Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Mothers' Scones

Whenever we have the opportunity to get to Seattle to spend time with my mother, she always serves us the most delicious orange and cranberry scones for breakfast. Hers are flaky and tender with a delicate flavor of orange along with the ever so tart dried cranberrys scattered throughout. They are something we always look forward to.

I decided to scour my cookbooks and try and find something similar which I did in a recipe by Ina Gartin in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa At Home. Her recipe makes a large quantity so I cut it in half and this makes a dozen 3 inch round scones. The dough was fairly easy to work with but you must make sure you use enough flour on your board when rolling out, as it is a rather wet/soft dough. Also, she says to bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees but watch them very carefully as my first batch turned out a mahagony brown instead of a golden brown after only 16-17 minutes.

Orange and Cranberry Scones

(As adapted from the recipe in Barefoot Contessa At Home)2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for the board and rolling pin
1/8 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling the tops of the scones
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, diced
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silpat mat.

In a bowl for an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest until combined. Add the cold butter and mix at lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Comine the eggs and cream and mix on low speed into the flour and butter mixture and mix just until blended. Combine the dried cranberries into the mixture until just blended.Turn the dough onto a well floured board and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and rolling pin and roll the dough out until it's just under 1 inch thick. Flour a 3 inch round cutter and cut out the dough. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of each scone with egg wash then sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown approximately 20 minutes, depending on your oven. These can be glazed with a mixture of confectioners sugar and orange juice or eaten as is.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Feather Rolls

In my repertoire of recipes I have a few old standards that I turn to time and time again. Every now and then I discover something new to add to that collection and the following is one of them. This is a recipe for wonderful, light and airy yeast rolls that require absolutely no kneading. They just could be easier and the end result is a roll that is great to serve alongside soups or stews.

The entire process for making these Feather Rolls takes approximately 2 hours from start to finish and the beauty is that everything gets beat together in one bowl to rise and then the dough is put in muffin tins for a final rise and that's it. All you need is a little elbow grease to mix the dough together in the bowl. I usually make a double batch and stick a dozen in the freezer to have on hand when the mood strikes for a yummy roll with our dinner.
Feather Rolls
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 Tbsp. cooled, melted butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup tepid milk
2 cups white flourSir the yeast into the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve. Mix the butter, sugar, salt, egg, milk and dissolved yeast in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat vigorously until well blended. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.Stir mixture down and fill buttered muffin tins half full. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F and bake rolls for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown. Makes 1 dozen rolls.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Spring Risotto

When fresh asparagus becomes available in the stores you know Spring has officially arrived. I found some wonderful bunches of young fresh stalks at the local market and had to grab some with no particular recipe in mind.

What I chose to make as a side dish was Roasted Asparagus and Lemon Zest Risotto. I roasted off the asparagus first by placing them on a parchment covered cookie sheet and sprinkling some olive oil, salt and pepper on them and cooking them at 425 deg for about 15 minutes until they were just turning brown. Like other roasted veggies, this technique really amplifies the flavor. The main course was grilled chicken breast paillards seasoned with salt and lemon pepper. I served dinner with a great Chardonnay called Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2006. It was one of those impromtu dinners that turned out great.

I don't really follow a recipe for the risotto but I will try to write down the approximated proportions I used as follows:
Roasted Asparagus and Lemon Zest Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice
1 quart of low sodium, low fat chicken broth
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 bunch of roasted asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat up chicken broth in a separate pan. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add white wine and lemon juice and cook for 1-2 minutes until almost evaporated. Add rice and stir in around in onion mixture until rice starts to look translucent, approx. 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and stir rice occasionally until broth is nearly evaporated. Keep adding chicken broth in 1/2 cup intervals until rice is tender and creamy. It is important to taste test rice toward the end to make sure it is thoroughly cooked through. Add butter, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and asparagus and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Carin's Caramel Corn

A former employee of mine use to make divine caramel corn. She would take orders at work and then go home and make large batches and bring it to us all neatly bagged and sell it for some extra spending money. We were discussing this at work the other day and I said she had actually given me her recipe so I decided I would whip up a batch and surprise the girls on Monday with some of this delightful confection.

It couldn't be more simple to make but does take a time commitment of about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish and a large roasting pan to bake the caramel corn in to dry it out. The beauty of this recipe is that you don't have to worry about using a candy thermometer. It just boils for 5 minutes and it's done. It's fun to watch the mixture change in viscosity from a thin liquid to a molten lava. You will find the end result is a far more delicious product then what you can buy in a cardboard box.Carin's Caramel Corn

6 quarts popped corn (approximately 1 cup unpopped)
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Put popped corn into a large roasting pan which has been sprayed with vegetable spray.In a fairly large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar, syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in soda and vanilla. This will bubble up and double the volume in the pan. Pour all over popcorn and quickly mix well. Put roasting pan in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Store in airtight containers. This recipe can easily be doubled but be sure to use a large pan when cooking the caramel.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chili Con Carne-Pike Place Market Style

I was so sad to discover my favorite chili restaurant was no longer open in Seattle's Pike Place Market when we went for a visit a couple months ago. It was a little tiny shop in the bowels of the market where the feisty owner (he was never very friendly) would ladle out his multiple chili concoctions to us, his lucky patrons. I don't even remember the name of the place but I have such fond memories of wandering around the market doing my shopping on cold, rainy Saturdays and I would either have a lunch of a bowl of chili or go to my other favorite place for a bowl of piping hot wonton soup at the Vietnamese counter restaurant.

Here is my attempt at a meaty, warm, spicy, but not fiery hot chili con carne which I serve over little seashell pasta, topped with sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. This is how I always use to eat it at the restaurant after saying "no thank you" to onions when always asked and getting a scowl from the owner. I'm telling you, he was crabby but boy could he make good chili!Chili Con Carne (This recipe is for 4 servings when combined with pasta)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp California style chili powder (I buy mine in the Hispanic section of my grocery store)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lb chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 can beef broth
1 can drained whole tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 can drained and rinsed pinto beans
3/4 cup dark beer
small seashell pasta, cooked
garnishes of choice (grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, green or white chopped onions)

Saute onions and garlic until soft. Add beef cubes and cook until meat loses it's pink color. Add all of the spices and cook 5 minutes. Add beer, broth, tomatoes and beans. Simmer, partially covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid (beer or broth) if chili becomes too thick. Serve over pasta.