Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting Fresh

Over here in our home, I have to tell you that we've been getting fresh a lot. By that, I mean we've really been making and eating our share of fresh rolls. You know, fresh spring rolls? Or sometimes called summer rolls. I'm sure you've seen them served up in your favorite Thai restaurant, perhaps you've even ordered them. Here's the thing, I really don't like fresh rolls from restaurants. I find them very boring and bland. Usually most things seem to taste best when ordered from a good restaurant, but not these guys. When I first started making fresh rolls I really had no idea what I was doing and I ran into a few problems along the way. I think now I can say I know quite a bit about making these little stuffed, plump beauties.

Typically, I wouldn't feel right about sending you away without a recipe, but you see, fresh rolls are something you just have to feel your way through. And what you decide to put in them is impossible to limit and entirely up to you. I will give you some tips and tell you about the things we like to put inside. To start, to make these rolls, you really need access to a decent Asian market. There are lots of different types of the fresh rolls skins and some are made from rice flour and others tapioca or a combination of the two. I prefer the package that says BÁNH TRÁNG, SPRING ROLL SKIN. They say Panda Brand on the front and currently there is a large red rose, they are made from tapioca flour and are exported by Quang Tri Co. at 82 Nguyen Bieu. St. in Vietnam. Ashley over at Not Without Salt thought to photo the wrappers, so if you want a visual you can go there. Did I give you enough information there? I think so. Now go find them.

Also, it's really best if you cut and prep everything ahead of time and have it all laid out in the order that you want to add them in. Also, I found that making a little flavorful sauce to drizzle over the filling really amps up the flavor as well as using a dipping sauce. It's all up to you. You can use lettuce leaves whole as the first layer but I find it's easier to just shred the lettuce and add it later, whole leaves sometimes pierce through the wrapper and that will spell disaster. When we're craving fresh rolls we usually want them fast and with as little work as possible. For this reason, I choose proteins that are ready available. Many of you will prefer to cook up some chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu but for me, I like to use canned seiten/gluten ingredients. It comes in little blue cans that are easily found at the Asian markets, it can come in the form of mock duck, chicken, and others. You have to play around with them and find the one you like best, I like it because it's high in protein and I don't have to do anything with it other than pick it apart a bit. This time we used some imitation crab meat I found at a Japanese market. There are also lots of different veggies you could use: bean sprouts, cilantro, cabbage, etc. Also, one last thing, when soaking the skins in hot water, you only need to soak them for about ten seconds. They will still feel hard and hold their shape, but once you are done putting the fillings in, they will have softened up.

We use in this order, chopped mint and Thai basil, thinly sliced carrots and cucumber, canned seitan product, chopped peanuts which are cheap and can be found in the markets, cellophane noodles, shredded lettuce and a sauce made from oyster sauce, seasoned rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce for heat. For five large rolls you only need a few tablespoons of the sauce at most. A little drizzle goes a long way. Then we use sweet chili or plum sauce for dipping which I usually thin with warm water and rice vinegar. And that's it. I hope you try these soon. They really are fresh and hit the spot when you are craving something satisfying and well, fresh.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mostly Martha Blueberry Muffins

Sunday mornings kind of feel like the perfect time to head into the kitchen and whip up some blueberry muffins. And last week, that's just what I did. I scoured the handy old Internet for what seemed like the best recipe I could find. What are some of your Sunday go-to recipes? I love Sunday mornings and all of the possibilities they hold. One day I will post about my Sunday Eggs.

They were all so similar. Some recipes called for a bit of sour cream which I really like the idea of, but then there was just something about them that didn't seem right. There was one recipe I kept running into. Blueberry Muffins a la Martha Stewart. Go figure. I decided if I could squeeze a little sour cream into her recipe I was sold. It's so tough making these choices of what recipe one shall use.

I also knew that a streusel topping was a must. To Martha's recipe I simply switched out a little bit of the milk for sour cream and added some lemon extract for zing. I really wanted the lemon flavor to come through, sometimes blueberry muffins can be a bit flat, so I added zest from one lemon to the topping mixture. I had just enough exquisitely-grown blueberries from the central part of the state, where I grew up, sitting in my freezer to make a double batch. I ended up making six jumbo and gorgeous muffins, along with twelve good-sized regular ones from doubling this recipe. I will say that these were AMAZING and tasted fabulous for days and days. The jumbo ones looked like they came straight from a professional bakery. Everyone who tasted these agreed.

Mostly Martha Blueberry Muffins
makes 6 jumbo or 12 regular

1/4 pnd. unsalted butter, room temp ( 1 stick)
2 C. AP flour
1.5 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 C. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 C. sugar
2 Lg. eggs, room temp
2 t. vanilla
lemon extract, optional
1/2 C. milk, room temp (preferably whole milk, feel free to add some sour cream too)

Streusel topping:
1/2 C. AP flour
1 t. cinnamon (I used a bit less)
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. butter, melted
1 Lg. Lemon, zest only

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line either a 6 ct. jumbo muffin tin or a twelve-count regular sized tins with muffin liners.
2. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Toss a few tablespoons of the flour mixture over the blueberries and coat thoroughly.
3. In mixer, paddle together sugar and butter until very fluffy, about five minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla.
4. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour, mix slightly while pouring in milk, then add remaining flour and mix gently until just combined. Do not over mix.
5. Take bowl from mixer and GENTLY fold in the berries with a spatula.
6. Make streusel topping by combining all ingredients thoroughly until clumpy.
7. Using a scoop measure, if you have one, divide the batter evenly among the liners, it is a stiff batter and very thick, then divide the streusel evenly among the tops of the muffin batter.
8. Bake approximately 30 minutes, check for doneness sooner though. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

I love summer. I didn't always, but I won't get into all of that. I know, it's not really summer yet but it's really starting to feel like it! I've just come from watching my favorite little ladies on the planet, Sophie and Tessa, two beautiful Thai girls who are 5 and 7. I've known them since they were tiny and still love being a part of their lives. This afternoon we played for a bit on the deck, I loved the way the hot wood planks felt under my feet. Summer... Then Tessa and I went and laid out on the grass under the warm, bright sun and cheerful blue sky to flip through the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. Sophie was playing with lots of water and several pails by this time. Dropping things in, little pieces of foliage, and stirring each one very intently. I soon learned she was making 'sun tea'. After not too long, Tessa and I started to get pretty hot and asked Sophie if she would mind coming and pouring some cold water from her plastic tea pot onto our arms, legs, and feet. We called her the Water Waitress and she went back and forth filling up her tea pot to keep pouring water where we requested it. It was precious. Definitely one of those moments that feel like classic summer.

On my drive home, upon entering our neighborhood, I stopped a little longer at a stop sign to watch several neighbor boys, maybe 5 to 11 in age, out in their yard with squirt guns. A Dad was sitting along sidewalk with his feet in the street just watching, you could tell he had been hit a few times already. All of a sudden he jumped to his feet to cause some major raucous and dump a big bucket of water on one of the boys, it turned into mayhem with lots of running, laughing, hiding, and water going everywhere. I just sat there smiling, until I realized someone was behind me waiting to move on with the rest of their day. Its these moments that are only uniquely summer. There's new life and excitement all around. How could I not have loved summer all those years?

I recently got inspired to make a meal that felt very summer. In fact, while making it I took a little trip down memory lane to summer circa 1995. I was living with my parents in Yakima where the summers are long, dry, and hot. Very hot. I was about to turn 15 and since I didn't have a driver's license or a real job, most of my days were spent sleeping in, talking on the phone, and laying out in the sun. I'm a pretty fair girl, but always wanting what I don't have (still struggle with this) I was constantly trying to get super tan like all of my friends. I had a routine. This was my job! I'd find the right towels, locate my BABY OIL, fill up a squirt bottle with ice cold water, and most importantly get the boom box. I'd get myself all situated and pop in Crazy Sexy Cool by TLC (you know, Waterfalls and Red Light Special) and lay out there until I got so hot I couldn't take it anymore. I'd go inside and everything looked white, you know how that is after coming in from a bright day? If I think about it long enough I can pretty much go right back in time to that place.

For some reason I really remember that summer. Maybe it was because I was half there, I wasn't a little girl anymore but I was just on the brink of getting some independence. Life was full of possibilities. I didn't have a job or bills or debt to distract me from living. I was doing it in the best I way I knew how and I was in the moment. I wasn't jaded yet. So what if are older now and have too many bills and responsibilities. I think summer is still a time where life feels like there are new possibilities. It's a time to be happy and cheer up. So, here's to summer!

Enough with the nostalgia and sentiment. Let's talk food. You know that bottle up there? The one standing amid some beautiful window herbs (I'm gloating like a proud parent, unashamedly...) and that reads Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Vinegar - Aged 18 Yrs? That's the one. It comes from the St. Helena Olive Oil Co. I owe my Grandma Donna a huge Thank You because she brought that back from a trip her, my mom, and aunt took down to the Napa Valley. Every time I talked to my mom all I could hear was laughing and giddy excitement in the background. They toured wineries, olive oil stores, and ate at Ad Hoc two nights in a row because they loved it so much. I have a cousin who works there and I bet that if Thomas Keller is responsible for fried chicken and corn on the cob, it's probably the best you'll have in your life. Needless to say, they all had a heavenly time and from what I've gathered from my mom, if you love food, then Napa Valley practically is heaven. I don't know what it is about that place, but whatever it is that vinegar holds some of the magic too. IT IS UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING. And, it was the star of my All-American Sunday dinner.

I feel I've written so much already that I want to just take you right to the recipes. Hempler's Hot Dogs were on the menu. I made coleslaw for the first time and was quite pleased with the process and the results! Of course I used my special vinegar and a couple extra ingredients that I'll include. Then I made another side that had me weak in the knees. Boiled red potatoes dressed so beautifully and simply in Wesson Oil and my sparkling wine vinegar. I sprinkled them with basil, chives, and parsley from my window sill and some good salt and pepper. Being a chef, I feel it's an utter travesty that I've never prepared potatoes in this way. PERFECT creamy potatoes, tangy vinaigrette, and fresh herbs bursting with flavor and simplicity. Oh my goodness.

Starting the meal off with homemade lemonade, it seemed fitting to end it with the best lemon bars I've ever tasted. The lemon bar recipe comes from that company I've been referring to. The name we don't speak of around here. You're getting the recipe via my blog whether they like it or not! This meal was so perfect in so many ways. It WAS summer on a plate.

adapted from Kittencal at Recipezaar
serves 8-10

1 M. head Green Cabbage
1 S. head Red Cabbage (the two should make about ten cups)
1 LG. Carrot, shredded, remove any liquid
2-4 Scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 t. Celery Seeds, optional
1 t. Mustard Seeds, optional

1 C. Hellman's or Best Foods mayonnaise
1/4 C. cream or milk
1/4 C. buttermilk
2-3 T. white vinegar
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1/3 C. sugar, plus 2 T. if you want it sweeter
1/2 - 1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt or seasoning salt
1.2 t. pepper

In a food processor, chop or shred cabbage into small pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add the carrots, scallions, celery and mustard seeds if using.
Mix up dressing and toss with cabbage mixture. Mix thoroughly and let chill in the fridge at least 4-5 hours. Enjoy! By the way, this was amazing on top of the hot dogs!

Perfect Lemon Bars
makes about 16

1 1/4 C. AP flour
1/2 C. Confectioner's sugar, plus extra for dusting
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12, room temp.
2 L. eggs plus 7 yolks
1 C+ 2 T. sugar
2/3 C. fresh lemon juice
1/4 C. grated lemon zest (4-5 lemons)
3 T. heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle. Heat to 350. Line a 9 x 9 square baking dish with foil, so bars will be easy to remove. Spray foil lightly with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, pulse sugar, flour and 1/2 t. salt until combined. Scatter 8 T. of the butter over the top and pulse until it resembles course cornmeal, about 8 pulses.
3. Sprinkle mixture into pan and press firmly into an even layer. Bake about 20 m.
4. While crust bakes, whisk eggs and yolk together in medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in sugar till combined, then juice, zest, and a pinch of salt. Add remaining 4 T. butter and and cook over medium low heat stirring constantly until thick and registers 170 on a candy thermometer, about five minutes depending.
5. Strain mixture through sieve to remove zest, add cream to mixture and stir thoroughly.
6. Pour warm curd over hot crust, shaking to make even layer of curd, and bake until shiny and opaque and center jiggles just slightly, 10-15 minutes.
7. Let cool completely on wire rack, 2 hrs, and then carefully lift bars out of dish and cut. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving. WOW, these are so good!

When It's Good to be Corny

Corn. Chowder. When doesn't that sound good? I will say I haven't even eaten much of it in my time, but I know I've always liked it. It's kind of the same way I feel about meatloaf. Of course corn chowder and meatloaf come from very different families and many people who might love the sound of corn chowder stick their noses up at the first mention of meatloaf. But it's pretty similar in that you probably don't have it too often and its a very homey and classic dish. I wasn't even thinking about corn soup until I flipped through the Country mag****e down there below a few days ago. We all know why I was tricky just now (wink wink) - I won't let them find my tracks! One thing I appreciate about said company is how they analyze the heck out of recipes and try to make them as perfect as humanly possible. So, I jumped in feet first, think feet smashing in a trough of wine grapes, only in this case its lots and lots of corn. I did this from the comfort of my sofa of course.

Let me tell you a bit about why this version jumped out at me and why I went to the store and spent nearly thirty dollars to make a double batch of it. Corn. This recipe is very serious about its use of the main star, Corn. Isn't that the way it should be? When our stickler friends over at you know where started talking about pureeing canned corn with chicken stock to thicken the soup and retain that fresh corn presence I was in. They also gave me a good tip for cutting fresh corn off the cob. And, the recipe also called for adding all of the de-kerneled cobs to the soup in its last phase of the cooking process. As my new friend Mrs. Beeton says, "A stew spoiled is a stew spoiled." - so naturally, I avoided doing that! Remember I mentioned that I would be writing about salad creme and salad soon, well Mrs. Beeton will be the star of that show. More to come! But for now, let me tell you a bit more about this soup.

This soup is very simple in its ingredients. And one of the ingredients is bacon. You can't go wrong there, right. I do think after making it you could toss in a little extra bacon. It also has onions and baby red potatoes which just happen to be one of my favorite things lately. To finish it all off a little heavy cream and scallions. Now this soup is a little time consuming, especially if you double it like I did, but it's worth of it. I feel the need to say that when you spend a lot of time reading about a perfect recipe there is a good amount of build up and sometimes the result just can't live up to that kind of pressure no matter how great it is! This soup could be seen that way. I think when I was reading about it I somehow found my way to cloud nine, I would realistically say this soup is somewhere on cloud five or six. It's good though, friends! It's fabulous actually.

The soup isn't thickened with a roux so what you are left with is a corn chowder that is so pure in its corniness. The fresh corn stays crisp and that works beautifully with the tender, creamy potatoes. The scallions offer nice color and flavor and I suspect some fresh basil would be tasty in here as well. If you find the magazine it also lists lots of variations some including a New Orleans-style version with andouille and red pepper, a prosciutto and sage, and another with sweet potatoes and cayenne. It's not a thick and gloppy chowder. It is filling and leaves you feeling very happy afterwards. Are you ready? Here's Rachelle's Corn Chowder recipe (wink wink), let me know how you like it!

adapted from you know who...
serves 6-8

6 lg. corn ears, I used a mix of white and yellow
2 15oz cans whole-kernel corn, drained, (use Del Monte)
5 C. chicken broth (use a bit less for thicker soup)
3 sl. thick sliced bacon, sliced thinly (feel free to add an extra strap or two)
1 lg. onion, chopped finely
1 pnd. red potatoes, 1/2-inch dice
1 C. heavy cream
4 scallions, thin diagonal slice
salt and pepper

1. Prep corn. A handy trick for cutting corn off the cob is to cut it in half crosswise so that you have much shorter cobs to work with. Just stand it on its flat side and carefully slice down. This makes for more control and the kernels don't go flying around so much. So take the corn off all the cobs and place corn and cobs in separate bowls for later. Puree the drained canned corn and two cups of the broth in a blender until smooth and creamy.
2. Saute the bacon in a soup pot over medium heat until crisped and golden. Remove from pan leaving grease behind in pot. Add the onions and cook until translucent. They will pick up the bits of brown residue from the bacon and that will be perfect. Then add the fresh corn and cook for five to eight minutes stirring occasionally. You can add 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper at this time.
3. Finish by adding potatoes, corn puree, remaining broth or a cup less if you want it really thick, and reserved corn cobs. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so or until the potatoes are tender. Discard the cobs which will be hanging out around the surface and stir in cream, scallions, and reserved bacon. I added a lot more salt and pepper at this point. Taste and season according to your taste. This is good for a few days in the fridge. Enjoy!

Tea for One, Please.

It's time to introduce you to my workplace. As many of you know, I'm a cook at a local tea room. The little tea room I happen to work at is located in historic Fairhaven, which is the cute, quaint, sidewalk shop, and locally-owned businesses kind of neighborhood here in Bellingham. That was a weird sentence! Anyway, I typically have three day weekends off from work (I know, lucky, right?) and hanging out down in Fairhaven is one of my favorite pass times in this town. So that's exactly what I found myself doing this last Saturday around brunch time...

First, I hit up Village Books, my favorite local bookstore. I do must say that while I find this bookstore terribly charming, I really wish they would replace half of the workers there. Snooty. I don't let it affect my experience though! I popped in hoping to purchase the latest issue of Country Living - British Edition which they didn't have and don't seem to be carrying lately it seems. After a brief moment of disappointment, I quickly migrated to the Food, Fashion, and Lifestyle twisty-turn rack. I noticed a whole slew of mags from the company you see up above there. I don't really want to say the company name and here is why. Apparently, they scour the Internet looking for sites and blogs that use their name and recipes, if they discover you, they write and ask you to remove the information. I am going to be posting a couple recipes from them soon so I'm going incognito... If you read that link above you'll see why I'm being even more paranoid than usual! Anyway, I do have a bit of beef with the company since reading that story, but I have to say, they do put out some interesting publications with lots of useful information and no ads! Village Books had four different issues for sale and I couldn't leave the store without three of them! I picked up a spring and summer edition and then the country issue. With all of this reading material, I was off for a relaxing time at the tea room...

My dear friend Laurel, who happens to be the newest edition to Around the Table (a gourmet cooking club I'm involved with) was working and she is my favorite cook to order from because she puts so much care and detail into her plates! We are birds of a feather me and that one! I picked my favorite corner and settled in with my camera and magazines. I ordered the Gentleman's Tea because it's such a great value and had a side salad thrown in for good measure. I didn't tell you that when you work for the tea room or its sister business the pottery painting studio, you get a monthly credit benefit which you can spend at either business. Nice, right? A meal out is even better when you don't have to pay for it! Laurel started my meal off with the gorgeous plate of Strawberries.

Next was a green toss salad with crisp English cucumbers and little red grape tomatoes. I had mine with English Salad Creme which I just LOVE! You may recognize this item, most grocers carry the imported Heinz product which comes in a little bottle with a green label. Its much like mayonnaise but is much stronger and more acidic and unless you mix it with additional vinegar and oil like we do, I don't think it would be very good alone on salad. But after the alterations we do, it turns into this silky, rich vinaigrette that is downright addicting! Stay tuned because in an upcoming post I will really delve into the wonder that is salad creme. I do just adore this simple salad with green leaf lettuces.

It's really not common that I go to the tea room to enjoy a meal out in the dining room the same way all of our customers do. But whenever I get the chance, I am always pleasantly surprised at what an enjoyable and delicious experience it is! After my first bite of the Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche I was in tea time heaven. It was so good! The filling was creamy and savory and the crust was flaky and caramelized. It then occurred to me that it was my quiche! It's kind of funny to go to a restaurant and have the majority of the meal be something you created in the days prior. I gave myself a little pat on the back and went on enjoying my quiche!

Then it was three little tea sandwiches, so simple yet outrageously tasty! I ordered two cucumber and dill and one smoked salmon with cream cheese. The bread we use is airy and tender, like a soft pillow lightly cushioning the smooth, creamy fillings. It's a kind of perfection.

After all of this I was getting quite full, but there was one last course to go. Dessert. I ordered the Chocolate Pot de Creme. I also made this one! I'm crazy about puddings and custard so it's a no-brainer that I loved this creamy ending. You have a thick, rich dark chocolatey custard that is topped off with a generous, whimsical pouf of whipped cream. Sinful, really.

I really had a most lovely time at the Abbey Garden Tea Room this last Saturday. I enjoyed it the way our customers do. I sat and thought about how my boss really has created something special. I also remembered how fortunate it I am to be a part of something so heavenly!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Read It and Weep

Read it and weep. That may seem like a harsh title, because it is. I say this because you might be tempted to weep after realizing that you didn't get to be a part of this meal. Around the Table really did it up yesterday. We were like the Cows of Bashan, rolling in the grass under a bright, encouraging sun, and happily grazing on golden grass. It was that good. I hope this post and all of these pictures inspire you to create a lovely, decadent brunch of your own!

We have a very sweet and talented new addition to the group, Miss Laurel, she is a co-worker and friend of mine and is a damn fine cook. She brought champagne and a base for mimosas. But don't think for one little second that she went with the standard old orange juice concoction. Nope. She squeezed about a dozen lemons, two mineolas, and one grapefruit. A simple syrup was added to the mix to sweeten it up a bit and let me just tell you, these Mimosas were so exquisite that we all had three. Three. They were tart with lots of citrus complexities. The greatness didn't stop there, Laurel also candied orange peels resulting in about the cutest little spiral mimosa garnish around. When I think classic brunch, because I always think classic, I think of a punch with slight retro flair. I also think Bellini. And I definitely think Mimosa. Refreshing, tangy, sparkling... perfect.

I hosted the affair and finally found a reason to use my trifle bowl. Being the obsessive compulsive gal I am, I had to pick a color palette for my fruit salad. So I went with oranges, yellows, and green. From the bottom: green grapes, kiwi, oranges, bananas, pineapple, and star fruit. I really like the way it turned out. If I had had more time, I would have spent even more time to layer the fruit perfectly.

I'm just kicking myself that I didn't get a better picture here. Oh well, can't cry over spilled milk, right? To accompany my layered fruit salad, I made a lime-mint sugar topping and vanilla bean syrup for drizzling. To make the mint sugar, you mortar and pestle equal parts mint and sugar, about a quarter cup of each. Once completely ground and mixed, pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let it spend about twenty minutes in a 165' oven. Take out and break up the chunks to make a smoother mixture, fold in a bit of lime zest and voila. It really kicks up fruit salad to another level and makes it special. The dried sugar provides a bit of crunchy texture and the vanilla bean syrup is homey and comforting.

I have a new friend, Potatoes Anna. Or Pommes Anna if you want to get technical. Laura brought a potato dish that I could bathe in. Regularly. Pommes Anna is a classic french dish that calls for potatoes to be very thinly sliced and then prepared with an insane amount of butter, baked, and then inverted from its baking vessel. The result is a lovely textured potato slice with a mouthwatering amount of rich butteriness. Laura whipped a version of her own and added a layer of sweet potatoes, lots of goat butter which made it even tastier I believe, and then served the treat with a lemon-chive creme fraiche sauce.

I couldn't have this again soon enough. I found the dish to be so warming and wonderful. It was understated yet incredibly elegant. It tasted like times of old. Brilliant.

Alexis was very inspired by our local farmer's market here in Bellingham. She attributed the vegetable portion of the meal and chose broiled asparagus. She dressed it up in a springy lemon-thyme vinaigrette.

Then for fun, she fried up some dandelions. I've never had dandelions in any form and was quite thrilled to learn they are edible. I think they could be used in some interesting ways. I just loved the dandelion and lavender garnish choices, so colorful... Quite nice indeed.

Ever since I've joined the group I have heard Mallory talk about her Savory Belgian Waffle Eggs Benedict. I knew that brunch-time would be when she finally pulled it from her repertoire. She started the whole thing off with beautiful farm eggs.

This beautiful-in-every-way dish started with a belgian waffle foundation with pecorino cheese and green onions, then came several ripe slices of avacado, a perfectly poached egg, and cradled under a sheet of silky, lemony Hollandaise sauce. A sprinkle of Hungarian paprika and parsley were the finishing touches on this heavenly dish. What a treat!

For 'dessert' I made fruit-filled scones that are just delicious. I stumbled onto the recipe a couple of years ago at Olive Juice & Co. and made them for my bridal shower. At that time, I filled them with peaches and lemon zest. I find this recipe a bit unusual because it calls for cake flour and half-n-half, two things you don't often see in scone recipes. I also like the icing glaze element, this is definitely a sweet scone. The only thing I would change would be to increase the fruit amount by almost half. It would be hard to overdo the fruit. I used strawberries and lemon zest for these and we were all itching for more strawberries!

adapted from Olive Juice & Co
makes 24


4 cups flour
4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb. cold butter

Choice of fruits:
2-4 cups blueberries + zest of 2 lemons (4 C. = fruit doubled...)
2-4 cups blackberries + zest of 2 lemons ( " " )
2-4 cups chopped strawberries + zest of 2 oranges ( " " )

1/2 - 1 quart half & half (depending how juicy the fruits are that you're using)

In a bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and then cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Add the fruits. Stir in enough half & half to just make a moist dough. It should be moistened, but not sticky. With an ice cream scoop, scoop out dough 2" (or shape dough into four even disks and cut each disk into six yielding 24 scones) apart on parchment lined baking pans. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Top with glaze.

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk or half & half
a bit of vanilla & almond extract

Combine until the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle over scones while hot.

These are literally the BEST things in the world! They're not for the calorie conscious, with a POUND of butter and a quart of half &half....but they are worth every single teensy tiny calorie. This recipe makes about 2 dozen scones. And the good news is, you can make the dry mix with butter cut in, separate it into freezer bags in batches, and then add the fruit and Half & Half as needed when ready to bake. You can make as little or as many as you want! (They are best eaten fresh from the oven.)

We've also made cinnamon scones using this recipe instead of the fruit. Mix together 4T. melted butter mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 T. sugar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar...and add this AFTER you add the liquid. Enjoy...