Whenever I visit France, I'm there in search of inspiration. And France never disappoints. Last summer in the south of France, it seems as though every amazing meal I ate incorporated a savory shortbread into the dish.
At Le Château de Mazan (check out the beautiful hotel and restaurant HERE) assorted chilled vegetable purées were piped atop a thin savory cookie.
At Chez Serge in Carpentras, my first course balanced a savory cookie over my smoked salmon.
When I returned home with thoughts of cookies, savory and sweet, I made this dessert of fresh strawberry ice cream topped with strawberry rhubarb compote, and placed it on a pistachio cookie.
... and I continue to dream of ways to include savory pastries (and cookies) in the meals I create.
For this appetizer or first course, I rested a savory jalapeño Havarti custard with honeyed cocktail sauce on top of a delicate cornmeal cookie, then crowned it all with a giant grilled, lemon shrimp. I can't wait to make this part of an al fresco meal on the patio this summer!
I fortunately had some leftover cocktail sauce that a friend made, and which I used in this recipe. * Ina Garten's cocktail sauce (recipe HERE) would be a good substitute. An excellent commercial brand of cocktail sauce would also work as a coating for the custard.
SAVORY CORNMEAL COOKIES
makes 8 cookies
• 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/8 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt or fleur de sel
• 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
• 1 large egg yolk
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the cubed butter and pulse until small pieces form. Add the egg yolk and pulse briefly until the mixture just starts to come together. Do not over mix.
3. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough to approximately 3/8-inch thickness and cut out 3 1/2-inch to 4-inch rounds. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
JALAPENO HAVARTI CUSTARDS
makes 4 servings
• 3 large eggs
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup finely diced Jalapeño Havarti
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 4 tablespoons cocktail sauce (see * above)
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F
2. Prepare four 1/2 cup ramekins by drizzling 1/2 tablespoon honey into each. Gently spread 1 tablespoon cocktail sauce over the honey, evenly coating the bottom of the ramekin.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and Jalapeño Havarti. Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and make a bain-marie (water bath) by pouring hot water in the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
4. Gently slide the baking pan onto the middle rack of the oven and bake the custards for 30 minutes, or until set. When finished baking, remove from the oven and then remove the ramekins from the bain-marie. Cool for 10 minutes.
5. Prepare and grill shrimp while custards are resting.
GRILLED LEMON SHRIMP
• 1 to 2 large shrimp for each serving of savory custard
• Olive oil
• grated lemon zest
• kosher salt
• cilantro, for serving
1. Peel and devein shrimp. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with a good drizzle of olive oil. Add lemon zest and sprinkling of salt.
2. Grill shrimp either on a preheated grill pan indoors or on an outdoor charcoal or gas grill until pink and cooked through.
1. Using a small paring knife, run the tip around the outside of the custards. Top custard with a small plate and invert. Shake to release custard. Place a cookie on a serving plate and using a thin metal spatula center a custard on the cookie. Crown the custard with a grilled shrimp and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Repeat with remaining cookies, custards, and shrimp. Serve immediately.
TAKE a LOOK:
Savory Bacon, Gruyère, and Scallion Muffins. Great as a little pre dinner snack with an apéritif!