Times Top 5: Butter Cookies and a Better Pot Roast

From the NY Times Dining Section 12.17.08

Butter is supremely important in the structure of perfect shortbread and sugar cookies, and in the Times Dining section, you can read all about how to tell when butter is soft enough (but not too soft) to cream, how long to cream it, and on what speed. There are butter cookie recipes, plus meringues and a flanken pot roast in today's roundup...

1. Cream butter and sugar for three minutes on medium—not high—speed. And never microwave your butter to get it soft. Those are the instructions from several pastry and baking experts in this article on butter cookies. We're craving shortbread now.

2. Ever cooked with flanken? Melissa Clark tries a new cut of meat for a moist, tender pot roast.

3. The Minimalist goes super minimal with meringues. Bittman likes his with some chewiness at the center.

4. Christmas at Elizabeth David's table. A new book from the influential food writer was compiled after her death from a box of materials marked "Christmas."

5. In-depth look at Rocco DiSpirito. His culinary talents have taken a back seat to his television appearances lately, but this is an interesting look at his childhood and the grief he gets for his career choices.

Related: Last week's Top 4: Lobsters on Sale!

(Image: Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times)