Archive | October, 2011

Apple Scones

31 Oct

I am currently desperate for ways to use up apples.  I have about two dozen sitting on the table in our kitchen.  These scones were an excellent way to make use of two of them.  I stuck pretty close to the original recipe, here, because I don’t think I’ve ever made scones before and didn’t want to go too far out on a limb.  I doubled the amount of shredded apple the recipe called for.  As a consequence, these have a very pronounced apple flavor.  They turned out great – tender and crumbly.  They were delicious warm out of the oven and I look forward to making use of them as an on-the-go breakfast snack drizzled with some honey.  In the future, I would probably keep this as one bigger, thicker disc to make some larger scones.  However, these are really great for snack time and were absolutely delicious.  So delicious, in fact, I was inspired to make a savory scone version, which I will be posting in the near future.

The idea to make scones reminded me of that one of my very early culinary inspirations were squirrels, mice, otters, and moles cooking up victory feasts.  Whenever I hear the word scones, I think of the Redwall Series by Brian Jacques, which I was obsessed with as a girl.  The woodland creatures were always holding feasts for all sorts of things, and scones of both the sweet and savory variety were a prominent menu item.  I know I made several recipes I found on the internet way back in the day – back when it took several minutes of screeching and beeping followed by a “Welcome!” to connect to your favorite websites.  There is, to this day, an entire website devoted to Redwall culinary delights – The Redwall Kitchen.  I did not make use of the website with this particular recipe, though now that I am perusing the website I got some pretty good ideas.  A bonus is that almost all of the recipes are vegetarian or pescatarian.

Apple Scones

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Makes about 12 small scones

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter, chilled (4 tbs.)

2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and shredded (yields about 2 cups)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. milk

2 tbs. white sugar

2 tbs. ground cinnamon

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450º.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Fold in shredded apple.  Using your hands, slowly work in 1/2 cup milk.  Combine by hand until it just comes together to form a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to combine.  Pat into two 6″ circles about 1/2″ thick.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick.  Brush tops with remaining 2 tbs. milk and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.

Mac and Cheez-It

30 Oct

Yesterday, Zak and I had a friend over so they could brew some beer.  Late in the afternoon, everyone was getting hungry and I was running through a list of things I could make.  Everyone – including myself – was excited and intrigued by the prospect of some macaroni and cheese topped with crumbled Cheez-Its.

Cheez-Its have long been a favorite snack in my family.  My little brother has always loved them, and I’ve become increasingly obsessed as I get older.  They’re one of my go-to vending machine items when I forget to pack some as a snack at school.  I figured the deliciousness of a macaroni and cheese could only be increased by crumbling some cheesy little morsels of goodness on top of it.

I used a mixture of all the cheeses I happened to have on hand in this creamy and delicious version of macaroni and cheese.  The ricotta mellowed out the slight spice from the pepper jack.  The Parmesan added a hint of sharpness that contrasted really well with the colby-jack.  Topped with the sharp, pungent flavor of the cheddar Cheez-Its, this was a really lovely macaroni and cheese that we all enjoyed.

Mac and Cheez-It

1 box rigatoni, cooked according to package instructions and drained

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

3/4 cup colby jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

3 tbs. butter

2 tbs. whole wheat flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Cheez-Its, crushed

Freshly cracked black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350º.

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan.  Slowly whisk in the flour until a paste forms, adding over the course of 3-5 minutes.  Season liberally with black pepper.  Continuously whisking, add the milk.  Once smooth and creamy, add the cheese in small batches while whisking.

Add the noodles and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.

Transfer to a casserole dish.  Top evenly with the crushed Cheez-Its.  Spray with  nonstick spray and transfer to the oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes until Cheez-Its are golden brown.

Geauga Family Farms Summer CSA – Week Twenty

29 Oct

Summer CSA – Week Twenty

With this week’s share, our summer CSA share has drawn to a close.  In our final week’s share, we received a bag of small potatoes, a bag of Yummy orange peppers, a head of garlic, four turnips with greens, a green bell pepper, a bunch of green onions, a large bunch of kale, a head of cabbage, and a bag of apples.  I am particularly excited to see the turnips and the kale.  I love both of the greens as well pretty much any root vegetable.

From last week’s share, I have left a whole mess of apples, most of the potatoes, some garlic, and a green bell pepper.  I slacked off in posting this week because I made a lot of repeat recipes.  My favorite of the week was spinach and polenta soup, which made use of the garlic and spinach as well as some broth from a delicious clambake my dad hosted.  I slightly changed my previous recipe by substituting for some of the butter accumulated fat from atop the clam stock, adding some crushed red pepper flakes, and adding a tablespoon or two of hot sauce.  I liked the hint of heat and think it improved the recipe overall.  I also made some simple dishes like a lettuce wrap with leftover chicken from the clambake that made use of the lettuce and tomato.  Zak made a stir fry with rice and noodles that used up the bok choy and the rest of the tomato.  The other two recipes I posted, the grilled lemon-dill striped bass and grilled melted leeks and spicy hangover baked eggs and oatmeal did not use any CSA ingredients.  I was definitely a slacker as far as posting and using my ingredients in new and creative ways, but even my simple and un-postworthy dishes were delicious thanks to the freshness of the produce.

This week, I plan to make some mashed turnips (perhaps mixed with a potato or two) as a side one night.  I’m going to make a vegetable lasagna with some of the kale and turnip greens tomorrow to heat up one evening this week.  I need to find something to do with all of the apples, so I’m thinking a few pies will be in the works – maybe I’ll throw one of them in the freezer for Thanksgiving.  Later this evening, I hope to roast off some of the peppers to freeze for the winter.  I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the cabbage, though I’m sure I’ll think of something.

Overall, I was (again) happy with the CSA experience.  There were a few light weeks due to the weather, but I can’t complain about it too much.  I particularly enjoyed the fact that there was online ordering for extras.  There was good variety between the weeks.  I could always do with a little less lettuce, but that’s only because there are only so many salads I can tolerate in a week (and it’s probably less than the average person).  Ditto for the apples – then again, I’m not much of a baker, and Zak can’t eat them out of hand due to an allergy. Other than that, I’m happy as a clam – lots of peppers, potatoes, and onions.  My very minimal gripes stem only from personal preference.  The quality of the produce was very good overall, with only a few pieces of produce here and there that were not 100%.  We signed up for a winter share as well, which will be starting on Thursday.  So, while I’m sad that the summer season is over, I can’t complain.  We’ll be getting a whole new batch of veggies in just a few days!

Spicy Hangover Baked Eggs and Oatmeal

28 Oct

I was feeling a little rough this morning, so after returning from class I whipped up this hangover-curing dish.  I love spicy foods when I’m feeling a bit of alcohol-induced ickiness, so I upped the spice factor with some jalapeños, crushed red pepper flakes, and pepper jack cheese.  The eggs cut through the spice a bit and provide a wallop of protein.  The oatmeal is filling and settles the stomach, while the layer of melted cheese provides some creamy goodness.  After eating this, I felt a million times better.

It would be pretty darn good even if you aren’t feeling under the weather.  The jalapeños retain quite a bit of crunch, adding a nice touch of texture to the otherwise creamy dish.  It comes together quickly and is a great way to cross several food groups off your list in one sitting.

Spicy Hangover Baked Eggs and Oatmeal

2 eggs

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup milk

1 small jalapeno, with seeds, sliced into thin rings

1/4 cup corn kernels, defrosted if frozen

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup pepper jack cheese

2-3 tbs. plain Greek yogurt

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400º.

Bring milk to a boil over medium heat.  Add oats and corn and season with crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.

Transfer to an oven-proof bowl.  Top with jalapeño.  Create two depressions in the oatmeal with the back of a spoon.  Carefully crack eggs into the depressions.  Top with shredded cheese.

Cook 15-18 minutes until whites are set.  Remove from oven and top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Grilled Lemon-Dill Striped Bass and Grilled Melted Leeks

23 Oct

I very nearly opted against posting this recipe, because it’s just so darn simple.  A quick and easy marinade is whipped together and then the ingredients are thrown on the grill.  However, the combination of flavors from the striped bass and grilled leeks was so harmonious I figured it would be a shame not to share it on the off chance some of you were interested in a quick, easy, and healthy meal to throw on the grill.  The melted leeks are particularly fantastic – I ate them like string cheese by pulling apart the layers and popping them in my mouth.  A more civilized human – like Zak – would use a fork and perhaps a knife.  As you can see from the picture, the skin of the fish got stuck to the grill grate.  I pulled it off with some tongs so I could have some of that delicious, salty crunchiness.  If you’re a touch more careful than we were, it shouldn’t be an issue, however.

Grilled Lemon-Dill Striped Bass and Grilled Melted Leks

Grilled Lemon-Dill Striped Bass:

1 lb. striped bass fillets (2 large fillets)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/3 cup fresh dill, roughly torn

4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Mix together all ingredients except non-stick cooking spray in a large ziplock bag.  Marinate fish 3-4 hours, flipping over occasionally to ensure even marination.

Remove fish from marinade.  Reserve lemon-dill marinade.  Lightly score the fish on the skin side.

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Place fish skin side down on the grill.  Baste with reserved marinade.  Grill about 4-5 minutes.  Carefully flip and baste again.  Grill another 4-5 minutes or until internal temperature is about 140º.

Grilled Melted Leeks:

3 large leeks, dark green ends trimmed off, cleaned

Lemon-dill marinade, reserved from above

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, cut a few 2-3″ slits about a quarter of the way through the leeks, lengthwise.  This will allow the leeks to cook evenly.

Blanche leeks in the boiling water about five minutes until tender.  Drain rinse with cool water.  Drain on paper towels.

Place leeks directly on the grill.  Baste with some lemon-dill marinade, from above.  Cook about 5 minutes per side over direct heat.  Transfer to indirect heat and cook another 8-10  minutes, turning once or twice.

Serve warm.

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