Salty Smoked Pistachio–and-Honey Shortbread Cookies
If you passed my house over the last couple of years, chances are there was a plume of smoke rising from my grill. When neighbors (who have become accustomed to the rib eye aroma and the glowing embers) see me snipping rosemary, they ask what wine to bring for dinner. When I kiss my kids goodnight, they say my hair smells like a campfire. The culmination of all these home fires, Thank You for Smoking, my new cookbook, just hit the stands.To develop the recipes, I rigged my PK Grill as a smoker to season everything from cocktails to quinoa with a whiff of wood smoke. Based on their moisture or density, a few ingredients quickly rose to the top as favorites for smoking: namely, nuts. Thanks to their natural fat content, nuts like walnuts, cashews, and pistachios absorb the seductive qualities of wood smoke almost as well as steak. The process deepens their color and infuses them with a rich, bacon-y note. Smoked nuts are delicious on their own (pass the smoked cashews at happy hour, please), but they’re a true game-changer when used for pesto and for baked confections like quick breads, cakes, and cookies.Enter: the smoked pistachio shortbread cookie. The swoony flavor of smoked pistachios permeates the meltingly tender cookies the way a cross breeze whisks through a lakeside cabin. Lemon zest adds a balancing brightness, but you could also swap in lime zest, chopped fresh rosemary, or coarsely ground pink peppercorns. Use a European-style butter to create a depth that will transport you to a hike through the heather-covered hills of Scotland. Finishing the cookies with a lemony honey and a pinch of flaky salt creates a subtly savory edge that’s delicious with steaming mugs of tea, a nip of single-malt Scotch, or vanilla bean ice cream.