Though I have you in my heart, I miss you. My favorite moments were the half-hour we’d spend daily before our family dinner at 7:30 every evening. Like clockwork, I’d come into the family room and find you sitting in the Dad’s chair. I’d yell out a cheery hello and just as I plopped down on the sofa next to you, the evening news would come on. I knew you were trying to watch the news but never did you fail to ask about my day and discuss whatever I had on my mind. After telling you about my pre-teen escapades, which usually weren’t all that exciting, we’d sit quietly and watch the news reports. The stories, though, really didn’t hold much interest for me back then. All I cared about was our one-on-one time before my jokester brother would barge in exactly at dinner time.
Since you were the only person who drank coffee in the family, I think of you when I have mine … daily. Back then, I always loved the smell and the gurgling sound of coffee in the percolator, thinking one day I’d enjoy this adult beverage as well. What you didn’t know (or maybe you did and let me get away with it) is that one time I took a few sips of your coffee, even when you told us we shouldn’t. I don’t think the caffeine kept me up at night. Then again, I might have just tired out from chasing my older brother around the house until he didn’t want to play anymore.
The funny thing is, I really didn’t like the taste of coffee then—YUCK! It was bitter and didn’t have the smoothness that the smell suggested. I wondered what I was going to drink to look like an adult. Well Dad, as you knew, I started liking—and needing—coffee in college. My taste buds grew, as well as my height.
Thank you Dad for introducing coffee to my olfactory senses at an early age, but your guidance on culinary experiences paved the way for my foodie passion. Even though you teased me many times for eating baby corn straight out of a can, today I’d argue that one needs to experience a wide spectrum of food before one can discriminate over what’s good or bad. That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it for the rest of my life.
Of course, I couldn’t quite say that to you back then. It was more like my constant, “I’m hungry!”
So, for Father’s Day and our small chit chats where you offered wisdom that is with me to this day, I created a treat inspired by our times together—Espresso Sables.
I miss you.
recipe inspired by Cook’s Illustrated
yield: 36-40 cookies
1 large egg
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (2-3/4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7-1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon large egg white , lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado or sanding sugar
1. Place egg in small saucepan, cover with 1 inch water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill small bowl with ice water. Using slotted spoon, transfer egg to ice water and let stand 5 minutes. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; discard white. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl.
2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with rubber spatula. Turn mixer to low, add vanilla and coffee extracts, mix until incorporated. Stop mixer; add flour and espresso powder, mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.
3. Divide dough in half; roll each piece into log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper and twist ends to seal and firmly compact dough into tight cylinder. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
4. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using chef’s knife, slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rotating dough with each slice to prevent uneven rounds. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Using pastry brush, gently brush cookies with egg white mixture and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.
5. Bake until centers of cookies are pale golden brown with edges slightly darker than centers, about 14-17 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.