Almond Cranberry scones



 

Every morning I have a pretty constant routine (be it 6am on my week off or 6pm of the work week). Wake up, lay in bed and think of a reason to get out of bed, remember that I get to eat again, and then make my way downstairs. Once the coffee is brewed and breakfast prepared, I turn on the Today program.  I love the Today program.  This week I have been unable to watch this program or really any news or talk-show.   Why?  William and Kate…they are everywhere and I am slightly annoyed.  

Maybe its because I think it should be a more private affair, or that the 34million could be spent on so many other things, or that I don’t know what fabric type could cost $400,000 (cost of wedding dress!!!), or maybe its because I am jealous of all the above?!  (all my facts came from a morning radio show….see its infiltrated even the country radio station!)   So I am not going to be watching on Friday morning and will only see her gown on the front of People at the grocery checkout.  However, while I boycott this viewing, I don’t want to be left out (I feel conflicted) so instead of watching, I decided to celebrate the event by baking scones.  What could be more British?

I have made and enjoyed many a scone in my lifetime.  Heavier than a cookie but sweeter than a biscuit.  Its a great treat any time of the day.  I mean the British really have something here.   I compiled all my scone recipes from various sources and tried to figure out the ingredient proportions.  This is not easy and I found it frustrating, but I fumbled along.  I mean is there a reference out there describing the basic proportions needed for cookies, cakes, bread, etc…I would love to trial and error the proportions of dry to wet ingredients, and 1 egg vs 2 eggs, etc…but my food budget is not unlimited, plus what would I do with all that food!?  So, I am reduced down to looking at other’s recipes and altering small things here and there to make them feel like my own (when I know they’re not since I haven’t put as much work and effort into changing them as their test kitchens have spent in creating them…to have a test kitchen!) OK done dreaming…

After studying these recipes, I figured I could create my own ( cocky I know…).  I made them with the basic ingredients; butter, cream, baking powder, sugar, flour, along with dried fruit and chocolate.  They came out pretty good, but definately needed some tweaks.  They resembled and tasted more like biscuits than scones.  So I went back to the drawing board and recipe pile and changed some things, mainly increasing sweetness among other things.  This result is much better and full of flavor (what was lacking in the first batch).    If you would like other scone recipes, I gained most of my information from foodnetwork.com and allrecipes.com.

 

Ingredients

(Makes 8 LARGE scones for 8 HUNGRY people)

  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup granulated white sugar + plus extra for topping
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder (make sure its not outdated…fresher the better)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 12 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (1+1/2 sticks) – cold and diced
  • 1+1/4 Cup heavy cream (calorie free kind – ha!)
  • 1 Cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup toasted almond slivers (toss in skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes until slightly brown - watch carefully not to burn, let cool before adding to mixture)
  • 1/2 Cup chocolate chips (milk, dark, semi-sweet…your choice here – I like dark with cranberries)

 

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, lemon zest in large bowl.
  3. Cut in chilled butter with pastry blender, hands, or stand mixer using paddle attachment (what I used this time around).  Butter should be pea-sized when finished. 
  4. Mix in heavy cream until the dough begins to come together. – Don’t over work.
  5. Mix in cooled almonds, dried cranberries, chocolate chips. 
  6. Empty out onto a floured surface and shape into a round disk
  7. Roll dough out to 1 inch thickness.  Roll it into a circle and cut it into triangles or use a biscuit cutter for round ones – be creative!
  8. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar.  I like to line mine with parchment paper (easier clean up) 
  9. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Cool on wire rack or eat right away with a nice pat of butter :)

* The dough can be made, refrigerated, and baked off when needed, say for breakfast the next morning (wrap tightly and use within 1 day of making). 

*Baked scones can be frozen – wrap tightly/airtight.

*To reheat loosely wrap scones in aluminium foil and heat at 250°F for 5-10 minutes if scones are at room temperature or refrigerated, heat at 350°F for 15 – 20 minutes if frozen. (Information gained from Simply Scones).

Oh and my tulips have bloomed!

Spring Pasta

 

It’s Asparagus season!  Sadly, the appearance of asparagus is the only sign of spring in Ohio.  Today was an exception, it was warm, breezy (darn right windy by most accounts), and only rained for a little while in the afternoon.  I decided to take advantage of this lovely weather and do some much needed lawn work…heck it could snow tomorrow!  There were a few spots in my yard that needed to be torn up and reseeded…I don’t think this would have been a problem had the ground not been sopping wet, but like I said earlier it could snow tomorrow! So I spent my afternoon gloriously kneeling in mud getting up close and personal with the resident earthworms and ants (they bite!).  After 5 hours I was finished and hungry!  Light headed and stomach growling hungry.  Since it was 4 and a little late for lunch, I decided to have an early dinner (very early by my accounts). How senior citizen of me.   


 
Well back to the point of this post…can you guess what I had for dinner (lunner? dinch?)  Asparagus it is!  After opening a beer (Bells Oberon) I re-entered the kitchen. Hungry as I was, I wasn’t willing to wait very long for nourishment.  Pasta is my go to in these moments.  I love pasta…any and all.  Plain, in sauce, tossed with cheese, etc…Bubba Gump it.  

 

 

Today I used the asparagus I gathered at the store yesterday along with some cherry tomatoes.  I roasted the above mentioned vegetables, and tossed it with some rotini.   Shaved Parmesan finished it off just nicely.  It hit the spot and kept me in a spring state of mind!

 

 

 

 

I put the extra pasta in sealed containers and stored them in the freezer.  Dinner is served for work next week.  Two birds, one stone! (if only the stone could hit the real birds eating the grass seed I put down…I now know the purpose of straw) We will see if it freezes well, however I will eat almost anything at 3am.  

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

 

  • 25-35 stalks of asparagus, bend the stalks until they snap.  Toss the stalks or freeze them and find a use for them at a later date.  
  • about 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half long ways
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil – 1 Tablespoon for each vegetable
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 1 lb of pasta ( I used whole wheat rotini, but penne or even spaghetti would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Bring to boil a large pot of water and liberally salt (should taste like the sea).  If the water isn’t flavored then the pasta won’t be.
  3. While water is coming to a boil, snap asparagus, cut tomatoes, and mince garlic.  
  4. Toss the asparagus, tomatoes, and garlic in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place on baking sheet. Top the tomatoes with ribbons of basil.  I separated the tomatoes from the asparagus on the baking sheet.  Try not to have any veggies overlapping, should be a single layer – ensuring even roasting.
  5. Place in oven for 12 minutes.  Asparagus will be tender and tomatoes almost bursting.  
  6. Add pasta to boiling water (at about the same time the vegetables go in the oven) and cook until al-dente (normally 8 minutes).  When done, strain.
  7. Remove vegetables from oven.  Slice the asparagus into smaller 1-2 inch segments (more bite size).  Place vegetables and the pan juices into a serving dish.  
  8. Toss with cooked pasta
  9. Finish with Parmesan cheese.

I had made some pesto earlier (will have its own post) and a dollop of that mixed in was especially good.  So enjoy this dish as is or try with some fresh pesto!  Oh and mushrooms would be lovely in this…I will remember that after my next lawn work day.  

 

 

Kale Chips

 

 

I didn’t believe it.  Nopers.  Not a chance.  Never in a million years did I believe all the hubbub about a green leafy vegetable becoming crispy and as tasty as a potato chip.  I mean, come on…potato chips rock. 

Whats the hubbub?  You haven’t heard?  OK, maybe I watch too many talk and food shows, sue me.  The claim is, that by simply dressing kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper and baking/roasting them that they will emerge from your oven not limp and wimpy but crispy, crunchy, lightly salty, and delicious.  You can see why I was skeptical. 

 I have never in my life eaten kale.  I have seen it mingling with the other vegetables in the produce isle or acting as a garnish at the local eatery, but I have never ever thought of eating it.  Maybe I am alone in this, but I don’t think I am.  It is not a very inviting vegetable and it blends in with the other greens therefore it is easily ignored and overlooked.  Not today, no sirree.  It took me a while to find, nestled ever so snugly between the collard and mustard greens.  

 

I can’t say I was worried about wasting money and or food if these turned out to be a flop….three bunches cost me whopping $0.93.  Almost broke the bank.  I wish red peppers or tomatoes were that cheap – ha! However, that 0.93 cents was well spent.  Kale chips are amazingly good.  They leave the oven crispy, crunchy, and the texture is similar to a potato chip (not as substantial though).  The bitterness of the raw vegetable is gone and left is a salty, peppery, and almost sweet flavor.  I enjoyed them and the fact that they are a quilt free snack!  Hell, its down right healthy!  Score one for the waistline! 

Ingredients

  • 3 Kale bunches ( there are about 5 varieties, any of which could be used)
  • 2-3 Tablespoonfuls Olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste – I used 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Line baking tray with parchment paper
  3. Rinse and dry kale bunches
  4. Cut kale into small pieces – chip size if you will, removing the center stem (tough)
  5. Toss olive oil, salt, and pepper with kale in a large bowl.  Use your hands to ensure good coverage on all ‘chips’
  6. Pour onto prepared baking sheet
  7. Bake/roast for about 35 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and enjoy!

* Adding some grated parmesan when it comes out of the oven would be a nice cheesy addition to this treat.  I would reduce the salt if this is done since parm. is considered salty! 

*Not many pictures of final product, they do turn a very dark green almost blackened…not picture worthy really.  When I can get a good one, I’ll update !

Oh and my daffodils are blooming :)

Apple and Pear pie

What happens when you find yourself with 5 apples and 2 pears peeled and sliced, the cornstarch, sugar, and nutmeg all measured and mixed and you can’t find the cinnamon?  ( I know you are supposed to check for all supplies before starting, but I’m just not good at that, period.)  Once I pulled my head out of my spice/baking cupboard and stopped sneezing, I asked myself ….How can I make an apple pie without cinnamon?  And when did I run out of cinnamon?  Oh yeah…I made 50 pie crust cinnamon rolls yesterday using my last of the spice.  Beagles!  Crap or well I think I said another four letter expletive, but ah well.  After I gathered myself and figured I’d still eat it even if it was lacking something (I like pie that much) I found a container of ground ginger and figured why not ? So in went some ginger.  I am happy to say I am not missing the cinnamon! 

If you read my previous blog post (Pie Crust Take 2), I mentioned that I would probably not use the crust containing lard for sweet pies, but when you find yourself with 3 rounds of the dough in the fridge from a previous experiment, a supply of apples and pears,  and you were raised not to waste food, you use the dough and deal.  I mean its still going to be good and trust me it is wonderful.  The sweetness of the pie filling in combination with the almost salty ( I can’t find a word to describe its flavor yet) pie crust…its a nice contrast.  This is not to say that I won’t or don’t like sugar in my crusts, this was just a nice surprise. 

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Pie Crust … Take 2!

 

Yesterday or the day before, anyway it was a Monday and it happened to be my first night back to work when I decided to start an experiment.  You can read about this undertaking in the previous blog, but to cut to the point, I am in search of a great pie crust and to set my mind at ease. I understand that pie crust is not something that is on most peoples minds, but for this gal it is.  Maybe it is because once you have a great pie crust, it is forever imprinted on one’s mind.  I want that imprint to be my pie crust.  Also, how can I have a food blog without knowing what pie crust I prefer and what the differences are between the many varieties.  Through my baking journey I have tried many a pie crust recipes, but I have never put them head to head and truly examined the differences.  That is until now…

I spent 5 + hours in my kitchen last night before work kicking out pie crusts.  How many do you ask?  I narrowed it down to 5 different crust recipes to test.  After nearly a sack of flour, a tub of lard and vegetable shortening, and a pound of butter I think I have narrowed my favorite down to 2 or was it 3? 

Before I reveal which crusts I found to be the best and most satisfying to my tastebuds (and fellow taste testers), I should present what recipes I experimented with and the end result of each (pros vs. cons if you will).   The criteria most look for in a pie crust once baked are: flakiness, tenderness, lightness, firmness, and crispiness. Oy vey-ness!  Now The Joy of Cooking cookbook describes (for about 15 pages) the differences between each of the fats and what to expect, but I needed to see and taste the differences for myself.  

In choosing which recipes to try, I went with the most popular combinations of flour to fat (vegetable shortening, butter, and or lard).  Man, I wish lard had a different name.  I guess if thats the least of my worries…

I did not make 5 pies last night, that would have been insane!  Instead I made pie crust cinnamon rolls.   These are so good that they deserve their own blog post.  Mmm…a little taste of childhood. 

So here we go…

*I used a food processor to make all crusts, but if you do not own one the same end result can be reached with a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the fat into the flour and then use a fork to mix in the water.  Again The Joy of Cooking has an entire section devoted to pie crust and all that it entales.  

Directions for all recipes unless otherwise noted are as follows:   Mix dry ingredients together, cut in the fat (vegetable shortening, lard, and or butter) until one has pea sized pieces throughout, and then slowly add the water one tablespoonful at a time mixing with a fork or food processor until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  Do not over work dough!!! 

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