12 July 2020: Cheddar and Chive Scones

When we owned our Westford house, we always had a vegetable and herb garden. Among the things we grew were chives – and those of course grew prolifically. I love chives and added them to cottage cheese and egg dishes and as a garnish for soups. When we picked up our CSA share this weekend, we received a rather large bunch of beautiful chives, so of course I felt challenged to find a way to use them.

As one who enjoys baking, when I came across this recipe for a savory scone which would also make good use of our chives, it seemed liked this recipe was calling to me.

Whole Foods Cheddar and Chive Scones

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk plus 2 TBSP for brushing over scones
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped chives (I used 1/4 cup and liked the density better)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 TBSP chilled butter
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp or aged cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk and the eggs until blended.
  3. Stir in chives and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until resembling coarse meal. Stir in cheddar cheese.
  5. Add milk mixture and stir just until moist clumps form (do not overmix or scones will be tough).
  6. Trun out dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Cut dough in half and flatten each half into a 8-inch round 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Cut each round into 6 wedges and place the wedges on a parchment lined sheet.
  8. Brush tops of scones with milk and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.


05 July 2020: Strawberry Cake

It’s strawberry season in New England! Along with shortcake and whipped cream, the possibilities are endless.

Back when I used to go to strawberry fields and pick outrageously large quantities of strawberries, I would make jar upon jar of strawberry jam. The ruby-red jam bubbling in a pot would emit the most wonderful smell: warm, steamy, and sweet. Pulling this cake out of the oven after an hour brought me right back to those days. Top off the warm cake with a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and you will not be disappointed.

Rather than the traditional biscuit, this is more of a buttery pound cake and it is delicious! And come on, you can’t go wrong with Martha Stewart!

Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Cake

Ingredients

  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened; plus additional for the pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Method

Preheat oven to 305 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie place. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar into an electric mixer bowl. Mix on medium-high speed until pales and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, mix in egg, milk and vanilla.

Transfer batter to pie place. Arrange strawberries on top of butter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 TBSP sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch (about 1 hours). Let cool in pie place on a wire rack. Cut into wedges.


26 June 2020: The Perfect Scone

Up until about a week ago, we have been without an oven for about two months. As you can imagine, that put quite a damper on baking during our self-quarantine; no home-baked bread, and no morning baked treats. Happily, we were able to resolve some installation issues in our kitchen and now have a working stove and oven at the ready.

One of my favorite breakfast pastries is a scone, so it seemed like the celebration of a return to baking should include a batch of them. This is my current favorite recipe, a guide really, for scone-making. It includes some really helpful techniques that result in flaky, buttery scones and can be adapted for different add-ins and flavors of sweet scones.

Sally’s Baking Addiction: How to Make Perfect Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (FROZEN – this is key)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or buttermilk (plus additional for brushing)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups add-ins (chocolate chips, berries, fruits, nuts, etc.)
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon, coarse sugar, toppings/icings etc.)

Method

  1. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter using a box grater. Add it to the flour mixture and combine with a pastry cutter (2 forkes, fingers) until the mixture comes together in pea-sized crumbs. Place this mixture in the refrigerator or freezer as you mix the wet ingredients together.
  2. Whisk 1/2 cup cream/buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the flour mixture, add the add-ins of choice, then mix together until everything appears moistened.
  3. To make triangle scones pour onto counter and, with floured hands, work dough into a ball as best you can (dough will be sticky). If too sticky, add a little more flour, if too dry, ad 1-2 more Tbsp cream. Press into an 8-inch disk and cut into 8 wedges.
  4. To make 10-12 drop scones keep mixing dough in the bowl until it comes together. Drop scones, about a 1/4 cup of dough each, 3 inches apart on a (parchment) lined baking sheet.
  5. Brush with milk.
  6. Meanwhile preheat over to 400 degrees F. Drop scones or place triangle cut scones on parchment lined sheet and refrigerate while oven preheats.
  7. Bake for 18-26 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on the top. (Larger scones will take 25 minutes or so). Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before topping (optional).
  8. Leftovers will keep at room temperature for 2 day or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

15 June 2020: Broccoli Raab with Garlic, White Beans, Tomatoes and Parmesan

As we went into quarantine at the beginning of March, I began to consider making changes to food-sourcing. We were able to get food using food delivery or food pick-up services, but I wanted to go a step further in support of local food sources by joining a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture distribution. We bought a summer vegetable share at our local farm, Farmer Dave‘s which we just began picking up each Saturday.

One of the challenges I found from our previous CSA membership was finding ways to use the distribution so that none is wasted. This year, I’ve been more able to do that with a published “what’s in the box” list that comes out well before weekly meal planning takes place. This was a suggestion for using the broccoli raab and it is not only delicious, it was quick to pull together – and vegetarian (vegan without the parmesan).

Recipe from Vegetarian Times, linked here.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 12-oz. bunches Broccoli Raab, trimmed and coarsley chopped (or use Swiss chard)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish (or use pine nuts)

Method

  • In wok or skillet over medium high heat, heat 2 TBSP of oil. Add the garlic and saute until it sizzles, then add broccoli raab and red pepper flakes.
  • Season with salt and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until broccoli raab is wilted. Remove to a serving platter.
  • Add remaining 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the skins brown and tomatoes begin to split.
  • Stir in the drained white beans and cook 2 to 3 more minutes or until heated through. Spoon the tomato-bean mixture over the broccoli raab.
  • Garnish with Parmesan or pine nuts. Serves 5.


08 June 2020: Red Curry Cauliflower with Tofu

When you hear the name Joanne Chang do you think first of Flour Bakery’s fabulous baking and pastry? I do. But, because we also live near Boston, we have had the pleasure of visiting the restaurant, Myers + Chang and long-admired the wonderful dishes coming from the M+C kitchen.

When we moved from our rental to our condo, Adrien bought the Myers + Chang At Home cookbook for us as a house-warming. I’ve played with trying out a few of the recipes and they are incredible. With more at-home cooking going on these days – and more plant-based eating – I decided to give this recipe, Red Curry Cauliflower With Tofu, a try.

The recipe calls for a Vegetarian Curry Sauce which can be made ahead. In pre-retirement days I would have found some off-the-shelf substitute for the curry sauce, which would have been a huge mistake. Combining the elements (red curry paste, lime, coconut milk, Madras curry powder, oil and brown sugar) was easy and flavorful. The rest of the cooking involved stir-frying tofu, cauliflower florets and a quick simmering in the homemade curry sauce.

Delicious then, and delicious as leftovers the next day!


2 April 2020: Ellie Krieger’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

_DSC9169While we are all sheltering in place I can imagine that people are indulging in some comfort foods. This is a recipe that helped me not only use the blueberries I bought, but use up the yogurt we had in the fridge as well. Also, it satisfied a craving I had for something sweet.  As expected, it was delicious! Ellie Krieger, who hosts Healthy Appetite on the Food Network and Good Food on PBS, always finds a way to make things more healthy – and a little more guilt-free. Follow Ellie Kreiger on her website here.

Ellie Kreiger’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP granuated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter (room temperature)
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 c fresh blueberries (or used frozen & thaw first)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray (I used two mini loaf pans in place of 1 larger pan).
  2. Whisk together the AP flour and whole-wheat flour, the baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together granulated sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. In a large bowl (mixer), beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. (this needs to be smooth and lump-free). Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and the yogurt.
  3. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring until just combined.
  4. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pans (or if using 2 mini pans, spread 1/4 of the batter in each of the mini pans). Sprinkle half (quarter in each for mini pans) the nut mixture over the batter and top with blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan(s), smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the top(s), pressing gently. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes (my oven needed closer to 40). Let cool slightly and the unmold and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

 


21 March 2020: Tuscan Soup With White Beans

 

_DSC9156

Ever since we learned our granddaughter has an egg sensitivity, we have been eating more plant-based and vegan meals. Recently I discovered a really great website, A Couple Cooks. Sonja and Alex, the authors of this blog have some terrific ideas for meals – some vegan, some vegetarian, some whole food – as well as other information about travel and lifestyles.

As I write this post, we are feeling the beginning effects of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Massachusetts. We are hunkering down so as not to contribute to the spread of the virus, and so a little comfort food seemed in order. This tuscan bean soup was warm and comforting and easy to make. The only change needed was to substitute celery for fennel due to being unable to purchase fennel when I shopped. Still delicious!

Tuscan Soup With White Beans

Recipe from A Couple Cooks website

Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale or other dark leafy greens
  • 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or canned broth)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Pecorino cheese to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop the fennel bulb (reserve some springs for a garnish). Wash and roughly chop the kale. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, the saute the fennel for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 8 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, water, and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and add the red pepper flakes, dried basil, smoked paprika and kosher salt.
  6. Add the kale and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with grated Pecorino (if not going vegan) and fennel springs.

 


05 Jan 2020:Harvest Grain Bread

DSC_0041-1This year, my – or is it our – intention is to eat more whole grains. Since I’m mostly committed to baking my own bread as well, I’ve had to do some research into whole grain baking. It is different!

King Arthur Flour maintains a great source of recipes, supplies and tips for all levels of bakers. If you haven’t been on their site recently, take a look – there’s sure to be something you’ll be motivated to bake.  While this recipe calls for KAF’s Harvest Grain Blend, you certainly can blend your own concoction of seeds and grains according to taste.

This bread takes about 11 hours from start to finish, so mixing up the dough the night before and doing the bake in the morning is probably the most efficient way to make it.

No Knead Harvest Grains Bread from King Arthur Flour 

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups (390g) High-gluten flour or King Arthur unbleached AP flour
  • 1 cup (113g) white whole wheat flour OR 100% whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (149g) KAF Harvest Grains Blend
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cup (397g) cool water

Method

  • Using your hands or a mixer (what I used) at slow speed, mix all the ingredients until the flour has been incorporated and a sticky dough forms. Continue to knead the dough gently for 2 to 3 minutes longer until it is somewhat smooth.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 8 hours; it’ll become bubbly and rise quite a bit.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and form it into a round loaf to fit a 9″ to 10″ round lidded baking crock. (I used my heavy dutch oven)

—— Here’s where I did things differently (my suggestions follow)

  • Place the dough in the lightly greased crock, smooth side up. Cover with the lid and let rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes. It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand.
  • Put the bread in a cold oven, and set the oven temperature to 450°F.
  • Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, until it becomes deep brown in color, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers about 205°F.
  • Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out onto a rack, and cool before slicing.

DSC_0037-1So as it turns out, I’ve had good results baking the bread in the same way that I’ve baked the No Knead White Bread previously posted on this blog.  So if you are willing to trust the force, here’s how I finished things up:

  • Put a heavy enamel, lidded dutch oven into the cold oven (you may need to remove a rack to make sure things fit) and fire up the oven to 500 degrees F.  While the oven preheats, shape the dough into a 9″ – 10″ circle and, seam side down, place it on parchment paper. The paper will become a sling for lifting the dough into the dutch oven so it needs to be about an 18 inch square.  I usually put the dough/parchment sling in a fry pan just to help the dough keep its shape.
  • Once the oven reaches 500, turn it down to 425 degrees F. Remove the lid from the dutch oven, lower the parchment sling/dough into the dutch oven, replace the lid and bake for 25 minutes.
  • At the end of 25 minutes, remove the lid from the dutch oven. Continue to bake lid-less for 10-15 minutes.
  • At the end of THIS baking period, carefully lift the bread by the parchment and place it on a wire rack to cool. Good luck waiting until it’s cool enough.

30 Dec 2019: Back to Basics: No Knead Bread

DSC_0022-1I used to bake bread all of the time and, for a while, I was the proud owner of a bread bucket courtesy of my mother-in-law which we used to turn out several loaves of bread at a time.

While bread-making doesn’t intimidate me, I fell out of the habit sometime when I went back to school and only occasionally made bread until I discovered this recipe for No Knead Bread which was originated by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. And while the original is delicious, the improved loaf suggested by Cook’s Illustrated in this post on Epicurious is genius. Who knew adding beer and vinegar would make bread better?

This is not a recipe that can be rushed. I usually start the dough about 18 hours before I’d like to bake, which can be a challenge for busy schedules! But trust me, the end result is well worth the planning.

Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread

Downloaded from Epicurious.com (October 1, 2015)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour (I used King Arthur unbleached)
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager (Budweiser for the win)
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar

Method:

  1. Whisk flour, yeast and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
  3. Lay 12- to 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
  4. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slit along top of dough.
  5. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
  7. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

A Quebecois Treat for Christmas

DSC_0017-1Baked from “Sap Happy” written by OLIVER SCHWANER-ALBRIGHT. New York Times, March 2, 2008

I’m sure there are other more traditional sweets from my husband’s Québécois heritage that we could roll out for the holidays, but this one was a special family request: Sugar Pie (always Maple) or Tarte au Sucre.  It ticks all of the boxes for Québécois delights – maple sugar and fat, in this case butter and cream.

While we’ve both enjoyed my mother-in-law’s recipes for sugar pie – she had two – but this one from Chantal Séquin seems to be more a more traditional take on the tarte au sucre we’ve sampled in Montréal, so we went with that this holiday season.

Joyeaux Noël!

Tarte au Sucre (Maple Syrup Pie) based on a recipe by Chantal Séquin

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup maple syrup, preferably medium dark

Crème fraîche, for serving.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the crust (we’ve also used a good quality pre-made crust, especially handy for those who are pastry-challenged) by combining the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Sprinkle a tablespoon of ice water at a time over the dough, lifting and tossing it with the fork. When it begins to come together, gather the dough, press it into a ball and then pull it apart. If it crumbles in your hands, it needs more water. Add a teaspoon or two more water, as needed.

2. Flatten the ball of dough and roll between two sheets of plastic wrap into a circle 10 inches in diameter. Remove the plastic and lay the dough into a 9-inch tart pan, press into place and remove excess dough. Place in the freezer.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling by beating the eggs in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the flour. Add the cream and maple syrup and whisk until combined.

Pour into the crust-lined pan. (Helpful hint: protect the crust edges with foil to prevent burning). Cook until the middle still jiggles but is solid, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with crème fraîche.

Serves 12.

 

 


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