter of getting some exercise (lest you start losing your mind); and so on, and so forth.
Slowly, our apartment is turning into a storage unit. Boxes are beginning to pile up. Things I’d normally put away are strewn about – I’ve all but given up on the place. I get that way before I move. My normal inability to digest clutter forces me to be constantly cleaning, tidying-up, curating so to speak, so the apartment doesn’t become a pig stye. But right before I move, I lose the ability to stay on top of it. Laundry, if it’s not easy to put away, starts to pile up in a messy lump. Right now, in our bedroom, a fold-out chair is groaning under the weight of unfolded sheets. Does it bother me to look at it? Oh, yes. Do I do anything about it? Most certainly, no.
And on and on we go. When we need to change the bed linens, I simply fish out the crumpled up sheets (I know, I know!) and just place the dirty ones in the hamper.
We are in the thick of it – the holiday season. It is December after all, and there will be parties we’ll attend and throw. And by “we” – I mean “you”. I’ll be attending some parties, hopefully, but no one I know wants to party among moving boxes.
“Now, where were those wine glasses? Oh, right – they’re packed. Care to use a Dixie cup?”
Classy, don’t you think?
But hopefully for all of you there are parties galore. Parties filled with cocktails and nibbles and holiday cheer. And hopefully, the nibbles will be worth loosening up a notch on your belt. And if you’re throwing a party, may I suggest these gruyere and black pepper cookies?
There are only four ingredients. And I’m pretty sure three of them are already in your pantry. The dough comes together in mere minutes. You can make a large batch and freeze what you don’t use, and if last-minute guests pop up, or if there’s a last minute party on your horizon and you need to bring something with you, just pop the dough out of the freezer, slice, and bake.
A savory cookie is something, I think, the world needs more of, and these are a terrific way to kick off a party. Make a little spread: spiced nuts, a cocktail of sorts, some olives, charcuterie, cheeses and these. If you don’t have, or like, Gruyere, you can swap in other hard cheeses (parm, pecorino romano, a hard gouda) and probably manage just fine. I don’t add any salt to these because the cheese, itself, is plenty salty, so if you must use salt, do it gingerly. Should you make these cookies and bring them to a party, I can pretty much guarantee you they’ll disappear in no time – and you’ll be the talk of the town. Not too shabby for something with only four ingredients, right?
Gruyere and Black Pepper Cookies
These are best the day they are made, but can keep for a few days if you need to make them in advance. As I mentioned above, just about any hard cheese will do here – see what your preference is. I very much like the punch and funk of Gruyere. Tightly wrapped, the dough will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
8 ounces (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces (227 grams; 2 cups) Gruyere, freshly grated
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350[dg]F; position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. In a large bowl of a stand mixer set at low speed, beat the flour, butter, Gruyere, and black pepper until stiff dough forms. For a couple of minutes, the dough will look dry and will not come together; keep mixing and you will see it form into a ball. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and roll each piece into a 9-inch log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill the dough, in the refrigerator, for about 1 hour – it will make the slicing easier. Alternatively, if making this ahead, you can freeze the dough for up to 2 months and let it sit 15 minutes at room temperature before slicing.
2. Slice the logs into 1/3-inch thick cookies and arrange the slices on 2 large, nonstick baking sheets. You should place the cookies about 2 inches apart from one another. They will spread somewhat in the oven, and you don’t want them to stick together. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cookies turn golden brown around edges, shifting and rotating the pans halfway through baking for even browning. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store the cooking in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Makes about 60 cookies