The Ren Faire With an “e” and a Recipe for Rosemary Shortbread


In this column, Katherine Knowles divulges recipes you can make in your tiny New York City kitchen.

Though I honestly can’t imagine anything worse than standing around in a field dressed as a wench in the rain, for Jenn and Allan, the Ren Faire was a Sunday to savor.

“There was even an aerialist show!” I hear those were pretty popular back in yore.

“You guys should come with us next time!” they enthused, citing the falconry, the jousting, and the apple cider donuts as incentives. I was straight up anti-, and even my husband Jon, open-minded to a fault, was nonplussed. He grew up in a Scottish farmhouse so old that it had arrow slits in the upstairs windows, so he had rather more first hand experience of Renaissance living than the rest of us.

“There are kick-ass jugglers,” Allan noted, but this did nothing to tip the balance.

“I used to have a Saturday job at the local castle,” said Jon, “giving guided tours. And we had to wear costumes. Full-on Paige Boy costumes. I was a teenager. ” We all let this humiliation sink in for a moment. “My days of tights are behind me,” he added, but there was something in his tone. Was it wistfulness, perhaps? Something akin to Proust remembering Madeleines.

Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread a.k.a. Grange Disks
Shortbread is one of the oldest recipes imaginable — dating back to Medieval times, a close cousin of the rusk. I learned tidbits like this, as well as how to cook, at a school called The Grange, where, every week, we’d make these to use up left-over cheese in the kitchen. By any other name, I suppose these flaky tender biscuits would be rosemary parmesan shortbreads, but to me, eternally, Grange Disks.

1 cup flour
¾ cup grated parmesan
1 scant tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
100g (1 stick ,usually) soft butter
1 extra large egg yolk
pinch of salt

Mix everything together in a bowl until combined. Divide the mixture in half to make life easier, then roll the dough into a sausage about the height of a poker chip. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for half an hour in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 1 centimeter slices (if it crumbles, press back together). Put the cookies on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until just golden at the edges. Eat warm.

Other combinations you might like to try:
Blue cheese and a little bit of fresh sage
Cheddar and a small blob of grain mustard
Rosemary and any kind of hard cheese
Pesto and parmesan



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