Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blueberry Scones

Oooh, these were GOOD! Tender scones with hits of sweet blueberries and a hint of lemon in the glaze. A perfect Saturday morning breakfast with 3-minute eggs alongside.

The recipe is courtesy of Tyler Florence, found via Food Network. My only adaptation was to use about half of the glaze and exchange 1 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. My nod to making these a wee bit healthier. Also, I rarely use unsalted butter. It's just too pricey.

Blueberry Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 cup all-purpose flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 cup heavy cream, plus a bit more for brushing the scones
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter and cut in with two knives or a pastry blender. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Add the blueberries. Fold everything together just to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Be gentle so as not to crush the blueberries or you will have very BLUE scones.

Pat the dough out onto a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 1 1/4 inch thick. Cut into squares, about 3 inches, then halve the squares to make triangles. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little cream. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool a bit before applying the glaze.

Lemon Glaze

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Combine the lemon juice and icing sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Stir until smooth. Add the lemon zest and butter. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth, then drizzle over the scones. Let set a minute before serving. (if you can wait)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Basil Pesto

My little sundeck garden is flourishing. I came home from my trip and the basil looked like it had doubled in height and fullness. So, it's that time again...pesto. Mmmm. I do love the stuff. Fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes warm from the garden and some homemade bread - a perfect summer lunch.

I like to freeze this pesto in small containers. Once thawed I like to use it up fairly quickly. It's great for fresh flavour in the winter.

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, stems removed, washed and dried
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons pine nuts (or almonds or walnuts)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a blender. Process until smooth. Add Parmesan and blend again.

Note:  3 Tablespoons of softened butter can be added at the end to make a spread. Spread it over French or Italian bread, then broil until bubbly. Delectable!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Salad

I do love roasted vegetables. This is sort of like a ratatouille, minus the tomatoes. It's full of sweetly caramelized onions, eggplant, zucchini and red pepper with a little bite from fresh garlic and lemon juice to add a bright flavour. It's great warm, cold or at room temperature. Adding some feta cheese would make this dish into a wonderful main course.
I used a recipe by Emeril Lagasse and tweaked it a bit.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 zucchini, stems trimmed, cubed
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 medium yellow or white onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped basil

Preheat oven to 420 degrees F.
Prepare the eggplant, zucchini, red peppers and onion and place on two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt.
Roast for about 20 - 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets, until the vegetables are tender and are beginning to caramelize in the corners. Remove from oven and let cool about 20 minutes.

Place vegetables in a large bowl and add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, parsley and basil. Toss lightly to combine.

Cherry Almond Gratins

I recently took Patricia Wells' The Provence Cookbook out of our local library. Oh my, I think this is a book to add to my permanent collection. Reading the recipes I wanted to make every single one. The book evokes the south of France and makes me want to go there NOW. Instead, I'll prepare Patricia's recipes and pretend I'm there.
Last summer I made a cherry clafoutis and loved it. These gratins are another way to serve cherries during their all too short season. This recipe is from The Provence Cookbook with a slight tweak - I used almonds in place of the hazelnuts in the recipe because that's what I had on hand.
The gratins are individual, making for a pretty presentation.

Cherry Almond Gratins (Mini-gratins aux cerises et aux amandes)

1 pound fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
confectioner's sugar, for dusting the gratins

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter and sugar 6 individual gratin dishes and place on baking sheets.
Divide the cherries among the gratin dishes and set aside.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, combine the eggs and sugar, beating at the highest speed until thick and pale, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the almonds and whisk until well blended. Pour the batter over the cherries in the gratin dishes.
Place the baking sheets with the gratin dishes in the oven. Bake until firm and a deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Black Forest Cherry Sauce

Cherries and chocolate are a perfect match and they meld together beautifully in this sauce suitable for ice cream, brownies, or just spooning out of the jar. I've made this for a number of years when cherries are in season. It would make a nice addition to a gift basket. The recipe comes from the Bernardin Canning Booklet, and I've adapted it slightly.

Black Forest Cherry Sauce

3 1/2 cups pitted and coarsely chopped sweet cherries
1/3 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice
2 pouches (170 ml) Bernardin liquid pectin (other brands of liquid pectin also work)
1/4 cup Kirsch or cherry brandy (optional)

Sterilize 5 or 6 250 ml (8 oz) mason jars.  Boil snap lids for 5 minutes to soften sealing compound. Keep lids in hot water until ready to use.
Combine prepared cherries, cocoa powder, sugar and lemon juice in a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Stirring constantly, boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Immediately stir in liquid pectin and kirsch, mixing well. To prevent floating fruit, stir slowly 3 minutes. Skim foam if there is any.
Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Top with snap lids, and screws. Let sit undisturbed on the counter until cool. All the lids should pop and seal.

NOTE: I do not process jams and jellies in a hot water bath as is recommended by Bernardin. Please follow the directions found on the Bernardin site if you wish to process further.

Grilled Chicken, Red Pepper and Melon Salad

Ahhh, summer has arrived. And with it, summer eating. Sweet cantaloupe, creamy avocado, lightly charred red pepper and chicken combine with crisp lettuce and a citrus dressing for an easy summer dinner salad. The dressing can be made ahead and the rest of the salad comes together quickly.

Citrus Dressing:

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Refrigerate until needed. This recipe makes more than what's needed for the salad, but keeps well and can be used on any salad.

Grilled Chicken, Red Pepper and Melon Salad (Serves 2)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup Citrus dressing (recipe above)
1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1/2 cantaloupe melon, seeded, peeled and thinly sliced, then cut into chunks
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1/4 cup basil, chopped
2 -3 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Place the chicken breasts and red pepper quarters in a flat dish and pour over the Citrus Dressing. Let marinate for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Discard marinade and grill chicken and red pepper over medium high heat until pepper is softened and lightly charred, and chicken is no longer pink inside. The red pepper will take about 6 minutes, longer for the chicken. Cut chicken and red pepper into bite-sized chunks.

To serve, pile lettuce on individual plates and top with melon, avocado chunks, chicken and red pepper. Drizzle dressing over top. Sprinkle with basil.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Cheesy Eggs on Toast

My family knows that I prefer savoury things over sweets. Give me a hunk of cheese or a handful of potato chips over a cookie any day. This is especially true at breakfast time. Eating highly sweetened cereal, cinnamon buns, or even overly sweetened muffins doesn't sit well.

Several years ago one of my aunts traveled to Kenya to visit my cousin who was working there. She had these eggs for breakfast, shared them with us, and now I'm sharing them with you. Protein, whole grains, fresh produce are all included in this meal. And it can be made ahead and reheated so it's quick to go in the morning.

Cheesy Eggs on Toast (for 2, easily doubled or tripled)

3 eggs, hardboiled, peeled

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Whisk in the milk and salt, continuing to whisk over medium to medium high heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Add the cheese and stir until smooth. Season with the pepper to taste.

Coarsely chop the hardboiled eggs and add them to the sauce. Gently heat.

Serve over whole wheat toast, with sliced tomatoes on the side.

This sauce is basic and is easily altered by adding fresh or dried herbs to suit your taste. I suggest thyme, chives, or parsley. Some basil on the tomatoes would never be out of place.
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