I have a weakness for auctions, antiques fairs and junk shops. I love prowling round looking for bits and pieces to add to my already overloaded shelves. There’s scarcely a cupboard in the house that doesn’t contain assorted plates, bowls and what dealers these days call kitchenalia. Hideous word.
I found this lovely flower-patterned shortbread pricker at an antiques fair in Norfolk and couldn’t wait to put it to use.
NB if you don’t have rice flour or semolina, increase the amount of wheat flour. The shortbreads won’t have quite the same snap and crunch but they’ll still be good. Don’t, as I once did, use coarse polenta. It was like chewing on fine grit.
Pistachio Shortbreads (makes around 18)
200g plain flour
100g rice flour or semolina
200g room temperature butter
100g caster sugar
60g shelled pistachios, finely crushed
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
Sift the two flours together in a large bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Put the two mixtures together and work with your fingertips to make a smooth dough. Briefly work in the chopped pistachios.
Place on a work surface and pat or roll out to 5mm thick. A sheet of cling film top and bottom or better yet, a silicone mat, help stop the dough sticking.
Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut the size you like, then place on an ungreased baking sheet and prick all over - a fork is fine.
Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for another 8-10 minutes. You may need to do them in batches.
Keep an eye on them, they should be pale in colour, not brown. Mine were a bit overdone. Sorry, I haven't had time to re-cook and re-shoot this week, I've been too busy at work, watching rabbits cook over an open fire and visiting a new gin distillery. It's a varied life, being a food and features writer.
Anyway, back to the shortbreads: let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. They'll keep well for a week in an airtight tin, if they last that long.