Friday, March 29, 2013

Identity Crisis: Scottish Scones or English Muffins

I would not know a genuine Scottish scone if it introduced itself to me while wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes, so whether or not these are authentic, I cannot say.  What I can say is that they are mighty tasty and um, they kind of taste like English muffins.  No nooks and crannies, but the flavor is very similar.  Those of you that know me well understand that being similar to an English muffin is a very comforting thing in my book.  And a homemade scone-muffin is even better.

Deepest apologies to anyone who is English or Scottish and is heartily offended that a) I consider these scones Scottish, if they're not or that b) I compared these to English muffins.  Despite being an American I know that England and Scotland are not in the least interchangeable whatever the status of these particular baked goods.   


2 1/2 C flour
2 t sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cream of tartar
2 T unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 C buttermilk (As always, I didn't have buttermilk.  I usually do 1 T white vinegar to a scant cup of milk, but this time I did 3/4 C plain yogurt to 1/4 C milk.  It was a bit thick and I had to sort of eyeball extra milk to make it work).
1 large egg, beaten

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix until well combined.  Using your stand mixer, or your fingers, mix in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in the buttermilk and the beaten egg lightly until it forms a soft dough.

Turn the dough out on a very well floured surface.  Get your pan ready, you'll need a cast iron pan or skillet.  Use butter or vegetable oil to grease the surface (butter burns more easily, so you might be better off with oil) and turn the heat up to medium.  Okay, return to your dough.  Divide it into two equal pieces.  Then roll each one out into a 1/2" thick circle and cut into wedges (I got between 4-6 wedges per circle, it all depends on how big you want your scones).  Make sure each wedge is well floured, and get the first batch into the pan (you'll need to do two batches).

Cook for 3-5 minutes on the first side, flip them, cook 6-8 minutes on the back, then stand the wedges on their sides, like so:

and cook for 1-2 minutes per side.  If you think they're not done, you can return them to the first side to cook for a few more minutes, but mine were always done.  Repeat with the second batch.  Then get your butter and jam and go to town.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ask and You Shall Receive...

My husband is many wonderful things, but he is not decisive when it comes to food.  In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not much better. Way back when we first started seriously dating and generally eating dinner together each night, choosing what we would make was an ordeal consisting largely of "I don't knows" on my side and "I don't feel likes" on his side.  This of course, leads to eating dinner at an ungodly hour. In a misguided attempt to solve our problem one day, I called him before he left work (this was back before texting was a thing) with some suggestions for dinner.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when he came back with "I can't choose.  I'm not hungry yet.  I won't know what I want until I'm hungry."  Needless to say, once we moved in together he pretty much lost all say in dinner entirely, and I just started cooking whatever I wanted.

Which is why last weekend when he suddenly developed a strong desire to have shrimp chowder for dinner, I was happy to oblige.  Not only was I thrilled that he was offering up a dinner suggestion, I just happened to have a recipe for shrimp chowder on hand that I wanted to try.  The recipe comes from a friend of my grandmother's. She hosted a lunch and my Nana thought the soup was so delicious that she got the recipe for me.  It had languished in my recipe file for awhile, but I'm glad Ryan gave me the motivation to finally try it.  It's definitely going into the rotation.

altered slightly from the original

1 lb shrimp (peeled, deveined and chopped into bite sized pieces, but not too small!)
6 slices bacon (or turkey bacon)
1 1/2 C diced onion
2 celery ribs
2 medium baking potatoes, diced
3 bottles clam juice
1 C light cream
1 C milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, cook your bacon.  You can do it as slices and crumble later, but I chopped mine ahead and then fished out the bits when they were crisp.  Crisping will take 5-7 minutes over medium heat.  Remove the bacon to paper towels and set aside until later.  Chop your celery, I do mine in a fine dice because Ryan hates celery, but you can gauge your chopping size however you please. Add the onion and the celery to the pan (no need for butter or oil if you have bacon drippings in the pan).  Cook for 7 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.  Then add the clam juice and the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let simmer 15-20 minutes until your potatoes are tender.  Add the milk and cream (you can add all cream, even all heavy cream if you want full decadence).  Then add your shrimp and simmer for 3 minutes until they are pink.
Be really careful throughout these last 2 steps because if the heat is too high the cream will kind of separate and get grainy.  It'll taste fine, but look yucky. Add your salt and pepper to taste.  Once the shrimp are cooked you can add the bacon.  I served first and then used the bacon as a pretty garnish, but you're more than welcome to just stir it into the soup.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Toy Test Run

For Christmas, I got many kitchen toys, including this super cool Cookie Dough Scoop.  The red part you see my mom pressing above sort of pushes out the dough making it much easier to use than say, a spoon.  I was kind of surprised that it has crappy reviews on Amazon because I was ready to marry the thing.  It did eventually get kind of sticky and less efficient, after the first 3 dozen cookies.  I can't say that I blame it.  I'm kind of sticky and less efficient after 3 dozen cookies too.  Anyway, I've basically been in a recuperating from Christmas trauma non-baking rut, and I called my mother to help me fix that.  And we whipped up my Oatmeal Raisin Apple Walnut Cookies as well as some scones I'll tell you about later.  And now I have plenty of delicious carbohydrates to enjoy.  Aren't you jealous?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Marching On

These days there is exactly one thing preventing me from becoming a total failure as a food blogger and home cook: Lent.  If it weren't for this whole meatless Friday conundrum I would continue with my downward spiral of leftovers, takeout and waiting for Ryan to get home and cook for me.  But if I want to actually observe the dietary part of Lent, I must take matters into my own hands.  Being not a Christian, much less a Catholic, Ryan finds the whole practice ridiculous.  So to avoid any arguments about whether or not I should be skipping meat (especially hard to win when there's no Pope about) I have to be on my game and have Friday night dinner planned and in progress before he has time to notice or comment on the lack of meat.  This week I needed something fully pantry supplied because with disgusting snowy icy conditions outside there was no way I was venturing to the supermarket.  So despite some initial misgivings about mixing seafood and cheese, I decided on clam pizza.  Ryan was skeptical to say the least (although he hid it well, he's really a saint once I've decided about dinner, supportive, kind and willing to eat it) but it was delicious I think we both wished I had another waiting in the wings.

CLAM PIZZA (no, this will probably not compare to Frank Pepe's in New Haven and any stories I may have about aimlessly driving through New Haven in search of Frank Pepe's will have to wait for another blog post)

1/3 recipe of dough rolled out thin
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
pinch + a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (you'll need to follow your own taste on this)
3 cloves minced garlic
1-2 cans chopped clams (We buy Snow's.  Do you have a better brand?)
1 C grated mozzarella
1 C grated parmigiano reggiano
2-3 T clam juice (reserved from cans above)
sprinkle of oregano
cornmeal (optional)

Preheat your oven to 475 F.  In a small pan, heat your oil, minced garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes on low.  Let that gently cook while you roll out your dough.  Sprinkle your baking sheet with a bit of cornmeal to prevent sticking and then lay out your dough.  Use a fork to poke the dough to prevent bubbles. Brush the dough with the heated olive oil, saving the garlic and red pepper flakes for later (I just dipped the brush in the pan and then basted the crust, no need for formal separation or anything).  Pop the dough in the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove the crust and brush with the olive oil and garlic mixture, this time using the garlic and red pepper.  Poke at it a bit to make sure the garlic is sort of evenly distributed.  Mix together your two types of grated cheese and then lightly sprinkle the crust with it.  I started with a half cup of each and it wasn't quite enough to cover so we grated a bit more.  For how we'd rolled out the dough it was a light covering of cheese.  If you like yours super cheesey you'll need more.  Drain the clams reserving the juice. Sprinkle the crust with the clams.  One can was delicious, but I wouldn't have minded some more.  I think two cans (which was not an option for us because one was all we had might be too much, so eyeball it if you go beyond one can).  Then drizzle over a few tablespoons of the juice (don't do too much, no one likes soggy crust).  Sprinkle the whole thing with oregano (mine has a shaker opening and I just very lightly went over the whole pie).  Then if you like some spice, do a very light sprinkle of red pepper flakes too (these are VERY strong in flavor and heat so be very cautious with them).  Put the pizza back into the oven for 5 more minutes.  Remove, cut, eat and wish you had more.


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