irish creme scones

3.25.2019

I stumbled across this scone recipe when I was doing some St. Patrick's day recipe searching. I was targeting a biscuit to go with our Guinness Stew... and this little gem of a scone popped up. The facts are obvious that I cannot bypass a scone recipe. I just merely needed a reason to make the scones.

Earlier this week my brother-in-law helped me with a house project and it felt like an appropriate thank you... along with a bottle of Jameson. I managed to whip out this batch of scones in the time it takes to preheat the oven. The recipe ends up being almost a half batch of what I would normally make but it was a good experiment.

Notes:
  • Yield // only 8 smaller sized scones. If you want anymore than that, you should double the batch for sure.
  • Milk // I had leftover buttermilk from my holiday recipes so I obviously used that instead. There is absolutely no downside to using buttermilk in scones... or any heavy, fattier milk really. 
  • Glaze // Since the alcohol does not cook off, the glaze is literally pure sugar and booze. Yes, it is about a shot glass worth but maybe keep that in mind when you are serving to people that are either children or do not drink.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the baking powder, salt, 1 1/2 cups flour and sugar. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or fork until pea-size pieces form. Add the milk, irish cream and mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until dough begins to form a ball, approximately 3 - 4 times.
  3. Gently pat dough into a 1-inch-thick circle. Using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out scones. Combine the scraps and repeat, patting out and cutting to make 8 scones. Transfer baking sheet lined with parchment and brush with the egg. Sprinkle the tops with the sugar.
  4. Bake the scones until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. 
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the Irish cream and sugar until smooth. Drizzle the mixture over the room temperature scones.
Shopping List
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons chilled salted butter cut into cubes
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1 large egg beaten to blend
1 tablespoon Sugar (topping)
Glaze
1 tablespoon Bailey's Irish Cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Guiness Stout Cake

I thought this cake seemed like a great idea from the name. A Guiness cake? perfect for our family St. Patrick's Day dinner. Plus, I had 5 Guiness in the house and this called for 1 and the stew I made needed 4. I am a big fan of finishing things off. It's why I can't open a box of Goldfish or bag of bbq chips. There is no stopping me once I start.

This cake got pretty rave reviews. I did immediately ask everyone if the frosting looked like the top of pint of beer ... like the instructions told me to. I do not believe I was artistically successful, but the cake tasted good. The consistency skews more dense than light, but that goes with the cream cheese frosting nicely. My brother-in-law made an oreo mint pie as well. The actual best combination was his mint with my chocolate. True home run.

I would absolutely make this cake again another time. It comes together incredibly easily and quickly. You probably have all the ingredients already except the Guiness... unless you are my grandfather in which case you most likely always have it. Lastly, I can also testify that it tastes great as a breakfast food. I ate it in bed on Monday morning while watching the news. I'm not clear on the real difference between chocolate cake, scones, and muffins... and I truly do not care.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Grease a 9-in. springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat beer and butter until butter is melted. Remove from the heat; whisk in sugar and cocoa until blended. 
  3. Combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla; whisk into beer mixture. 
  4. Combine flour and baking soda; whisk into beer mixture until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove sides of pan.
  6. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and cream; beat until smooth (do not over-beat). Remove cake from the pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake so that it resembles a frothy pint of beer. 
Shopping List
1 cup Guinness
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

TOPPING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 

corn chowder

3.11.2019

It's been awhile since I've made a soup. At one point it felt like it was the only thing I whipped up in my kitchen. There are 45 soup recipes on this website but, they started to all feel like the same thing. Chop carrots. Chop onion. Chop celery. It has been enough time that this soup felt like a refreshing change - also it is totally different. This was my first ever chowder.
I'm not a big clam chowder fan - but I do love a corn chowder. This soup came together very easily although it was far more chopping than I've done in recent months. The flavors are obvious and by no means bland. I'm a salty person but the cajun inspired flavors here help to reduce my desire to add salt. Feels like a good win for my next blood test.

A few notes:
  • Corn // Corn is out of season right now in the Northeast. While the grocery store had corn on the cob, it felt wrong to buy it. I will absolutely make this recipe again when corn is in abundance. There is something very appealing about seeing the chunks of corn stuck together after you've cut them off the cob.
  • Potatoes // I didn't peel my potatoes. Why add an extra step when you don't need to? I didn't notice any impact in my soup.
  • Vegan // The original recipe called for vegetable broth and I substituted chicken since it is was I had on hand. If you want to stay vegan, you can with just one easy switch.
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop one of the red potatoes in half and carefully place into the pot. Allow potato to cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of frozen corn to the pot with about 5 minutes left.
  2. While the potato is cooking, saute the rest of the vegetables. Add the coconut oil to a large pot, along with the other diced potato, chopped onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell pepper, sea salt, Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cumin. Heat to medium-high and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Place half of the kernels in a blender, along with the cooked potato. Add the coconut milk and water (or broth) to the blender, and blend until completely smooth. This may take two or three rounds of blending.
  4. Add the remaining corn kernels to the pot with the sauteed vegetables, and pour the blended corn/potato (chowder) mixture into the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until potato has softened, about 10 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and taste chowder. Add sea salt and Cajun seasoning as desired. 
Shopping List
4 ears corn shucked (or 2.5 - 3 cups frozen)
2 large red potatoes peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 large white onion
5 cloves large garlic minced
3 large carrots peeled and chopped
3 large stalks celery chopped
1 large red bell pepper cored and chopped
1-½ teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup canned coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth

very delicious blueberry cake

3.10.2019

Ok - this picture doesn't exactly look like a success story. Where are all the blueberries? In the bottom of the loaf. Not the best. But, I'll do better next time.

Blueberry distribution aside ... this cake is incredibly delicious. That might have something to do with the amount of sugar and butter or just magic. The original recipe called for a bundt cake but I wanted to stretch my work a little further - so I opted for two loaf pans. Also, the bundt cake was going to take like 90 minutes to cook... and I didn't start this until 9 pm.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this except that it tastes wonderful and you'll enjoy it. I made this along with a batch of pan monkey bread for an event my dad was hosting. Although monkey bread is delicious, this blueberry loaf was dominated within an hour.

Although this loaf is great with or without a glaze, I definitely recommend whipping one up. I made mine extra thick with only buttermilk and powdered sugar. The wonderful thing about these simple glazes is that you can adjust them so easily. Too thick? More liquid. Too thin? More powdered sugar.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease your chosen pan or pans and dust with flour.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and buttermilk, alternating each, until all incorporated. Finally beat in the lemon zest before turning the mixer off. Use a spoon the stir in half the blueberries.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top. 
  4. Bake for 45-60 mins [2 loaf pans] or 60-80 minutes [1 pan], until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. 
  6. For the glaze, whisk the buttermilk and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.
Shopping List
For the Blueberry Cake:1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose Gold Medal Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons
1 pound fresh blueberries

For the Buttermilk Glaze:3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup powdered sugar

Sausage and Fennel Ragu With Gnocchi Alla Romano

3.04.2019

I believe this dinner falls perfectly into the Sunday Dinner category. I was in the market for a multi-step meal to spend a little extra time on. While this is definitely multi-step it is quite straightforward. The most challenging part was finding semolina flour.

I have been consciously trying to eat more vegetables and less red meat in my diet - although this meal does not reflect that. But given that each day I'm shoving two clementines in my face and perhaps some healthy grains, I'm feeling like progress is happening. Although this original recipe calls for hot italian sausage, you could substitute ground turkey but would just really need to compensate with other spices. The meal is really not spicy but just has a great meaty flavor without turning into a chili. It sometimes feels like anything with meat is two steps from being a chili.

A few other notes:
  • I'm not sure I agree that the "toppers" should be called gnocchi. Even my mom was like "oh really? I thought gnocchi was different". It feels like gnocchi and a polenta had a baby. They are quite good though. Very light, good flavor. 
  • Serving size / The recipe says this serves 6-8 people. It absolutely does not. It serves 4-5, maybe 6 if someone isn't hungry. I invited 4 people over for dinner and am thankful that 2 did not come. 
  • Extra Gnocchi // I had a whole lot of extra gnocchi that I never got to stamp out and put on the dish. that being said, it would have been nice to have them as extras on the side. If you make this dish, I would just cut out all the gnocchi rounds and then toast them up on a cooking sheet in the oven. Easy peasy.
  • Tomatoes // I'm not a huge fan of cooking with whole tomatoes. I don't enjoy breaking them down with a spoon like everyone tells you to. Next time I would probably go with a different variety like maybe diced tomatoes. I like the heft and structure the whole tomatoes gives you but they were just an obstacle.
Here's how it goes.

GNOCCHI
  1. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray again.
  2. In a 6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in semolina flour, then add salt. Whisk thoroughly to be sure that no lumps form. Cook, stirring constantly until, the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter the parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated and the butter has melted. Whisk in the egg yolks off heat, stirring until combined.
  3. Pour the semolina into the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
  4. Once firm, cut into 2 inch circles using a biscuit cutter or a sturdy kitchen glass. Set aside while you make the ragu.
RAGU
  1. To make the ragu, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with the back of a fork, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and set over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to break down and turn golden brown. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat all of the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let the tomato paste cook for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with chicken stock (or wine if you prefer), scraping up any brown bits that had formed on the bottom. 
  4. Let the stock cook until reduced by half, then add the Peeled Plum Tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon or a fork and cook until the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the reserved sausage back in, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and top with the Gnocchi alla Romano.
  5. Melt the remaining butter and brush the tops of the gnocchi with it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, then place in the oven (on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Shopping List
GNOCCHI
6 cups whole milk
2 cups semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, divided
2 egg, yolks
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
Cooking spray, as needed

RAGU
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 lb hot italian sausage meat
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper, To Taste
crushed red pepper flakes, To Taste
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can Peeled Plum Tomatoes

brown butter miso mac and cheese

2.22.2019

One of my intentions of 2019 is to waste less food... so what does that mean for right now? I'm putting miso in just about everything. I purchased the miso for the miso banana bread and now I'm intending to use every last drop of it.

I had all the ingredients for this dish for nearly a week but just never quite got the drive to make it. I had the same feeling the last time I made mac and cheese from scratch. It feels like a lot. Make the pasta. Make the roux. Melt the cheese. But it is not. It's very easy. I was eating incredible homemade mac and cheese before I knew it.

Candidly, I skipped the whole crunchy panko topping step too. I was so hungry and once I tasted the cheese sauce there was no stopping me. That being said, this would be unstoppable if you could make it through to the end. Crunchy mac and cheese topping can cure everything.

A few things:
  • Pick your pasta // You might as well pick something that is fun - but also that grabs the cheese a bit. I was at Trader Joes and they had Gigli - which is hard to describe but a little extra special. Nothing the matter with rotini, macaroni, or rigatoni.... but it cost about 50 cents more and was 200% more fun.
  • Cheese // Original recipe suggests a blend of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère. While I was at Trader Joe's over the weekend, they had a cheddar + gruyere blend on the shelf. I'm all about keeping things easy so I went for this one. Added bonus? It cut the recipe cost in half. Buying one cheese versus two.
  • Brown the butter // This was an unintended bonus. I hadn't planned for this but browned butter adds such a great flavor - especially when combined with the miso.
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add your pasta and cook until a minute or two shy of al dente (do not cook it all the way to al dente!). Drain (don't rinse) and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, heat the butter until it melts. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly to break up any clumps, for a minute or two.
  4. Whisk in the warm milk and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This can happen very fast.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the cheese and miso paste.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
  7. Pour the pasta into a greased baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the panko.
  8. Bake the pasta for about 25 minutes. The pasta should be bubbling and the breadcrumbs should be browned.
  9. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve.
Shopping List (serves 4 hungry people, 6 non-hungry people)
8 ounces dried pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, warmed slightly
2 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère), divided
1/4 cup sweet white miso paste, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

miso banana bread

2.21.2019

I'm not really a banana person but I do love banana bread. It's like a sneaky, potentially healthy breakfast dessert. I saw a reference a couple weeks ago to miso banana bread. A miso banana bread feels like a lifetime of difference from the other variations like: nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, or just straight up banana bread.

I've only bought miso paste one other time in my life and it turns out I never wrote up the recipe. I think it was something like a miso carrot soup if my memory serves me. I know very little about buying miso paste except that there are different colors. The original recipe called for white paste, but Whole Foods was out of that... so red paste it is. For what it's worth here are the differences according to kitchn.com:
  • White Miso: This miso is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a large percentage of rice. The miso has a definite sweet taste. It’s best used in condiments like mayo or salad dressings, or in light sauces.
  • Red Miso: This is also typically made from soybeans fermented with barley or other grains, though with a higher percentage of soybeans and/or a longer fermentation period. The deep umami flavor of red miso can overwhelm mild dishes, but is perfect for hearty soups, braises, and glazes.
Based on that, hindsight might have been to wait for white miso paste to be available.... but too late because I already baked the bread. It is so different - and great. It is hard to describe the difference in flavor but it is rich and the opposite of a sugary quick bread.

As of now I've made this recipe twice. First time? The original recipe called for just one big loaf - which I did.  It requires such a long cooking time that the top gets a little bit more toasted than I'd like. Candidly, I found a few spots in the bread that could have been cooked longer too. Second time? Split the batch into two smaller pans. Total win. The cooking time is about half (50 mins or so) and completely cooked through.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 10-by-5-inch metal loaf pan. In a bowl, using 
a fork, mash 4 of the bananas until chunky. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter, sugar and miso at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, slowly add the buttermilk, then beat in 
the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas; the batter will look curdled. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Scrape into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 
90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool on a rack for 30 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
Shopping List
4 medium overripe bananas
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white miso
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs

chorizo and potato stew

2.10.2019

I'm always in the market for a new soup that doesn't feel like something I've made before. Soup is incredibly versatile... but sometimes it does feel like all the recipes are the same. Well, this one is different. Very different.

I came across this recipe from Bon Appetit in early January but finally got around to making it. What took so long you ask? Buying chorizo. I was attracted to this soup because it just seemed hearty and flavorful and totally different. It is absolutely all of those things - and more. 

I absolutely love it when I've just finished making something... go to take a taste of it... and and subsequently knocked off my socks. Is that an expression? But when I put the spoon in the broth, I was blown away by the rich, salty flavor. It made immediate sense why the original recipe suggested including sour cream. It's a phenomenal neutralizer and refreshing.

Let it be known that the two keys to this recipe are: (1) chorizo and (2) paprika. 
  • I first used chorizo in a soup back in 2012 by accident. It was a very happy accident and what really drew me to this recipe initially. Finding chorizo was not super challenging but it was more expensive than I wanted to pay. So much so that I half'd the recipe just to cut down on costs. I am just one person, so it's fine. But yes, you absolutely need chorizo for this. No substitutes.
  • Paprika. I've only ever used paprika in small amounts. Recipes normally call for a "pinch" of it but this recipe calls for 1/3 cup! Here are all the other times I've used paprika, just a friendly fyi.
  • Bonus? I crisped up the potato skins leftover from peeling the potato. It was a really wonderful touch and super easy. 

  1. Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pot when the bacon is beginning to brown but not yet crisp. Approx 5–7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
  2. Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring often, until golden and softened, 8–10 minutes. Then add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Return bacon to pot and then add potatoes, chorizo, mushrooms, broth, paprika, and cayenne. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down to just a simmer. 
  5. Let the stew simmer for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Soup is done when potatoes are tender.
  6. Divide stew among bowls and top with sour cream, dill, and a few grinds of pepper.
Shopping List
6 bacon slices, chopped
2 medium sweet onions, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2½ lb. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¾" pieces
2 lb. smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into rounds, halved into half-moons
1 lb. button mushrooms, cut into ½"-thick wedges
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
⅓ cup hot smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 cups torn dill
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