butter top bar

butter top bar

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cream Scones with Lemon Curd

Let's talk about hotels.
I'd say I'm a little picky when it comes to choosing a hotel. I have to look at tripadvisor, look at the user photos, and see which has the least negative reviews, and no really gross photos (of course). 
 There is Motel 6, there is Holiday Inn. Then there is The Plaza. I'd settle for the Holiday Inn, certainly never touch the Motel 6, and I can't really afford the Plaza. 
With these scones and lemon curd, I promise you won't be settling for Motel 6. They are like the Plaza of scones. You'll feel privileged eating them, and they aren't very expensive or hard to make. 
Creamy and buttery with just the perfect amount of sweetness. I promise you'll feel like a rich person munching on one of these.
If you’ve never made or tasted curd before, I urge you to try it out. It’s velvety smooth, and both tart & sweet. It’s also deceptively simple.

Cream Scones with Lemon Curd
Recipe from Alton Brown

Lemon Curd

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled

Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Cream Scones
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (I used dried cranberries, and chopped them into smaller bits)
1 cup heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper (the book’s suggestion) or b) patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circle, cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece (what I did) and cutting until dough has been used up. (Be warned if you use this latter method, the scones that are made from the remaining scraps will be much lumpier and less pretty, but taste fine. As in, I understand why they suggested the first method.)

Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Not Perfect Glazed Lime Cake

Hi to you. I mean You, the one reading my blog. I want to talk about perfection. 
I'm not perfect. 
I don't wash my hair every day, I have a big pile of laundry, I have a couple of pimples, I eat too much butter, and my shower could use a good scrubbing. 
If you were in front of my face, I'd be embarrassed admitting those things, but you're not, and so I can say those things and thank you for accepting me for who I am.
 Earth Day was yesterday. I love Earth Day. I love nature, and limes, and all things green. I was a day late making this cake, oh well. Once again, I'm not perfect.
This cake is almost perfect, just almost. It tastes awesome, and any other day I might consider it perfect, but today I think I'll say it's not. I don't think anything can be perfect. It is delicious though. The kind of cake that makes you say "mmm, yummy".
 This cake alone is great, but the lime glaze really adds a tangy deliciousness. Be prepared to say "yum" out loud. It's fantastic and addicting. If you love glaze, make extra for this cake.

Not Perfect Glazed Lime Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2009

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cups self-rising flour
2 to 3 large limes
1/4 cup sugar

Note: This cake has no salt or leavening. That’s because self rising flour has all the stuff you need.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 8-inch square baking pan. Using electric mixer, cream butter and 11/2 cups powdered sugar in large bowl. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in milk, then flour. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grate enough lime peel to measure 1 tablespoon. Halve limes; squeeze enough juice to measure 1/4 cup. Mix peel, juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl. Set lime syrup aside.
Using skewer, poke holes all over baked cake. Spoon half of lime syrup (about 3 tablespoons) over hot cake. Cool.
Whisk 1 cup powdered sugar into remaining lime syrup; drizzle over cake. Let stand 1 hour. Cut cake into squares.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chocolate Covered Caramelized Matzo CRACKers

 We have to have a talk. We have to talk about flip flops. 
Why is it so hard for me to retire my boots for the warmer months? It's so impossible. However, once I do retire my boots, I have the same issue again, but with flip flops. After I wear flip flops for the summer, as it begins to get cooler in the fall, once again, I have separation anxiety. I end up wearing flip flops until it's way too cold outside. My poor feet get so cold! How does one choose to decide when to wear boots, or flip flops. There clearly aren't any other choices in the entire world.
Also, people who wear high heels to work secretly make me jealous. I'm not that person. I'm obviously a flip flops or boots kind of girl. I'm a sweat pants and t-shirt kind of girl. The girl who goes to work, plays with babies, gets to sing and dance and be silly, and who comes home with baby drool on her face. Oh I love babies, and I love shoes.

Even with all this talk of shoes, and babies, and dancing, we have to have a talk about toffee. Toffee with lots of butter. It is heaven. I came up with a toffee recipe months ago that was delicious. This is even better than that. I was breaking it apart to put it in the container and I couldn't help but "sneak" little bites.

Ooh la la. Spreading chocolate on matzo with toffee on top.
 Hello Mr. Toffee deliciousness. Yes, I'm talking to you Mr. Crunchy Buttery Toasty Yumness (Is yumness a word? No. Oh well).
Chocolate Covered Caramelized Matzo CRACKers
Makes approximately 30 pieces of candy

Adapted from betterbaking.com
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzo

1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar

big pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds, pecans or walnuts (optional)

Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.
Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Piña Strawberry Crumble

 So I'm going to be in a magazine called Insider this coming up Friday. It will be showcasing a pizza I made. Yadda yadda. A photographer came to my house, photographed my food, and me. It was awkward. There were awkward smiles on my part, mostly because it was held for so long, and I wasn't sure when to smile, etc. I like things to be perfect, but the pizza looked a little bit, well, un-pretty (is that a word? No? Who cares). We shall see how it all comes out. It should be interesting none-the-less.
 There is something about tropical pineapple that makes me think about Mexico. I imagine sitting on a beach with a piña colada in hand, watching the waves. This weather is a bit insane in good old Maryland these days, and goes literally from 80 degrees one day, to 33 degrees the next. What to do? Do I wear leggings and boots, or leggings and flip flops? Or no leggings at all? So many decisions. Enough about my wardrobe, we have crumble to discuss.
This crumble is so delicious, and hardy. The pineapple/strawberry duo gives it just the right "tang" and sweetness. If you have to share this with someone, I feel sorry for you. It's super addicting and served best warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Piña Strawberry Crumble

1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 pound peeled and diced fresh pineapple
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar

Cooking Directions
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss diced fruit together in an 8-inch square baking dish. In a small dish, whisk together 3 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, 1/4 cup of flour and pinch of salt. Toss the mixture with the diced fruit. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter cubes. Use your fingers to break up the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture. Add the oats and toss together until the butter bits are about the size of the oat flakes.
Pour the oat mixture over the prepared fruit. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until juices from the fruit bubble up around the sides of the pan.
Remove the crumble from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Crumble is delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream.
Crumble can we wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or wrapped in foil in a low oven.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Love Cake to Remember

I love these people. These people make me smile.
A rose cake, for two amazing people. 

 Growing up, it was never about sad times or hard times, it was about happy times. Times where I learned, and laughed, and loved. I grew up with unconditional love. I grew up in a town house, with rainbow blinds in my room. I grew up thinking that there was a talking green box in our back yard that gave me candy when I was good (thanks, Dad). I grew up running through sprinklers, riding my bike, always feeling safe. Having adventures in the woods, watching my mother cook, and always feeling so incredibly loved.

 My parents are my inspiration. They are the perfect couple. Still strong after twenty something years. Still handing out so much love, so much happiness. Still making each other so happy, and still making me feel like the luckiest daughter. Not everyone is this lucky. I really have it all. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I love you more than all the stars in the sky!