Monthly Archives: April 2013

Dried Blueberry and Meyer Lemon Scones

Dried Blueberry and Meyer Lemon Scones

Dried Blueberry and Meyer Lemon Scones

I was recently telling a colleague about these scones, and, sensibly, he asked why use dried blueberries when fresh are so much better? It’s a valid question. I do make scones with fresh berries, but they are very different – they are dropped scones (more like biscuits) because it’s difficult to form the dough into a disc and cut it without crushing the blueberries. Believe it or not, the flavor of the dried blueberries is quite good and is enhanced by the citrus lemon flavor. I love Meyer lemons because they are quite a bit sweeter than regular lemons; however, they are not always easy to find. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons are a perfectly fine substitute. These scones are great either glazed or just sprinkled with sugar. I made a simple lemon flavored glaze.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Chilled Unsalted Butter – cut into chunks
  • 1 – 11/2 Cups Dried Blueberries
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 – 2 TBS. Meyer Lemon Peel (zest) – finely grated (substitute regular lemon)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the dried blueberries and lemon zest and use a fork to mix in cream. Mix togetherGather dough into a ball and knead slightly, just until a nice cohesive ball is formed; don’t overwork. Cut ball in half to form two equal sized balls (if making large scones, skip this step). Put dough on a work surface and pat into 3/4 inch round discs. Shape into discCut dough into 8 equal sized triangles (pie shaped). Cut into piecesPlace cut scones on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet and bake for 10-16 minutes (depending on size of scones). Out of the ovenAllow to cool completely and drizzle with icing (if using).

For the Lemon Icing:

Combine 2 TBS. Lemon (preferably Meyer) Juice and 1 1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar. Adjust consistency by adding either more lemon juice or sugar.Dried Blueberry and Meyer Lemon Scones 2

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Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari close-upSometimes I decide that I should really learn how to make something that I typically order in a restaurant. The problem is that these menu items are typically not the healthiest choices. Fried calamari is a prime example. I consider myself a bit of a calamari snob when it comes to the fried delicacy. I’ve had some of the best and some of the worst versions of fried calamari, and plenty in between. My blog followers know that I have a deep fryer and am not afraid to use it. Frying, however, can be intimidating and a bit of a hassle. For the calamari, I decided not to break out the deep fryer and just worked out of a pot of oil on the stove.Of course, maintaining oil temperature is key in frying, so you’ll want to make sure that you have reliable thermometer. As for my recipe, I figured no one has ever complained about my fried chicken or chicken tenders, so I would use the same basic recipe with a few minor adjustments. I did soak the calamari rings in buttermilk, but only for 40-60 minutes rather than overnight as I would for chicken. I also added a healthy bit of Old Bay Seasoning to my breading mixture because it just has that flavor that I associate with seafood. I like well breaded calamari (if I’m going to splurge and have fried food, why not go all out?), so I did not shake off the excess breading mixture before adding to the fryer – this is optional depending on your breading preference. I served the calamari with a traditional arabiata (spicy) red sauce with some added parmesan, but it would be great with cocktail sauce or a simple lemon garlic aioli. It is important to serve the calamari immediately after it comes out of the fryer – it has a tendency to become rubbery if you try to keep it warm in the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Calamari (fresh or frozen thawed) – Rings and Tentacles
  • 2 Cups Buttermilk
  • 2 Eggs – beaten with 1 TBS. water
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 TBS. Corn Starch
  • 2-3 TBS. Old Bay (or other seafood seasoning)
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil (amount varies depending on size of pot – enough to cover bottom 3 inches of pot)
  • Fresh Lemon Wedges
  • Dipping Sauce (either marinara, arabiata, cocktail, or aioli)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pour buttermilk into a large non-reactive bowl. Add calamari, and allow to soak a minimum of 30 minutes, but up to 4 hours. Calamari rings and tentaclesCombine flour, cornstarch, and seasoning in a medium sized bowl. Place beaten eggs in a small bowl. In the meantime, heat the oil to 350 Degrees. Remove calamari from buttermilk, dunk in egg mixture, and then dredge in flour mixture. Coat with flour mixtureShake off excess flour (unless you like a lot of breading) and set breaded calamari on a wire cooling rack. Repeat process until all of the calamari is breaded. Working in batches (do not overcrowd the pot or you will not be able to maintain a consistent oil temperature), fry the calamari for 3-4 minutes until breading is golden brown. Avoid overcooking the calamari or it will be rubbery. Use a slotted spoon or strainer to remove the calamari from the oil, set on a wire cooling rack covered in paper towel to allow any excess oil to drain off. Repeat frying process for remainder of breaded calamari. Serve with lemon wedges and dipping sauce of your choice.Fried Calamari

Mini Banana Cupcakes

Mini Banana Cupcakes

Mini Banana Cupcakes

I have been slow to embrace the cupcake craze – partly because I am not much of a baker. I love about these mini cupcakes because they are the perfect little treat and they are easy to give away! They are a great use of those few bananas that never got eaten and became a bit too ripe. You could use any number of frostings on these little gems, but I used a honey cinnamon frosting and thought it was great. You could certainly make these into full size cupcakes, simply adjust the baking time (probably another 5-6 minutes).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter- softened
  • 1/2 Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Large Ripe Bananas – mashed (extra banana for garnish)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl – set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar (use a handheld mixer – or a stand mixer). creamed mixtureAdd sour cream and vanilla, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry mixture in batches; add the mashed bananas and mix until combined, but do not overmix.Add banana puree Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. Fill muffin cupsBake for 11-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the Honey Cinnamon Frosting:

Combine 1 1/4 Cups Confectioners sugar with 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Unsalted butter. Add 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon and 1 TBS. Honey – mix until well combined. Add more sugar if frosting is not thick enough. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Mini banana cupcakes

 

Chicken Carbonara

Chicken Carbonara

Chicken Carbonara

Friends and followers know that I have a weakness for pasta. I love traditional pasta and sauces, and I love unconventional renditions of the classics. When I abandon all concern for cholesterol and heart disease (really neither of those should even be mentioned in a food blog), my go-to is spaghetti Carbonara. Traditional Carbonara incorporates pancetta, eggs, and cheese. Most restaurants add cream to their Carbonara sauce, and, while not traditional, I’m not one to complain about such a delightful addition. I recently spent time at a great getaway cottage near Lake Michigan, and had a hankering for Carbonara. Pancetta wasn’t available in the little local grocery, so I substituted good local thick cut bacon (I wish I had stocked up on it – it was so good). I had two chicken breasts which I needed to use up, so I decided to saute them and add them to the Carbonara. As I’ve noted in the past, some of my favorite recipes are a result of just combining ingredients that I have on hand – this recipe definitely qualifies and I might have a hard time eating just plain Carbonara in the future.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Shallots- finely chopped
  • 6 Cloves Garlic- finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 6 oz. Proscuitto or Good Bacon – diced
  • 2 Chicken Breasts – cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • 1 Lb. Spaghetti, Linguine or Fettucini
  • 1/4-1/3 Cup Fresh Basil – roughly chopped (optional)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large (high sided) saute pan, cook  proscuitto/bacon over medium heat. Add olive oil, shallots and garlic and saute until tender. Add chicken and saute until cooked through. Browned bacon and chickenIn the meantime, cook the pasta according to directions (pasta needs to be hot Рto cook the eggs in the sauce- when added, so time accordingly). In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and cream; mix in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and basil (if using) Рset aside. Mix together egg, cream, cheese and basilWhen pasta is cooked, drain and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water. Add pasta to saute panAdd pasta and pour egg and cream mixture into the pan; season with salt and pepper. Mix sauce and pastaToss pasta until all ingredients are well combined. If sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as necessary. Garnish with remaining Parmesan and serve immediately.Chicken Carbonara