Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday Scones

Sunday often seems like a good day for baking. Perhaps it's because I have more time on my hands, but more likely it's due to the fact that after my savory, eggy brunch, I'm in the mood for a sweet pastry.

The other Sunday, I used the Wisconsin cranberries in my freezer and leftover cream in the fridge to make cranberry scones. Earlier this winter I made cranberry-lemon scones from a recipe I found online, then later made Mark Bittman's version (of course). What follows was mostly inspired by Bittman.

Buckwheat Cranberry Scones
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold butter
2 eggs
3/4 C cream
1 C cranberries (frozen)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk eggs and cream together in another (smaller) bowl. Cut butter into chunks and add to dry ingredients. If you have a pastry blender, use it to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. If not (as in my case), use your hands and do your best. Pour wet ingredients into flour/butter. Stir to combine. Then, add cranberries and fold in until they're mostly mixed in.

Dust a clean surface with flour, and flour hands as well. Take dough in your hands and knead 10 times. (Mark says no more!) Then, press the dough ball into flat round - about an inch thick? Whatever looks good to you. Place the dough on a baking sheet, then cut the dough into wedges. Gently separate the wedges. Then, dust the scones with sugar. Bake for 7-9 minutes. More like 9 if your scones are big. Unless you like gooey scones.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lentils: A Primer

I admit: I've never cooked with lentils. How I got through a year of volunteering without ever learning how, I'll never know. Not long ago I picked up some beautiful golden-orange lentils at Seward on a whim. Then, the good people at A Grain a Day posted a recipe for faux sloppy joes, using lentils! I tried it the other night with some success.

First, I consulted the cooking Bible, a.k.a. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, for instructions on how to cook lentils. Let's just say that either I did something wrong or this is one of the
few instances in which Bittman is off base. I poured the lentils in a saucepan, covering them with a couple of inches of water. Then I set them to boil (covered), stepped out of the kitchen for a few minutes, and returned to find them boiling over! This only incited small flames from my gas range... lovely. The second time I've almost started a fire in my kitchen. I stirred them, lowered the heat, and vented the lid - per Bittman. I continued cooking them for about 10 minutes, then stirred to check. They were definitely DONE, and a lot of water remained in the pot. I tried to drain them, but that didn't work very well.

Satisfied enough with the lentils, I proceeded with the rest of the recipe. Very tasty! Mine turned out a little more mushy than real meat sloppy-joes would be, but I don't mind a little mush now and then.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life-Changing Macron

My dear friend Delite once asked a Cafetto barista "Will this cookie change my life?" He gazed into the bakery case and said frankly, "probably not."

Today I have Cocoa & Fig to thank for a life-changing salted caramel macron. No joke. I wish I could go back to the moment in my life when I was eating it. I tried a big pistachio macron in Brussels about a year ago, and it went in the garbage. Because somehow, it tasted like garbage.

Thanks, also, to the Cocoa & Fig
website for clearing up my confusion surrounding coconut macaroons and french macrons. I wondered about that.