Saturday, January 26, 2013

A good scone is hard to find

I love me a good scone.

Trouble is, a good scone is hard to find. Like a good man, a good scone is warm and sweet, but not too sweet. A little hard on the outside, but still soft on the inside. Comforting, sturdy, but not too tough. Have I driven this metaphor as far as it can go? Methinks so, but you get it.

Scones can be tricky, especially when you have a toddler running around and your ambitious dreams of perfectly round scones are foiled by mischief involving matchbox cars,  crayons, stuffed animals or toilets. Hopefully not all of those things together.Just plan ahead and realize your scones can be close to perfect using Ina Garten's lovely recipe, as long as you lock your kiddo in his room (not really:)).

Ina's Cranberry Orange Scones
very slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

4 cups flour, plus 1/4 cup
3 sticks of butter, very cold
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbls. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbls. orange zest
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
juice of one orange
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. dried cranberries and golden raisins
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Cut butter sticks into small cubes (I quarter each stick lengthwise, then chop) and return to the fridge. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, blend 4 c. flour with sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. With mixer set to low speed, add butter a bit at a time. Mix until dough looks like small peas. Do NOT overmix it. You'll get tough scones and be super bummed.

In a small bowl, beat eggs slightly, add in cream. With the mixer set to low speed, pour egg mixture into the dough slowly. Mix until just combined.

Toss raisins and cranberries with remaining 1/4 c. flour. Add to the mixer bowl and mix until just combined.

Turn half of the dough out onto a well floured board. Refrigerate the rest in the bowl. Floor your hands well, this stuff is sticky. Knead into a ball, floor your board more and roll or press it into a one inch thick circle. If you're ambitious, use a greased circle cutter to cut scones. If not, slice the circle into six triangles with a greased knife. See my previous note about ambition.

Place scones on the baking sheets about an inch apart and bake 20 minutes or until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Whisk juice and powdered sugar together to make a glaze. You may use more or less sugar depending on your desired consistency, so just add a little sugar at a time. I like a thinner glaze, so I use less. Drizzle over cooled scones and sprinkle with sugar.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Presto Pasta

My little man is being weird about his veggies again. Weird in the way that makes me have to plan new meals and try new recipes and actually COOK something I haven't cooked for him before. Holy moly cow (as Jude loves to say these days)! Holier molier cow, I'm actually in love with it. It isn't the olden days of sifting through Food and Wine magazine looking for drool worthy photos or perusing the aisles of Whole Foods sniffing miso pastes and fennel powder. It's more like, "Shit. I have mushrooms that will go bad in 2 days, not enough spinach for a salad, and 20 minutes to make a meal of it. FML." Those moments always bring me back to pasta. It's the easiest and fastest way to stuff veggies into a kid without fail and it's done in 20 minutes. Jude powered through two bowls of this with a side of turkey meatballs dunked in yogurt (because why wouldn't you dunk a meatball in yogurt?) and begged for more. Sadly there wasn't any more to give him, because E and I had powered through the rest already. It's that good.

If your toddler (or anyone) is averse to chunks of mushroom or spinach leaves, just puree the whole batch of sauce until it's smooth and no one will know it has veggies in it. Wanna double up the veggie punch? Serve it with the Piccolini pasta Barilla makes. We love that stuff!

Fusilli with Spinach and Mushroom Cream Sauce 

16 oz. sliced button mushrooms
2 c. baby spinach
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls. butter
4 sage leaves, chopped or 2 tsp. dried sage
1 c. cream
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups cooked fusilli or other short pasta

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until garlic is fragrant and mushrooms are beginning to brown, stirring often. Add spinach and toss until wilted. Add cream and sage and bring to a simmer. Continue stirring and simmering until cream thickens and mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using a large spoon, transfer half of the mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return to the pan and stir into remaining mixture. Add cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Serve immediately.