Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cranberry-Orange Cream Scones

The other type of scone that I made was a more traditional scream scone with a biscuit texture rather than a cake texture. They were still light and fluffy and moist though, not dry and cracking like I often see of scones purchased from a bakery. These scones I made fresh on Sunday morning, rather than the blueberry scones which were done ahead of time. Both types were gobbled up by our friends for breakfast so I would say they were both a success!

Cranberry-Orange Cream Scones
From Cook's Illustrated

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted cutter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
1 tsp grated fresh orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in food processor to combine, about 3 pulses. Scatter butter and orange zest evenly over top and continue to pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some slightly larger pieces of butter, about 12 more pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl ad stir in dried cranberries. Stir in cream until dough beings to form, about 30 seconds.

Turn dough and any flour bits out onto floured counter and knead until rough, slightly sticky ball forms, 5 to 10 seconds. Pat dough into 9-inch round and cut into 8 wedges.

Place wedges on prepared baking sheet. Bake until tops or scones are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blueberry Scones

Continuing with my HP weekend recipes, we are now onto Sunday morning's breakfast. I made two different kinds of scones. These blueberry scones I was able to make earlier in the week, freeze and then bake them directly from frozen. They have a great crunchy exterior with the sugar on top and a nice soft interior loaded with blueberries. You could also substitute other berries like blackberries in this recipe with great results as well.

Blueberry Scones
From Cooks Illustrated

16 tbsp unsalted butter (2 sticks), each stick frozen
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends (half of each stick) on large holes of box grater (you should grate a total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.

Whisk milk and sour cream together in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen grated butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until butter is thoroughly coated.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture and fold with rubber spatula until just combined. Using spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured counter. Dust surface of dough with flour and with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to counter. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

Transfer dough to floured counter and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from counter. Roll dough into cylinder, pressing to form tight log. Arrange log seam side down and press into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

TO MAKE AHEAD:  After placing scones on baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees F and follow baking directions above. For frozen scones, do not thaw, heat oven to 375 degrees F, brush the tops with melted butter and sugar and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Short Rib Shepard's Pie

I have never been a big fan of shepard’s pie until I saw this recipe. Traditional shepard’s pie is made with ground beef and the texture was something that never really caught my fancy. The use of short ribs slow cooked in red wine and then shredded was a much more pleasing texture to me. And the flavor that the short ribs had was out of this world. I think everyone at dinner wished I had doubled the recipe because they could have eaten at least another serving each. The only thing I plan on doing next time I make this recipe is to add more vegetables to the filling so it doesn't feel like it is only meat topped by fluffy and crunchy potatoes.

This recipe does take quite a long time to make, but I had a roomful of happy faces tell me it was definitely worth it!

Short Rib Shepard’s Pie

4-5 lbs boneless beef short ribs
Sea salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, chopped
3 ½ cups dry red wine such as Syrah
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
4  cups, or as needed beef stock
1 ½ lbs Yukon gold potatotes, peeled and quartered
¼ milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, beaten


Season ribs with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Bring to room temperature and season again with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat until hot. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. In batches, sear ribs on all sides, turning as needed, until well browned. Transfer to a Dutch oven. Pour off all but 2 tbsp fate from sauté pan and return to medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic and carrot and sauté until beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bay leaves, and thyme, raise heat to medium-high, and boil to reduce wine by half. Add stock, bring to a boil, and pour contents of pan over ribs. They should be just covered with liquid; add stock as needed.

Cover tightly and braise in oven, adding stock as needed to maintain liquid level, until a fork slides easily through meat, about 2 ½ hours. Skim off any fat from surface, let ribs cool in liquid until they can be handled, then remove ribs from pot and pull meat from bones. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces, return to Dutch oven, and discard bones.

While ribs are cooling, in a saucepan, cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, dry in pan over low heat, then pass through ricer back into warm pan. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until mixture is steaming. Pour into potatoes, add egg yolk and fold to mix well.

Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Transfer contents of Dutch oven to a 9x13 inch baking dish or divide among 6 – 8 individual gratin dishes. Cover top(s) evenly with potatoes. Bake until topping is golden, 35-40 minutes. Serve at once.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rock Cakes

Hagrid’s rock cakes were always so hard they were nearly inedible. It turns out that his two mistakes were over mixing his dough and cooking his cakes for too long. If you are careful to keep both of these things in mind, you will create a cookie that is very soft and delicious. Keep in mind though that these are best served the day they are made, preferably within hours of baking. They do lose some of their soft and chewy texture the longer they sit. The original recipe called for raisins but I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins in my batch.

Rock Cakes
Adapted very slightly from The Unofficial Harry PotterCookbook

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted cold butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
½ cup whole milk
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a large cookie sheet (or use a silicone mat). Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture reaches the consistency of wet sand.

Beat the egg together with the milk and pour it into the flour-butter mixture. Fold it together using a spatula to form a stiff dough. Fold in the dried cranberries. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the bottom are golden, rotating the pan midway through baking.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harry Potter Weekend

Joe and I along with a group of our friends are very big Harry Potter fans. Very big Harry Potter fans. We have all read the books and seen the movies multiple times. We decided it would be fun to get together for an entire weekend to watch the movies and play some Harry Potter trivia. For Christmas, Joe bought me the Harry Potter cookbook so I thought it would be fun to create a menu for the weekend that centered around food themes that appeared in the books and “British” food.

We all had a blast and got through most of the movies in a 36 hour period. It was such a success that our friends are begging us to do it again.  We have met some new people that haven’t been exposed to Harry Potter so we will have to initiate them into the wonderful world of HP in the near future.

We served lunch, dinner and dessert on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. The menu included:

Saturday Lunch
Chicken salad with tomato on cocktail rye bread
Egg salad on cocktail pumpernickel bread
Fresh and smoked mozzarella with fresh tomato and basil on a baguette with balsamic vinegar
Cucumber sandwiches filled with cream cheese mixed with craisins, walnuts and cinnamon
Rock Cakes

Saturday Dinner
Short Rib Shepard’s Pie

Saturday Dessert
Apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream

Sunday Breakfast
Cranberry Orange Scones
Blueberry Scones

Sunday Lunch

Recipes to come in future posts so stay tuned!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dried Cranberry Cookie Bars

Awhile back I was looking for a dessert to make and I stumbled across these Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars from Baking Bites. They looked so nice, and moist and chewy, I knew I had found the dessert to make. Being that my brother David was going to be at the dinner these were meant to be dessert for and he doesn't like raisins, I substituted dried cranberries in place of the raisins in the recipe. They gave them a nice sweet texture. I also doubled the original recipe since I usually need to make larger quantities for our crowd. I baked mine in a 13x9 inch pan. Click on the link for the original recipe if you want to make a smaller batch.

Keep an eye on these while baking. It is important not to overbake them, so that they retain their chewy texture rather than becoming dry. The bars should look set in the center and have a nice light golden color on top.

Dried Cranberry Cookie Bars
From Baking Bites

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
4 cups quick cooking (not instant) oats
3 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour,sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in vanilla, egg and melted butter until smooth. Stir in oats and dried cranberries until they are evenly distributed.

Pour dough into prepared pan and spread into an even layer with a spatula or your fingers. Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until bars are set and the center no longer looks wet. Edges will be golden brown. Cool pan on a wire rack before slicing. Cut into bars and serve.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baked Apples

My mom was the first to discover these baked apples and I am so glad she did. She made them for Christmas Eve dinner one year and both of us have made them numerous time since. They have the perfect texture, the apples are cooked but not mushy and the cornbread stuffing has a great mix of flavors. The last time we made them was for my Grandfather's birthday earlier this year and they went over very well. We cut them into quarters but you can cut them in half or leave them whole. They also taste great, leftover the next day, warm or cold.

Baked Apples
From The Food Network

8 Gala or Golden Delicious apples
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 or 2 large corn muffins, crumbled (about 1/2 cup), reserve some for sprinkling on apples
1/2 cup golden raisins
6 sage leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup hard cider
1 tbsp lemon juice

Core the apples with an apple corer, making a good size cavity to hold the stuffing. Rub the cut sides of the apples with some of the lemon juice to prevent them from browning while you make the stuffing.

In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, muffin crumbs, raisins, sage, garlic, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the cavities of the cored apples. stand them up side by side in a baking dish and sprinkle the tops with the reserved muffin crumbs. Pour the cider around the apples and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 375 degrees F until soft when pierced with a knife.

Place the warm apples, cut or uncut, into a serving dish. Spoon the cider sauce around the apples and serve.

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