There's nothing tricky about this salad, but for more visual appeal, use a mix of large beefsteak tomatoes, yellow or multi-hued tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes.
On a large...
This week's cookbook giveaway is all about cookies. I own several cookie-centric cookbooks, and I love them all. Cookies are just plain fun to make and to eat. It totally makes sense that cookies are one of the first cooking projects for kids. But when someone comes out with a particularly playful and creative cookie book, my heart skips a beat.
From time to time a cookbook comes out, and I know just by reading through it that the author is a kindred spirit. Cookie Love is one of those books. I've never met Mindy Segal, but I can tell just from reading her recipes that we would get along famously. Her recipes are playful, and the cookies they produce are nothing short of spectacular. My favorites are perhaps the ones that are the most unassuming. There's a lot of perfectly-executed subtlety in this book.
For instance, one of the first recipes I tried from this book was the Goat Butter Shortbread. It's a pretty simple shortbread recipe, but the combination of flavorful goat butter with a touch of toasted wheat germ and whole wheat flour is just perfection. Another good example is the recipe for Dream Bars. It's just a buttery vanilla cookie topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate and a layer of brown sugar meringue. It doesn't look like much. But the flavor is beyond words. I would almost say they're too delicious if that were a thing (it's totally not).
I'm prepared to say that Mindy is the master of the cookie art form. I humbly bow.
Why we picked this book
I feel like I explained it pretty well above, but there are a few other reasons I love this book. A big one for me is that the recipes contain enough salt. I often feel that this is not the case. One of the best things about a great dessert is the balance of salty and sweet. If something doesn't contain enough salt, it's just cloying and lacks balance. I often increase the salt in baking recipes automatically to compensate for this, but Mindy's recipes are well balanced.
I also felt that this book just stood out for me when I was thinking about which cookbooks we loved from the past year. Every recipe is thoughtful. As the title suggests, I get the impression that a lot of love went into the book. Every recipe I've tried from it has not only worked, but has worked perfectly with excellent results. I have a baker's dozen of recipes flagged that I intend to make this December--Lemon Goat Butter Tea Cakes, Smoked Chocolate Sablés, Fleur de Sel Shortbread with Vanilla Halvah, Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam...they've got me hook, line, and sinker.
Why we chose this recipe
As I said above, the subtlety of some of the recipes is what keeps me coming back for more. Just when you thought nothing more could be done with the classic coconut macaroon, Mindy changes one little thing and makes an extraordinary cookie. Instead of the usual sweetened condensed milk, she calls for cream of coconut. I don't hesitate to say that these are the best coconut macaroons I've ever had, and the recipe is incredibly simple.
How to enter this contest
Simply click on this link and enter your name and email address in the form. A winner will be randomly selected, and a book will be mailed to them.
Reprinted with permission from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal (Ten Speed Press). Copyright (c) 2015.
Author's headnote: When looking to create a macaroon that resembled a Mounds bar, I deviated from classic coconut macaroon recipes in a few significant ways. I used two kinds of unsweetened coconut--shredded and flaked--for textural variation. (You can find both kinds in the bulk bins at the grocery store.) Instead of condensed milk, I opted for cream of coconut for sweetness, which is pretty much the condensed milk version of coconut milk. Finally, to give the macaroons a cool shape, I chilled the batter and then packed it into rectangular cookie cutters. Once baked and cooled, I like to dip the bottoms of the macaroons in an array of chocolate, melting 1/2 cup each (in separate bowls) of bittersweet, milk, and caramelized white chocolate wafers for variety.
To make this cookie, you will need a 1 by 2-inch cookie cutter or a 2-inch square cookie cutter. (Full disclosure--I seem to have misplaced my collection of cookie cutters, so I made them in a traditional mounded macaroon shape, but if you have a square or rectangular cookie cutter, I would try Mindy's method.)
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon salt
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
6 ounces chocolate of your choice, melted, for dipping
1. In a bowl, use your hands to mix the shredded and flaked coconut with the salt. Mix in the egg white, followed by the cream of coconut. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, giving the coconut enough time to absorb some of the liquid, at least 2 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Have a nonstick pan ready or line a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Put a 1 by 2-inch (or 2-inch square) cutter on the prepared pan. Spoon some of the macaroon batter into the cutter and pack down slightly to create a rectangle. Leave the top spiky. Repeat with the remaining batter, evenly spacing the cookies on the pan.
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more, or until the tops are golden brown. Let the macaroons cool completely on the pan.
5. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dip the bottoms of the cookies into the melted chocolate, shake off the excess, and place on the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set.
6. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.