Posts filed under ‘Cooking’
Imagine picking your way across a sandy beach on a weekday afternoon – waves rolling in, cool water pulling at your feet, peachy clam shells catching your eye, the rest of the world somewhere far away – that’s what Southern California feels like to me. Slow, dreamy, quiet. Summer breezy. Can you tell it’s been too long since my last vacation?
Here are a few photos from Carpinteria, Los Olivos and Santa Barbara where much time is being whiled away.
This is an adaptation on a the cranberry and lavender scone recipe I posted a few weeks ago. I’ve made these scones with regular flour rather than gluten-free since pumpkin is not a popular flavour with anyone except me in our house. Substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for a GF version.
The cream cheese frosting was an after-thought, but I had some in the freezer leftover from another recipe. A rich, sweet indulgence, but we all deserve a treat once in a while on weekend mornings.
Makes 8 scones
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup flax seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 cup canned pumpkin (or freshly cooked pumpkin if you have it)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (coarse sugar) for sprinkling on top
1 tablespoon of flax seeds for sprinkling over finished scones
Zest of 1 orange for sprinkling over finished scones
Cream cheese frosting
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon milk
Combine flours, flax, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, yogurt and egg and then pour into flour mixture. Gently fold until the ingredients are just combined. Tip the dough into a greased glass pie plate, score the dough with a knife into eight pieces and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake in a 375F oven for 20-30 minutes or until scones are baked through (be careful not to overbake).
Mix together frosting ingredients in a mixmaster or with a spoon until smooth and drizzle over top of the scones once they’re cut and removed from the pan. Sprinkle with flax seeds and orange zest and serve with orange slices.
The frosting freezes and refreezes well, so pour the remainder into a jar put it away for the next time you need it.
I love lazy weekend mornings. Walk the dog, bring the newspaper in from the step, start baking, and then fritter away the rest of the morning reading, sipping coffee, and nibbling.
I’m a big believer in the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention,” especially when it comes to cooking. This recipe came about in the standard way, which is peering into the fridge / pantry / freezer for any usable ingredients. This weekend I found frozen cranberries, flax, and yogurt, and some dried lavender I brought home from France and have been meaning to use more often in baking. It turned out to be an amazing combination, and the scent of lavender added an extra element of relaxation to my blissed-out weekend routine.
Cranberry scones with lavender sugar
Makes 8 scones
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (ground flax)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup plain yogurt
Lavender sugar topping (optional, but if you have lavender it’s delicious):
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (large crystal sugar – adds a nice crunch)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the scones, combine flours, baking soda, sugar, flax, and nutmeg. Drizzle oil over top of flour mixture and stir to combine. Add cranberries and yogurt and stir until just mixed together (the scones will be tough if you overmix the dough, so be very gentle – it’s better to undermix and have a bit of loose flour at the end). Shape the dough into a loose ball and place in a greased glass pie plate. Press the dough down gently so it fills the pie plate evenly. Use a knife to score the dough into 8 slices before you put it in the oven: this helps the scones cook evenly and makes them easier to serve when they’re done.
Lavender sugar: If you have a mortar and pestle, use it to crush the lavender and regular sugar together (otherwise just combine them) and sprinkle over the scones. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top.
Bake scones in a 375F oven for 30 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown on top (be careful not to overbake). Serve with fruit, yogurt, and coffee for a beautiful breakfast.
Variation: I often use a similar version of this recipe to make cheese scones. Swap out the cranberries for cheddar cheese, decrease the sugar to 1 tablespoon, omit the nutmeg, and add 1 teaspoon of a savory herb like thyme or sage.
Arugula and Asian greens like pac choi and mizuna stand up to slugs better than most of the leafy greens I’ve tried growing in the past. I am trying kale again as I’d love to be able to grow my own since I eat it almost every day. I’ve never had much luck with kale as the garden critters like it as much as I do, but here’s hoping the new year will bring fresh success.
Amuse bouche: a fancy name for bite-sized appetizers, and not the thing you want to be assigned to bring to a holiday party of competitive foodie-types. Much stress and fear of failure went into the creation of this fancy bite, which I concocted at the last minute after worrying about it endlessly beforehand. Everyone loved it (“I told you so,” said my husband (only once, to his credit) who had to suffer through my pre-amuse anxiety), so I am sharing it here in hopes of saving you this ridiculous angst.
I was lucky to have a beautiful ingredient as my guide: a small package of cold smoked lox from my share in Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery (highly recommended if you are in Vancouver or Calgary). I could have served that salmon on bite-sized pieces of an old boot and still turned out a star.
Smoked salmon & sundried tomato amuse bouche
250 g light cream cheese
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (oil or water-packed)
2 tablespoons olive oil (use the oil from the tomatoes if you are using oil-packed sundried tomatoes)
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Lots of fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons dill (fresh or dried)
A few sprigs of fresh basil
3/4 cup cold smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
Crackers (I used these gluten free seed crackers)
1 small bunch of chives, minced
In a food processor, buzz together the cream cheese, tomatoes, oil, capers, lemon juice and zest, pepper and herbs until it is nicely mixed. Scoop a bit of the cream cheese mixture onto each cracker and top with smoked salmon and chives. Voila! You are fancy party ready.