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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Classic Scones with Clotted Cream

In honor of The Royal Wedding I woke up early this morning to tune into the broadcast and made traditional English scones while I watched the Prince and now Duchess tie the knot. English scones differ from American scones- they are less dense and some describe them as "dreamy" and "pillowy." Also, they are traditionally served with clotted cream and jam. I made my own clotted cream this time and it was outstanding. Although these would be great slathered with any of your favorite toppings (jams, butter, honey, etc.), the traditional toppings are the best. This recipe uses cake flour, which certainly adds to the pillowy texture. I've heard that they come out well with all purpose flour, but if you have cake flour, I recommend you use it. BONUS: they come together incredibly quickly, are so buttery, and melt in your mouth. I highly recommend them. Recipe by Mark Bittman.

2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar, separated
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup (plus more) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour the flour, salt, baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the egg and the heavy cream and mix just until sticky dough is formed. If the dough is too dry add a splash of cream and if the dough is too wet add a bit more flour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a circle 3/4 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut into circles or hand cut into whatever shapes you want (wedges, squares work well). Brush a bit more cream on top of each scone and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbs of sugar. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Serve with your favorite jams and clotted cream.

There are different ways to make clotted cream if you cannot find it in a specialty grocery store nearby. The traditional way is by heating heavy cream for a long time (12 hours) at a very low temperature in your oven (180 degrees F) and then refrigerating for a while and then separating the clotted cream from the whey. You can find that method by clicking here. Alternatively, if you don't have 24 hours to properly make clotted cream, you can make a non-traditional, but very delicious version, nonetheless, by mixing a few easy-to-find dairy products. Find that recipe here.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Eleven Madison Park Granola

The best restaurant has the best parting gift at the end of the night: granola for the road. And it is super easy to make at home... and infinitely adaptable. I adapted the recipe slightly when I made it last night because I didn't have pumpkin seeds at home but did have pecans that I wanted to add (I would add both next time). It is so delicious and very hard to stop eating. My version is below.

2 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut chips/flakes, unsweetened
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt*
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup sour dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, coconut, pumpkin seeds and salt.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the sugar, maple syrup, and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Pour liquid sugar mixture over the oat/nut mixture and slowly fold to combine, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, 35-40 minutes, stirring the granola 2-3 times along the way.

Remove granola from oven and mix into it the dried cherries. Let cool completely before serving and/or storing in an airtight container.

Munch on it plain, or put it over your morning yogurt, or eat it my favorite way, by mixing together 1 cup of cornflakes with 1/3 cup of granola and top with your favorite milk for a semi-homemade Honey Bunches of Oats cereal breakfast.

*EMP's recipe suggests 3 teaspoons of kosher salt. Some reviews online said whoa, this is too salty, and my guess is they weren't using kosher salt. Just in case, I put a tiny bit less in and it was delicious. If you use table salt, make sure you use less than the above recipe suggests, since the grain is finer and thus the same measurement of table salt to kosher salt is saltier.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Chocolate Toffee Matzah Crack

Every year I buy 1 box of matzah to last me the week of Passover. I always have leftovers. I don't like matzah (not that I am supposed to), but if I think of it as a vessel for other delicious things, I am able to enjoy it. I eat it one of two ways: 1) a tiny square of it during seder that I cover with a massive amount of horseradish to clear out my sinuses, and 2) smothered with salty butter, sugar, and chocolate (see above). The first way is really just about the horseradish. The second way is really just about, well, the salty butter, sugar, and chocolate.


4-5 pieces of matzah
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
Flakey sea salt for sprinkling
Various toppings (chopped roasted nuts, cocoa nibs & toasted coconut work well)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and cover the bottom with matzah pieces, trying to cover the whole sheet.

In a medium saucepan, heat together the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2-3 minutes until thick. Take off the heat and add the salt and vanilla an stir to combine. Pour over the matzah and spread with a spatula- careful, its hot!

Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes until nice and bubbly. Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and sprinkle the chocolate pieces on top. Let sit for 3-5 minutes letting the chocolate melts.

Using a knife or offset spatula spread the chocolate to the edges and then sprinkle with your favorite toppings. Place in refrigerator for about 45 minutes, remove the pieces from the tin foil and cut into squares. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Chicken & Grapes

Oh mannnn is this chicken good. I've been wanting to make it for a long time and finally did this weekend. I only regret waiting so long. This chicken is perfect: salty crispy skin, juicy flavorful meat, tart and sweet grapes, delicious pan sauce. It would serve beautifully with a side of creamy polenta, although I served it with an amazing Raw and Roasted Carrot and Fennel Salad by Alison Roman because, well, its Passover, and polenta-n-me will have to wait another few days to meet again.
*Recipe from Melissa Clark's most recent cookbook Dinner: Changing the Game, which I highly recommend.

1 spatchcocked chicken, 4-5lb (*see below for how-to-spatchcock-a-chicken)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed in spice grinder or mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
16 oz seedless grapes on the stem
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

In a small bowl mix together the salt, fennel seeds, pepper, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub all over the chicken, then place the whole bird, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet/roasting pan and let sit on the counter for 1-2 hours.

When you're close to cooking the bird, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss together the grapes with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the sugar, and some salt and pepper. After the chicken cooks for 20 minutes, remove from oven and place the grapes around the chicken. Put the chicken back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, skin is golden brown, and grapes are lightly caramelized. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let sit for a few minutes and remove the grapes from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Keep the pan juices!!

Pour the vinegar into the roasting pan to help scrape up all of the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour all juices into a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat until lightly boiling. Whisk in the butter and taste for seasonings.

Carve the chicken into pieces and serve with grapes and pan juice on top. Enjoy.

The recipe calls for a spatchcocked chicken and if you're not sure how to do this don't be intimidated-- its easy. Take a whole chicken (clean and dry) and place it on a cutting board with the neck/backbone facing up. Taking very sharp kitchen shears, cut along either side of the backbone from one end to the other, removing it completely (discard/save for chicken soup). Then flip the bird over onto the cutting board and press down on the breasts, until it slightly flattens and you hear a pop. Ya done spatchcocked a chicken, ya'll!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

I've been thinking about this cake for 5 days straight ever since the NY Times posted a photo of this bad boy on their Instagram feed. It is another 5-star Melissa Clark recipe and is pretty special and unique. Very chocolatey, very moist. Goes great with a big dollop of whipped cream on top. Warning: it tastes pretty boozy, so if you're not that into boozy flavor, I recommend replacing half of the whiskey with 1/4 cup of coffee. Also, I halved the recipe when I made it because I wanted to break-in my half-sized bundt pan, so your cake will be much larger than the one pictured above. And please forgive my home-made upside-down-salad-bowl + right-side-up-salad-plate improvised cake stand. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing the pan)
2 cups granulated sugar (plus more for dusting the pan)
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon or whiskey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour

Grease a 10-cup bundt pan with butter and then dust with granulated sugar. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the chocolate and let cool.

Put the espresso and cocoa powders in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1-cup measuring line. Whisk together until powders dissolve. Add the whiskey and salt. Let cool a bit. 

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, scraping the bowl with a spatula, as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda, and melted chocolate, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed beat in 1/3 a cup of the whiskey mixture then half of the flour, then half of what is left of the whiskey mixture, the rest of the flour, and then ending with the last bit of whiskey mixture, making sure you allow each addition to totally mix in, but without overbeating the cake. Pour the cake into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour (might need a few minutes more or less), until toothpick comes out mostly clean. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Frozen Blackberries & Yogurt with Honey

This recipe is now the second that I've made from Alison Roman's cookbook Dining In, which I recently bought after my first bite of her salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. Her dessert recipes look, sound, and taste outstanding. Well, to be fair, I've only made 2 of them so far, but she's got a 100% success rate so far. This recipe was really fun, very easy, needs no special equipment, and yielded a delicious and frozen dessert hat is a mix between frozen yogurt and a semifreddo. The swirls of tart yogurt and berries compliment each other well and it looks lovely in a bowl. Try it out!

12 oz (total) fresh blackberries and raspberries
3/4 cup honey (separated into 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cup whole fat greek yogurt or labneh
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice

Prep a loaf pan by lining the inside with plastic wrap. You may need to spray the pan first with cooking spray first so that the plastic wrap sticks to the edges well.

Heat the berries with 1/4 cup of honey in a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil for 8-10 minutes, until berries start to break down and sauce thickens a bit. Let cool completely (I allowed the freezer to help me speed up this step).

Meanwhile, using a whisk & arm strength or an electric mixer beat the heavy cream into medium stiff peaks. Fold in the greek yogurt and a pinch of salt, being careful not to overmix. Stir in a little lemon juice to the berry mixture (if you think it could use a little tart kick) and then carefully fold the mixture into the yogurt cream with only 3 or 4 folds... you want to be able to see and taste each individual flavor, not have it all blended together. Pour into prepared pan and freeze for a few hours (Alison recommended 2-3 and I found that it was better at 4-5). If its too hard to scoop leave it on the counter for 15 minutes before putting into bowls.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Minestrone Soup with Tortellini

I've been getting bored with my usual rotation of soup recipes and wanted to try something new. I came across Cook's Illustrated's Hearty Minestrone recipe and used that as a base for this recipe that I've adapted a bit. It is packed with veggies, but still incredibly flavorful and very filling. A perfect winter meal at home. Don't be swayed by the number of ingredients... they are all easy to find!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 small fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into quarter-rounds
1 cup green beens, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of savoy cabbage (or green cabbage), halved, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
1 can cannellini or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups chicken broth (use the good stuff, not low-sodium)
1-2 cups water
1 piece of parmesan rind (5x2 inches)
1 bay leaf
2 cups V8 juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 9-ounce package of cheese tortellini, cooked according to package
salt and pepper

Garnish: parmesan, red pepper flakes, olive oil

In a large dutch oven heat the butter and pancetta over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered. Add the celery, carrot, onion, and fennel and saute until vegetables start to soften about 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and green beans and cook all the vegetables until they start to lightly brown. Add the garlic cabbage, along with the 1/4 cup of flour (this will help thicken the broth a bit) and stir continuously until cabbage has softened and flour is cooked about (2-3 minutes). Pour all the vegetable mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

In the same pan, add the broth, beans, red pepper flakes, water, parmesan rind and bay leaf and bring to a boil, stirring every few minutes so the parmesan rind doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the head to a vigorous simmer and add the reserved vegetables and V8 juice and cook, simmering for about 15-20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and parmesan rind and taste for seasonings. Stir in the pasta and basil. Serve with grated parmesan on top and a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!