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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Split Pea Soup

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The longer you go without blogging is similar to going without exercise or making pie crust. It seems more daunting and doesn’t come as naturally. You have a squishy butt and empty countertop. I’ve experienced all three of these recently. While trying to make my coworker a pie, I rolled out my dough onto the counter right above the dishwasher that was running. The steam melted the butter chunks so quickly, I had to peel it from the hot counter. The crust grew tough. Whatever happened to baking pie for a living? Oh, right.

I got a 9-to-5 job managing restaurants for a food delivery startup in downtown Seattle.

I used to have my hands in dough daily and drift into my own thoughts, usually crafting a blog post or article to pitch. I would stroll the short walk home and have half the day to sit at my computer to transcribe the thoughts I had while sifting flour and pulling pies from the oven.

Now, I sit at my computer every day and instead, I stare at spreadsheets comparing enchiladas to burritos to quesadillas – not that I am complaining.

In an attempt to get back to last December – when I was writing an article about holiday cheese balls – I made split pea soup.

Thomas Keller, who’s book this is from, seems to overcomplicate many of the steps. What should be a really simple pureed soup is made fussy. There were several moments where I grew frustrated and went rogue. My boss used to work for him at The French Laundry, and today she said her few grey hairs are from him. Surely, if you follow his recipe exactly, you will be salt-and-pepper-chic. I preferred not to prematurely grey and instead found a much simpler, likely as good, version.

So here I go, blog post #5 billion, which really feels like #1 again.

Serves 6-8//A much simpler version than Ad Hoc at Home’s

  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped leeks
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 pound)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) split peas, rinsed and picked for stones
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peas (2 pounds in the pod) blanched (optional)
  • 1/2 cup creme fraîche
  • Mint leaves

Heat the oil in an 8 to 10 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, leeks and onions with a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Add the ham hock and chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove about half of the cooked stock vegetables and toss.

Add the rinsed split peas and bring to a simmer once again. Cook for an hour, or until the split peas are completely soft.

Remove the soup from the heat. Take out the ham hock and set aside. Season the soup with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and salt to taste. Use an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender) to puree completely.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper or vinegar if necessary.

Keep on low while you pull the meat off the ham hock, tossing the fat and skin. Cut the ham into small pieces and stir into the soup (or reserve some to put on top).

Serve the soup with creme fraîche, chopped mint and extra ham hock. If it’s spring time and you can find fresh peas, sprinkle those on top as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Carrot & Leek Hand Pies

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I thought waking up at 3:30 a.m. for my baking shift would be the end of me. Turns out, I love getting home from working at approximately 9:15 a.m., caffeinated, with a day’s work under my belt and a cookie in my bag.

I also thought baking for a living would deter me from baking at home. Wrong again. I happily made these hand pies with half spelt flour, half all purpose. This has become my thing. I love the color spelt gives pastry, not to mention the nutty bite.

After biking to the Ballard Market last Sunday, I ate a hand pie with a salad made of the freshest, crispest greens. While the farmer bagged my greens, another woman broached the stand with a mellow baby flopped in a front pack. The farmer bagging my greens asked the mom if the carrots she was waiting to purchase were to make homemade baby food. The mom said yes, and the farmer gave her the carrots for free saying, “It’s a good cause.”

Makes 6 hand pies//Adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

For the pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups (7 ounces) spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, freezer cold, diced
  • 1/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice-cold water

Begin the pastry by putting the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the butter is crumbly and in the size of peas.

Add sour cream and pulse a few times. Add 3/4 cup of ice-cold water and pulse again. Remove the lid of the food processor and pinch the dough between your fingers to see if it will come together. If the dough seems too crumbly still, add more cold water a tablespoon at a time.

Dump the dough onto a floured work surface. Gather it together and form a flattened rectangle about 5 by 6 inches. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

For the filling 

  • 1 medium large leek (about 14 ounces), white and light green parts only
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup (4 1/2 ounces) soft fresh goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and run it under water to wash. Slice into half moons.

Heat the butter and two teaspoons of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leek and stir with a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until caramelized and golden. If they are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down.

Put carrots on a baking sheet with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix. Roast until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan and sprinkle with garlic and thyme. Return to the oven for about 10 more minutes.

Put half of the roasted carrots (about 1 3/4 cups) into the food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in leeks. Taste for salt and pepper. Gently fold in crumbled goat cheese, leaving it in crumbles as much as possible.

Unwrap the rectangle of dough. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough into 6 equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 8 1/2 by 6 inch rectangle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put a rectangle of dough down with the short end facing you. Make an egg wash with the egg yolk and one tablespoon of water. Brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around the edges of the rectangle.

Place about 1/2 cup of the filling on the rectangle of dough, placing it closer to one of the short edges. Slightly flatten the filling.

Fold one short edge over the other, folding over the filling. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal. Trim the edges with a knife if needed to make straight lines. Repeat until all of the hand pies are formed. Place them on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush the tops with egg wash and using a knife, cut two little slits into the tops to vent.

Bake the pies until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.

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.

Chanterelle Ravioli Filling

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There are perks to not having a job. Like having time to have your name taken off the mailing list of all your junk mail. And to play with dough all day. I’m at it again and trying to make homemade ravioli. I have a new respect for chefs in restaurants crafting hundreds of the pillowy dumplings for a night of service.

Someday I will master this art and write a post about it. Until then, I’m making some pretty wonderful and seasonal fillings. This takes advantage of fall’s bounty, with an emphasis of chanterelle mushrooms.

Towel courtesy of local Seattle company True Fabrications.
Towel courtesy of local Seattle company True Fabrications.

Makes about 3 cups of filling

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quartered and stemmed cremini mushrooms (4-5 mushrooms)
  • 1 cup quartered chanterelle mushrooms (Include stems)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 egg yolk (Reserve the egg white for sealing ravioli)
  • 1/3 cup salty cheese like Parmesan
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add both kinds of mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add parsley and garlic. Cook for one minute. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pulse parmesan in a food processor until it looks like bread crumbs. Add mushrooms, egg yolk, nutmeg and ricotta. Pulse until combined. Taste for salt and pepper.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Check out my other ravioli here.

Bouillabaisse

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Last night I was reminded of the bouillabaisse I made in July right before leaving for New York. My uncle invited us to his new house in Magnolia. I suggested we make dinner. He proposed bouillabaisse. Uh oh. I had never had it before, let alone made it.

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I drudged up Julia Child’s classic recipe and went to the fish market in Ballard. For my feisty love for squid, we exchanged rings and tentacles for the suggested scallops.

Flustered by the amount of steps and heap of ingredients, I ignored the peckish stares of my family and pressed on. The chaos was suppressed with bites of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam. My dad ate all the crackers.

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What seemed like hours later, we sat down at the kitchen bar to bowls of steaming broth and seafood. I would love to share a recipe, but sometime between peeling shrimp and adding the shells to the broth, I had ignored most of what Julia suggested.

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Coming soon…warming bouillabaisse with a recipe.

Butter Crust

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Being in Rensselaerville, far from a grocery store, I crave ripened peaches. Many mornings we eat plain yogurt, fluffy like whipped cream and sprinkled with a few spoonfuls of homemade granola, adorned with nuts, coconut and raisins. It needs a sliced peach.

While driving to Hudson on a night off, one of the other scholars yelled, “Farm stand! Peaches!” Ellen, our trusting driver, skidded to a halt. With nothing guarding the stand but a note that said, “Peaches: $4. Please place your money in the box,” we threw $5 in accordingly and dashed back to the car, fruit in hand.

When Ellen the baker and I found out we’d have some time Monday, we made eye contact from across the table, and I mouthed, “peach pie.”

We spent Monday morning squishing our hands into pie dough. To learn about the taste of different fats, we made one batch with solely butter and one with a butter-shortening combination. With years of professional experience, Ellen had tricks up her sleeve. She advised me to mix the fat and flour in a mixer or food processor but then fold in the water by hand so the dough wouldn’t get tough.

Ellen removed the chilled from the fridge, rolled it into a neat circle and nestled it into the pie plate before returning it to the fridge. I asked her why she chills it a second time. Ellen did a dance with her shoulders and said, “I like it to get cozy.”

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We filled the crusts to the brim with abundant peaches and blueberries, stirred with lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch and warm spices. We wove the lattice top together, brushed it carefully with egg wash and sprinkled it with sugar.

In two weeks of baking with Ellen, I’ve watched her eyebrows crinkle together, concerned with bake ware or fretting about the absence of a crucial flavor like ginger. But after time in the oven, sweetness permeates Molly O’Neill’s kitchen sending ease throughout. The pie is retrieved, left to snooze, and sliced after dinner. With a final scrape of the plate, coating my silver fork in syrupy peach juice, my craving is quenched.

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 Makes a double crust//Ellen the Baker

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 6 ounces butter
  • ¼ cups ice water
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon cream

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cube the cold butter and plop it into the flour mixture. Put in freezer, if time allows, for at least 15 minutes.

Move the mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the butter is the size of large peas. Pour the mixture back into the medium bowl. With your hands or a rubber spatula, slowly incorporate the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the flour. Depending on the day and the environment, you may need to add one less or one more tablespoon of water. Scrape the sides of the bowl, bringing the dough together into a ball.

Cut the ball in half and pat each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After removing the chilled disks, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for five minutes. Lightly flour your surface. Using a rolling pin, begin to roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, using more flour if the dough is sticking. The dough should come out to be about 1/8-inch thick. Nestle it into your pie plate. Trim the edges or fold them under to create a rim. Return the pie plate to the fridge.

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In the same way, roll out your second disk into a 12-inch circle, using flour as needed. If you want a lattice top, cut it into ¾-inch strips, using a pizza or pastry wheel. In a pinch, a knife works fine too. Put the strips on a parchment lined baking sheet, and return it to the fridge.

Remove the lattice pieces from the fridge. Weave the pastry.

Whisk the egg and cream with a fork. Brush it over the top of the crust. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Follow your pie recipe for baking times and temperatures as they vary.