Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lemon Zest, Turkish Apricot Scones

This morning I had none of my boys in the kitchen until the scones were done baking. But I still choose to think of this as an entry for this particular blog as I really do use their need for food as one of my motivations for cooking and baking.

A second motivation recently has been my need for a stress relief on mornings on which I am not running.  I am not happy about not running.  But to be able to run strong and safely in the long term, I need some short term rest.

So, I have experiments with two different types of scones over the past two days.  Both were fun.  And both were in the spirit of food as art.  On each day,  I focused on the colors in the scones.

Yesterday was a red and black day.  Some might think of these two colors as a direct reference to Les Miserables.  I think of these two colors instead as a reference to my growing up.  At the Highland Park elementary school in Upper Darby the the mascot was (and maybe still is) the hawks.  And on field day it was black against read.  An elementary school shirt was a red shirt with a black hawk on it.  My food choice--the basic recipe found here with  3/4 cup each of dried cranberries and chocolate chips thrown in.  Yummy!

Today's was a bit trickier.  My two sons who still live at home were disappointed when I previewed the scones and told them there would be no chocolate.  However, I was going for more subtle flavors.  So I found a recipe here and modified it just a little.  I didn't use the currants but instead used coarsely chopped Turkish apricots.  I replaced the cream with 2% milk.  (Mostly for not having any cream on hand.)  And I doubled the recipe.  These were VERY yummy!

I wanted the Turkish apricots as today's artistic touch was to use yellow and brown.  My 16 year old asked, "Why brown?"  I told him it was because of a conversation I had with a friend recently in which we talked about these two colors.  Topping the scones with a mixture of milk and cinnamon and sugar added to the nice flavor.  The lemon zest is a fresh flavor.  The dried Turkish apricots are sweet but more of a fall flavor in my opinion.   The yellow can be the bright color of the sun, a beautiful sunflower, or fall leaves.  The flavors were more subtle than with the chocolate and cranberries.  Cranberries are generally an "in your face" kind of fruit. And even semi-sweet chocolate chips are pretty bold.

So, I like working on contrasting scones with interesting flavors and thinking of food as art.  What do the colors represent?  How do I come up with the color combinations anyway?  (Shall I create a purple and gold scone for my high school colors or a maize and blue scone for Michigan?)

Fun memories.  Fun triggers for experimenting with the scones.  And tasty food.  What an exciting ay to bring concepts together.

Here are a few pictures form this morning.

Lemon Zest

Lemon Zest + Apricots
Scones shaped and topped with milk,
cinnamon, and sugar

Baked Scones 
Scone cut open 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Scones

I have made breads for a while.  I have done biscuits.  And over the years of baking I have done, I have tried scones every once in a while.  Over the past couple of weeks I have made two recipes of cinnamon and sugar scones and two recipes of chocolate with macadamia nut scones.  I have shared scones with two running partners, another fellow member of Back on My Feet, people at work, and family at home of course.  Everyone seems pretty happy.

For the latter recipe, I have used a recipe from (  However, the recipe is somewhat difficult to read and I have made some modifications.

So, here it goes:

1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
2 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2⁄3 cup milk
2 tbsp chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 425 F.  

Chop macadamia nuts coarsely.  Mix 1/2 cup of the macadamia nuts with 2 cups flour, the baking powder and salt.  

Keep butter in the refrigerator until just before using.  Cut into small pieces and mix with dry ingredients.  Using a pastry knife or two butter knives. but up the butter until it forms a coarse meal with the flour.  

Add sugar, mixing gently to coat the coarse meal.

Add milk and mix until dough comes together.  Add up to 1/2 cup additional flour if dough remains sticky.  Handle dough the minimum amount possible.  

Flour a surface to spread dough and spread to approximately 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut into circles (I used a floured wine glass--make sure it is not a really skinny wine glass but it doesn't have to be extremely wide either).  Gather up leftover dough to form extra scones (again trying to handle as little as possible).

Place scones on a baking sheet--stone if you have one--and top with remaining 1/4 cup of chopped macadamia nuts.  For chocolate shavings, I like to take a dark chocolate bar and grate it.  (Of course, you can use more chocolate if you'd like.)

Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dinner on Tuesday

Today, I started the day with an intense 9 mile run on the treadmill at the Y.  It included going at the follwing paces: 8:15, 8:00, 7:45, 7:30, 2 times 7:15, 7:00, 6:45 and a finish at 8:00.  Since it took just over 1:07, I ran the first mile, paused, and then ran the last 8 in 59:30.  It was a workout that left me feeling pumped.  And I saw two people from St. Pius X--both of whom taught my youngest son in 2nd grade religious education and one of whom I taught 4th grade with at one point.  That was nice.  For the year, I am now at 1286.2 miles for the year.  That puts me on W Maple St on the west side of Wichita, KS, as I am making a virtual pilgrimage from our church in Towson, MD, to a church in New Mexico.  

Yesterday, I wrote a lot about running and spirituality.  I will cross link to my other blog (  Tonight's entry has little to do with anything in Wichita.  I am not looking up more churches in Wichita.  I think of beef and corn as foods in Kansas.  (That is a clear stereotype.)  But I am most interested in sharing the dinner that is a step in the right direction for me to get back on track for healthy eating.  This is the fuel for tomorrow morning's seven miles.  

The key here is that I was asked to post a recipe that I fixed at home tonight for dinner.  Everyone was home for dinner at a reasonable hour on a weeknight.  Unusual for my family.  And this is what we had.

The first dish is still in the frying pan. We had a 12 oz package of uncured bacon from the grocery store.  Cooked it till nearly done.  Took it out to drain.  Then, put about 1.25 pounds of thinly sliced boneless chicken breast in the pan.  Sauteed till nearly done.  Then added one bunch of collard greens that had been cleaned and cut into very small pieces.  Sauteed them as well.  Then crumbled the bacon and threw it back in the pan to mix with the other ingredients.

Then the second picture shows how we served dinner.  The other dish was a combination of two   large heirloom tomatoes (one yellow and one red) diced into bite sized pieces.  To that we added about 1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tsp of balsamic vinaigrette.  

It was a wonderful dinner.

And in the spirit of a dad and three boys in the kitchen, my youngest prepared the bacon, my middle sliced the tomato, and my oldest took over the sauteing while I answered a call for work.  

I have a great family.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ham, Mashed Turnips & Sweet Potatoes, and Turnip Greens

This was a pretty cool dinner.  The ham just came from steaks that I pan fried.  Nothing special there.  The turnip and sweet potato mash used turnips either from my kids' gardens or the CSA.  We must have used about 6 cups of diced turnips and 2 cups of diced sweet potatoes.  Boiled.  Then added a half pint of sour cream and some butter and milk and mashed.  Those were yummy.  We didn't add salt and pepper but those would not have been bad.  We'd heard that sautéing turnip greens was not the way to go.  So, we steamed them.  They took a while to steam--probably 30-35 minutes by the time all was said and done.  We had sliced garlic and bay leaves in the steamer and topped with butter and salt.  Not the most exciting greens but not bad.  Would work well with slivered almonds and a bit of parmesan too.  Overall, it was a great dinner yesterday.  Just with all those turnips and sweets it took a long time to prepare.  

pizza with radish greens

The picture you see at the side is not so different from many pizzas I have made.  However, for the first time we tried eating not just the radishes but also the radish greens.  This summer has started off as an exploration of vegetable greens and my next entry will talk about turnip greens.  But, for today, here is the recipe.  And, while I made the mistake of not taking any pictures of the preparation, I can say that my twelve year old is responsible for this as I was not really excited about greens but he thought it would be great to try.  It was!

So, begin with a dough to make a 16 inch pizza.  (If you need a recipe, I can post that as well).  The toppings for this included fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, pepperoni, fresh tomatoes, radishes, and radish greens.  Everything other than the radish greens is pretty straightforward.  To prepare the greens, just saute them with a bit of crushed garlic in olive oil.  Spread all the toppings evenly and bake. Hope you will enjoy.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Black Lava Soft Pretzels

So, this morning, I made soft pretzels with black lava sea salt.  These were at the request of my 7 year old who wanted to take them to the end of first grade picnic.  Here is a picture.  And below is the recipe. They received compliments at the picnic.

1 1/2 c warm water (approximately 110 F)
1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp yeast
4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c salt but up into small pieces
1 c cold water
1 tbsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Add sugar and yeast to warm water.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes.  Add flour and salt.  Mix until all ingredients are wet.  Add pieces of butter.  Mix well.  Knead for 5-10 minutes adding flour as necessary so that the dough feels just a little greasy but does not stik to the hands or the side of the bowl.

Dissolve baking soda in cold water.

Break dough into 12 pieces.  Roll into long thin segments.  Fold into pretel shapes.  Dip in the basking soda solution.  Place on parchment paper.  Sprinkle black lava sea salt on the top.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rye bagels

Here is an up close picture of the rye bagels I made today.  I enjoyed receiving a pound of rye flour and a small bottle of caraway seeds from one of my first grade classmates' moms.  She knew I would put it to good use.  Even the boys liked these.  Here is the recipe:

2 cups dark rye flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp caraway seeds
1/4 cups sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 c water
1 tbsp years
1 cup water
1 tbsp baking solda

Mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl warm the 1 1/2 cups of water to approximately 100 degrees F and dissolve yeast.  Let stand for 10-15 minutes and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Knead for approximately 5 minutes, adding extra all purpose flour as necessary so that the dough does not stick to your hand.  Cover and let risk for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough, adding a little more flour.  Break into 12 equal pieces.  Dissolve baking soda in 1 cup of cold water. Form each piece into a ball and push a hole in the middle.  Form into a bagel shape and dip in cold water with dissolved baking soda.  Flip the bagel in the water.  Place on parchment paper on a pan.  Bake for 14 minutes.