Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scones with Jam and Devonshire Cream

Oh the power of suggestion... This morning, someone posted on fb that they had just had a warm scone, with homemade jam and cream, along with a piping hot cup of tea. And there I was, just a split-second later, searching the internet for a good scone recipe.  And this, despite the fact that I barely slept a wink last night with little miss ChloĆ©, the newest addition to our family as of this past Saturday, who finally decided to wake up for once, starting right at about midnight... until 8am or so.

Pictures can be deceiving - this is not what she looked like last night

I settled on a recipe for coffeehouse scones from the Joy of Baking, a website that I have gone to from time to time for all things delicious and fattening.  And while there, I also noticed a delicious-sounding recipe for devonshire cream, which sounded even better than just plain whipping cream.  And so I raced out to grocery store to get what I needed and made these without pause. The moral of the story is basically that if you happen to come by to visit the baby in the next couple of days, you might just be lucky enough to be served on of these.

Coffeehouse Scones

2 C all-purpose flour (I used regular white flour for once, instead of whole-wheat)
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
2/3 - 3/4 C buttermilk (I added a bit of lemon juice to plain milk and let sit for 5 mins instead, and used the full 3/4 C)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit and place rack in middle of oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the  butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives.  The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together.  Do not over mix.

3.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently and form into a round that is about 1 inch thick.  Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles (I used a small mug).  Transfer the scones to the baking sheet and brush the tops of the scones with a little milk.

4.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 6-8 scones.

Devonshire Cream

This cream is a nice substitute for clotted cream, to accompany your scone.

120g marscapone cheese (can be found near the ricotta)
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp. granulated sugar (I found the scone with jam and cream a bit too sweet (I had put 1 tbsp. of the sugar in the cream). Next time, I would omit this sugar entirely.)

1.  Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until the mixture holds its shape and looks like softly whipped cream.  Use right away or cover and refrigerate the cream until serving time.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Polynesian Chicken

I made this for dinner the other night and stuck two extra portions into the freezer for post-baby days.  This recipe also comes from Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes. As with the Thai chicken thighs I recently made, I also use more chicken in this recipe than is called for, without doubling any of the rest of the ingredients. I buy the boneless, skinless chicken thighs and used about 1.4 kg to make this.
1/4 C flour
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
8 chicken thighs, skin removed if desired
1 can (540 mL) pineapple pieces, drained, juice reserved
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 C soya sauce
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 C snow peas, cut in half diagonally
slivered almonds, toasted (omit for a nut-free version)

1.  In a bowl or plastic bag, combine flour, curry powder, 1/2 tsp. of the mustard, salt and black pepper.  Coat chicken in flour mixture and place in slow cooker.  Add pineapple.

2.  In a bowl combine all but 2 tbsp. reserved pineapple juice, soya sauce, sherry, brown sugar and remaining 1/2 tsp. dry mustard; stir to mix well.  Pour over chicken in slow cooker.

3.  Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork.

4.  In a bowl combine cornstarch and remaining pineapple juice; mix well.  Pour into slow cooker.  Add snow peas.  Cover and cook on High for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened.  

5.  To toast almonds, spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree Farenheit oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Serve garnished with slivered almonds.

Serves 4.

Variation: Instead of snow peas, try substituting broccoli florets.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread

I've been trying over the past week or so to make a meal every couple of days to stuff in the freezer for when the baby comes. I'm on a bit of a cooking/baking roll, as you can tell if you check out the What I made this week section of my blog.  So far I've managed to quickly whip up:

mom's spaghetti sauce:

mom's chili:

and chickpeas in curried coconut broth

plus, some hot coconut ginger shrimp with jumbo shrimp for dinner one night:

The doctor had originally recommended that I be induced for this baby, at around 38 weeks (aka next week!). Logan was born only 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital and since second babies tend to be even quicker, she was concerned that I might end up giving birth on the side of the highway. And though I'm not thrilled at the idea of being induced, having a roadside baby doesn't excite me much either (nor does the idea particularly appeal to Jerome!). So we'd decided to go for induction. And I'd been busy thinking I had no time left to get my freezer full so that I wouldn't have to cook for the next 6 months.

And then yesterday, I found out that this baby is apparently more than content to keep hanging out in my belly (with my increasingly sore back), despite what the doctor had planned for her. So it seems that we're not going ahead with an induction next week as planned, unless the baby changes her mind between now and early next week. So we'll see... in the meantime, it just leaves more time for me to cook and spend time alone enjoying Logan before the chaos of two hits!

Because of my recent cooking/baking binge, never mind our birthdays and Thanksgiving, we now officially have way more dessert in this house than any 3 people could possibly eat before it goes bad... I whipped up this pumpkin bread with the pumpkin left over from making pumpkin pie. Luckily, this can be frozen, so we all had a slice and I'm sticking the rest in the freezer. I believe that I got this recipe from someone at the Health Unit, once upon a time... Lyne...?? Monique??? I vaguely remember someone bringing it to a potluck. It's yummy and quick to whip up. I reduced the sugar and find there is no difference in taste.

2 C flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 C mashed cooked fresh pumpkin
1 C sugar (I used 1/2 C)
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/3 C)
1/2 C milk
1/4 C vegetable oil
6 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 
1 C of dark chocolate chips)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices until well blended; set aside.  Beat eggs, pumpkin, sugars, milk and oil in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended.  Add dry ingredients; stir just until moistened.  Stir in chopped chocolate.

2.  Pour into greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

3.  Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour.

Makes 18 servings.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

I was spared the duty of having to make Thanksgiving dinner this year by Heather's invite for dinner with their family (which was wonderful - a huge thank you, Heather, for slaving away your entire birthday to feed us!!).  As it was Heather's birthday, we enjoyed some wonderful cupcakes for dessert yesterday.  Given that Isabelle is here visiting from France, I felt that I had to at least make her pumpkin pie to taste, despite the fact that we still have birthday cake left over in the fridge.

So I quickly whipped this up this morning, in the few spare moments that Logan actually let us stay inside the house today. Granted, the weather has been absolutely gorgeous for days on end now.  He figured out over the weekend how to open the screen door to take off on his own in the backyard. At least he's polite enough to close it behind him and be sure to look at me, wave, and say 'bye bye' as he heads off to get himself into trouble. We were probably in the house for all of half an hour total each day this weekend, as every time we turned around he was heading back outside to play, as the following pictures attest to.

I look at this picture and wonder what doctor has ever said that this kid isn't
putting on enough weight, lol. I suspectthat at our next visit,
they'll tell me he's doing just fine.

Glorious morning

You've gotta love that on October 10th, it was warm enough for a baby (ok, I've gotta start saying toddler...) to play outside in his diaper at 9am.

Two lessons that Logan learned while playing in the sand (aka mud pit) this morning. The first is that mom really, really, really doesn't like it when he happens to fling a shovel full of mud into the play room via the screen door Isabelle has just opened, onto the newly steam-cleaned carpet. Grr... at least it was accidental... The second is that, eating mud isn't much better than eating dirt. And using your muddy hand to scoop the dirt that you sucked off of a toy out of your mouth isn't super effective. Gotta love little guys ;)

Anyhow, back to my recipe... I really only make this once a year, if that. This year, I used some leftover pastry that Jerome's mom had left in our freezer during her visit last year. I felt it was fitting to use it with Isabelle here visiting.  Otherwise, I would have used my food processor basic pastry recipe.  I opted to use our nice decorative pie plate, which was a bit of a mistake. It was too deep for the pie, so we ended up with a super deep dish pumpkin pie, with a somewhat raw crust. Good thing we weren't having company over.  But it was still edible and the pie recipe itself is yummy. So here goes:

1 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 1/2 C cooked or canned pumpkin, mashed or pureed
1 1/2 C (1 can) evaporated milk (I used low-fat)
1/2 C milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.

2.  Line a pie pan with the pastry dough.

3.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth.

4.  Pour into the lined pie pan.

5.  Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 300 degrees Farenheit and bake for about 45 minutes or until the filling is firm.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

This recipe comes from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  I usually make this recipe in massive batches every year after we go apple picking and then can it for the winter. There's nothing better than homemade applesauce, a little bit reheated, for dessert.  I've also made some apple-pear and apple-blackberry varieties over the year, that were also quite delicious.  As I don't have any time to get out my canning supplies these days, I settled with making us a triple batch to eat over the next several days instead.

We went back up to Les Vergers Lafrance again yesterday morning for another apple-picking adventure. We were almost already done our 20 lb. bag that we picked two weeks ago and I figured we could always eat our way through another bag. It was a beautiful day and, with Jerome's cousin visiting from France, we figured it'd give her a chance to experience a Canadian fall tradition. 

The author suggests that you do not need to use the spices when making this with fresh fall apples. However, she says that you should add both the spices and butter when making this with apples kept long into the winter, to add to the flavour. I've always made this recipe in the fall, and have never added either any sugar or butter (though I do use the spices) and I've always found it flavourful as is.  You can play around to see what you prefer.
8 tart apples
1/2-inch cinnamon stick (optional)
2 cloves (optional)
2 tbsp. butter (optional)
few gratings of nutmeg (optional)

Cut the apples in large chunks; pare and core them if you do not have a food mill.  Put them in a pot, add a very small amount of water, about 2 tbsp. sugar, and the cinnamon and cloves, if you wish.  Cover and cook slowly until tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Put the apples through a food mill to remove the skins, seeds and spices, or simply remove the spices if you have peeled and cored the apples before cooking them.  Stir in the butter, if you like, and add more sugar to taste and nutmeg if desired.

Serves 4.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Boston Cream Pie

Yesterday was my husband's 40th birthday. Oddly enough, he and I share the same birthday (day, not year, thankfully... heehee...).  Most years, we are both just too lazy to plan anything and go out for a nice dinner. This year, we weren't able to get a sitter, being Thanksgiving weekend. And since it was his 40th, I figured the onus was on me to make something decent for dinner. 

Lucky for me, Jerome's cousin Isabelle is here visiting from France, and she was nice enough to offer to prepare dinner. Which meant I only did the cake - meaning that I could keep Logan home with us for the day to spend a bit more time with him before baby #2 arrives.

I chose to make this cake because (1) though we don't have donuts very often, Jerome's absolute favourite is a Boston cream donut and; (2) though he has no recollection of this, I made this cake sometime in the past 5-10 years and he loved it. Lucky for me, he doesn't remember this in the slightest, and thought I had hunted down this recipe specifically for his 40th.

The recipe sounds all long and complicated, but it's actually not that hard to make. Although I very rarely use cake and pastry flour, I did in this recipe, as I was afraid that it would otherwise affect the texture of the cake, which is supposed to be light and fluffy.  Good thing Isabelle was here, as the first time I poured the cake mixture into the pan she marveled at how few ingredients were in the recipe... wondering how a cake could have no flour... oops... good thing she's inquisitive, or I'd have had to make it twice...

Instead of vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean in the filling (mmm... the stuff we still have from Tahiti that is dwindling over time...). I probably used about a 2-inch piece, scraping the seeds into the milk mixture and then leaving the piece in there while boiling everything together. I chose to use homogenized milk in the filling, as I figured it'd give a richer texture/flavour (and since we already had some in the fridge for Logan).

For the glaze, I messed up a little bit. I used 2 tbsp. corn syrup, to get rid of some old corn syrup that has been sitting in my cupboard for years (ever since I gave up using corn syrup, since discovering healthier options, such as brown rice syrup and agave syrup - both of which can be purchased in health food stores if you can't find them in your grocery store).  

I then used 1 tbsp. of agave syrup. However, it completely slipped my mind that agave syrup is sweeter than sugar while making this substitution. And I've just learned in googling that corn syrup is actually less sweet than sugar (who'd have thunk?). In any case, end result is that the glaze was way sweeter than I'd have wanted (though still ok with the rest of the cake, but I wouldn't want to make it like this again). Not sure what I'd do next time, as I'm afraid that reducing the amount of syrup overall might affect the texture of the glaze. So maybe I'd just do it with corn syrup next time, even though I'm now fully against ever using it again... Anyways, given that I make this every 5-10 years, it's not something I need to figure out just yet...

I love, love, love the texture of this glaze. It's super easy to ice the cake, as you just dump the glaze over top and let it run all over. And it firms up into a fondant-looking icing that just looks beautiful. This may just become my go-to cake icing (for the one or so cakes that I make per year). 

To cut the cake in half, you can do it gently with a knife. Or, alternatively, you can take a piece of dental floss, wrap it around the cake, cross the ends, and then pull then continue pulling the ends to have it slice through the cake. Warning from past experience: do not do this with mint-flavoured dental floss, unless you have a mint flavoured cake... otherwise you will have an unwanted mint flavoured cake. 

It's been ages since I made this cake and I had forgotten quite how yummy it is. The cream in the centre is particularly tasty and I'm sure the use of real vanilla bean and homogenized milk have lots to do with that. So if at all possible, I'd recommend you try to use both.

3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 C cake flour

1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C flour
1 1/2 C milk (I used homogenized milk)
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean)
pinch of salt

1/2 C granulated sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. water
4 oz. (4 squares) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 120g of dark chocolate chips)

Unfortunately, our camera battery died just as we lit the candles,
so I couldn't get any pictures of Jerome with his cake...

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.  Line with waxed paper. (I used a springform pan, which made it super easy to get the cake out of, since you can just snap the edges off - I also didn't bother with the waxed paper, but made sure the pan was well greased. And I just slid a knife under the bottom of the pan to get it out easily.). 

2.  Beat together egg yolks and vanilla at medium speed until blended.  Beat in half of sugar until very thick and pale.

3.  Using clean, dry beaters, beat together egg whites and salt at medium speed until very soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.

4.  Folk yolk mixture gently into whites.  Gently fold flour into mixture.  Do not overmix.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

5.  Bake cake until top springs back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes.  Loosen cake by running a metal spatula around sides of pan.  Invert cake into a wire rack.  Remove pan, leaving waxed paper on cake.  Turn cake right-side up.  Cool completely on rack.

6.  Meanwhile, prepare filling.  In a saucepan, mix together sugar and flour.  Gradually whisk in milk, then egg yolks, vanilla and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Strain through a sieve into a bowl (I skipped this) . Press plastic wrap on surface.  Chill for 30 minutes.

7.  Using a serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half.  Carefully remove waxed paper.  Place bottom layer on a serving plate.  Spread evenly with filling.  Top with remaining cake layer.

8.  To prepare glaze, in a saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate; let stand for 1 minute.  Whisk until smooth.  Gradually pour glaze over cake, allowing it to drip over sides.  Let stand until glaze sets.

Must be stored in refrigerator. 

Makes 8 servings. (I'd say more like 12)

Happy birthday honey :) Hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apple Crisp

Still working on all of those apples from apple-picking. Aside from the mountains that we've just been eating day after day.  Logan's love of eating a whole apple (instead of apple sauce) pretty much disappeared the minute we left the orchard, so he's not being much help...

This is my mom's recipe, that I have slightly modified over the years to make it just a wee bit healthier.  I usually don't measure the apples, but just fill the dish as full with them as possible.  I typically throw in some wheat germ to replace some of the flour and/or oats. I don't really measure... today I probably used about 1/3 C total of wheat germ.  My favourite variation, which I didn't make today, is to substitute peanut butter for the margarine (using the full 2/3 C). Delicious...

6 C cooking apples, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 C flour (I use whole-wheat)
1 C quick rolled oats (I use old-fashioned instead, since they're healthier)
2/3 C margarine (I use 1/3 of light margarine, melted)
1 1/2 C brown sugar (I use about 1 C of brown sugar or 2/3 C brown sugar Splenda mix)

1.  Put apples in an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.  Pour water in at one side.  Drizzle the apples with lemon juice.

2.  In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and oats.  Cut in margarine with 2 knives.  Turn out over the apples and pat down firmly.

3.  Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 hour.