Bacon, Cheddar & Spinach Buttermilk Scones

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If you’re American, these might resemble those amazing Red Lobster biscuits you’ve eaten that come with every meal. If you’re not American, just be glad that you’ve never been to a Red Lobster restaurant before. It’s where Lobster souls go to die. I always try to get inside the tiny mind of the lobsters and wonder if they just sit there all day thinking of ways to kill themselves. There are far better places to get your shellfish. For instance, the sea! So, skip the misery of it all and just stay home and make these instead. The secret is in the buttermilk. They take all of 5 minutes to whip up, too. You lose Red Lobster. You lose.

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SCONES:

2 c. AP flour

1 t. sea salt

1 T. baking powder

1 t. sugar

6 T. cold butter

1 c. shredded sharp cheddar

4-5 strips of crispy bacon

1 large handful baby spinach

3/4 c. buttermilk

425 F / 220 C

  1. In a food processor combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and butter. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse crumb texture.
  2. Add cheese and bacon. Pulse only a few times as to not break up the bacon too much.
  3. Then, add the buttermilk and pulse until a dough forms.
  4. Add the handful of spinach and very loosely pulse until JUST combined. You don’t want your scones to turn green.
  5. Dump onto a lightly floured surface and roll to about 3/4″ thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut as many as you can until you have to reroll the dough. Be careful to not overwork the dough when rerolling it or your scones will be tough. Be sure to work quickly. Once the buttermilk touches the baking powder, the rise action will begin.
  6. Place them on a baking sheet topping with a light sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Custard Choux Puffs

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Give these sweet little choux puffs a try. They’re filled with custard, chopped strawberries and homemade rhubarb jam and topped with whipped cream. If you need me to say more then you’re not meant to be here! Go do some online shopping or whatever.

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4 T. unsalted butter

1 t. fine sugar

1 pinch of salt

1/2 c. water

heaping 1/4 c. of flour

2 eggs

  1. bring butter, sugar, salt and water to a rolling boil. Add the flour until a dough forms.
  2. While still on the heat, vigorously beat the batter for at least 2 minutes with a wooden spoon and then transfer to another bowl. Continue to beat for a few more minutes until the batter is no longer steaming.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. The mixture should be fall off the spoon in a V shape.
  4. Transfer dough to a piping bag and pipe 1-inch rounds about 1 inch apart from each other.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Once removed from the oven, poke the bottoms of the puffs with a fork to help release the steam. Let cool.

CREME PATTISIERE:

1/2 t. vanilla bean paste

2 1/2 c. whole milk

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

1/2 c. corn starch

1 c. sugar

  1. Over medium-high heat, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer.
  2. In the meantime, combine the eggs, yolks, starch and sugar until smooth.
  3. Remove the milk from the heat and pour over egg mixture while whisking the whole time.
  4. Transfer the mixture back to the heat and stir until thickened. It might take some time. Be careful to stir the whole time so that the mixture doesn’t burn.
  5. Transfer to a clean bowl and chill until ready to use.

STRAWBERY RHUBARB JAM

1/4 c. chopped strawberries

1/4 c. chopped rhubarb

1/2 c. sugar

  1. Place sugar and fruit in a small saucepan and add a tiny splash of water. Cook on low-medium heat until thickened. Set aside to let cool.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. Combine half of the jam and half of the cream together and put in a piping bag with the straight nozzle attachment.
  2. Insert in the bottom of each puff and squeeze until the puff is full.
  3. Dollop whipped cream on top of each one, topping with a strawberry slice.

Iced Chocolate Ale Bundt Cake

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What kind of person would I be if I didn’t make something with ale on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been to the Guinness brewery and the best thing I tasted there wasn’t the beer, believe it or not. It was the Guinness chocolate bar they had in their gift shop. My brother and I were mid-argument, something about directions, and this bar alone brought us together again. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I took my last bite, and this is a cakeafied version of it.

That said, confession time. I didn’t use Guinness. Oops. I had to get you this far so you’d listen to me when I tell you that it’s equally as good if not better. Instead, I used a dark bitter chocolate ale that I found in a local market. The real kicker here is the molasses in the recipe. It keeps the ale very much alive, which gives the cake a real depth of flavor.

This is my second post in a row about chocolate cake, I know, but come on, what was I supposed to do? I even sprinkled a little gold dust on top. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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CAKE: (recipe used from Fine Cooking)

1 1/4 c. dark ale, like Guinness or chocolate ale (I used Old Tom)

1/3 c.  molasses

1 2/3 AP flour

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

  1. Line your pan with butter and dust it with cocoa powder (not subtracting from the specified in the recipe).
  2. Melt in a small saucepan on medium heat the molasses with the stout and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl sift the dry ingredients together and set aside as well.
  4. In the mixer, beat the butter until smooth and then add sugar. Beat again until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding another.
  6. Then, alternate stout and dry mixture on low until both are gone and the batter is smooth with no lumps. Scrape down the sides if you have to.
  7. Pour evenly into a bundt pan and bake 40-50 minutes. the middle will spring back up.
  8. Release the cake from the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.

ICING:

icing sugar

milk

vanilla

  1. Starting with at least 2 c. of the icing sugar and vanilla, pour milk in, a tablespoon at a time until you get a thick paste like consistency. It shouldn’t fall easily from a spoon, but drip slowly.
  2. Drizzle over the middle of the ring and let it fall down the sides naturally.

 

Salted Vanilla Mocha Cupcakes

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I have to confess that this is sort of a recycled recipe. It’s almost exactly my pistachio cake recipe, but there’s more coffee and a different frosting. I came home with a longer lunch break than usual and couldn’t resist the need to bake. I’m an addict. The Kitchen Aid is my trigger. Once we lock eyes, it’s all over. Creepy, I know.

I used dark cocoa for this recipe because the dark, almost black color of the cake is as appealing as a red velvet cake. When you see it, you just know that you want to eat it. I’d call them black velvet, but that sounds a little dark and scary, which is not what these are. They’re pillows of goodness. Try and convince me otherwise.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE: (from here)

1 3/4 c. AP flour

1 3/4 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. dark cocoa powder

1 t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. hot water with 5 T. of instant espresso powder

350 F / 180 C

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients ACCEPT coffee.
  2. Next, sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Add espresso mixture. The batter will become very wet, almost watery.
  4. Line 2 cupcake tins with papers and fill each one just over halfway. Bake 15-20 minutes until middle springs back when you push it.

SALTED VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM:

3 c. icing sugar

1/2 c. room temperature butter, unsalted

2 T. whole milk or cream

1 1/2 t. vanilla or the seeds of 1-2 vanilla beans

1-2 generous pinches of sea salt

  1. Beat butter and sugar until combined.
  2. Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
  3. If you want a frosting that is thicker or thinner adjust the sugar or milk amounts.
  4. Sprinkle tops of cupcakes with cocoa powder and more sea salt.

 

Poppy Sesame & Sea Salt Bagels w/ Roasted Red Pepper Cream Cheese

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There is nothing better than making your own bread. I taught a class of 6th graders last week and one of them brought in cupcakes for a project. They were supposed to demonstrate something that they knew they weren’t good at, and she chose baking. I asked if she made them from scratch and she said no. Fine. Then a girl from behind us said in disbelief and with a little bit of disgust, “Who makes things from scratch anymore?!”

Not fine.

How did we lose touch with something as basic as making our own food? The idea that some people would rather buy something off of a shelf without ever knowing where it came from is unthinkable to me. I know I know, there’s a balance. We can’t all be amish. We can all, however, be educated and aware that our food doesn’t have to share an ingredient with our yoga mat or whatever.

To me, bread is the ultimate celebration of slow food. It’s about making something from some things with time and love and appreciation. So today these bagels are my way of honoring the process and a reminder that convenience isn’t always an acceptable answer.

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BAGELS (makes 8 bagels)

2 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. white flour

2 t. salt

1 T. instant yeast

3 T. caster sugar

Egg wash (1 egg with 1 T. of water)

Toppings: Sesame seeds, sea salt, cheese, herbs, etc.

425 F / 220 C

  1. In a stand mixer or glass bowl, combine flours, salt, yeast, sugar and water making sure to put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl before adding the water.
  2. Knead with the dough hook for about 6 minutes or 12 minutes by hand.
  3. Place in greased bowl covered with a bag or plastic wrap in a warm place and let rise for 2 hours or until double in size.
  4. Once risen, cut your dough into 10-12 pieces depending on how big you want your bagels to be. Roll them into smooth balls by pinching the sides and gathering them at the bottom of the ball.
  5. Once finished place your finger through the middle and roll the dough around both of your index fingers until you reach the size you want. NOTE: They will puff up in the second rise and boiling so, don’t underdo it!
  6. Cover with plastic again and let rise 20 minutes in a warm place.
  7. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat your oven.
  8. Once the water is boiling, add the sugar and drop the bagels (4 or 5 at a time) into the pot and boil 90 seconds on each side turning with a slotted spoon. Place the boiled bagels on a pan lined with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina.
  9. If you desire toppings: brush the top of the bagels with the egg wash and add what you’d like. In this case sea salt and seeds. If you don’t desire any toppings, just egg wash the bagels and bake them.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for 10 minutes again. Don’t worry, your toppings won’t fall off.

ROASTED RED PEPPER CREAM CHEESE:

4 oz. cream cheese

1/2 roasted red pepper

  1. Pulse in a food processor the pepper and cream cheese until smooth.

 

Orange & Cardamom Ricotta Loaf Cake

 

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You’ve gotta make this cake. It’s lush and sweet and citrusy and everything nice. I opened the fridge to see a tub of ricotta cheese unused and unloved sitting on the shelf and remembered reading how perfect it is to put in cakes for moisture. It’s true, every last bit of it. Trust me.

I’ve been seeing all of these citrus upside down cakes on Instagram and I’ve been waiting for a good cake recipe to do my own on. Voila! Citrus cakes are, let’s say, not my favorite thing. BUT, when you combine it with something as warm as cardamom, it’s magic.

Cardamom is exotic and warm and it happens to pump up the flavor profile of oranges. When you finally have the pleasure of eating this cake, you won’t necessarily notice the cardamom, but you’ll just get an intensified orange flavor. I guess you could say it’s sort of like adding coffee to chocolate cake.

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CAKE:

1/2 c. brown sugar

2-4 T. water

1 c. cake flour

1/2 c. almond flour (if you prefer you can use 1 1/2 c. cake flour and omit the almond flour all together.)

2 1/2 t. baking powder

12 T. softened butter

1 1/2 c. full fat ricotta cheese

1/4 t. almond extract (or vanilla)

1 1/2 c. caster sugar

3 eggs

1 t. cardamom powder

1 t. grated orange zest

1 orange

350 F / 190 C

  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and water to make a paste. Spread it along the bottom of your loaf pan evenly.
  2. Zest your orange for the batter and then slice the fruit into paper thin slices and layer them over the brown sugar mixture in whatever fashion you’d like and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, cardamom, zest and salt and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cheese, butter, extract and sugar together for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Then, beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Once mixed thoroughly, add the dry mixture and continue to beat until fully combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan so that it’s about 3/4 of the way full and bake 40-50 minutes. The middle should spring back when you push it. Note: depending on the type of loaf pan you’re using (metal/glass/ceramic) it will bake at different times. If the crust is getting too dark, place some foil over the top and continue baking until it springs back.
  8. Once baked through, turn the loaf out on a plate almost immediately by running a dull knife around the edges and flipping it over being careful not to upset the design on the bottom. If you wait until it is cool, you risk the bottom sticking.

 

 

 

Sweet Clafoutis with Summer Berries

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Kind of like the French version of a Dutch pancake, this custardy fruit clafoutis is perfect for those of you who don’t love really sweet desserts. The custard is as light as air and about the closest to cloud 9 you’ll be getting this week. It’s delicate enough to serve with afternoon tea or even for breakfast.

I used to have an obsession with making Dutch pancakes in college because they were attractive, easy and impressive for a college kid. You can make them savory or sweet and, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I love a one-size-fits-all type recipe. So when I was browsing my cookbooks and found this, I knew it was just up my ally.

If you don’t like sweet things at all, omit the sugar when making the custard and add some cheese, vegetables or herbs. Everybody’s happy and that’s what baking is about, right?!

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MIXED BERRY CLAFOUTIS:

1/4 c. cream

3/4 c. milk (not skim)

3 eggs

1/2 c. caster sugar

1 t. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean

1 pinch of nutmeg

2 T. butter, melted

1/2 c. AP flour

2-3 c. fresh mixed berries

325 F / 165 C

1. in a blender blend all of the ingredients for about 5 seconds. It should be just enough time to combine the ingredients, mainly the flour.

2. Pour into a greased pie dish or anything similar in size. Arrange the berries over the top. They’ll sink, but that’s fine.

3. Bake 35-45 minutes until the sides have puffed and are golden.

4. For best results, serve immediately.

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

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I have no control when it comes to macaroni and cheese. I would gladly hold my mouth open wide, giant spoon in hand, as you dumped a truck load of it into my mouth. Screw the repercussions of eating 100 pounds of cheese and pasta, I’m there!

Unfortunately, if I took that attitude to the kitchen with me every day, I’d be really really fat. I’m personally a fan of the creamy kind and that’s probably a result of overdoing it on the Velveeta as a kid, which looking back is the equivalent to eating melted rubber. I might as well have been gnawing on a Stretch Armstrong or something. Consider this your all natural savior to the rubbery stuff.

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CREAMY MACARONI & CHEESE (serves 2):

2 T. butter

1 t. corn flour or AP flour

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. shredded cheddar or whatever cheese you prefer + 1/4 c. for later

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/4 t. ground mustard

1 1/2 c. cooked elbow pasta

  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour after it melts completely.
  2. Add the milk and 1/2 c. cheese until the mixture comes to a simmer/boil and thickens.
  3. Add seasonings.
  4. Pour over cooked pasta and pour into ramekins and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
  5. Place nuder broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Bean Icing and Pistachios

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I’ve been craving cake. I tried to avoid the situation with hot chocolate, oatmeal, chocolate milk, but nothing worked. Today while the students were doing their reading I was sneaking a little research session and found a chocolate cake recipe I wanted to adapt. As it turns out, I didn’t adjust a thing because it was that good. Really. Total perfection. The link to the original is below and she deserves full credit. Just talking about it now makes me feel the need to go to the kitchen and shove my face directly into it. I’ll try to resist, but probably not. Actually, definitely not.

This cake is perfection all on its own, but I had to make it mine somehow. So, I whipped up a vanilla bean buttercream frosting and garnished the sides with some beautifully green crushed pistachios. The crunch of the nuts, sweetness of the icing and richness of the cake is sort of enough to make you want to commit to this cake. I’m already married to mine.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE: (from here)

1 3/4 c. AP flour

1 3/4 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1 t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. coffee

350 F / 180 C

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients ACCEPT coffee.
  2. Next, sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Add coffee.
  4. The mixture will be very wet, almost watery.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes in two 9″ round cake pans until the middle springs back.

BUTTERCREAM

3 c. icing sugar

1/2 c. room temperature butter, unsalted

2 T. whole milk or cream

1 1/2 t. vanilla or the seeds of on vanilla bean

1/2 c. finely chopped pistachios for garnish

  1. Beat butter and sugar together.
  2. Add milk and vanilla until it comes together.
  3. If you desire a mixture that is thicker or thinner adjust the sugar or milk amounts.