Archive for September, 2008

I Got Sconed

Still licking my wounds from Monday’s flatbread disaster, I needed something to boost my spirits. A little pick-me-up. A little sumthin’ sumthin’ that would go with coffee. Enter my mother-in-law’s scone recipe!

1/3 cup margarine, butter, or shortening ( I use butter)

1 ¾  cups all purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 ½  teaspoons baking powder

½  teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten

½ cup currants or raisins ( I use currants)

4-6 tablespoons half and half ( I use 2 percent and it works)

1 egg, beaten


Heat oven to 400.  Cut 1/3 cup margarine into flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in 1 egg ,the currants, and just

enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl.   Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead lightly 10 times.  Roll ½ inch thick.    You can cut 2 inch circles out but I just cut it in to 6 or 8 pie pieces.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush with 1 egg. Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet

Cool 1 hour (I can’t wait that long) 


You can freeze this. Freeze uncovered until completely frozen, at least 2 hours.  Wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil, label and freeze no longer than 2 months.

 About 45 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and heat wrapped in 350 oven until warm , 30-35 minutes. 

I was already a mess in the kitchen baking my bread for the week (more on this later) so I just kept right along and went after the scones. I didn’t have any currants or raisins on hand so I decided to use almonds instead. I didn’t use a rolling pin to roll it out, I just flattened it with my hands and it worked really well. Using a pizza cutter to slice the round, flat dough into eight pieces, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I put them on a cookie sheet and into the oven they went.

About seven minutes later I realized I’d forgotten to brush with them with the egg before popping them into the oven. If I’d tried it then I’d have scrambled egg topped scones. Nasty. So I let them finish without and hoped for the best. (I used the beaten egg to brush on my bread instead.)

Almond Scone

Almond Scone

What emerged from the oven is something I could be proud of. Not as golden brown and delicious as it could have looked, but let’s talk about the tasty scale. These were super yummy, had good texture and weren’t too dry. (Dry, yeah, but they’re scones…) Even Test Subject Bill (self-professed scone hater), when presented with almond scone, approved. (Though he complained about the nuts.)

Moments after I began digging into my afternoon snack, I dropped my scone onto the kitchen floor. $*#(! It was obscene. A tragedy. Luckily, I had seven back ups so a scone emergency was diverted.

Now, I promised more on the bread. I’ve been making two loaves per weekend since I started this endeavor a month or so ago. I’d been using the rapid rise yeast in packets but picked up a brick of regular active dry yeast at Costco. Today was the first time I used it. The dough ball felt lighter and fluffier, and the loaves puffed up considerably during the second rise. I just pulled them out of the oven and will report immediately on any taste/texture deviations from prior loaves once they cool off.


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After a long, rough morning of doing tai chi, hsing-I and pa kua in the park by the Chattahoochee River, I came home starved. Mac & cheese would have taken too long. Lucky for me, I had picked up some lovely organic heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods.

Fresh Tomato Salad

Fresh Tomato Salad

Ripe, fresh tomatoes should not be confused with tomatoes picked green and turned red with chemical reactions. When you’ve got a real tomato, you’ve got a meal.

I lined a salad bowl with fresh spinach, then halved and sliced the heirloom tomato and laid them out over the spinach. Costco has a great goat cheese (Ile de France) so I sprinkled some crumbles of that over the tomatoes. Lightly salted and peppered then drizzled with good olive oil and BAM. Fast food lunch. It took me less than five minutes to produce this work of art. And tasty! Woohoo! McWhoever can kiss my behind.

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I love crackers and bread. If it can hold cheese, I’m on it. So I was excited to find this recipe for Norwegian Flatbread. Yey! It’s bread, it’s in my heritage quest, and the recipe says it’s good with mild cheeses. How can this be bad? The recipe was straight forward: make a dough, roll it out very flat, crisp over high heat and enjoy.

Cattle Feed

Cattle Feed

There were a few ingredients in this recipe I’d never worked with before. First, pureed potato. The recipe didn’t say what kind, so I used Russett. Coming out of the food processor was something that was reminiscent of stuff I sprayed off of old dinner trays when I was the dishwasher at a rest home.

Second, rye flour. I did manage to track down rye flour at my local megamart. Maybe that was where I went wrong. Within the bag was a product that looked exactly like the grain we used to feed the cows to lure them into the barn to get milked.

Alien Crap Patties

Alien Crap Patties

Undaunted, I scraped the potato puree into a bowl, added the rye flour, salt and water. It didn’t really want to come together, but I forced it to. Grr. The recipe didn’t specify what kind of flour to roll the dough out with, so I used AP flour. Maybe i should have used rye flour. I don’t know, but they didn’t want to roll out. They either stuck to the rolling pin or they absorbed a cup of flour. I ended up with a bunch of something flat, foreign, and rather poo-looking.

By this point I was irritated, but determined. I fired up my skillet and went to town crisping the alien crap patties. I waited and waited. And waited. Aged a little bit. Got a gray hair. And still the “flatbread” barely browned, barely crisped and wouldn’t even burn.

Norwegian Crap-kers

Norwegian Crap-kers

This is what I ended up with. Woody, floury, rye cardboard. Good with mild cheese? Whatevah. Good with Friday trash pickup. If I had a dog that I hated, I would feed him this flatbread.
So what can we learn from this culinary disaster? I wish I knew. Maybe rye flour is different in Norway than it is in Georgia? Maybe I had too much moisture? Not enough? The wrong rolling pin? The planets were not in line? Of course, for all I know this recipe was posted by some cheeky yahoo as a joke, and he’s sitting somewhere laughing his keister off thinking about all the suckers trying to make this flatbread! I guess this makes kung faux pas #4.

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Angry Metalhead Lefse

My mom scared me when I asked for my grandma’s lefse recipe, warning me not to try it at home. Ok, not exactly, but she did tell me that I shouldn’t make it without someone who’s done it before. Hey you can learn anything on the net, right? So I came across this You Tube video. I’m trying to decide whether I’m intrigued or frightened…

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I have a lot of Norwegian ancestry. I get excited when Norway is in the news. I root for Norse athletes in the Olympics. My home town is full of “I-wegians” (Iowans of Norwegian descent) and is one of the few places where you can find lutefisk on the Sunday brunch buffet. It’s probably that lutefisk that made me run screaming in the other direction when confronted with traditional Norwegian cuisine.

But the challenge was put out there by a few of my family members to try some Norwegian food, and far be it from me to back down from a challenge. So earlier today I hit the web in search of some palatable recipes to celebrate my heritage.

Skeptical? You betcha. Lutefisk recipes? Uff da. They abound. But to my delight I did find a number of recipes that not only sounded edible, but even downright tasty. Since I had a large amount of spinach calling my name from the fridge, I decided on Spinach Soup, or Spinatsuppe.



I followed the recipe with a few minor exceptions. First, I halved it since there’s only two of us in the house. Second, I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Third, I used regular pepper instead of white pepper since I was out. The recipe was deceptively simple, yet yeilded a delicate soup with really rich flavor. The hard boiled eggs on top were a little strange to me at first, but considering I love hard boiled eggs on a cold spinach salad it made sense. They were a nice touch. I would definately make this again.

This dish was too light to be a meal on its own, so I took the opportunity to make Alton

Alton Brown's Roasted Vegetable Spread

Roasted Vegetable Spread

Brown’s Roasted Vegetable Spread. This stuff is the bomb diggity. Not only is it rediculously easy, but it is TASTY. I spread it over my homemade bread, lightly toasted, and had a fantastic meal.

So the Spinach Soup definately warmed me up to some dishes from my ancestry. I’m not sold yet, but I’m definately planning on persuing more Norwegian recipes. I found some interesting ones here. More on this later.

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There’s something special about a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s crunchy, gooey comfort that is difficult to match. However, I made a something of a grilled chese sandwich today that would make the Waffle House imposters hang their heads in shame.

I got some asian eggplants and sweet red peppers in my last CSA bag and was looking for a way to use them. Typically I’d harvest some basil from my lame-o plant on the back deck, grab the chili oil and do a spicy basil eggplant dish. But I stumbled upon the recipe for Eggplant and Pepper Parmesan Sandwiches and since I had some goat cheese on hand, decided to go for it.

Eggplant? Oh yeah, baby.

Eggplant? Oh yeah, baby.

Not having any baguettes on hand – but did have freshly baked bread – I used my own bread for the recipe. No tapenade, no problem. I diced up kalamata olives, hit them with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and was pretty proud of myself. I subbed gruyere for the parmesan just because I love gruyere.

This one was a 10 out of 10! I probably made some obscene sounds while I was eating it.

Unfortunately, not every dish can be a success. I had planned some Baked Sweet Potato Sticks to accompany my gourmet sandwich. I pretty much followed the recipe, which was probably the problem. Instead of paying attention to my sweet potatoes I was screwing around on the internet. Instead of watching my time and temperature I was picking out a wine for the meal. Kids, you might want to look away.

the PC term for BURNT.

Overbrowned: the PC term for BURNT.

Kung faux pas #3: do not blindly follow time and temperature guidelines on a recipe. Don’t let this happen to you!

As an interesting side note, this dish set is older than I am.

So the sweet potato sticks got a little “overbrowned.” But they actually still tasted ok…if you’re into charred cardboard.

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When I was a kid we had several apple trees out back. The apples were good for throwing at siblings, feeding broken pieces (run over by the lawn mower) to hogs, and making applesauce. One afternoon my friend Joy and I were left unattended and we made enough applesauce to feed a hungry platoon.

I got about three pounds of apples over the last couple of weeks from my CSA so this morning I woke up thinking about applesauce. I hit Allrecipes and came up with two recipes I wanted to try, so I decided on a head-to-head competition between the two recipes.

Battleground Applesauce

Battleground Applesauce

 Applesauce A included ground cloves, which was the only ingredient different between the two. Amounts of apple, water, cinnamon and sugar and cooking times were different.

I have the same complaint about both recipes. They both use very subjective amounts of apples. 6 cups and 4 apples. Depending on the size of your chunks or the size of your apples, you could end up with a vast disparity in the total amount of fruit going into the sauce. I would have preferred apples by weight.

Both Applesauce A and Applesauce B called for 3/4 cup of water even though the amount of apples going into it were different. I ended up reducing them both to 2/3 cup and still ended up with excess water. My apples were sweet so I cut the amount of sugar down on both recipes as well.

The result?

Applesauce A on the left, B on the right.

Applesauce A on the left, B on the right.

Applesauce A with its cloves tasted and smelled like Christmas. Mmmm. Using the potato ricer on it and then adding some crushed pieces made a nice, slightly chunky consistency. I would use this if I was going to make an applesauce cake or something, or just eat straight up. Which I did.

Applesauce B was very well spiced and sugared. Putting it in the food processor to pulverize it gave it a nice, smooth texture. I’d eat this straight, on pancakes, on English muffins, on toast, or anything else I could think of.

Finally, an objective taste test: Test Subject Bill, after given an opportunity to sample both sauces and approving both, chose applesauce B for his lunch. Therefore I declare Applesauce B the winner by a very close margin.

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