Bacon Scallion Scones

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I grew up in a household where both my brother and I were asked at the dinner table whether we liked any boys or girls at school. No, this doesn’t mean did my brother like girls and did I like any boys. It meant, simply, do either of you like anyone of any gender? My mom was probing to say the least. As I got older, I rolled my eyes at her and ran off with my football player boyfriend.

A few months ago when I told my mom I was dating my co-worker Erika, she exclaimed over the phone, “Oh, I have always wanted a lesbian in the family.”

Was the fact that I nursed until I was two years old a self-fulfilling-prophecy for my love for boobs or love for food?

I am dating my co-worker lady best friend at a food delivery company. Heh.

Last fall, I took my favorite sweet scone recipe and tried to make it savory. It turned into a confused pastry that was strangely endearing and impossibly addicting – not unlike my relationship.

Erika and I ate nearly the whole batch while sitting on the couch watching The L Word. That’s right – screw you Jenny Schecter.

Makes 8 scones//Not really, but kind of, from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen whole
  • 5 slices of thick cut bacon (cooked and crumbled or chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/3 cup sharp white cheddar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Maldon Sea Salt (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large wholes of box grater (grate a total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. You will not need the remaining 8 tablespoons, so go ahead and put it away.  Whisk milk and sour cream together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl. Add frozen, grated butter and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated. Fold in chilled milk mixture with a spatula until just combined. Fold in scallions, bacon bits and cheese. Do not over mix.

Turn dough and any floury bits out onto a well-floured counter. Lightly flour hands and dough and then knead it 6 to 8 times until it just holds together in a ball.

Flour your surface again because my dough stuck to the counter at first and made a huge mess. Roll dough out into a 12-inch square. Fold sides in to make a long rectangle. Then fold sides in again to make a 4-inch square. Transfer dough to a lightly floured plate and put in freezer for 5 minutes (do not over chill).

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and roll again into 12-inch square. Loosen dough from surface and roll it into a log, then pinch the ends closed. Lay dough seam side down and press into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using floured chef’s knife, slice dough crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Then slice each rectangle on a diagonal into 2 triangles.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Beat 1 egg yolk with a splash of water. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with Maldon sea salt. Bake until scone tops are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. There may be grease from the cheese/bacon/butter spilling into the pan, but don’t worry, that will just create crispy cheese bits. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Cheesy Jalapeno Biscuits

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I live with a character. She is nearly 6-feet-tall with the greatest legs in Washington state. She has red hair and would describe her own body as looking like a carrot.

Her family is Jewish, but this year they celebrated Hanukkah with a night on the town and ate barbecue pork.

She graduated with a degree in theater. She has more rings than fingers, and hoops dangle from her ears daily.

She is easily one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

At a Mexican restaurant once, the waitress asked us if we would like our chips refilled and Halle responded, “Oh you temptressss.”

We eat popcorn together. She talks up my cooking abilities. I remind her she is one of the most hardworking people I know.

Naturally, when her 23rd birthday rolled around last month, I had to make something special. She has raved about the biscuits in Portland, ones with spicy jalapenos and the chew of cheddar. I made a take on this, which we happily gobbled up.

Makes 12 little biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or scallions
  • 1/3 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

To form and finish biscuits

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour distributed in rimmed baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse all of the dry ingredients for the dough, until combined. Scatter butter cubes over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture becomes crumbly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add grated cheese, jalapeno and chives. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated.

To form and bake biscuits: Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 mounds. Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour and form into balls. Tap off excess flour and place into the prepared cake pan. Arrange nine balls around the outside of the pan and three in the center. Brush the tops with melted butter, being careful to not flatten them. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake five minutes, then reduce temperature to 450 degrees. Continue to bake until biscuits are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan two minutes, then remove and serve, preferably with more butter.

Chard and Sausage Strata

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Christmas morning my mom and I woke up and cleaned the kitchen. I looked down at the dishes I was scrubbing and said, “Mom remember when I would wake up at 6 am Christmas morning and sprint to my presents? I want to feel that sugar plum fairy excitement.”

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Presents no longer seem to give me that feeling like they did when I was a kid, but Christmas brunch does. I pulled my grandmother Bunny’s coffee walnut chocolate chip muffins out of the oven, a sentimental smell permeating the room. My mom made a citrus salad. We bantered back and forth about how much honey to drizzle over the top. My brother and dad knocked on my door. My dad told my mom she really needs to start aging and then they bonded over their mutual plantar fasciitis. (I’m going to get a text from my dad after this post goes up saying yet again I’ve put him on “blast.”)

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We opened our stockings, and I pulled my strata out of the oven. We swooned over the soft, custard center with a crunchy top. The bread was crusty in all the right places with ribbons of chard throughout. Everyone loved it.

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Generally we make Grandpa Mackey’s famous breakfast casserole with white bread and cream of mushroom soup among other things. It’s one of those really bad Midwest treasures that is remarkably satisfying. This year my dad requested that we take it up a notch.

Makes 1 hefty casserole//Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of rustic bread, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces wild mushrooms like shiitake, chanterelle, button or oyster, sliced
  • 1 pound chard, stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 12 ounces cheddar, grated
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cut bread into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups loosely packed bread.

Place sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the same pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet and toss in the mushrooms. Cook until tender and then transfer to a bowl.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the chard and plunge the chard into a bowl of ice water. Drain again. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Roughly chop and add to the bowl of mushrooms and onions. Add the sausage, bread, chives and thyme. Reserve 3/4 of a cup of the cheese and then stir in the remainder. Transfer the contents of the bowl to the greased dish.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Pour over the rest of the ingredients. Use a spatula to press down on the bread and submerge it as much as possible. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until the top is golden and the center is firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Puff Pastry with Dijon, Ham and Sharp Provolone

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Congratulations to Lee for winning my cheese giveaway. She wrote a hysterical rap about her need for our favorite dairy friend. I will admit, when I was thinking about how someone could qualify to win a box of cheese, I was looking for entertainment.

The first entry came in one day, and I chuckled, scrolling down my phone. I busted through the door and proceeded to rap it out loud to Tommy. We laughed and I said, “Keep ’em comin’.” And they did.

Though all were wonderful, Lee’s took the cake. Alana, my brother’s girlfriend, took second place. I will reward her when she comes home from NYU for Christmas.

What else have I been doing with my seven mighty cheeses? I made this quick puff pastry and filled it with a layer of Dijon, ham slices and BelGioioso’s sharp provolone. Though the pastry didn’t have hundreds of layers like a croissant, my friends were impressed. We carved up the fatty rectangle, eating it with our fingers and washing it down with red wine.

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (2 cups), unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 pound sliced ham
  • 1 cup grated sharp provolone

Cut 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter into a small 1/2 to 1/4 inch dice. Place on a plate and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients. Measure the water and dissolve the salt in it.

Coarsely dice remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter. Add flour to food processor. Add the remaining butter. Pulse until combined, about 10 pulses.

Add the plated cold butter and pulse only once or twice more. Add water and pulse 3 to 4 more times, just until the dough forms a ball. I used my hands to finish forming the ball once it started coming together.

Flour your work surface. Shape dough into a rough rectangle and place between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin over the plastic wrap to create a rectangle about 12 by 18 inches.

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Peel away the plastic wrap and flip it over so the exposed pastry is on the flour. Then peel away the second piece of wrap. Fold the sides in, making a 6 by 18 inch rectangle. Roll it up from one of the 6-inch ends.

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Make sure the ending flappy part is rolled under the dough, making the top smooth.

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Press the dough into a square and refrigerate for an hour to firm.

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Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take dough out from fridge and cut in half. Roll each ball out into a rectangle about 6 by 12 inches. Spread with a layer of dijon mustard leaving a one-inch border. Layer with ham. Sprinkle with sharp provolone.

Make egg wash with egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush borders and layer the other pastry on top. Pinch the edges closed with your fingers or a fork. Brush the whole pastry with egg wash. Cut a few vents in the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool slightly and cut.

Dunk Like Lebron

 

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I grew up watching the NBA with my dad. He always talked about his lifelong dream of being able to dunk. At a certain point, he decided everyone in the NBA was a “punk” and stopped following it as closely. Now, my boyfriend Tommy is my insight into basketball. I wouldn’t pay it any attention, but I’m constantly hearing about it from him, including his NBA draft picks. For the last couple years, Lebron has been the first pick among Tommy’s family. He describes Lebron as “multi faceted and explosive.” Ha.

Even if you aren’t watching the Cavaliers game tonight, you can still play at home. Dunk away dad.

These biscotti didn’t quite meet my texture standards, but the pop of lemon combined with the mildly tart cherries was lovely. The topping of turbinado was also a nice touch. The texture can be played with based on baking time and sitting out time.

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Because Tommy lives almost two hours away, I sent him a package filled with these biscotti and a love note. Or at least I thought so. When I hadn’t heard from him, I asked if he had received the package. I had accidentally sent them to 1217 instead of 1215, meaning the crack house next door to him got my fresh-baked treats. The neighbors probably enjoyed them, so I suppose it’s not a total loss. I had a few leftover, and I brought them along when my dad and I drove the two hours to meet Tommy for dinner. Those didn’t make it either…my dad ate them.

Makes about 40 biscotti//Adapted from Anne Burrell

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the vanilla.

Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest, until just incorporated. Fold in the almonds and cherries.

Divide the dough in half and roll into logs, dusting with flour as needed. Roll the logs into almost the length of a sheet pan. Beat the egg white with one tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the top of the two logs and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place the logs side-by-side on a sheet pan, at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Slice on a bias, about 3/4 inch thick. Lay the biscotti on their side, and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Parsley & Scallion Savory Scones

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Having just finished my first shift working at Irwin’s Neighborhood Bakery & Cafe, I’m posting my sort-of-whole-wheat-scones to celebrate. I will be mostly baking at Irwin’s, but today I learned the art of being a barista. I tried my hand at latte art, successfully and accidentally making a tooth design with foam.

Situated on the corner of Badgley and 40th street, the robin’s egg blue bakery serves many regulars. Liz, the patient soul who trained me, knew nearly everyone who came in by their name.

These particular scones were an accident in my own kitchen. I tried following another recipe but didn’t have most of the ingredients, so I just winged it and ended up loving the nutty, wholesome flavor of whole wheat flour. The subtle tang of lemon is somewhat surprising, but I think it’s what makes them special. I’m a sucker for most anything savory and baked with scallions. They’re great fresh out of the oven on their own, or split in half and spread with butter or goat cheese and sprinkled with sea salt.

Makes 12 scones

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine white flour, wheat flour, sugar, salt, pepper, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender, until the butter is in the size of peas or smaller.

Stir the lemon zest, scallions and parsley into the dry mixture. Gradually add the buttermilk, stirring until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands until it comes together into a ball. Divide the dough into two parts, and pat each piece into a flat round about 1/2-inch thick. Cut each round into six wedges.

Place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Baked until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.

Zucchini Bread

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I won my middle school class spelling bee with the word, “zucchini.” My teacher smirked as she recited the word. She thought she had me with the silent “h,” but little did she know…I was born a foodie.

My first memorable encounter with zucchini happened when I was about seven, living in Maple Valley, Washington. My mom kept an abundant vegetable garden, which of course, had its fair share of overgrown zucc’s. Naturally, I snuck into her garden, tore them off the stem and ran down my gravel driveway to Lake Frances Road to watch people run over the squashy vegetable with their cars. This was before the iPad.

Now when I have an overgrown zucchini, I make bread. Actually, I made three different kinds of bread from one zucchini. This one was my favorite. The turbinado sugar and oatmeal creates a nice crust on the top. To give it a nuttier flavor, I used half spelt flour instead of all white.

Makes 2 loaves//Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (from about a 1 pound zucchini)
  • 1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats, divided
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ loaf pans leaving an overhang on the long sides.

Toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet for 8-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Whisk eggs, oil, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl to combine.

Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be dry, but the moisture from the zucchini will loosen it. Fold in the zucchini, walnuts and 3/4 cup of oats. Distribute batter into the prepared pans.

Toss the turbinado sugar with the remaining 1/2 cup of oats. Sprinkle over the batter and slide them into the oven, letting the flaps of parchment flop over the top of the bread to protect it from over-browning. Bake until a knife comes out of the center clean, about 70-80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pans for about 30 minutes. Turn bread out onto the rack and cool completely.