Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cranberry Walnut Scones

One of the big selling points for moving to my new town was the proximity to a Wegmans.  For those of you who aren't aware of this magical place, it is a super market that has a café, lots of prepared foods, a wonderful natural food section, amazing store brand items, and a toy train that runs above part of the store.  The one near me (and hopefully all other locations) has a great kosher selection, including a kosher counter in the area where they have the deli, bakery, seafood, etc.

Another reason I love Wegmans is the events!  From family movie nights to book signings, they cater to all audiences.  Which brings me to why I'm telling you about my supermarket...

Last week they had a book signing for chef Anne Burrell's new cookbook "Own Your Kitchen".  It happened to fall on the day I planned to do my food shopping, so that afternoon I packed up my son and off I went.  Anne is every bit a crazy/funny as she appears on TV.  After telling her that my husband would be jealous that our infant son was meeting her and he wasn't she replied "oh, I'm sorry...wait, no I'm not".  She called my baby her "littlest fan".  I knew I was right to start him young on his love for cooking!

When I got home and broke open the book, my eyes immediately fell to the Brunch section where the first recipe was for cranberry walnut scones; which was perfect since this month's What's Baking theme was scones!  So I set out to make them on a day when we were having company over (no need for my husband and me to eat all 8 scones ourselves).

The scones were simple to make, even if I second guessed myself on if the consistency of the dough was actually correct (they came out exactly as they should, so I guess it was right).  The one thing that I found to not work from the original recipe was the cook time.  After the suggested "16 to 18 minutes" the scones were definitely not done.  I happened to be in my kitchen with a friend who was a professional baker who mentioned that her scones usually take 30-40 minutes to bake.  I kept mine in for another 10 minutes and they came out perfect.

For the honey butter that goes with the scones, I decided to be ambitious (and work on my arm muscles a bit) and I whipped it by hand.  It took longer than I remembered whipping cream to take, but we were all standing around the kitchen drinking coffee while I was whipping so I didn't mind.  Have I mentioned how happy I am to have a kitchen big enough for people to stand around in?  So much better than my old tiny one where I would be running in and out of the room to join in the conversation happening in the living room/dining room.  Of course the next day I remembered that my immersion blender has a whisk attachment...oh time!

This recipe was one that I actually felt I made in the allotted amount of time.  From start to finish it really didn't take more than an hour, even with my adding the extra cook time.  And the consensus of all my guests was that the scones came out delicious.  And after eating one I wish we had more than 2 left over....

Cranberry Walnut Scones (very slightly adapted from Own Your Kitchen by Anne Burrell)
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsps baking powder
zest of 1 orange
pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsps) cold unsalted butter, cut into pea-size pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
- Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Place the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, orange zest, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like crumbled parmesan cheese (20 to 30 seconds).
- Add the cream and continue pulsing until the mixture begins to come together in little balls about the size of gravel, being careful not to overwork the dough or it will become tough.
- Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface.  Add the cranberries and walnuts and gently work them into the dough.  Don't knead the dough - just bring it together until it forms a homogenous mixture, be gentle, but firm.
- Flatten the dough into a round disk about 1 inch thick.  Cut the disk (pizza style) into eight triangles.
- Place the dough triangles onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with a little turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden on top.
Honey Butter
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
- chill a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for 15-20 minutes (you can use your electric mixer bowl or, if you are whipping by hand, any metal mixing bowl).
- pour the cold heavy cream and honey into the bowl and beat until the cream begins to clump together (10 or so minutes).  Use right away or store in the fridge.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Parsnip and Potato Soup

I am so happy that my son's schedule is starting to get a slight bit more predictable and I am able to cook dinner again!  Usually it ends up being a quick and easy meal that gets made as my husband is putting the baby to bed, and dinner time ends up being 9pm, but we get to eat a home cooked meal, so we're ok with that.

One of my go-to shows to watch during this maternity leave is The Rachael Ray Show (it happens to fall at a time that usually ends up as my son's morning meal time and it keeps me entertained).  While I enjoy watching the show in general, it's also a great place to get meal ideas!  Last week she made a parsnip and potato soup that looked so delicious that I knew I needed to make it as soon as possible.

The soup starts out with bacon, which (obviously) I can't use, so I substituted a little oil and added a little more salt than it would have taken if we used salty bacon.  I didn't feel there was anything missing flavor-wise with these substitutions.  Something else I did that wasn't in the original recipe is that while I blended the soup I left some chunks of potato and parsnip, which my husband agreed was a nice touch.  It added a little more texture to the soup (we always laugh when the judges on Chopped refer to texture in dishes, but it's a very valid point!).

This soup is a perfect dish for a fall evening.

Parsnip and Potato Soup (slightly adapted from Rachael Ray)

2 tbsp cooking oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 tbsp butter
2 large Russet potatoes, 1 1/4 lbs, peeled and diced 
3 to 4 large or 6 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
1 onion, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, chopped 
Black pepper 
1/8 tsp grated or freshly grated nutmeg 
1 bundle of parsley, tied with string
1 qt Imagine No-Chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 pt cream 
Toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish
Sourdough rolls to serve 
- Heat a soup pot with the oil over medium-high heat. Add butter to melt.
- Reduce heat a bit, add potatoes and stir to coat.
- Add parsnips, onions, garlic, black pepper, nutmeg and parsley; partially cover and cook to soften 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (The color of vegetables should be light golden.)
- Remove parsley.
- Purée potatoes and parsnips in batches if necessary in a food processor or blender with stock or just add stock to the soup pot and use an immersion blender, leaving some chunks.
- Stir in cream then season the soup with salt to taste.
- Serve in bowls, garnish with pumpkin seeds, with sourdough rolls on the side for dunking.