Archive for February, 2016

Large Batch Cranberry Orange Scones

Most recipes for scones and soda breads are the direct descendants of the nourishing whole-grain griddle breads prepared daily in rural Celtic and SScones. They are versatile. They freeze well. And they’ve become universally popular-whether for breakfast, tea time, or cocktail hour as a sophisticated alternative to sandwiches. cottish highland country kitchens. By nature they are coarse, crumbly, and chewy flat grain cakes. These were usually home fare, since they are best when mixed, baked, and eaten within a few hours. More and more, however, I am finding these marvelous quick dough breads have found a wider audience and have become the darlings of coffee houses and cafés.
With a few tips, scones are an easily made and satisfying addition to breakfast, tea, hors d’oeuvres, and the base for unusual sandwiches. They are at once tender, rich, flaky, and versatile. They are excellent plain or can be easily embellished with nuts, herbs, or even chocolate chips for flavor variations. They can be cut into endless shapes: wedges, squares, stars, hearts, or half-moons. Even better, they are fast to make. Entire preparation time for assembling, mixing, forming, and baking is about 45 minutes.
Use fresh ingredients such as aluminum-free baking powder, sweet butter, eggs, all-purpose and pastry flours for the best flavor. All types of flours, such as barley, oats, corn, rye, and bran, make beautiful scones. Liquids commonly used for moistening the dry ingredients include buttermilk, milk, yogurt, or cream.
Use the following techniques for perfect results: Quickly mix the dry ingredients with the cold fat to make big coarse crumbs, and when stirring in the cold liquid, a quick hand is again needed, so the air is not forced out of the dough. This is especially important when the scones do not contain eggs to help with the leavening. Measure the liquids carefully to make a soft, pliable dough that is gently kneaded just until the dough holds together. Too much liquid makes a heavy scone that is hard to shape.
Knead briefly, just enough for the dough to come together, since overhandling will make a very tough and chewy scone. The kneading is not a vigorous technique as called for in yeast breadmaking to active the gluten, but a very gentle working just to form a cohesive ball..
When rolling out the scone, keep it thicker than 1/2 inch to achieve the best shape. For even browning, bake only one sheet at a time in the center of a preheated oven. They will rise double their raw size in the oven. pay close attention to baking times. Always remember that after they are out of the oven, quick breads continue to cook during the cooling process and overbaking makes them dry, a disaster for the texture of the scone.
After baking and cooling, scones and soda breads can be frozen in heavy-duty plastic freezer bags for up to a month and reheated in a warm oven for 5 to 8 minutes. The shaped raw dough may also be frozen on a parchment-lined baking sheet and placed in freezer bags when frozen. To bake, remove the frozen scones from the freezer, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and immediately bake in a preheated oven about 5 minutes longer than specified in the recipe.

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Blueberry Streusel Muffins


Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

7 tablespoons (3/4 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2…

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Basic Kitchen Knives

I decided I needed a new all purpose knife. I looked and found that the German manufacturer Messermeister has created these smaller stamped blades, callled Petite Messers, for casual kitchen uses. They are light weight and have smaller, yet very ergonomic handles.

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Bob’s Mud Cake/Chocolate Cake of the Month

There is Mud Cake and there is Mud Cake. The always-fudgey cake takes its name after the thick mud of the Mississippi River banks, needs a glug of bourbon just like on the old riverboats, and is a card-carrying member of the Southern baking repertoire along with banana pudding and baking powder biscuits.

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The Universal Crescent: Croissants

Long the domain of the professional baker, croissants are made by following a logical set of simple instructions to create a dough with over 150 layers, the same technique used in creating Danish pastries, another Viennese invention. When I review my past baking class schedules, I find that making croissants has been a top request from students for years; I have taught this workshop dozens of times with great success. This recipe not only makes fabulous croissants, but the stuffed variations are worth the time. This is a skill to be practiced many times, so if you feel gawky in the beginning, be assured you are on the right track.

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Large Batch Chocolate Nut Brownies

Brownies are a perennial favorite and being able to whip up a large batch for parties is a boon to the baker. You can certainly mix these by hand in a large bowl with a dough whisk, but you can also make them in your 6 quart stand mixer.

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Chocolate Nut Truffles

Chocolate truffles are rolled into rough balls that look like their name-sakes, the earthy subterranean fungi that grows under oak trees and is a savory culinary delicacy and quite rare. They are intensely sweet and able to be devoured in one bite, a satisfying treat for the most discerning chocolate addict.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free such as Spectrum)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons brown-rice flour mix
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2…

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Vegetarian Slow Cooker-Tofu

Tofu in the slow cooker? Well, yes indeed. During the testing of the first slow cooker book, one of my testers contributed a vegetarian posole. Well, I ended up loving it and making variations on it, like this one with tart tomatillos. Then a basic preparation instead of stir-frying for vegetables and tofu braised in their own juices.

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