Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fresh cranberry scones

I have the wonderful luxury of having the house to myself on a Saturday. It is peaceful and quiet- Nicole is in her corner, the turntable is playing Ray Charles; there is no one to question how much time I am spending in the kitchen, I have a pile of cookbooks to read and all should be right with the world. Not quite- I have cook's block. The last 2 ambitious dinner experiments were disasters. There was the pulao I tried to make. I lovingly blended spices in the behemoth blender, chopped up carrots and green beans, dumped everything in the rice cooker- it smelt good but the rice was utterly uncooked. So I threw it in the pressure cooker with some more water where it turned into a tasteless mush. I made the family eat it anyway and tried to compensate with a cabbage salad. And there was the dosa I tried to make - I don't think I measured stuff correctly- the dosas were heavy as a brick on day one. A rest on the counter for 3 days and the bacteria and yeast in the air worked some magic and it was ok on day 5. That is not all - there was the tough as nails beetroot palya.
After all these disasters, the husband browses through the Lebanese cookbook in my pile and asks me why I don't make him stuffed cabbage rolls. According to him it is easy. The steps include
boiling a whole cabbage to soften the leaves, making a stuffing with soaked rice, chick peas and herbs, stuffing the cabbage leaves and braising the rolls in a tomato broth for a full 90 minutes. In my estimate, a full afternoon's worth of work. And given my recent disasters, I am not ready to approach anything that involves cooking rice without some fear. Well apparently I am making a mountain out of a mole hill- this recipe is ;at the most as complicated as, making aloo parathas.

So this weekend the husband is going to make Lebanese cabbage rolls and I am going to sit back watch and knit my time away.

To feel a little better I baked these scones. I am proud to say that I have converted the 2 holdouts in our family to love fresh cranberries. This scone is perfect - not too sweet, flecked with a beautiful red and guaranteed to make you feel cheerful in spite of all your (cooking) woes. These scones taste really good at room temperature.

Fresh cranberry scones (barely adapted from the Kitchn
Makes about 16 small scones
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 lemon zested
2 1/4 cups flour ( I used a mix of whole wheat flour 1 1/4 cups and all purpose flour 1 c)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 to 4 tablespoons of cold  soy milk

Heat the oven to 350 deg. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment. Put the flour(s), baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix with a fork until you have tiny clumps. Pulse the cranberries, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor or chop together on a cutting board. Add this to the flour mixture and mix with a fork. If the dough doesn't come together, add cold soy milk a tablespoon at a time. It is ok if  the dough looks craggy. Dump  half the dough on to a floured cutting board and pat into a circle to the thickness of a pancake. Cut into wedges. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Bake for  about 20 minutes. Cool a little and dig in.

Stays fresh for 2 days in an airtight container- didn't last more than that

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Apricot and peanut butter muffins

Full disclosure:I am pretty sure I can't recreate this recipe. The stars  have to align just so: I must manage to procure a 20lb box of apricots then roast and freeze them. I must also visit Champoeg state park next year and procure those tiny apples; then maybe, just maybe I might just be able to recreate this again.
So I have to start at the beginning. Muffins have become favorite breakfast food in the house - because it is quick and easy. Last week it was banana chocolate chip muffins. This week the guilt came in and the muffins had to be health-ier. So out came the bag of whole wheat flour and oats. And what I had at home was apple butter made from those tiny apples I picked and frozen roasted apricot puree.

These muffins not overly sweet and a lovely tang from the apricots.

1/3 c peanut butter
1/2 c apple butter (made from Preserving by the pint)
1/2 c roasted apricot puree (halve apricots and roast in a 275 deg oven until soft)
2/3 c sugar
1 c soy milk (or other milk)

1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder.

Whisk the peanut butter with the apple butter, apricot puree, sugar and milk in a large bowl. Sift the dry indgredients into the bowl. Mix until just moistened. Scoop into a standard muffin tin and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


It is the daily dilemma - what goes into the lunchbox. I am not a planner ; so I have some hope that this hindsight will yield some wisdom

According to the boys, lunch should ideally include what they call a hot main dish, a piece of fruit, maybe a salad and sometimes a little treat. They take their lunch in an insulated lunch bag and  they each have a thermos. an 8 oz for the little one and a 12 oz container for the older one. In the fall and winter, the thermos either contains soup or some hot food and in the summer it is filled with fruit smoothies.  Leftovers that can be easily eaten with a spoon are highly in demand and eagerly anticipated. When there are no leftovers; there is bread. Lunch is  built around pressed sandwiches and pita, parathas,tortillas and Lavash. We buy a hearty bread: sourdough or a rustic wheat bread that holds up well to fillings. I vary it every week with another flat bread: some weeks it is Lavash, others it is Pita or parathas from the Indian store.
 The breads are spread with  nut butters(sunflower and chunky peanut are favorites) or bean based dips. I usually make some kind of a bean dip, spread or lentil based filling over the weekend and use it in their lunches through the week.

Last weekend I made some  hemp butter and an olive  tapenade. I also cooked a mix of wild rice and French Lentils in my rice cooker Sunday night.

Here is the lunch breakdown for last week.

  • Monday: Pressed sandwiches with Feta and  olive tapenade/hemp butter
  • Tue: wild rice and french lentil salad with tomatoes, cukes and bellpeppers
  • Wed: Pressed sandwiches with blackeyed pea and potato filling
  • Thu: Sunflower butter, cranberry chutney and cucumber sandwiches, Paratha spread with hemp butter, pineapple
  • Fri: Leftover poha made with tomato,bell pepper and cauliflower, carrot kosambri, plain yogurt

I will leave you with a recipe for the hemp butter. Please do share - how do you deal with the lunch dilemma?

Spicy Hemp Butter
The tepin peppers are spicy and full of flavor and are available at most Mexican grocery stores.Try a mix of dried ancho and Anaheim chillies if you can't find the tepins.
The hemp heart seeds came from Costco (1 giant bag that I am trying to go through)
1/2 tsp tepin peppers 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp olive oil

1 cup hemp heart seeds
salt to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, peppers and cumin and cook for a minute or so until the garlic sizzles. Don't let the garlic brown.

Combine the hemp heart seeds and the pepper-garlic mix and process either in a food processor or a high speed blender. Add salt to taste.
Stays good for at least 10 days.

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