Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blackberry Scones

Blackberry Buttermilk Scones
adapted from Baking with Julia
makes about 12 scones

3 cups All-Purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 T lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) berries
1 egg, beaten with a little water for egg wash
sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 425. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add cold butter, and with your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the mixture looks crumbly (small pieces of butter coated with flour). Add buttermilk and zest and mix with a fork until ingredients are just moistened. With floured hands, turn dough out onto a floured board or countertop, pressing the dough in a ball so it holds together. Flatten the dough into a rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick. Sprinkle the berries on top and very gently fold the dough over onto the berries from all sides like an envelope to mix the berries in among the dough. Spread the dough out again into a rectangle 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. With a large knife or pastry scraper, cut the dough into approx. 4" X 4" squares and cut the squares into triangles. Carefully transfer the triangles to a cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat liner. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12 minutes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Pizza with Grilled Vegetables 
adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) cold water
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
Grilled vegetables of your choice - zucchini, red pepper, onion, eggplant, mushrooms
Tomato sauce (recipe follows)
Mozzarella cheese, grated

Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the oil and the cold water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the flour is absorbed.  Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.

Transfer the dough to the counter dusted with flour. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and lightly oiling the parchment. Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or transfer to individual zip top bags and freeze.  Place frozen dough in refrigerator the night before you plan to use it.

On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Place the dough on a floured surface and dust the tops with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as your oven will allow.

Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. 

Stretch the dough out to about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough, lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with grilled vegetables and cheese.

Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is sufficiently browned.

Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
3 garlic cloves (or more to taste), minced

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I found this recipe for tabbouleh when my daughter, in 5th grade at the time, brought home the Children's Quick and Easy Cookbook by Angela Wilkes, which she found at her school library. When I looked through it, I was pleasantly surprised to find recipes other than chicken fingers and pizza. Actually, there were very healthy-looking recipes within a variety of international cuisines using all fresh ingredients. The book was very well laid out with lots of great pictures of every step in the recipe.

Although she and her friend only wanted to try making the goodies in the dessert section (which turned out fantastic if I remember), I was drawn to the recipes such as tabbouleh, falafel, chicken curry, thai kebobs, and chicken chow mein- things I had never tried before. The tabbouleh is delicious and is a great use for the tomatoes and cucumbers from the farmer's market and my bumper crop of parsley and mint. It makes a great, healthy, summer side dish or potluck salad since you serve it cold or at room temperature and it's not too heavy.

from Children's Quick and Easy Cookbook by Angela Wilkes

1 cup bulgur
1/2 cucumber
3 seeded, diced, tomatoes
4 scallion
a handful of pitted black olives, optional
1 bunch parsley
small handful of mint leaves
3 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

1. Put the bulgur in a bowl, cover it with boiling water, and let soak for 20 minutes until the grains soften.

2. Finely chop the cucumber. Trim the scallions and slice them finely. Rinse, dry, and finely chop the parsley and mint.
3. Drain the bulgur in a sieve over a bowl. Use your hands to squeeze out as much extra water as you can.

4. Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix together and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

America, The Beautiful

The Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming - Lower Falls

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado - Never Summer Mountains

McConnell's Mill State Park, Pennsylvania

Rhubarb Raspberry Pie and Pate Brisee

Saturday's harvest from the backyard gave me the ingredients for my all-time favorite rhubarb treat - Rhubarb Raspberry Pie. I'm still harvesting rhubarb and now the red raspberries we transplanted 5 years ago are starting to ripen, plus we have wild blackberry and black raspberry bushes surrounding our yard at the edge of the woods. The crust (Pate Brisee) recipe comes from The Martha Stewart Cookbook. Martha taught me many things, but I'm most grateful for the food processor method for making pie crust.

I found a large silicone pastry mat in King Arthur Flour catalog that makes rolling out the dough a breeze and has measurements to ensure you're rolling the dough into a circle that's just the right size.

and now I'll tell you my secret to a scrumtious, crunchy crust...brush the top with heavy cream or egg wash (whisked mixture of an egg and one teaspoon of water) and sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar.  Add a picnic with fabulous friends and you've got perfection!

Pate Brisee
Adapted from the Martha Stewart Cookbook

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

Place flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse to combine. Slice the cold butter into the processor and pulse about 10 pulses until mixture has only small lumps of butter. Add ice water slowly while pulsing until the mixture just comes together in the food processor and doesn't fall apart when you squeeze some into your hand. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, divide in half, and shape each half into a flat circle. Wrap each circle in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to a day.

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie
Adapted from the Junior League Centennial Cookbook

1 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp grated orange or lemon zest
2 cups, fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups fresh or unthawed frozen raspberries
2 T butter

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a pie plate with pastry. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and citrus zest in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the raspberries and rhubarb. Add sugar mixture to the fruit mixture and stir gently to combine. Place the mixture into the pie plate and dot with butter. Cover with top crust and seal and flute the edges. Brush top with heavy cream or beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 45 minutes or until crust is browned and the filling is bubbly. Cover pie with foil during baking if the crust is getting too browned.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Classic Buttermilk Waffles

It was Sunday night and my kids asked, "What do we have to do tomorrow?". I had to think for a moment because lately we've been running to something every night. Last week it was dance dress rehearsals, pool parties, baseball playoffs and music lessons. Wouldn't you know, we had nothing on the calendar yesterday...we could do whatever we want! Annie asked if it could be movie day and that got the ball rolling into a weekly schedule for summer vacation. Here it is:

Monday: Movie night
Tuesday: Outside Day (I hope it doesn't rain!)
Wednesday: Game night
Thursday: Baking Day
Friday: Reading Night
Saturday: Random
Sunday: Family Outing Day

I was quite impressed with this schedule of events they came up with without my help. I'm sure it will help with an otherwise unstructured summer.

So here's how our first day of summer vacation went: I had to wake the girls up at 10am! (pooped out after a long dance recital on Sunday). We made delicious Belgian waffles with real maple syrup for breakfast (see recipe below). The kids spent almost an hour taking turns jumping off my bed onto a mound of pillows on the floor while listening to loud dance music. We couldn't go for the walk we planned because of the rain (so much rain lately!), so we hopped in the car and went to the library and the video store to pick out movies for "movie night". It is no small feat finding one that everyone wants to see but we decided on the Disney movie "Enchanted". The kids played with friends after lunch and at dinnertime we ordered a pizza and watched the movie. All in all a very good day. Let's hope the rest of vacation goes this smoothly!

Classic Buttermilk Waffles
adapted from a recipe from King Arthur Flour

2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more to thin if necessary
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup ground golden flaxseed or ground pecans (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients just until almost smooth. Add more buttermilk if it seems too thick. Spray your non-stick waffle iron with cooking spray before preheating it. Cook according to wafflemaker instructions.

Makes about 8 Belgian waffles. Halve the recipe if you like, or make the whole recipe and let the extras cool on a cooling rack (so they don't steam themselves soggy) and place in a zip top bag and freeze. To reheat, place waffle in the toaster to crisp.


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