Cinnamon & Spice Oat Scones

These scones are probably one of the simplest and healthiest bakes I know. Really, they just change a bowl of oatmeal into a delicious portable snack. They aren’t that sweet, but I love them perfectly how they are and continue to make them frequently. I’ve noticed my kids will eat them, but not devour them, which is probably a good sign, really, that they are healthful and filling.

They also don’t have any wheat, if that’s a help to you, and they last for a couple of days, making a good on-the-go breakfast. They are from Genevieve Ko’s Better Baking, one of my favorite baking books on the shelf (and I won’t disclose how many that is!). She has a different title for them (she calls them oat soda bread scones), but I think my name better describes them and reflects the way I’ve spiced them.

oatmeal scones ko

Cinnamon & Spice Oat Scones

  • 2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • one packet English breakfast tea leaves (original) or Bengal Spice herbal tea bag (my favorite!)
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar (turbinado is good for sprinkling on top, if you have it)
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I own a scone pan, which I used for the image above. I got it from King Arthur Flour, if you’re looking).
  2. Process the oats and tea leaves in a food processor until finely ground; it’s okay if there are still some small bits of oats. Add the raisins and pulse until chopped. Add the baking soda, salt , and sugar and pulse to combine. Add the buttermilk and pulse until the dough comes together, scraping the bowl occasionally.
  3. Using a 3-T (2 in.) cookie scoop or a 1/4 c. measure, drop the dough by scant 1/4-cupfuls onto the prepared pan, spacing them 1.5 inches apart. Flatten the tops slightly with your palm, then slash a cross in the top of each with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake until the scones are cooked through and the bottoms are light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Slide the parchment paper with the scones onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Swedish Gingerbread

While my memory serves me, and before winter expires, I’m chronicling some of the more memorable holiday baking I did. Hopefully this will make next year easier, unless I decide to reinvent the wheel, like usual.

We did a couple of things this Christmas to celebrate my family’s Swedish ancestry, including a family gathering that spotlighted Swedish Christmas food. I had clipped this recipe from a Saveur magazine years ago, but hadn’t yet made it, so it was finally time. There were a lot of desserts at the gathering (that’s how we celebrate!) so I was surprised to see that so many of these delightful cookies had been eaten. I worried that the amount of cloves would deter the kids, but quite the opposite: it made them distinctive and delightful. I can’t wait to make them again. A new Christmas favorite! Saveur reports getting this recipe from an 80-year-old bakery in Stockholm called Vete-Katten. Worth a visit!

swedish gingerbread saveur

Swedish Gingerbread Cookies

34 c. flour
3 t. ground cloves
12 t. ground cinnamon
12 t. ground ginger
14 t. baking soda
11 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
12 c. golden syrup or dark corn syrup
12 c. heavy cream
2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda; set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup using a handheld mixer set to medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add the reserved spice mixture and the heavy cream in 3 alternating batches, beginning and ending with the spice mixture, until the dough just combines. Transfer dough to a work surface, divide in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour. (Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and in fact, we still rolled some out 5 days later, and they were great.)
  2. Heat oven to 350°. Unwrap 1 disk of dough and place on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1⁄8″ thickness. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutters of your choice and place cookies 2″ apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, rerolling scraps. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
  3. To make an icing, if you like, whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and egg white in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer icing to a resealable plastic bag (or a pastry bag). Snip off a bottom corner of the bag and pipe icing onto cookies in a decorative pattern.

Lentil & Spinach Soup

I got another Jamie Oliver book from my local charity shop (Jamie’s Food Revolution), and I have been cooking my way through it. Everything is terrific, like I would have guessed, but this recipe is the one I hope I remember to make more often. The ginger is a pleasingly dominant flavor that really colors the whole soup. I found the red lentils at a local Asian market, and I was surprised to see how much they cooked down and became quite a thick base. It’s truly delicious!

Lentil and Spinach Soup

2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
olive oil
a thumb-sized piece of ginger root
1/2-1 fresh red chili to your taste (I used a red bell pepper)
10 grape or cherry tomatoes
2 cups red lentils
7 cups spinach
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup natural yogurt

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice and garlic. Put the broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid ajar until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden. Meanwhile peel and finely slice the ginger. Seed and slice the chili. Remove the stalks from the grape or cherry tomatoes and slice the tomatoes in half. Add the boiling broth to the pan with the lentils, ginger, chili and tomatoes. Give the soup a good stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, or until the lentils are cooked. Add the spinach and continue to cook for 30 seconds.

Season well with salt and pepper. You can serve the soup as is; or, using and immersion blender or liquidizer, pulse until smooth. Divide between your serving bowls. Delicious topped with a dollop of natural yogurt.

Tomato and Avocado Stack

A little taste of summer that I haven’t yet posted. This was one of my favorite dishes of the year! I ripped this recipe from a 2008 Cooking Light magazine and have stored it for ten years before trying it. That’s why, of course, I never through a huge stack of ripped magazines away, despite my inner turmoil about it.

Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Stack:

  • 1/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 T. reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 T. reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 t. grated lime rind
  • 1/4 t. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. ground cumin
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup very thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 1 cup diced peeled avocado (about 1 small)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

To prepare dressing, combine first 9 ingredients in a small food processor or blender; process 30 seconds or until pureed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Cover and chill.

To prepare salad, slice each tomato crosswise into 4 equal slices (about 1/2 inch thick). Place 1 tomato slice on each of 4 salad plates; sprinkle slices evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top each serving with a few onion pieces and about 1 tablespoon avocado. Repeat layers 3 times, ending with avocado. Drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over each serving; sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.

Coconut & Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pistachio Chocolate ChipI picked up a cookbook recently called Sugar & Spice (by Sarah Seneviratne), thinking it would have ideas right up my alley, and though I haven’t found myself in it very often, I was so happy to try this amazing recipe. The author calls this her “go-to” chocolate chip, rather than selling it as a riff on the classic. When I tried it, I thought, “yeah, this could be a new ‘go-to’ but it also is so unique!” So, I’ve renamed them to reveal a little more of what they bring to the table. Even so, my name also doesn’t give them full disclosure, because it doesn’t incorporate how much the vanilla shines through and carries the flavors together. This might be my favorite part! 

In terms of the kid factors, everyone but my littlest (who is only vanilla, all the time) loved them. That is high marks, especially because pistachios aren’t really everyday around here. So, if you’re in the process of expanding your chocolate chip recipe repertoire, here’s yet another for your basket, and it really is a keeper. 

Coconut & Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 c. (4 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. melted virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), chopped (about 1 c.)
  • 2 1/2 oz. (1/2 c.) shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. (3 oz.) shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional but I chose without)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine the coconut oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until creamy. Stir in the vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture to the coconut oil mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate, pistachios, and coconut.
  3. Scoop the dough in 2-tablespoon scoops and place on the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with a bit of sea salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the sheets on racks for about 5 minutes.

 

Sweet Cheese Strudel

This bread is our favorite Easter morning breakfast. In February, my oldest daughter Lucy usually starts asking me if I’ll make it this year for Easter, and she’s also been known to request it for her birthday. The original recipe comes from Beth Hensperger’s Bread for All Seasons. I’ve done everything here the same as the original, except sometimes I only use cream cheese (I don’t add the goat cheese), and I also braided this plait instead of rolling it like cinnamon rolls–and it turned out beautifully.

It’s a simple but dramatic loaf and one of the best ways to start any morning. I think perhaps tomorrow I’ll also add some blueberries into the filling–just a few! Oh, also note that it rests in the fridge overnight, so start the day before.

Sweet Cheese Strudel

Yeasted Sweet Cheese Strudel or  Cream Cheese Braided Danish

2 1/2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sour cream
6 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
2 eggs
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 t. salt
3 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (exact measure)

Sweet Cheese Filling
8 oz. fresh goat cheese (not Feta! that rookie mistake was embarassing), at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature [sometimes, I just use 16 oz. of cream cheese instead of goat cheese, and it is great either way]
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg
2 t. pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 large lemon

Brandied Almond Crust
1 egg yolk
1 t. good-quality brandy [or almond extract]
2 T. light brown sugar
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Warm the sour cream on the stove top or in a microwave to about 105 degrees, then add the butter pieces. Stir to melt.

2. In a standing mixer (or equivalent), combine the remaining sugar, eggs, lemon zest, salt and 1 c. of flour. Add the warm sour cream and yeast mixtures. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute, switching to a wooden spoon as necessary if making by hand. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time. The dough will be rather soft and have a silky, translucent quality. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Cover the bowl with 2 layers of greased plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge overnight.

3. The next day, make the sweet cheese filling. With an electric mixer, blend together the cheeses, sugar, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth and well combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

4. Using a large dough scraper, scrape the chilled batter onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion in to an 8-by-12-inch rectangle, dusting lightly with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Spread each rectangle with one-third of the sweet cheese filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Starting from a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion and pinch the seam together to seal. Pinch both ends to seal and tuck them under. (In the picture above, I spread the filling down the center and then cut the dough on both sides into one-inch strands, and folded them over each other to create the braid. I like the look much better.)

5. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart. Using a serrated knife, score each finished cylinder in 5 places across the top, no more than 1/4 inch deep. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Bake in the center of the preheated oven 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the brandied almond crust. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, brandy, brown sugar, and allspice and beat briskly with a whisk. Using a pastry brush, spread the crust mixture gently over the tops of the partially baked strudels. Immediately sprinkle each strudel with one-third of the almonds. Quickly return the pan to the oven and bake until the strudels are golden, sound hollow when tapped, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, another 15-20 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the strudels from the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Lemon and Blueberry Teacakes

 

Lemon and Blueberry Teacakes

I was so excited to buy Ottolenghi’s new baking book, Sweet, in late fall, but have found myself so busy that I haven’t baked from it yet. Recently, though, when I was looking for a good springtime treat to share with friends, I came upon this recipe from that book. It looked terrific, and it tasted even better. I even got rave reviews from the piano movers who happened to be at our house when the cakes came out of the oven.  And since many of house in my house are lemon lovers, I’m sure I’ll use it frequently. (Note: I usually buy almond flour at Costco these days, if you are looking for an affordable and easy option.)

Lemon Blueberry Teacakes

Makes about 12 cupcakes

3/4 c. + 1 1/2 T. (190 g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/4 c. + 1 T. (45g) all-purpose flour
2 c. (190g) ground almonds
3/4 c. +  3 1/2 T. (190g) sugar
4 eggs
1/4 c. (60 ml) lemon juice
finely grated zest of one lemon
1/4 t. salt (the original amount is 1/8)
1/4 t. baking powder
2/3 c. (100g) blueberries

Glaze:
a few squeezes of lemon juice
freshly grated lemon zest of one lemon (my addition)
1 1/3 c. (160g) icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180°). Grease all 12 molds of a regular muffin pan with butter and dust lightly but thoroughly with flour. Tap away any excess and set aside.

Place the butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium-high speed until light, then add the eggs and almond meal in three or four alternating batches. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then add this to the mixer and turn the speed to low. Finally, add the lemon juice and eat until combined. Spoon the mixture into the molds and divide the 2/3 c. blueberries between the cakes: push them down slightly so that they sink into the batter. The reason we do this is to ensure that each cake gets an equal number of berries.

 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before tapping them out gently onto a cooling rack so that they are sitting upside down. Cool completely.

To make the icing: combine the confectioners’ sugar and zest and juice in a bowl and stir until it has a thick pouring consistency. Spoon the icing over the cakes and dot the remaining blueberries in the center (or strawberries!). Serve.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Brown Butter

If you’ve had a rice krispie treat that tastes different, and significantly better, than the ones that are typical, I bet that this is recipe that you’ve tried. This is the kind of rice krispie treat that gets accused of being laced with some other type of illegal substance, because it’s so addicting and so good. And since I’m already perhaps one of the biggest fans of these crazy simple, crazy good desserts, I’m an even bigger fan of these. So, for all my Texan cousins out there, here you go! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. The recipe comes from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook, one of my favorite baking books out there. Also, when I’m making these for a large crowd, I double the recipe and put them in a half-sheet tray, which is 18″ by 13″.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean [watch for these at Costco during the holidays, or buy at Amazon]
  • 2 10-oz bags marshmallows
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 cups crispy rice cereal (I actually use a little more than this, maybe 1/2 to 1 cup more)

Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray [I line it with aluminum foil and then spray the aluminum foil so I don’t have to wash the pan and I can lift them out easier].

Add the butter to a large saucepan set over low heat [I set it at medium-low]. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan with the butter. The butter will melt then begin to bubble and foam [it will sound like people applauding for a little while, and then it will stop. Once the noise has stopped, swirl the pan and watch carefully]. Eventually it will start to turn brown and smell nutty – be patient and watch carefully, it can go from brown to burned quickly.

Once the butter is browned, add all of the marshmallows and the salt. Stir the mixture constantly until the marshmallows are completely melted. Turn off the heat under the pan and add the cereal. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat the cereal evenly with the buttery, marshmallow liquid. Spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting and serving. You can store the treats in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

Candied Bacon Salad with Goat Cheese & Figs


I have such a backlog of recipes I’d like to post, so I’m plunging in today, but who knows when I’ll finish! I’m starting with a new summer favorite: this recipe is a wonderful riff on a Jamie Oliver salad from his book, Jamie’s America.  I still feel like this book is a new acquisition every time I open it, and I’m inspired every time, although I think I’ve owned it for at least six years now. At any rate, there’s plenty for me to still experiment with there.

As for the original recipe, I switched out the clementine slices and pomegranate seeds, which is what Oliver originally calls for, because I was so happy to find fresh figs at the market. So, here’s a little bit of a riff; I added the cheese to compliment the figs and also to lighten the appearance of the salad (which doesn’t have the prettiest appearance anyway, but the flavor is enough to make up for that).

I think we’ve made this salad three times this summer, and I hope to get another time or two in, but the figs may have already disappeared. I’ll have to switch to pomegranates next.

Candied Bacon Salad with Goat Cheese & Figs

For the dressing
6 T good-quality extra virgin olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
1 heaped t mustard
1 heaped T natural yoghurt
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
10 to 12 slices of smoked streaky bacon
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 slices of fresh white bread
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped t sugar
10 fresh figs
2-4 oz. goat cheese
5 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
A small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked

To make your dressing, put all the ingredients into a large serving bowl, whisk together, and season to taste. Put to one side.

Get a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the bacon slices and cook until lightly golden (but not really crispy), turning them every so often. Remove the bacon to a plate. Squash your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then turn the heat up a little and tear your bread into medium-sized chunks. Drop them into the pan so they suck up all the grease and become crispy. If your bacon didn’t release a lot of fat and you think the bread needs a little help to crisp up, simply add a lug or two of olive oil. Add a pinch of black pepper and shake the bread around until crispy and golden, then remove to the plate with your bacon.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper, then put the bacon back in with the sugar or honey and the juice of 1 clementine (or a squirt of lemon juice). Stir everything around in the pan so the syrup starts to stick to the bacon. As soon as the bacon is perfectly caramelized and sticky, use tongs to carefully move them to an oiled plate and leave to cool down for a minute. This process is quite quick so keep your eye on it, so it doesn’t burn.

Whatever shape you leave the bacon in at this point is how it will set, so give the rashers a bend or a twist.

Slice your figs and crumble the goat cheese, if needed.

Grab your bowl of dressing and add your salad leaves. Add the figs, and mint leaves, then use your hands to toss and dress everything thoroughly. Lightly toss your croutons through the salad and lay your candied bacon on top. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the whole salad.

Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip

cranberry-cream-cheese

My sister brought this dip to a little family get together a couple years ago, and I just thought it was so incredible. Bright and beautiful, with interesting flavor. Kind-of the perfect foil to the many heavy party dips that usually accompany winter. So, I woke up early in January thinking about it, and happily found it quite easily. I was surprised that there was so much sugar (1 cup!!!) and decided to start with less and see how I liked it. I actually love it with less sugar–I’ll continue to take it down from what I now do at 1/3 c. and see if I can get it even lower, but for now, I love this dip. Really. I’ve made it three times in the last three weeks, and can just sit and enjoy it with a spoon, and even no cream cheese, all by myself. I’ve slightly adapted this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries (I’ve used frozen, which bleed a little, but taste fine)
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/3 c. sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 2 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese, light or regular, softened [I use less, just to make a thin layer at the bottom of the dish, or none at all]
  • Crackers or Tortilla Chips, for serving

  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped (alternately, you can do this task by hand). Add the green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, sugar, cumin, lemon juice and salt and pulse until the ingredients are well combined and finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a covered bowl or tupperware and refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to overnight) so the flavors have time to develop and the cranberries lose a bit of their tartness.
  2. When ready to serve, spread the cream cheese in an even layer on a serving plate or 9-inch pie dish. Top with the cranberry-jalapeno mixture, spreading evenly over the top of the cream cheese.
  3. Refrigerate for up to an hour before serving. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.