Perfect Pairings

From The Yum Yum Factor Blog

by Carole Nelson Brown

Carole's passions for food and her family--although not necessarily in that order--are legendary. From her love of blogging in The Yum Yum Factor, including showcasing delicious and unique ethnic and everyday recipes as well as reviewing local restaurants and other exciting edible happenings in Toronto, to completing a personal challenge of never repeating the same recipe twice for a full year (which proved easier said than done!) to being regularly profiled Canada-wide in the National Post's Gastropost feature, Carole has found her niche in the food world by drawing on her vast travel experience and food knowledge for inspiration as well as the daily ups and downs of her life for humour.

And when she's not busy creating magic in her own kitchen, Carole, an in-demand makeup artist, works her magic on celebrities from Kristen Stewart to Bruce Willis.

Spicy Cheddar Shortbread

paired with Lailey 2012 Chardonnay, Canadian Oak
kwäf Exclusive Price: $19.20

Don't stress over an impromptu holiday cocktail party again with these buttery little beauties. I like to keep a log in the fridge so that I can just slice off as many cookies as I need when people stop by, with the rest of the dough waiting patiently in the freezer until I need some more. You'll always have a fresh batch of warm, savoury shortbread and nobody but you has to know how easy it was.


1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
15 grinds black pepper
2 tbls smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne
200 grams finely grated sharp cheddar (I used Alex Farm Reserve Cheddar - 8yr)
1 cup unbleached flour
lightly toasted pecans
1 egg white
ccoarse salt like kosher for sprinkling on the top (i used fleur de sel but kosher works fine too)
parchment paper


Using either a hand mixer or your stand mixer, cream together the butter, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Now, grab a wooden spoon and start mixing in the cheese and flour a bit at a time until just combined. Use your hands to work the dough until it sticks together and put half of it on a sheet of parchment paper and press it into a log shape, probably about an inch or an inch and a half in diameter. Wrap it up in the parchment and put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. You can also freeze it (i always freeze half to use later) by wrapping the log in a double layer of plastic wrap and then covering that in foil.

Preheat the oven to 350, put the rack in the top third of the oven and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Remove your cookie log from the fridge and carefully slice into 1/4 to 1/8" slices and arrange on the cookie sheet. Brush the tops with some beaten egg white, sprinkle with a touch of course salt and press a chunk of toasted pecan into the centre of each cookie.

Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 15 minutes.
Cool on the baking sheets for five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. If you store them in a tightly covered container in the fridge and just take them out an hour before serving, they will keep for weeks.