Friday, December 25, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
This is another frequently shared recipe -- it's fast, foolproof, and can go from sweet to savory, depending on what you choose to stir in. Because the cream serves as both the liquid and the fat, you don't need to cut in butter and it uses no eggs. A very good recipe to try if you are new to baking.
Classic Cream Scones
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Have a large un-greased baking sheet ready.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried raisins or cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (NOT non-dairy creamer)
Mix with a spatula or spoon just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Form the dough into a ball and knead it gently in the bowl about 10 times, until loose pieces are worked in.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) round about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Cut into 8 or 12 wedges and place on baking sheet, not too close together.
Brush tops with:
2 to 3 teaspoons cream or milk
Cinnamon and sugar, if desired
Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack or serve warm.
Tips and buying info:
Fresh cream is very hard to find here, but there are some decent UHT versions. Check the labels carefully -- cream, milk solids, and maybe one thickener means it will taste fairly cream-like. Too many other stabilisers or enhancers and it will begin to taste odd. (Liquid whipped-topping mix is oil-based and won't work for this recipe at all.) I prefer President over Anchor, and also really like the Breton cream at Costco -- good flavor, good price.
For savory biscuits, reduce the sugar by half and stir in whatever you'd like: grated cheese, bits of cooked ham or bacon, green onions, etc. With half sugar and no stir-ins, these make nice biscuits to serve with soup or stew. For variations on the sweet version, try bits of candied ginger with orange zest, dried blueberries with lemon, or dried cherries and slivered almonds. You really can't go wrong, just keep the proportions about the same.
I've been cooking tons lately, and promising people I'd share recipes with them, so perhaps it's time to resurrect this blog, too. Let's give it a try, anyway!
One of my favorite cooking blogs is Chocolate & Zucchini, and I have Clotilde to thank for these lovely cheese crackers. I have never been a huge fan of chips and crackers -- yes, some of us can eat just one -- although I wouldn't pass up a few Triscuits. But these lovely cheesy crisps go far beyond the dry, uniform crackers that come in a box. They're perfect for the holidays, too: you can make the dough ahead of time, and just slice and bake the thins right before you need them. Once baked, they will keep nicely in a sealed container for a couple days, so you can prepare them ahead if you want. The trick is keeping the snackers at bay.
(Makes about six dozen, depending on how thick you slice them)
In a medium bowl combine:
170 grams (6 ounces) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
55 grams (4 tablespoons) butter, diced and softened
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces, or about 3/4 cup) flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground spicy paprika or ground chili powder
Using a dough blender or two knives, mix these ingredients together until they form a dough. If the mixture seems too dry to form a ball add a dash of milk or cream.
Shape the dough into a log, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it is firm enough to slice easily, about an hour or up to one day ahead. (You can put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to speed it up.)
Preheat the oven to 180Cº (360Fº) and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon baking mat. Remove the dough from the fridge, slice it lengthwise and then slice each half into thin half-moons; arrange on the baking sheet (they will expand a little). Return any unused dough to the fridge between batches.
Sprinkle lightly with salt and chili pepper and bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until golden. Let the cheese thins rest on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack. Serve immediately, or store tightly covered.
I really like Costco's sharp cheddar for these; an extra-sharp cheddar would also be excellent, but I wouldn't use mild. You can substitute other cheeses, but they are so pricey here that I tend to use the more readily available ones for cooking.
Silicon mats are available at Walason's (aka The Pineapple Store, aka Cook Box), on Benguan Road. You'll find them on the paper products aisle, near the parchment paper and foil. They are tan, rolled up tubes, and each roll can be cut in half to line two full sized baking sheets. They're a real bargain, much better than the Silpat liners.