Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bah. Humbug. Ooo! Tasty!

I've been the unreformed Grinch this year. I just couldn't get into the Christmas spirit. It's the first year I didn't put up a tree.

I planned a haphazard dinner -- I was thinking fried chicken and my favorite roasted butternut squash ravioli. Coconut cupcakes and Brussels sprouts were late entries. Damn, I forgot to list the dressing, just like I forgot to put it in the oven before 6. It was from the Thanksgiving batch.

So when I got home from church, I had good intentions. I made my ice cream base (more about that in another post). I roasted my butternut squash, I brined the chicken. By then, it was nearly dark and what little enthusiasm I had for cooking left with the sunlight. What's a girl to do?

Ta-Daaaaaa! All the flavors of the ravioli without making pasta by hand.

Start with roasted butternut squash. Make sure it's caramelized.

In the meantime, mix heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Season with salt, cinnamon, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg. Add sprigs of time and rosemary. Simmer and reduce.

Boil some pasta. Orecchiette is great choice. 

Slosh in some sauce.

Garnish with toasted pecans, rosemary and sage. Delicious!!!

One final note. I have an announcement to make.  I believe in pretty chicken!

I'm going to kick back now and finish my glass of screw-top wine. (I'm running a quality establishment over here.)

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ode to Vermont and Canada

I'm so not feeling the Christmas spirit this year. I want a shirt that says, "Bah. Humbug." However, the bright sunny morning cheered me a little and I decided to celebrate the first day of me not checking my Blackberry all day with some scones.  Not just any scones -- maple-glazed pumpkin scones to be exact. I wanted to make these over Thanksgiving, but a family emergency kept me from my kitchen most of my time off.

You've seen the scone recipe before, so let's get to it. It starts pretty much the same; pulse dry ingredients in the food processor.  Add cold butter.

Here's the departure:  make Trader's Joe's Pumpkin Butter your friend. Y'all might even be best friends after this :-)

Mix it into the cream really well. Instead of a full cup of cream, I used 3/4 C. Add the cream to the flour mixture. 

CI has you do this by hand, I just added mine to Miracle and pulsed until it formed a dough.


Now comes the messy part. Dump the dough on the counter. Knead very gently to incorporate all the dry bits. Form a ball or two, depending on how you will shape your scones.

I made two balls because I used a 6" cake pan so I could have mini scones.

Press the dough into the pan.


Slice (do a better job than I did.) Remember to press straight down. I'll show you what happens later when you don't.

I did better on the second round.

I started with refrigerated instead of my usual frozen butter, so I parked these in the refrigerator while I took a bacon detour. 

I did say MAPLE pumpkin scones. No way I was going to have a hot oven, maple syrup on the counter and bacon in the refrigerator without making maple-glazed bacon again.

Back to the scones.  I heated some butter and maple syrup together.

I gave the scones a beautiful brush-on tan and to the oven they went.

Here's what I got.

Absolutely delicious! The texture was closer to a biscuit or even cake. I prefer my scones on the drier side, but the flavor made up for the break with tradition. The pumpkin butter was pretty sweet, so I would knock out some of the sugar when I try these again. The maple syrup kept the outside of the scones from getting hard, so next time, I'll make half with the glaze on before baking and put the glaze on the other half after baking to see which I like best. 

With Teavana's English Breakfast Tea, these made a wonderful morning treat. On a side note, here's another vote for Silpat -- the burnt syrup just flakes off. Easy cleanup.

Remember my note to press straight down when cutting? Here's what happens when you don't. He's all crooked :-( I'm working on a granite counter, so I use my bench scraper to cut dough. Moving to a cutting board so I can use my knives is too much work. And even still, I think it's just the way I cut and lack of wrist strength. I sometimes have lopsided biscuits too.

Tools of the trade

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And So It Begins

Got a pound cake in the oven and the sweet potatoes are scrubbed and ready to go. I was so proud of myself because I thought I had finished all of my grocery shopping yesterday around five. Some kinda way, I only purchased 6 pounds of sweet potatoes. Grrrrrr.  Luckily, I have a three-pound bag of garnet sweet potatoes stashed away. I was using those for the candied yams. They will be conscripted into pie service; I have only one guest coming this year and I don't have to have candied yams, so I'll just make yams for one with a few of those.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If You're Going To Do It, Do It Right

Today, my church fasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  No biggie. Much improved over last year's monthly 25-hour fast. However, I remembered we were fasting around 7 this morning. I had been up since 5:00 and I was ready for breakfast. This was going to be a long day.

After service, I spent the afternoon watching TV in bed; I had to conserve my energy (and I wouldn't be tempted to snack). Around 6, I hit the kitchen with my mind set on two things -- chicken and waffles and sweet potato chips. Okay, that's three things, but chicken and waffles kinda count as one. If I was only getting one meal today, it was going to be a meal to remember. I was actually going to fry something! Weight Watchers be damned!

I knocked out the sweet potato chips first.  I got up on my step ladder and hauled down what I now affectionately refer to as The Beast - my De Buyer Professional Mandoline.  I may have used this thing five times in the 10 years I've owned it. But today, I took it out of its case for a single sweet potato ...

WA-Fa thin!

Get thee to some hot grease and grab a spider.

I am a firm believer that at all times, sweet potatoes should taste like sweet potato pie. (This time with pronounced salt and pepper.)

Sweet potato chips fry up dark. God bless those caramelizing sugars.

Ooo wee! I had to move these outside of my reach so that I would have some left for dinner. Sweet potato chips had been on my mind for a couple of weeks. I had some at work and I knew I could make them better. I'm going to cut these a hair thicker next time and they will be perfect.

Now for the chicken and waffles. These are my tried and true recipes.

Seasoned meat, seasoned flour, seasoned buttermilk (including hot sauce). Dry-wet-dry to coat. If you have the time, coat twice and let it air dry for a while. Please start with brined chicken. Add to hot grease.

Waffle recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

Bake and assemble including maple syrup and hot sauce.

Yes Lord! I had homemade ginger lemonade too.

Now I have the itis, so I'm going to bed. I'll correct the typos later and add my Tools of the Trade. Shout out to my cast iron skillet!