Endlessly Adaptable Scones

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One of my favorite “work perks” is free reign of a fully stocked pantry. I love rummaging through the cabinets looking for snack inspiration. I often make a simple snack for my cooking class students, especially if they’ll be eating towards the end of class. I’ve made countless cast-iron fritattas, crostini variations and cheese plates. But as the weather cools down, the oven turns up. Scones have become my go-to classroom snack lately, and for good reason. They are ridiculously simple to pull together and the flavor combinations are endless. Depending on my mood or the theme of the class, I’ll throw in fruit, nuts, herbs or even cheese. Unlike biscuits, these are more akin to English cream scones, relying on a heavy dose of the white stuff instead of butter. Yet somehow they come out of the oven super flaky and buttery. They would make a perfect addition to your next brunch or alongside a cup of coffee or milky tea. Let me know what flavors you come up with!

 

Endlessly Adaptable Scones

makes about 20 to 24 small or 8-10 medium scones

adapted from King Arthur Flour via Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream plus more for brushing the top
  • about 3/4 cup of anything (chopped fresh or dried fruit, chocolate chips, toasted nuts, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon citrus zest (optional)
  • Raw sugar for topping
  • Jam, curd and/ or whipped cream for serving (optional)

Directions:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, backing powder, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup mix together vanilla extract and 1 1/3 cups cream. Drizzle the cream mixture into the dry ingredients tossing and stirring as you pour in the cream.  Add any mix-ins and zest, if using. Toss together.  Add 2 more tablespoons of cream if necessary to create a moist, cohesive, but not sticky dough.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Gently gather and knead the dough into a dish and press the disk out into a 3/4″-thickness.

Use a small biscuit cutter to cut small 1 1/4-inch circles from the dough disk.  Brush each circle with heave cream and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.

Place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and serve warm.

 

Add-in suggestions:

1 T. orange zest + 1/3 cup dried cranberries + 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 T. lemon zest + 1/2 cup fresh berries (such as raspberries or blueberries)

For savory scones, you can omit the sugar and add a few handfuls of shredded cheese and/or herbs

 

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Citrus Braised Cabbage, Apple, Goat Cheese, Red Wine Vinegar

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Walk into any shop right now and you’ll be inundated with SPRING. Yet, walk down the street in New York and we’re still girding ourselves with wooly layers and hot coffee. The in-between seasons make it easy to see the relation between food and fashion. Just as designers are debuting their seasonal collections, filled with florals and color and texture, so are the chefs. With food, it starts with asparagus. Somewhere in the country, the weather is warm enough to grow this springtime delicacy, and it’s shipped in massive quantities to our food stores, giving us a false sense of season. Here in the Northeast, we don’t get the green stuff until May, even June. What’s a cook to do?

I propose embracing the current season for all it’s worth. Just as it’s silly to wear a sundress in a snowstorm, eating peaches (or eggplant or asparagus) is just as silly in the off-season. This cabbage slaw comes from the LA’s Lemonade restaurant cookbook. It epitomizes the in-between season – a bit of winter, with a nod to the sunnier days ahead. It’s really delicious.

 

Citrus Braised Cabbage, Apple, Goat Cheese, Red Wine Vinegar

Adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 tart apples, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1 head red cabbage
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1/2 large orange, divided
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Slice the cabbage into quarters and cut away the core. Thinly slice the cabbage, set aside.

Heat a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven with olive oil. When hot, add onions and apples and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the cabbage. When it begins to wilt, add the vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Stir occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in reserved orange zest.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and chill thoroughly. Just before serving, sprinkle with goat cheese and herbs.

Watermelon-Jalapeno Gazpacho with Lime Yogurt Crema

It’s currently 90 degrees in NYC. It’s so hot I actually look forward to riding on the air-conditioned subway. I saw an ad on the train the other day for Seamless that justified ordering takeout as an alternative to sweating it out in the kitchen. Fair enough, Seamless. I cook in hot kitchens on the reg for my personal chef clients. When I come home, the thought of cooking something (anything) for myself on the stove is just…no. I’ve been doing a lot of salads and far too many smoothies. But alas, (wo)man can not live on salad alone.

Let’s talk gazpacho. It’s soup, but it’s cold. It’s exotic (does Spain count as exotic?) It requires no cooking whatsoever.  Not convinced yet? Check out this beaut:

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That’s right, I went ahead and made this Spanish street food into a full-fledged first course. It’s as easy as making a smoothie, but it tastes kind of like a salad. #Winning

Watermelon-Jalapeno Gazpacho with Lime Yogurt Crema

Inspired by Relish by Daphne Oz

Makes about 10 cups

Ingredients

For Gazpacho:

  •  5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 cups watermelon, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For Lime Yogurt Crema:

  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Lime juice
  • Kosher salt

For serving:

  • Torn basil and mint (optional)
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, red onion, watermelon, cucumber jalepeno, garlic, lime juice and cilantro. Blend until smooth (you may need to do this in batches). Add red wine vinegar and salt, to taste. Chill for a few hours before serving.
  2. For the lime yogurt crema: stir together the yogurt, lime juice and a bit of salt to taste.
  3. Ladle cold soup into bowls (I like to freeze mine for extra refreshment!) Top with a dollop of crema, basil, mint and a drizzle of olive oil.

Spiced and Iced Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

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I was recently gifted with a very large bag of dried hibiscus blossoms. When I say gifted, I mean lifted from the ‘grab table’ on set. Dark and shriveled, it’s hard to believe they’re the same flowers in a Hawaiian lei.

I love hibiscus ‘Jamaica’, the magenta punch served in Latin American restaurants. At Tortaria near Union Square, they have a huge jug of it alongside horchata. And I have a special place in my heart for the hibiscus doughnut at Dough in Brooklyn. It’s one of those things that tastes as good as it looks, perhaps better.

I discovered (re: Googled) that brewed hibiscus is actually a global drink, with variations in Egypt, the Middle East, West Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, the Caribbean and even Italy. Who knew? My version is cold-brewed with black tea and mulling spices leftover from the holidays. Don’t worry, it won’t taste like liquid potpourri, the spices are actually very subtle. Be warned: hibiscus is quite tart, like cranberry juice, so sweeten accordingly. It also makes a great base for a rum cocktail. Just saying.

Spiced and Iced Hibiscus Tea

  • 2 quarts water
  • 5 tea bags (any type, I used black tea)
  • 1/2 cup dried hibiscus blossoms
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 orange, sliced, divided
  • Simple syrup, to taste*

Directions

  1. Combine the water, tea bags, hibiscus blossoms, cinnamon stick, star anise and half of the orange slices in a large pitcher or jar. Cover and chill overnight.
  2. Strain and serve over ice, garnished with remaining orange slices. Sweeten with simple syrup, if desired.

*Simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool before mixing into tea or coffee.

Cranberry-Almond Pancakes


Something about making pancakes makes me feel like Ruth Reichl. Those who follow her idyllic Twitter feed know what I mean. Those who don’t: she is a former NY Times dining columnist and former editor in chief at Gourmet magazine. From what I gather, she spends most of her mornings in an Upstate cabin complete with outdoor shower, misty hillsides and an unending supply of butter. Her breakfast tweets make me think twice about eating yet another bowl of oatmeal (or more lazily, muesli). Here’s what I mean:

From September 9th…Outdoor shower in golden light. Birds singing. Deer on the lawn. Hot coffee. Lightly scrambled eggs. Hot biscuits. Heading into the city.

September 24…
Bright. Cool. Pumpkin pancakes flecked with orange peel. Scent of nutmeg, ginger, clove. Thick dark maple syrup. Feels like fall. Welcome!

See what I’m saying? It makes you want to put on a cozy sweater, crunch through fallen leaves and adopt a diet fit for a lumberjack. Or develop a pancake-induced inferiority complex. My solution: these cranberry-almond pancakes. They’re Tuesday-quick, but quite fit for a Sunday.

Here is my homage to Ruth, 140 words or less:
N train rumbles me awake. Gray day. Delicate almond pancakes dotted with sweet-tart cranberries. Hot coffee. Much better.

Cranberry-Almond Pancakes

1 cup whole-wheat flour*
1/2 cup almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill, you can also make your own)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1 – 1 1/2 cups almond milk + 1 tsp. lemon juice (or substitute buttermilk)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the maple syrup, 1 cup almond milk, canola oil and vanilla. Quickly whisk in the flour mix. You can add more almond milk for thinner pancakes. Fold in the cranberries, do not over mix.
3. Heat a griddle or a large skillet, either nonstick or seasoned cast iron, over medium-high heat. Brush with butter or oil. Cook pancakes for a couple minutes or until there are many bubbles on the surface and edges appear dry. Flip and cook another few minutes until golden brown. Serve with real maple syrup.

Recipe adapted from the NYT

*You may substitute another type of flour if you’d like. All-purpose is a safe bet or Cup 4 Cup, for a completely gluten-free option.

Marbled Banana Bread

I think of banana bread as a “free” recipe. Overripe fruit, otherwise trash, is transformed into a quick little bread using items you probably have in your pantry. I have a few variations of banana bread in rotation – Melissa Clark’s version is particularly good.

Last Sunday afternoon, in a vain attempt for something sweet that a) involved chocolate b) did not use the 2 eggs destined for breakfast, I concocted this (full disclosure) vegan version. “Vegan?!” you say. Hear me out. People have been making cakes without butter or eggs for years. One of my family’s favorites, nanny’s hot water chocolate cake, relies on a few WWII-era tricks to keep it moist, using, you guessed it, boiling water.

If you like cake that masquerades as breakfast food, you’ll love this. After polishing off a good portion of it, I realized you could take this into full dessert territory with frosting. I have big plans for a peanut butter glaze next time. Nanny hated PB, but I’m sure she would approve.

Marbled Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 4 small bananas)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup almond milk (or any other milk) + 1 tsp. vinegar (this mimicks buttermilk)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour or spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water, divided

Directions

Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare boiling water (no need to measure). Lightly grease an 8×4 loaf pan.

Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugars, olive oil, milk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add to the banana mixture, folding gently until combined (it’s OK if its lumpy – don’t overmix).

Scoop one cup of the batter up and transfer it to a separate mixing bowl. Now, in a small tea cup mix the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water and stir vigorously with a fork until the chocolate is dissolved. Add this chocolate mixture to the one cup of banana and mix until the chocolate is thoroughly smooth and incorporated.

Add 3 tablespoons of boiling water to the regular banana mixture and mix the batter just until relatively smooth.

Scoop alternate 1/2 cupfuls of chocolate/banana batter into the loaf pan. Once all of the batter is in, swirl it with a knife or long skewer.

Bake for 55 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. I store mind wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then tin foil.

-Recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

Rustic Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Warm Peach Compote

During our pastry module at school, we made some pretty impressive cakes. Layers, buttercream, ganache, the works. There is a time and a place for a fancy iced cake, and for one that is simple, rustic and weekday-quick. Like a sweeter cornbread, this cake is perfect for brunch, an afternoon snack or dessert. A gently spiced peach compote gives a nod to the cinnamon season to come.

Rustic Lemon Cornmeal Cake 

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  •  1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch diameter cake pan.
  2.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel, vanilla and almond extracts, honey and melted, cooled butter. Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, gently folding to combine until just blended (do not stir). Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evening.
  3.  Bake 30 minutes or until cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes. You can invert the cake or serve it straight from the pan for a rustic feel. Serve warm or at room temperature with Warm Peach Compote.

Warm Peach Compote

Yield: About 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 peaches, peeled* and sliced
  • 1 T. honey
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cinnamon
Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the peaches, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened.

*To peel peaches, bring a large pot of water to boil. Make an ‘X’ mark on peaches with a sharp knife. Set up a bowl with ice water nearby. Drop peaches into boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon after about 1 minute, or until skin starts to peel away. Place peaches in ice water for 30 seconds. Remove skin and slice.

Marathon Granola

In a few weeks, I’m running the More/Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park. Despite last year’s race day rain, I signed up again and could not be more excited!

People sometimes ask me if I eat differently while training (I’ve done a full marathon and quite a few half marathons). In my amateur experience, I found it’s particularly important to adjust your eating a few hours BEFORE a run so you don’t end up with cramps or dehydration. Before a run, I fuel up with old-fashioned oatmeal, whole grain toast with nut butter or fruit.

Overall, it’s basic nutrition, people. You probably don’t want to eat Chipotle the night before an 8-miler and it’s usually not the smartest to keep up your college-level alcohol consumption if you want to improve your 10-K time. Just a thought.

Granola is a perennial favorite – crunchy, nutty and perfect for when you want something sweet. It’s also a stellar source of energy (also known as calories). I like to sprinkle this over plain Greek yogurt and fruit for lasting energy before a long run or jam-packed day. It also adds a nice crunch to a bowl of hot oatmeal or mixed in with your favorite cereal. A little goes a long way!

Marathon Granola

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients:

Dry:

  • 2.5 cups rolled oats (regular not instant)
  • 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 tbsp sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt

Wet:

  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Add-ins:

  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots, cherries…)
  • handful seeds (sunflower, sesame…)

Directions: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the wet ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a very large mixing bowl, Mix together the dry ingredients.

Add the wet mixture (while still warm!) over top the dry mixture and stir well. It will be very thick and hard to stir, but keep at it until everything is thoroughly combined.

Spread onto a pan lined with parchment paper or a non-stick mat and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven every 15 minutes and give the granola a good stir to ensure even baking.

Allow to cool for 20-25 minutes on the pan before serving. The granola will stiffen up as it cools. Makes about 6 cups and will keep for 1 month in the fridge in an air-tight container.

-Adapted from Oh She Glows

Chinois Salad

It’s time to break out the snap bracelets and dig up your Clueless video. The ’90’s are back…on the menu. Since reading American Appetite by Leslie Brenner, I’ve been in a bit of a culinary time warp, revisiting old favorites and reworking them with a vegetarian twist. This is my take on the Chinese “chinois” salad made popular in the ’90’s by Wolfgang Puck. Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan? In the words of Michelle Tanner “cool, dude!”

 

Ingredients

1 head bok choy, washed, cored, dried and cut into bit size pieces

1 bunch green onions (scallions) chopped

2 3 oz. packages Ramen noodles (no need for seasoning packets)

2 oz. sliced almonds

2 T. olive oil

Garlic powder and salt to taste

2 T. soy sauce

1/4 cup light-colored vinegar (cider or rice works)

2 T. honey (for vegan option, use sugar or agave)

1 package Morningstar Farms Chick’n strips, prepared as directed on package

1 large can mandarin oranges, drained

 

Directions

Combine chopped boy choy and onions in a bowl. Bread up uncooked ramen noodles into small pieces. Saute noodles, sesame seeds and almonds in oil, about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add garlic powder and salt. Cool and store in covered container. In a small saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar and honey until heated through. Combine all parts of the salat and toss with chick’n. Garnish with mandarin oranges.