I’ve been setting goals, reaching targets and flat out missing them from an early age; no doubt, so have you. For example, at 5 I realized I couldn’t sit at the colouring table and be taken seriously by my classmates with a thumb stuck in my mouth. I set myself a goal to quit and (as far as you know) I no longer suck my thumb. At 12, I decided I was going to make a bunch of cash babysitting and save for something really important which for the next few years, I did. Then we moved to a small town, and at 15 I blew my small fortune on potato wedges and boot legged beer for bush parties. At 17, I decided to save up and move to England after high school; I did and it was more educational than the 4 years I spent in university, though that too, was a significant goal to achieve. I took a yoga teacher training class thinking that I’d like to be a yoga instructor and realized that in fact I simply wanted to deepen my personal practice. I prefer to have that be a place where I can work on myself in the back row vs. leading at the front.
My point, is that we set goals, we visualize targets and we let our arrows fly. There are times we hit the bullseye, gaining the experience and results we initially expected and continue to head in a set direction. Other times we miss by a long shot and our arrows land somewhere unexpected, but no less significant, and reroute our goals entirely.
My furiously curiously travelling pal Jhyl, writes eloquently on a related subject and it’s worth a read.
I’ve begun to pay attention to where the arrows land when I miss the bullseye, and ironically it’s those perceived misses that have led me to the things I love most. The beauty of taking a shot is that it always lands somewhere new and you can pick up the arrow at any time to take another shot.
A word about these bullseye cookies. Up until I had them rolled out, cut and on the baking sheet, I thought they were going to flop. The dough was so crumbly that calling it dough couldn’t have been farther from the truth. It made me want to curl up and suck my thumb. The next day I gently remixed the dough, adjusting the butter by adding a bit more to help it hold together. The cookies baked perfectly and received rave reviews, but who knows what the next new recipe holds. It’s all just target practice.
Apricot Passionfruit Jam
7-8 apricots (1 lb)
2 passion fruits
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbls white wine
1/2 a vanilla bean pod, split
Remove pits from apricots and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Strain passion fruit well, to extract all the juice leaving seeds behind. In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, combine apricots, passion fruit juice, sugar, wine and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer, while stirring frequently. Cook until the juice released covers the fruit, about 5 minutes.
Pour cooked fruit into a strainer set over a bowl and drain off juice. Return juice to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally until the juice has reduced by half, into a syrup, 7-8 minutes. Return apricots and vanilla bean to the pot with syrup and bring to a simmer. Stir frequently, and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into a sterilized jar. Set aside to cool.
*If you are making this jam to store for a length of time, be sure to follow proper canning procedures.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Bullseye Shortbread Cookies
1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
large pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
extra icing sugar for sprinkling
In a mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sifted icing sugar, salt and vanilla together until well combined, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and add flour, resume mixing at a low speed until just combined. Remove bowl and give the dough a final mix with a spatula. The dough will appear to be quite crumbly.
Transfer the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, fold plastic over top and press the dough out to about a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Chill in the refrigerator over night.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, move the racks to the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from the fridge and cut off 1/3. Return remaining dough to the fridge to wait.
On a flour surface, gently kneed the dough until it has softened a bit and is easier to work with. Again, this dough is very crumbly but it’s worth the aggravation as that’s also why it produces such a beautifully fragile shortbread cookie. Don’t be afraid to press it firmly into itself as you shape it into a rectangular shape. Flour it again and roll it out gently with a rolling pin. If the dough cracks and breaks, simply push it back into itself and continue to roll until about 3/16 inch thick. You’ll see that it does come together and roll out nicely.
Use 2 - 2 1/2” round cookie cutter and place cookies a few inches apart on a parchment lined sheet. Repeat process with the remaining dough and dough scraps. Cut a 1/2 inch hole from the centre of half the unbaked cookies (I used a large piping tip).
Bake the cookies until they are firm and have a slightly golden colour. Depending on your oven 12-18 minutes. Rotate the sheets at the 8 or 9 minute mark for a more even bake. You may also want to double pan the bottom tray or simply rotate the top and bottom trays half way through baking.
Allow cookies to cool. Turn the cookies without holes over and spoon on preserves. Sift icing sugar over the cookie tops and place onto the jammed up bases.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
They won’t last that long.
Makes about 24 sandwich cookies
Cookie recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri’s Bake
Photos and Apricot Passion Fruit Jam recipe by Maggie Murphy