Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Scones

I had my knees replaced on December 20th. Luckily for me I have Mike and Abigail came home from college on December 17th. She made a fabulous pasta on Christmas Eve and scones for Christmas morning. The scones were out of this world so I wanted to share the recipe. Abigail is a pretty confident cook and has been cooking for herself at college.

Halloween Pumpkin Scones Recipe is from Alice's Tea Cup in New York where Abigail goes to college.

Alice's Tea Cup Pumpkin Scones
Makes 10 to 12 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup ground ginger
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1-1/2 sticks (3/4cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (all pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Caramel glaze
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon.

With clean hands, work the butter into the dry mixture until it is thoroughly incorporated and has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract into the well. Still using your hands, combine the ingredients until all the dry mixture is wet, but do not knead!

Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together. Gently pat the dough to make a disk about 1-1/2 inches thick. Using a 3- or 3-1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can and lay them on a nonstick baking sheet. Gather the remaining dough together lightly to cut out more scones- just don't knead the dough too much.

Bake the scones for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the scones cool slightly on the baking sheet (about 20 minutes) before glazing them.

While the scones are cooling, prepare the caramel glaze: Place the butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk gently until the mixture is smooth. Just as the mixture comes to a light boil, add the heavy cream and reduce the heat to low. Whisk well for 2 minutes, or until the glaze is thickened and smooth; then remove the pan from the heat.

To glaze a scone, hold it by the bottom, dip the top in the warm caramel glaze, and place it back on the baking sheet.

These are heavenly. I'm so proud of my daughter and have enjoyed her cooking while I've been unable to cook. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I made soup with the leftover butternut squash from the curried chicken with roasted vegetables. I had a little over half of the large squash left. I put the pieces in the fridge until I was ready to make the soup. This is one of our favorites and I always make it several times each winter. I served to my friend, Cooper, and she liked it so much she said she wanted to bathe in it. Instead I gave the leftovers to her to take home.

My Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 - 3/4 of a large butternut squash, scoop out seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 cups of chicken stock
1/2 red onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cardamon
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Rub olive oil on cut side of squash. Season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on cookie sheet. Roast at 400 degrees until flesh is soft and peel is brown and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let cool.

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Peel the squash. Cut into bite sizes and add to onions. Add spices and chicken stock. Bring to boil. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add more stock if too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Puree soup with hand held blender or in food processor or blender. A few chunks are fine. You can make this 1-2 days in advance. You can also freeze it.

I served this with the crab, avocado and grapefruit salad from a couple of days ago and warm bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yummy Winter Salad

I made a delicious easy salad the other night that was fresh and seasonal. Dungeness crab season is open here and there are beautiful grapefruits available. Mike was skeptical but ending up loving it.

1/2 lb. fresh cracked crab meat
1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
2 avocados, cut into bite size pieces
greens of your choice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
1 small garlic clove, peeled and pressed
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Combine 1st 4 ingredients in a bowl. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour some over the salad. Toss. Add more vinaigrette if necessary.

Mike and I shared a bottle of champagne because I always think of crab and champagne together. I heated up some sourdough rolls. It was a wonderful way to warm up a cold rainy night. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Curried Chicken and Vegetables Redux

I posted a recipe on November 15th for curried chicken, brussel sprouts, butternut squash and onion. I made it tonight and made some changes. The original recipe called for boneless chicken thighs and I used bone in thighs. The first time I cooked the chicken on top of the vegetables like the recipe. Last night I cooked the chicken separately. This method worked out much better for bone in chicken. The chicken takes longer to cook and the vegetables don't get overcooked.

My friend, Jane, has also made this a couple of times. Once with broccoli, once with cauliflower and then with carrots. I guess this means use your favorite root vegetables. Mike and I can't get enough brussel sprouts. Jane said the broccoli was overcooked. If you cook the chicken and vegetables separately you could substitute any of these. If you use broccoli, start the chicken, then the squash and finally add the broccoli for the last 10 minutes.

The other thing that I did last night was that I only used about 1/2 of the butternut squash because it was so large. I will make soup out of the remainder.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables my way

1 small butternut squash, trimmed, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 large red onions, cut into thick slices
4 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 skinless chicken thighs
Warm naan, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425° and position rack in the middle third. In a very large bowl, toss the butternut squash with the brussel sprouts, onion slices and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on a large, sturdy rimmed baking sheet.

In the baking dish sprayed with vegetable spray, combine the cup of yogurt with the ginger, garlic, curry powder and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss until thoroughly coated. Roast for about 20 minutes, rotate the pan, and put the vegetables in the oven on the rack below the chicken. Cook another 15 minutes and stir vegetables, rotate pan and cook until the vegetables are tender and browned, and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to plates and serve with warm naan and yogurt.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Everything but the kitchen sink minestrone

Mike has been enjoying the soups and chili I have made. He had suggested the split pea and his next suggestion was minestrone. I realized that between my pantry and freezer I could make a pretty good version of minestrone via my Southern roots and California home. I think minestrone is one of those soups where there as many versions as there are cooks in Italy so this is my version.

I used the canned beans I had in the pantry and the frozen veggies I had in the freezer. I used a Parmesan rind and anchovy paste to add richness and depth for unami. See for an explanation.

Check out this article in Prevention magazine about not using canned tomatoes. Try using Pomi tomatoes in the tetra packs if you don't have your own canned tomatoes.

I also like the idea of using chilis for the health benefits of capsaicin.


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 can pinto beans or whatever is in your pantry, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups tomato puree
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
12 ounces pasta
4 Italian turkey sausages, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 inch piece Parmesan rind
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 cup red wine

Heat the olive oil and add the onion. Saute until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant.

Add the beans, chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add vegetables. Return to a boil and add the pasta. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook until the pasta is tender. If you are not going to eat the soup that night turn off the heat and let the pot sit until it cools down. When you reheat the soup the pasta will cook completely.

We ate it with crusty bread and the rest of the red wine. Enjoy!