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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Apple, Pear and Cranberry Pie

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Since I last posted, I had my last day as a professional baker, got a job working at a tech company that connects local restaurants to people in offices who want lunch, joined a new fitness community that twerks for a workout and was featured in the food + drink section of The Seattle Weekly.

In late February, my two pie muses representing the East and West Coasts came together to join me for a pie class and drink. We bantered back and forth about pie apples and the future of food writing. Kate Lebo, my Washington pie princess, and Ellen Gray, my best pie soulmate from New Jersey, made the perfect pitch for Seattle Weekly.

I emailed food + drink editor Nicole Sprinkle and a couple weeks later had a spread. The night before the issue went on the stands felt like Christmas Eve. On my way to work on 1st ave., I skipped over to the news stand to grab a fresh copy. And then another.

Nicole later told me my article had been in their top ten for overall views that week. A proud moment? Ah, yes. To honor the great muses in my life, here is Kate Lebo’s pear and cranberry pie recipe that I made for Christmas last year and never posted. The golden brown beauty was a treat on our Christmas dinner table. Though my mom was a skeptic, I promised her Kate knows her sweet to tart ratios.

Makes 1 pie//Kate Lebo

  • 1 double pie crust
  • 2 Gravenstein or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Egg white wash (1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Follow your pie crust recipe and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out the bottom crust and place it into a 9-inch pie plate. Tuck the edges into the pie plate and trim the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the apple and pear slices in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Stir in the cranberries, granulated sugar, candied ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Taste the filling and adjust to your preferences.

(In Kate’s pie classes she says if you don’t want to eat the whole bowl of filling on its own then it needs adjusting. Add lemon. Add spice.)

Stir in the flour and set aside.

Roll out the top crust and retrieve the bottom crust from the refrigerator.

Pour the filling into the bottom crust and rearrange it in the plate as necessary to reduce air pockets. Dot the filling with butter. Drape the top crust over the filling. Trim, tuck and flute the edges. Cut steam vents in the middle of the pie. Brush the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle it with turbinado sugar.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 35 to 45 more minutes, until the crust is dark golden brown and the filling bubbles.

Cool for at least an hour before serving.

Brownie Cookies with Espresso Buttercream

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While my friends used my kitchen to make their first cioppino the other night, I took this test. Author Gary Chapman wrote a set of questions to help determine a person’s “love language.” Perhaps you feel loved when your partner holds your hand? Your love language is most likely “Physical Touch.”

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My results were as I expected. My love language is “Quality Time,” meaning I feel adored when people I care about make special time for me.

Though The 5 Love Languages are “Words of Affirmation,” “Acts of Service,” “Receiving Gifts,” “Quality Time,” and “Physical Touch,” I can’t help but think food is the 6th.

I mean forget a dozen red roses this Valentine’s Day, I feel most admired while sharing sweetbread agnolotti from Altura or Columbia City bread with butter and black salt.

Sharing food, giving food, making food and receiving food are some of the best forms of human connection. This Valentine’s Day, I decided to make these brownie cookies in heart shapes. I realized they needed frosting solely so sprinkles could adhere to them. The espresso in the frosting actually made the cocoa in the cookie taste more prominent.

Makes a lot of cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
  • 2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa, unsweetened
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream, half and half or milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Whisk the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and add in the vanilla. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

(Meanwhile you can make the frosting below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to warm slightly. If it’s too hard and crumbly, grab a chunk at a time and squeeze it with your hands to soften it.

Divide the dough into 4-6 chunks and roll out on a flour work surface, until it is about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into any shape you’d like using cookie cutters.

Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8-11 minutes depending on your thickness. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Frosting

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Dissolve the espresso powder in the milk in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture. Beat for another minute or so until it is a spreadable consistency. Cover and keep in fridge until cookies are cool.

Frost the cookies and dust with sprinkles if you’d like.

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.

Vanilla Pear Galette with Mascarpone

Happy New Year!

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Contrary to my hermit personality, I went out on New Years Eve. I even had people over. We dressed up, took pictures in front of a white sheet, ate cheese and popped champagne. I wore a velvet dress and gold heels. Tommy arrived wearing a tie adorned with rockets.

2014: Year of the donut
Some things never change. We can’t take a normal photo.

Though Tommy and I pulled out our best dance moves at the club, the best part of the day was eating this pear galette with Julie. We had our late-afternoon coffee to rev up for the evening and paired it with forkfuls of flaky pastry. I used a galette dough recipe by Kate Lebo and stuffed it with sliced pear tossed in Vanilla Bean Purely Syrup. Purely Syrup is a line of organic syrups made in Northern California. Though they are intended for cocktails, I used it for baking. Why not? The syrup added a light sweetness with a touch of vanilla bean.

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After it came out of the oven I topped it with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone and a drizzle of honey. Later we sipped on a drink of 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of pure cranberry juice, 1 ounce of Ginger Root Purely Syrup and a splash of club soda shaken with ice.

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Galette dough//Kate Lebo

  • 1/4 cup sour cream or room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 egg (For egg wash)
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Whisk the sour cream, lemon juice and water in a 2-cup spouted liquid measuring cup and put it in the freezer during the next steps.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cube the butter and cut it into the flour using a pastry blender until the butter is mostly pea sized.

Take the liquid out of the freezer and pour in a steady stream into the flour mixture, stopping halfway to toss the dough with your fingers. The dough should hold together and feel a little wet. You may not need all of the liquid.

Gather the dough into a ball, make a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days before rolling.

For the filling

  • 3 pears
  • 1/3 cup Vanilla Bean Purely Syrup

For the mascarpone topping

  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
  • Honey for drizzling

To assemble

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it in half. On a floured surface, roll each into a circle about 6-7 inches in diameter.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I use my pizza stone and flour it. Place each circle onto the sheet.

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Slice pears 1/2-inch thick and toss with the syrup. Arrange the pears in the center of each dough, leaving about a 1-inch border. Fold the border in on the pears, creating an edge.

Mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the edges of the dough. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake until flaky and golden, about 25 minutes. Watch carefully as this may vary.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, whip mascarpone with vanilla extract and powdered sugar.

Remove galettes from the oven. Let cool slightly and move to serving plate. Spoon half the mascarpone onto the top of each galette. Drizzle with honey 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.

Fruit, Mascarpone Cream and Almond Crust

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This year I will host Christmas. Enough of the back and forth divorced parent stuff. I’m going to get a massive tree, make an impossibly delicious breakfast casserole and we’re all going to sit down to do a puzzle.

On a shopping venture Hayley told me I couldn’t spend $90 on a Noble Fir. We walked up and down the pine laden columns looking for the perfect tree. After a moderate amount of huffing and puffing on my part, I decided on an economically-sized tree. The Christmas tree guy (yes, dressed in plaid) scooped my tree up. Hayley made a comment about how he must not need to lift weights because of his occupation. I rolled my eyes and shoved more complimentary candy into my pockets.

Once home, Hayley threw the tree over her shoulder and hauled it into my house. (She also hung all the pictures in my house when I moved in and wipes my unforgiving black counters after I cook.)

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Later that night I made this pie, and we decorated the tree. Our friend Ashley, who gets a stomach ache after more than one bite of dessert, ate a whole piece of the pie. She was silent when she took a bite. I took this as a sign of distaste, but Hayley said, “Oh. Ashley likes it.”

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I was unsure about the crust. I made my own almond meal by grinding up whole almonds in my food processor. I didn’t get it as fine as I would have liked. If possible, grind yours finely or buy it at the store. The mascarpone filling, however, was luscious with a touch of sweetness that sang amongst the tart berries.

Makes 1 pie//Inspired by Kate Lebo

For the crust

  • 2 cups almond flour or meal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten

In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and stir until the mixture is moist. Add the egg and stir. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Press the “dough” into a pie plate, going up the sides as well. Flatten and smooth the rim. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly toasted. Set it aside to cool.

For the filling

  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup good honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh marionberries
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Over medium-low heat, combine the marionberries, almond extract and cornstarch. If the fruit was frozen, allow it to completely thaw. After bringing to a simmer, set aside to cool.

With an electric mixer, whip the mascarpone and sour cream together. Add the honey, vanilla and salt. Spoon the filling into the cooled piecrust, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Lay thinly sliced pear across the top of the filling in any pattern you’d like. I went in a circle. Top with cooled marionberries and serve.