Friday, February 13, 2015

The Most Fabulous Orange Poppyseed Scones


I'm a scone girl. From way way back. I love them with every little fiber of my being. I adore making them and eating them.
For years, I've been making a recipe for currant scones (sans the currants) from Rose Levy Beranbaum. They are cream scones and simply wonderful.
So, I have to thank my lovely friend Judith McLoughlin for inspiring me to try this orange poppyseed scone recipe. She doesn't know she inspired me....but she generously gave me a subscription to Tea Time magazine recently. This scone jumped right out of the pages of the March issue and right into my heart. They are simply amazing.


I'm feeling the love of Valentine's week. How about you? Feeling super grateful to have a roof over my head, meaningful work to do in the world, people who care for me, a warm kitty on my lap {well not right now, but occasionally when she allows it} and a husband who works really hard to put a smile on my lips {which he does quite often}. 
Of course, I had to go with heart shaped scones. Oh and some righteous orange glaze on top to spiff it up.


This would be scrumptious for V-Day Brunch this weekend. Or at your next family weekend breakfast.
Happy Hearts Day.

Orange-Poppyseed Scones
Makes about 10-12
 
Adapted from Tea Time Magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for tops
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream, cold, plus extra for brushing tops

Orange Glaze:
Fresh squeezed orange juice, strained
Confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 400F.
Line baking pan with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, zest, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt. 
Drop in pieces of cold butter and either rub in with your fingers or use a pastry blender to cut in, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add cream and stir until incorporated and mixture becomes a shaggy mass. Bring dough together with hands and pat into a round disk.
Roll dough out onto a flour surface into a rectangle. Fold into thirds like a letter. Roll out one more time, until dough is 3/4 inch thick.
Use a round or heart shaped cutter to cut out scones and place on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Re-roll scraps once to cut out a few more.
Brush tops of scones lightly with extra cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. 
While scones bake, mix up orange glaze. {I didn't measure, just mixed some fresh squeezed and strained orange juice with sifted confectioners' sugar, until thick enough to drizzle on top).
When slightly cool, drizzle with glaze {or dunk top of scone in glaze}.

Enjoy.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Buttermilk Pecan Cardamom Pie with Blackberries


Sitting down to a piece of scrumptious, homemade pie makes me very happy. And content. And if I had one of those Life is Good t-shirts...I'd probably put that on to eat my pie. And Dave Matthews would be playing in the background. That's my perfect pie-savoring scenario.
Oh and my husband would be there too, enjoying his own piece of pie.  
Cue the little gobbly, lip-smacking noises.



Pie-making is like therapy for me. I throw the windows open, let the sun stream in, and pull out my trusty rolling pin. Making a good pie crust is essential in my world. I very rarely make a pie or quiche using a store-bought pie crust....and when I am pressed for time and do that, I feel like a clod. 
Like, I know how to rock a good pie crust....what the hell am I doing buying it?? So that happens very rarely so I can live with myself.
I vote for homemade pie dough and one made with all butter.



My grandfather used to drink buttermilk when I was growing up. That's got to be like some old-timey pro-biotics going on, right? Good for the digestion and perhaps cooling to the system during hot summer months.
Anyhow, I like using it for baking....biscuits, waffles, custards, cakes, pies. I always seem to have a carton of buttermilk in the fridge {probably cause I make my mom's corn waffles about once a week these days}. I got a hankering for pie the other day and found a great buttermilk pie recipe. I added a bunch of cardamom to it and served it with some sweet blackberries. Heavenly. And I loved that it wasn't extremely sweet, just sweet enough to highlight the lovely crust, tangy buttermilk, and fresh berries.


Buttermilk Pecan Cardamom Pie with Blackberries

Adapted from Whatscookingamerica.net

Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt 

1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water 


In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to one hour.


Filling:

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk, divided {I like to use local buttermilk if available}

1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rough chopped pecans

Fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 425F. Roll out pie crust and place gently into the pie pan, pushing down into the corners. Finish edges of crust with crimping, folds, etc. Chill for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Add beaten eggs, remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, and cardamom. Mix well with a whisk. Mix in the melted butter and vanilla extract.

Pour into prepared pie crust. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is lightly brown and the center is set. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate after cooling. Serve with fresh blackberries.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday Night Meatballs with Gluten Free Pasta


As much as I like to cook...sometimes you just need something easy, peasy that's quick and delish for dinner. Plus, I hurt my back like a week ago and last night was the first time I felt up to doing any cooking...it had to be low-key, comfort food sort of stuff.
I'd been craving meatballs for like a week and we had rice pasta and a jar of sauce in the pantry. So I grabbed a package of grass fed ground beef on my way home from work.
Thirty minutes later. Voila. Tuesday night's dinner on the table. 
I'm happy and husband is happy.



Why the gluten-free pasta? Well, not because I need to have it. 
I enjoy the whole bread/carbs/wheat flour thing...just not all the time. And the Tinkyada rice pasta is just damn tasty to me. It has good texture, not mushy.
I don't really use a recipe to make meatballs, so I'm putting this together for you to the best of my recollection, just in case you want it. They are best with homemade sauce, but that's for a night when I get started a little earlier. Some folks like to fry their meatballs in a skillet to brown them, not me. Save cleaning a pan, lose the added oil, and keep it simple. Peace.

Meatballs with Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 pound ground beef {I used dry-aged grass fed}
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 small onion, chopped
Parsley, chopped - about a handful
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
Panko bread crumbs, 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Your favorite homemade or jarred pasta sauce
Pasta noodles {I used Tinkyada brand}
Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl till well-combined. Don't overmix or overwork the meat or it can get tough. Shape into the same size meatballs {I used an ice cream scoop} and place on lined sheet pan. Bake until cooked through, about 18-20 minutes or so.
While meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta in salted water, according to package directions.
Heat up sauce in a large saucepan and allow to simmer on low heat. When meatballs are done cooking in the oven, remove them and place into the sauce until ready to serve.
Serve pasta and meatballs with sauce and a sprinkle of grated parmesan.

P.S. Yes, I did get a back rub along with my meatballs. Jay's good like that. I'm a lucky girl.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Khichdi - Indian Comfort Food


If I could eat just two cuisines for most of my days....it would have to be Indian and Vietnamese. 
I love them both. I love the all the amazing spice used in Indian cuisine and the fresh herbs and fish sauce of Vietnamese food......so, so delicious.
Honestly, I don't make too many attempts at home to make Indian food, but my goal this year is dust off my Indian cookbooks and really dive in.



I stopped by a neighborhood Indian grocery the other day and it was a treat to leisurely stroll the aisles, looking at lots of familiar ingredients and not-so-familiar items. I picked up this huge bag of Khichdi and got busy. 
Khichdi is Indian comfort food and I remember having it some years ago, but had never made it at home. A great excuse to pull out my spices and stash of curry leaves in the freezer. Basically, it is a vegetarian dish of rice and lentils, similar to a porridge. It is said to be very nutritious and easy on the digestive system. Although it can be made without spice, this one a little spice and a bit of ghee. yum

Monday, December 15, 2014

Roswell's Sugar Shack in the Back - rockin' the Breakfast Biscuits!


They say a picture says a thousand words....so what do you think this one says?
How about.....AMAZING, FREAKIN'-DELICIOUS, 
DECADENT, SPLURGE-WORTHY, OMG - GOTTA HAVE THIS, CrAzY GOOD, BUTTERY BISCUITS FROM HEAVEN!

It is no secret that I love good food. I like making it, baking it, talking about it, sharing it with friends, and exploring food gems in my city.
Generally, I eat pretty healthy. But I'm all for a bacon indulgence and having a treat once in a while.
When I have a day off from work, I either like to make a special breakfast or get out and explore a new breakfast place with Jay. 
We recently discovered Sugar Shack in the Back, which is right behind the Fickle Pickle Restaurant off Canton Street in downtown Roswell, GA. 

They have lots of yummy-looking items, including cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and croissants. 
Their biscuit breakfast sandwiches we had were some of the best biscuits I've had in a long time. And I kind of love that they are square biscuits....bonus points!
The fact that my "ooey-gooey" biscuit came stuffed with eggs, bacon, pimento cheese, and pepper jelly was compelling in a sit-and-stare-at-it-for a while kind of way. Jay's biscuit had Brie and balsamic syrup....I think .....I was a little too busy ogling my biscuit to pay attention to his! So yummy.

We sat outside on their lovely patio and really enjoyed our sunny, relaxed morning. We will definitely go back and take some friends next time...and probably not need to eat again the rest of the day!

If you are looking for some new breakfast places to try in the Roswell and Atlanta hoods, here are some of my favorites:

Thumbs-Up Diner
♥ ♥ ♥ love the Portland Scramble
J. Christopher's
a fan of the Turkey Sausage platter with egg whites and fruit♥ ♥ ♥
West Egg Cafe
♥ ♥ ♥ Black Bean cakes and Eggs - yum!
Cafe Jonah
 Batdorf and Bronson coffee and breakfast sandwiches ♥ ♥ ♥
Douceur de France
♥ ♥ ♥ delicious quiche

Happy Breakfast peeps!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Panettone French Toast

  


I love those mornings....the slow to wake ones followed by some gentle yoga stretches, foamy, rich coffee, and something truly special for breakfast. These mornings don't happen a lot and I cling to them when they do.
On Monday, with no where to rush to and time to hang in my pj's {it's the little things that make life sweet, right?},  I decided to break out the panettone. You can find panettone at most grocery stores during the holidays. It's an amazing soft, sweet bread from Italy, full of candied orange, raisins, and lemon zest. I love it toasted with ghee spread on top and it also makes out-of-this world french toast. Perfect for the holidays and super easy to do for a family breakfast.





Friday, November 28, 2014

Carrot Soup with Swiss Chard & Dukkah


I'm a big fan of Deborah Madison. I met her years ago at Morningside Farmers Market in Atlanta. She was there on a bright Saturday morning to do a cooking demo. I fell in love with her beautiful treasure of a cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and promptly bought one for my mom and one for myself. At the time I was primarily vegetarian, eating occasional seafood, and stayed that way for about 9 years.
I do eat meat these days, but I often feel that vegetarian cuisine is still much more interesting to me and that my body craves it more than meat.
Recently, I happened upon a copy of one of her newest cookbooks Vegetable Literacy and snatched it up. I could spend an entire Sunday afternoon on the couch, just thumbing through it and dreaming of tasting her Sauteed Jerusalem Artichokes with Rosemary and Smoked Salt, Eggplant Tartines, or Sweet Potatoes with White Miso Ginger Sauce. Good God, yum.



Deborah amazes me with the depth and breadth of her knowledge on vegetables, gardening, and cooking. Her recipes aren't complicated, explained extremely well,  and there are always some interesting ingredients for me to explore. This soup recipe is the second one I decided to make from the book - mainly cause I had a bunch of carrots in the fridge that needed some loving. And, I was very curious about this Egyptian topping, known as "dukkah".





I made a few slight variations to Deborah's recipe....adding orange zest to the soup, using sauteed swiss chard instead of collards, using lemon instead of lime juice and coconut oil instead of coconut butter, and changing up the seasonings a bit in the dukkah. I don't know if my pics do it justice {that darn challenge of trying to shoot food pics while the sun is going down} - but the soup is such a gorgeous, bright orange. And it just feels so good to eat.
Soul satisfying. Thank you Deborah for your passion and inspiring me.

Carrot Soup with Swiss Chard and Dukkah 
 {adapted a bit from Vegetable Literacy}

For the soup:
2 Tablespoons ghee
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons peeled and slivered fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt



For the greens:
3 leaves of swiss chard, rinsed
Sea salt
Coconut oil
Squeeze of lemon juice

Dukkah {see recipe that follows}



Warm the ghee in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, orange zest, ginger, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt, give it a stir and cook until wilted, about 6 minutes. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the swiss chard. Trim the stems, stack the leaves, roll them up, and then slice thinly crosswise. You’ll have a pile of long, thin, slices of collards. Heat a skillet on medium, add some coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, and saute the swiss chard briefly till just wilted. Toss in a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Set greens aside.
When the soup is ready, puree until smooth {I use my Vitamix}. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. You can thin the soup with water at this point.
Ladle the soup into bowls and set a tangle of swiss chard atop each serving and top with a bit of dukkah {to your taste}.

Dukkah
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds 
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
A few pinches of dried thyme
A few pinches of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the nuts on a parchment-lined or silpat-lined sheet pan and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Transfer hot nuts to a plate to cool. Next toast the seeds the same way for about 5 minutes and then transfer these to a plate to cool.
Once fully cooled, put nuts and seeds into a food processor. Add the thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt and pulse until roughly ground, being careful to not let them become a paste. When you are happy with the texture, season with some pepper. Can be kept in a tightly sealed container for 1-2 weeks.
*Per Deborah, Dukkah can be used to spice up the flavor of scrambled eggs, grilled and roasted vegetables, bean purees, salads, soups, etc.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Luscious Pumpkin Orange Cinnamon Rolls


Cinnamon rolls are so indulgent and crazy good. I rarely make them because of that. I promise myself I'll only eat one and then I talk myself into another and end up needing an immediate siesta. Sugar crash.
But with the holidays rolling around and pumpkin season in full effect, 
I figured...why the heck not? I love working with yeasted doughs and this one is fun to make and the rolls come out beautifully.
This time I only ate one and a half, gave a few to the hubs, and took the rest to work. Yay.


I've made cinnamon rolls many times over the years, but never one with pumpkin. The pumpkin taste is subtle and the color of the dough is so pretty. And the orange zest just takes it to another level.