Monday, 14 May 2012

Strawberry Scones + the Master Recipe

Stupid Strawberries from California aren't even red in the middle... I can't wait for local BC Berries!

I'm going to share a secret recipe with you. I've held off for a long time, but it's just so good that I feel guilty holding out on you any longer.

Okay, are you ready? This is THE best scone recipe you will ever eat. It is the EASIEST scone recipe you will ever make. And it is the MOST flexible scone recipe you will ever get to play with. These scones are crazy moist. There is no butter involved, just heavy cream. And because you don't knead or roll them out, you just kind of clump them into a mass before cutting, they still get some layered goodness going on, but without that dry, flaky business.

Scones - Master Recipe
makes approximately 12 large scones
4 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 ½ cups of heavy (whipping) cream
1) In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
2. Then choose one of the following additions (if you want!)
- 3/4 cup of currants, raisins, or dried cranberries
- zest of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup of poppy seeds
- 1 1/2 cups of diced fruit (apples, strawberries, raspberries...)
- 1 cup of chocolate chips and zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup cooked bacon bits and 1/2 cup grated cheese
(as you can see, the possibilities are endless! If you think of other variations, go ahead and throw them in there!)
3) Pour the cream over the dry ingredients, and use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold, until everything is just mixed. Try not to stir too much. Depending on just how thick your cream is, you may need to add a little more to get the dough to hold together.
4) Turn dough onto a floured surface and press it together into one mass. Pat it out into a circle or square that’s about ½ - 1 inch thick. Use a knife or cookie cutter to cut out shapes.
5) Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the tops generously with sugar, and bake at 350’ for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (larger scones will take longer).

Serve warm with butter, or at room temperature with jam and devonshire cream to be truly indulgent! These can sit, covered, on the counter for a day or two. After that refrigerate them. No lie - they will still taste great after a week! Just be careful about microwaving - they tend to get rubbery. Warm in a toaster oven for a better texture.

Sometimes a water glass is just the perfect size!

I made these scones for a small brunch I catered for on Mothers Day! FYI If you live in the Fraser Valley, my rates are very affordable! ;)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Butter Chicken + Fresh Vegetable Salad

So, I love Butter Chicken. It has this weird hold on me... if I can distract myself long enough to forget about (we're talking weeks here), I'm fine. But if it enters my mind again I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT AND I HAVE TO MAKE IT. I love Indian spices, and I love Indian sauces. I also really love rice, and the way it soaks up all those lovely spices and sauces. Ergo, Butter Chicken = Perfection. The recipe I used is from the book Simply Indian which I've mentioned a few times already. 
 I'm not going to give you the recipe this time because:
1) you really should buy that book if you like Indian food - the recipes are not complicated, they just have a lot of ingredients and most of them are spices easily acquired, and
2) there are a LOT of Butter Chicken recipes out there and everyone says that theirs is the best. If you are a bit of a fanatic like me, just try a few until you find your favorite! They come in varying levels of spice, ease, and authenticity.

However, I will tell you the reasons I like this one and then maybe you'll decide that this really IS the best!
1) It has raisins in it. Weird? Maybe at first... but you fry them in butter and they get all plump and juicy and they add the most delightful sweetness and chew to the sauce! MM! (It also calls for almonds but I prefer to skip those. Nuts get soft in sauce and it really is weird)
2) I love the spices it calls for. The chicken is marinated in Tandoori powder with garlic and ginger, and the sauce has cardamom and nutmeg in it! That is very unique in my opinion, and is what gives this recipe that air of mystery.
3) This recipes calls for 4 cups of milk that have been boiled down to 1 cup. This takes forever and is simply not worth the time so I've been using Evaporated Milk instead. I'm just proud of myself for making that connection, so that's the only reason I'm adding this.
This is a fantastic Fresh Vegetable salad from the same book. Perfect for cooling off once the spice adds up!

**This is the best part - my special garnish! It's not pictured below as I didn't have the ingredients this time, but, observe:
- Finely (I'm talking as small as possible) dice:
1/2 Tomato, just the meaty parts with the skin (can substitute a Red Pepper)
1/4 Red Onion
1/4 Cucumber, again just the meaty parts with the skin
2 Tbsp Parsley or Cilantro
- Mix and spoon a generous amount on top of your steaming bowl of bright orange butter chicken!

This is a little embarrassing but, 75% of the reason I bought these blue bowls was because Butter Chicken would look awesome in them!

If you, like me, need to test out recipes before you buy a cookbook, let me know and I can email you the recipe.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Cherry Creme-Fraiche Tart

It looked so delicious. And so easy. Hardly any ingredients in the custard filling, and the promise of that cookie-crust was very alluring. My track record when it comes to pie crusts and tarts had been pretty good until now. So I didn't hesitate at all when I decided to make this tart. With it's high sides and the ruby red cherries playing peek-a-boo, it was a no-brainer.

I was not prepared for the drama that would follow. I know, you're probably starting to get a little tense right now right now, "Oh no! Did it turn out? Is everything OK??". *deep breath* Everything turned out fine, but... *heavy sigh* ... I almost didn't make it. There were two very distinct moments where I almost threw in the tea-towel and threw out that tart. I'm sure, had someone else been there with me, the epic battle of wills would have shown clearly on my face. It's not worth it! Get it out of here and move on! Try something new - it's for your own good! No, I can't... "no man gets left behind", remember? I will not give up! COME ON soldier, fight!
 You may think I've gone on a tangent and maybe I'm talking about a movie now, but no. Those were the real thoughts rolling around in my mind.

Anyway, to dial down the crazy a little, the tart came out beautifully in the end, though not until I took that first bite was I convinced it would be any good. Follow the captions below to read the story, and despite my errors you really should try to make it. It's very much worth it. It's from Laura Calder's French Taste book. It can be found here. (Looks pretty different, hey?)

The crust was really tricky. It was basically a shortbread, and for some reason it just refused to roll out into one circle. I had to push it into the pan in pieces, fearing that when it came time to cut the dang thing it would crack and crumble like the walls of Jericho.

I had wanted to make a high sided tart for so long. I then realized I was going to need a BUTT LOAD of beans if I was going to keep this thing from collapsing while the crust baked.

The tart took twice as long in the oven as it was supposed to, hence the burnt crust. The first time I checked it and realized it wasn't even close to setting, I almost quit again.

BUT I didn't give up and when it had finally set and cooled I broke off the burnt bits and it actually gave the tart a very rustic feel!

Look at those gorgeous cherries peeking out!

I couldn't find regular creme fraiche, just a lemon one, but that turned out to be much better in the end! I would do it that way again next time.