Friday, February 20, 2015

Strawberries & Cream Scones

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I love that strawberry season comes twice a year. The whole family rejoices when we walk into the market and find a table filled with box upon box of ripe, red strawberries. Both my daughters are just plain strawberry-mad! I've been buying so many boxes! Most of the berries are just washed and eaten, but I usually manage to hide a box or two to bake with. I love baking with fresh strawberries.
This recipe is one that I've made a few times now. It is no secret that our breakfast favourites are muffins and scones. So, I'm always trying out new scone and muffin recipes, and my family never complains. Of course, when you're trying out so many new recipes, you're bound to have some recipes you never want to try again. This isn't one of them.

If you want a lighter crumb and are baking for an occasion or for guests, and you don't want to worry about health, you could just bake it with all regular flour.

Strawberries & Cream Scones
Adapted from Taste of Home 
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar (plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
2/3 cup half and half, or medium-fat cream
2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or greaseproof paper, or use a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, flaxseed meal, orange zest, salt and ground cinnamon. Mix well.
3. Add the cold butter and using just the tips of your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Work quickly, and gently until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
4. Add the cream and bring the dough together gently.
5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and add the chopped strawberries.
6. Working very lightly, so as to not bruise the berries too much, gently work the strawberries into the dough.
7. Transfer the dough onto your lined baking sheet, and form into a rough 8 or 9 inch circle. Pat down the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into six or eight wedges.
8. Brush the top of the scones with the egg and sprinkle with the 2 tbsp of sugar you have reserved. You could also sprinkle the top with chopped nuts.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown.
The flaky, buttery scone is rich with cream and loaded with tangy-sweet berries that drip their juice and make a very welcome mess. I wish I could get my hands on some clotted cream. I think it would be perfect with these particular scones.

My husband had a valid complaint. While he love the sugary crunch on the top of the scones, he felt these scones would benefit with some more texture and crunch. So the next time around, I thought I'd throw in some hazelnuts or pistachios for some texture.
In other news, with my birthday and Valentine's Day falling in the same month, I have received a bounty of new cookbooks that I am SO excited about. I have the best husband, friends and family in the world! I can't wait to be sharing some awesome tried and tested recipes from these awesome new books! :)

But, for now, watch out for another awesome strawberry recipe to celebrate the season of yummy strawberries!

Until next time…

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Bacon Cheddar Cornbread

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I get so excited every time the reveal date for the Secret Recipe Club rolls around. It is just so much fun to see who has been cooking and what everyone's been cooking! I missed having SRC in January, but it was our month off for the year. And now I'm back and ready to go!

When I received this month's assignment, I was in awe of the site. The site has so much going on, and in a great way! And when I read the 'About me' section, I knew just why. She isn't a just a blogger like me; she's a blogger who is a professional trained chef! I'm so happy to introduce you to Chef Becca from It's Yummi! She's just amazing, and SO versatile. Whether it's a fancy dessert, an elaborate main course, a simple starter or a healthy snack - she's got it all! Visit her and I know for sure you won't be disappointed with what you find.

As always, I had a rough time trying to pick just ONE recipe from Chef Becca's blog. So I ended up making two this time around. Actually, originally picked only one - a cookie recipe. Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures before I put the cookies out when some friends came over. I figured I'd take the pictures after they left with all the leftover cookies. Well, who would have thunk there would be no leftovers! I recommend her Triple Chocolate Cookies, for sure! She has some fabulous muffin recipes too! I have several bookmarked!

The recipe I finally made for this month's reveal was her Bacon Cheddar Cornbread. It was my birthday on Saturday, and I decided to make one of my favourite meals. So we ate this yummy cornbread with my Beef and Navy bean Chili and it was oh so yummy!
Chef Becca uses her homemade Bisquick mix in this recipe. I just halved her Bisquick mix recipe, used what I needed for this recipe, and stored the rest in the fridge for later. So convenient!

I just combined 4 cups all purpose flour, 2 1/2 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar. Then, I rubbed in 1/2 cup unsalted butter until I had a mixture that resembled fresh bread crumbs. Since I used butter instead of shortening, I store this mix in the fridge.

Bacon Cheddar Cornbread
Adapted from this recipe on itsyummi.com 
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups of homemade Bisquick mix (see previous paragraph)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup creamed corn
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup cooked bacon, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Method
1. Into a 9x5 rectangular glass baking tray, or a cast iron oven-safe skillet, put 1 tbsp of butter. Place this into an oven and begin to preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the baking mix, the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.
3. Combine the egg, creamed corn, milk and oil in a medium bowl.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Stir in the chopped bacon and the shredded cheese.
6. Remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Pour the batter into the tray over the melted butter.
7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
8. Serve warm with extra butter, and some honey, if desired.
We ate this cornbread straight out of the oven with super spicy chili and we really, really enjoyed it!

The flavours are amazing, the cornbread is moist and the salty bacon is just perfect with the corn. So tasty! Or should I say SO YUMMI! My older daughter loved snacking on these beautiful squares of cornbread even after she was done with dinner. Definitely a keeper! Thanks Chef Becca! :)

I always enjoy the recipes my fellow bloggers from Group B cook up! To see what everyone else has made, check out the links below! :)


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Friday, January 30, 2015

Fudgy Lime Curd Brownies

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I've been dying to post this recipe! I had it all ready to post about a week ago, and I just had some editing to do. And then I got sick. And really sick. It took me a week to get back on my feet, and so, here I am! Better late than never, huh?
These brownies are phenomenal! They happened because I got this weird craving (no I'm not pregnant again!) for something with dark chocolate and lime or lemon. I don't know why and how I craved this unusual combination, but I was just determined to do something about it. I have this awesome baker friend whose opinion I like to get. When I told her what I had planned, she said "Don't do it!" Gosh. I was confused and almost didn't make these. But, I'm happy to report that for once, she was wrong. And she rarely is! 
This recipe totally, totally rocks! The base recipe for the brownies is one of my favourite cocoa brownie recipes - Alice Medrich's best cocoa brownies. For the lime element, I used my favourite homemade lime curd recipe. I'm sure this would work just as well with good quality store-bought lime or lemon curd too. Orange curd would work too, if that floats your boat. And the rest is history.

Fudgy Lime Curd Brownies
Adapted from this recipe by Alice Medrich
Ingredients
1 1/4 sticks or 140g of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups or 250g of sugar
1 cup or 120g cocoa powder 
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup or 63g all-purpose flour
1/3 - 1/2 cup lime (or lemon) curd 

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 7" or 8" square tin and line with parchment paper covering the base and all the sides. To do this, cut out two long pieces of paper. Press one into the tin, leaving an overhang on opposite sides. Press it in well so that the paper is sticking to the base and the two opposite sides. Now do the same thing with the other paper, covering the base and the remaining sides. Again make sure you leave an overhang on the sides. I've done this with plain old aluminium foil, and it works just as well. 
2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir until the butter has completely dissolved and the mixture has heated through and is feels hot when you stick your finger in the mixture. Set aside to cool until warm - about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the vanilla and beat well to incorporate.
4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure you beat well after each addition. Spend some time on this step and beat for at least 3-4 minutes vigorously. 
5. Add the flour to this mixture and stir until you can't see flour streaks anymore. At this point. Alice Medrich recommends beating the mixture with forty vigorous strokes. So really get those arm muscles working and beat the batter at least 40 strokes. I think we may have gotten in 60-70 strokes.
6. Pour half the batter into the prepared tin. Smooth out to make sure you get the batter into the corners.
7. Dollop the lemon curd all over the surface of the batter. Gently spread the curd so it is a fairly even layer. Don't beat it in but try to keep it as a distinct layer.
8. Top the lemon curd layer with the remaining brownie batter and smooth the surface.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with gloopy lemon curd and a slight moist brownie batter. 
10. Allow to cool completely before using the overhanging paper to lift out the brownies onto your work surface. 
11. Cut into 16 (or 25) squares. 
The combination was really awesome. This base brownie recipe is one of my favorites and gives you really deep, dark and fudgy brownies. This combined with the tart, oozy lemon curd cutting through the rich chocolate was just perfect. As always, I intentionally undercooked them. So getting perfect squares was impossible. But my husband said it best when he said "If you could cut the brownies into perfect squares, I probably wouldn't like them as much!" I guess we sacrificed looks for something totally decadent! 

I think some white chocolate chips would work great in the recipe. I'm not sure about what nuts would work here. Personally, I don't like any nuts in my brownies. I feel like ruins the fudgy texture I so crave and enjoy. If you try this recipe and decide to use nuts, please let me know if it works! 

You should try this recipe. I am sure you won't regret it!

Until next time! :) 
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