Monthly Archives: April 2011

Blueberry Scones

I have a small confession: I was intimidated by scones.

I made the apple cheddar scones, but I just felt like I did something wrong and they didn’t turn out as well as they should have.

Store-bought scones can be good, but they can also be really dry.  So generally, I don’t eat that many of them (I’m more of a muffin person).  But I was determined to make a good scone.

The right recipe made all the difference.  These really turned out well – light, almost fluffy, just a hint of sweetness.  My only complaint is that these could have used more blueberries and maybe a touch more sugar.

{lemon curd also makes these better, but that’s a post for another day}

Simple enough ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, heavy cream, blueberries, vanilla, butter, egg, and baking powder.

Start by adding the dry ingredients to a food processor bowl – flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.  Pulse a few times to mix.  Then add the cold butter and pulse till combined into fine crumbs.  You can also do this with a pastry cutter or your hands, if you don’t have a food processor, but I always have great results with a food processor for things like this (pie crust, biscuits, etc.).  It’s just so easy!

Then, dump your flour/sugar mixture into a bowl and gently stir in the blueberries.  If you were just making plain scones, you could keep use the food processor to mix in the wet ingredients, but in this case, I didn’t want to smush up the blueberries.  It also would have been too hard to mix in the blueberries once the dough was mixed.

Mix the cream, beaten egg, and vanilla in a measuring cup, then pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix just till combined – be careful not to overmix!  Otherwise, your scones will be tough (so they say).  I’m always really paranoid about this, but I was careful and only mixed until almost all of the flour was incorporated.

It’s okay if a little bit of flour is unmixed, because the next thing you do is dump it out onto well-floured surface and knead it once or twice till everything is mixed in.  It will be a little sticky, but just put a little flour on your hands.  Then pat it into an approximately 7″ circle.

Then cut the circle into 8 wedges (try to make them a little more equally-sized than mine). You could also shape the dough into a rectangle and cut them into smaller mini scones.

Arrange the scones on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and brush with a little of the heavy cream.  I sprinkled them with a little raw sugar – it gives them a really nice, sweet crunch.  I just keep a box of raw sugar packets for things like this – I used less than one full packet to sprinkle over all 8.

Bake for 18-22 minutes till golden brown – mine were done after 20 minutes.  After they’ve cooled for a bit (just so you don’t burn your mouth – these are best warm and fresh from the oven), enjoy!

These were so good that I actually ate three of them in one day.  One to try it plain, one to try with the lemon curd (um…yum…post to come), and another because I had to take another ‘after’ photo, so I may as well just eat that last one and also to make sure that it still tastes good, right?  So yeah, I liked these and am now a scone-baker convert.  And I completely plan on trying those apple cheddar scones again.

Blueberry Scones

Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar (if you want a slightly sweeter scone, use 1/2 cup sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (or scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt)
  • 6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1.5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk), plus more for brushing tops of scones
  • Approximately 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on top of scones)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicon baking mat.
  2. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to mix.
  3. Add butter to flour mixture and pulse 5-10 times until butter is incorporated and flour looks like coarse crumbs.
  4. Transfer flour/butter mixture to a large bowl and gently stir in the blueberries.
  5. Measure heavy cream into a measuring cup, add egg and vanilla, and use a fork (or small whisk) to combine.
  6. Add cream mixture to dry ingredients, and fold/stir just till the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet.
  7. Turn dough onto a liberally floured surface, and knead a few times until the dough comes together and all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  8. Pat into a circle about 7″ in diameter, and cut into eight wedges.
  9. Transfer to lined baking sheet and brush with a little cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  10. Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into scone comes out clean.  Check after 18 minutes, as baking time can vary depending on your oven.
  11. Transfer to cooling rack.
  12. Best eaten warm, but will keep for one or two days if tightly covered.
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Chicken Tikka Masala

{I do apologize that the first photo in this post is of raw chicken. I hope you’re not squeamish.}

I grew up in a place where the most exotic thing we ate was Chinese food.  There weren’t many options for international cuisine (although that’s definitely changed in the last few years), and my family just didn’t eat food like that.  I didn’t have sushi, Thai, or Indian food till I moved to North Carolina, but I will say that they are now among my favorite things to eat.

I made my first foray into cooking Indian food with a butter chicken recipe I found via The Pioneer Woman (I do have doubts about its authenticity as actual butter chicken, but I really don’t care – it is delicious).  It was easier than I thought Indian food would be, so it encouraged me to try homemade naan, from a Tasty Kitchen recipe.  This was also easy and super delicious.  The next inspiration came from watching Aarti Party on The Food Network – chicken tikka masala.  So, I invited my friend Shawn over for dinner, and we made chicken tikka masala and naan!

It starts with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  You poke them all over with a fork, to let the marinade really soak in.  Strangely, I had a lot of fun doing this part.  There’s something very satisfying about it.  After you’ve prepped the chicken, you cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and make the marinade.  You’ll want to do this a little ahead of time, or the night before.

The marinade is simple: yogurt, salt, pepper, and a delicious garlic/ginger paste.  Whisk it together and let the chicken marinate.  I let mine go for a few hours in the fridge, but you can do this anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

When you’re ready, gather your ingredients.  The original recipe called for serrano peppers and fresh tomatoes, but I used a mixture of canned tomatoes with jalepenos and fresh tomatoes.  I also added onion to the original recipe.  Prep your ingredients – chop the onion and tomato (if using).

Then you saute olive oil, butter, the garlic-ginger paste, onion, and tomato paste for a few minutes.  It darkens and smells very, very good.  After you add the garam masala and paprika, it starts to smell very, very, very good.

Then you add the tomatoes and let it simmer.  Just a note…I used two cans of tomatoes with chiles, plus about half of a large tomato (1 cup), and it was very spicy for me.  In the future, I’d use one can of tomatoes with chiles, and one without.  I also had a lot of extra sauce, so you could make do with fewer tomatoes, or add more chicken.  The recipe below includes more chicken.

While the tomato mixture is simmering, cook the chicken.  You’re supposed to grill it, but since I don’t have a grill or grill pan, we cooked it in a pan, and it worked out just as well.  You can see my friend Shawn helping out (she also took some of the photos – it was nice to have a helper in the kitchen!).  I would actually cook the chicken first, before you start cooking the sauce, so you have those 2o minutes to make naan, do some dishes, etc.  I’ve noted this in the directions below.  Depending on what kind of rice you’re making, you’ll also want to start that at this time.  Once the sauce has simmered, you also puree the tomato mixture – I used an immersion blender, but left it a little bit chunky.

After you’ve cooked the chicken for a few minutes per side, you stir it into the sauce, and let it simmer again for awhile (this also helps make sure the chicken is cooked through).

Then you stir in heavy cream.  Yum.  Really, this step needs no more explanation.  Except that it makes the sauce deliciously rich and amazing.

Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.  Naan is highly recommended but not necessary to enjoy this dish.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from Food Network
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients
Marinade:
1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
3 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe here (or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 3 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.5-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, poked with a fork, and cut into large bite-sized chunks

Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion
1/3 cup Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe here (or 6 cloves garlic and 2-inch thumb ginger minced)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
3 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, 1 with and 2 without jalepenos, or as desired (or 8 Roma tomatoes+2 serrano peppers)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 to 2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Cooked rice, naan, or crusty piece of bread, for serving

Directions

  1. Make the marinade: In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, ginger/garlic paste, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken to marinade and toss to coat. Marinate anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. If marinating for more than 30 minutes, place in fridge.
  2. Cook chicken; ideally this would be over a grill (about 2 minutes per side until charred).  However, if you don’t have a grill, you can just cook it in a hot pan.  Shake off as much marinade as you can, and cook for about 2 minutes per side.  Set aside.  If the chicken isn’t completely cooked through, it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. While skillet is heating, chop onion and fresh tomatoes and serrano peppers, if using.
  5. Add butter and oil to skillet.  When butter is melted, add the ginger/garlic paste (and serrano peppers if using).  Saute for a few minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook until darkened in color, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for about 1 minute.
  8. Add the tomatoes, salt, and 1 cup water to pan.
  9. Bring the sauce to a boil, and then turn heat down to let the mixture simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.  If the sauce seems too thick, you can add more water.
  10. After the sauce has thickened, blend with an immersion blender, or pour into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  11. Add sauce back to skillet if using blender/food processor, and bring back up to a boil.
  12. Add the chicken to the sauce and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  13. Add the cream and stir to combine.
  14. Garnish with minced fresh cilantro, and serve over rice, with naan, or crusty bread.
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