Sunday, December 15, 2019

ChezCindy: Gingerbread Scones with Clementine Glaze

One cannot approach the holidays without thinking of or seeing an artful display of gingerbread houses.  I do not possess the skill or patience to actually make one.  And, if you are talented enough to put one together, do you really want to eat it after all the work?  However, gingerbread baked goods are a favorite in many other forms during the holidays and throughout the winter.  I usually make Gingerbread cake and cupcakes to share with family and friends.  Everyone loves this treat topped with a cream cheese icing.

I recently came upon a gingerbread scone recipe in the wonderful cookbook Baked from Scratch.  Below is my adaptation of their recipe with my personal changes.  I love the flavor profile of warm gingerbread spices and sweet clementine juice.  The ingredient list is a bit long, but it comes together quickly and ready to serve any morning when you have extra time and a desire to bake.

Gingerbread Scones with Clementine Glaze
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely diced
1/4 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg

2 tablespoons heavy cream
Turbinado or raw sugar for sprinkling
Clementine Glaze

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Working in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Add in the cold diced butter.  Pulse 3-4 times for a few seconds until the mixture is crumbly.  Add in the diced candied ginger.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of cream, molasses and egg, mixing until just combined.  Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture, pulse a few times for 3-4 seconds just until the mixture comes together.  The dough will not be smooth or fully combined.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead until it comes together.  Form the dough into an 8-inch disk, roughly 1-inch thick with a smooth top surface.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges.  Brush the top of each wedge with the 2 tablespoons of cream, sprinkling each with the turbinado/raw sugar.

Bake in the hot oven for 13-14 minutes until the scones are golden in color.  The scones are very tender at this point.  They will set up more firmly as they cool.  Allow the scones to cool before drizzling with the clementine glaze, recipe is below.

Clementine Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clementine zest
juice of 1 clementine

Add the powdered sugar to a small bowl.  Zest the bright orange skin from 1 clementine using a zesting rasp tool.  Cut the clementine in half.  To start, squeeze the juice from 1 half of the clementine into the sugar, mixing to combine.  Add in the zest; mix in more juice until the mixture is smooth and pourable.  Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the scones.  

Saturday, November 23, 2019

ChezCindy: Roasted Delicata Squash with Fresh Sage

This squash dish is so simple to make and perfect for the fall holiday season.  Delicata squash may be unfamiliar to some people, unlike the more common butternut and acorn squashes.  The flesh is lighter in color and a bit more potato-like in texture and taste.  I occasionally will dice the squash and cook it in a skillet for breakfast hash browns instead of using potatoes.  As the name suggests, there is no need to remove the skin because it is delicate and can be eaten.  A real plus since autumn squashes can be quite a challenge to peel.

The sage leaves I use here get crispy-roasted and fragrant.  The crackle of the delicate leaves are eaten along with the squash adding an herby flavor that pairs well with poultry.  Thus, making this side dish a nice accompaniment to your holiday turkey or simply served on a weekday with pan-seared chicken.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Fresh Sage
2-3 medium sized delicate squash
1 small bunch fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry the squash.  Working with a cutting board, slice the squash into rings.  Remove the seeds and discard.  Place the squash rings onto a large sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, turning them over to evenly coat with the oil.  Place a sage leaf on each squash ring.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place the sheet pan into the hot oven, roasting for 20-25 minutes until the squash is golden brown and the sage leaves are crisp.  The squash rings are not turned over during the cooking process. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bonus Cooking Tip:  Leftover squash can be diced and made into hash browns the next day for breakfast.  I sautéed some diced onions in butter and oil until soft.  Then I added the leftover diced squash, a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring until warmed through.  Quick and delicious. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

ChezCindy: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies!

I'm not sure many people are familiar with whoopie pies.  Said to have originated in the state of Maine, they are found in shops, farm markets and bakeries in the surrounding New England states.  Once I became familiar with them, I was quite smitten.

Whoopie pies are kind of confusing.  They resemble a sandwich cookie.  But when you bite into this sweet treat, the texture is soft and moist like a little cake filled with a rich cream cheese icing.  To add to the confusion, they are named as a pie!  I think the whoopie part of the name comes from the delight and surprise from first bite, causing one to shout Whoopie!

When you read the recipe below, you may be concerned with the measurement of the spices.  What is written is correct in that, yes, the tablespoon measurement is used for the cinnamon and ginger spices, and a teaspoon of cloves.  It may seem like an error, but trust that the balance of spices is a perfect blend.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheet trays with parchment paper.

In a medium bow, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, a stand mixer works well if you have one, combine the brown sugar and oil, mixing together until combined.  Add in the pumpkin puree, mixing to thoroughly combine.  Add in the eggs and vanilla mixing until well combined.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, mixing until just combined.

Using a medium spring-loaded ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, placing the dough mounds about 1-inch apart.  They will rise greatly but spread minimally.  Place the sheet trays in the center and upper part of the oven, baking the cookies for 12-13 minutes.  Rotate the sheet trays half-way through for even baking.  The cookies will be fully domed with the tops just starting to show cracks in the surface.  Remove the trays from the oven to cool, sliding the parchment sheet from the tray onto the counter.  Make the cream chees filling while the cookies cool.

Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8-ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Working with an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the cream cheese, mixing until combined with the butter.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, combining with the cheese/butter mixture until thoroughly combined and fluffy.

Assemble the Whoopie Pies
Turn over half of the cooled cookies to show flat side up.  Using a small scoop, or a tablespoon, place a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie.  Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling.  Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges.

Serve and enjoy.

Cookies can be kept room temperature for a day, or 3 days chilled in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 1, 2019

ChezCindy: Sliced Baked Potatoes

This dish comes to the rescue when you want to have baked potatoes for dinner, but are short on time.  You get all the baked potato flavor, plus the toppings of a twice-baked potato, baked in less than an hour.

I am so pleased with this dish.  I was looking for a way to do twice-baked potatoes for a cooking class, but wanted a new twist.  I was creating and testing for months, and nothing fit what I had in my mind.  I finally went rogue and created what is a cross between a potato gratin and a loaded baked potato.  This dish satisfies on all levels.

The tiny bits that look like browned marshmallows are cubed cream cheese, scattered over the potatoes.  They mostly hold their shape, getting lovely brown and soft.  The second cheese used here is shredded cheddar, melting gloriously and gooey.  I garnished only with fresh chives.  But think of the possibilities as you would for loaded baked potatoes.  When serving your family or a crowd, set out toppings of sour cream, sliced green onions, crumble bacon and more.  Each person can scoop out the potatoes and top as they desire.  So good.

Sliced Baked Potatoes
2-pounds russet Idaho potatoes
3 tablespoons butter, soften at room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4-ounces cream cheese
4-ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Chopped green onions or chives if desired

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Working with a 9-inch square baking pan, use the 3 tablespoons of butter to generously coat the sides and bottom of the pan.  This will add flavor and keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

Thoroughly scrub the potatoes.  Keeping the skin on each potato, slice the potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Layer each potato slice into the buttered pan, fitting each slice into the pan like puzzle pieces.  Some will layer on top of each other.  Pour the heavy cream over the potatoes, sprinkle the potatoes with salt.  Cover the pan with a large sheet of foil, crimping around the edges to seal.  Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the foil from the pan.  Cut the cream cheese into 1/2-inch cubes.  Scatter the cheese cubes over the top of the hot potatoes.  Evenly sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the potatoes and cream cheese.  Return the pan to the oven, uncovered.  Continue baking for 20 minutes.  The cheeses will be melted and browned.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with chopped green onion or chives, or top with crumbled cooked bacon and sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

ChezCindy: Pumpkin French Toast with Baked Apple Slices

Pumpkin French toast is perfectly paired with baked spiced apples slices.  This dish can be thought of as a sweet breakfast treat or as dessert.

In France this dish would be called "Pain Perdue", meaning lost bread.  French toast is usually made from bread that might be a bit stale, thus the bread has "lost" its best freshness.  Being resourceful, the stale bread is soaked in a creamy custard and griddled to golden brown perfection.

I have fond childhood memories of my father making French toast for us, often times for dinner.  We thought it was great fun to have this decadent sweet treat for dinner.  After watching my dad make French toast, this was one of the first dishes I made on my own as a young child.  It was more of a process than following a recipe.  Eggs, milk and spices, usually cinnamon, stirred together with a fork, dipping in the bread to soak up the custard, and placed in a buttered hot pan.  Easy success and gratification.

In this picture you can see the pretty orange hue of the pumpkin.  I used pumpkin pie spice in the custard to bring out the seasonal goodness, as used when making pumpkin pie.  The baked apple slices are tossed with traditional apple pie spices, butter and cider, baked until tender and coated with the resulting apple syrup.  A great compliment to the pumpkin toast.  This would also be delicious with pumpkin butter and maple syrup.

Pumpkin French Toast
4 large eggs
3/4 cup milk, cream or half/half
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Butter for the pan
Thickly sliced bread, Brioche or Hawaiian style

In a shallow baking dish, a 9x13-inch Pyrex works well, whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix well until fully combined.  Place the sliced bread into the custard, soaking each side for 30 seconds.

Working with a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter swirling to coat the pan.  Place the soaked bread slices into the hot skillet, cooking each side for 2-3 minutes until each side is golden brown.  Keep warm, while cooking the remaining slices of bread.  Serve with maple syrup and fruit.

Monday, October 14, 2019

ChezCindy: Roasted Acorn Squash with Soy-honey Glaze

This squash dish is a surprising twist on using typical Asian ingredients for an interesting seasonal meal.  Add steamed rice or roasted chicken for a full dinner.  I used acorn squash, but butternut squash would make a great choice too.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Soy-honey Glaze
2 pounds acorn squash
4 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve and remove the seeds from the squash, cut into wedges about 1/2 thick, using the ribs on the acorn squash as an easy guide.  Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper for easy clean up.  Place the squash slices onto the tray.

Combine the remaining ingredients into a small bowl, whisking to combine.  Brush the squash slices with the sauce, turning over to coat both sides.  Place the tray into the hot oven, roasting for 15 minutes.  Remove the tray from the oven.  Using tongs, turn the slices over, brush with additional sauce.  Place the tray back into the oven, continue roasting for 10-15 more minutes until the squash slices are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  Remove from the oven and serve.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

ChezCindy: Homemade Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin butter is less well known than its cousin apple butter yet similar in style and use.  But unlike apple butter, pumpkin butter can be made in less than 30 minutes.  Whereas apple butter takes hours to make.  Each are a combination of fruit, or vegetable in the case of pumpkin, cooked down with spices to form a silky-smooth spread for toast and muffins or as a condiment for a cheese tray.  You can also stir pumpkin butter into cooked oatmeal or blend into smoothies.  I recommend spreading it on waffles and then adding syrup.  And let's not forget spooning over vanilla ice cream topped with chopped walnuts for a simple Autumn treat.

Homemade Pumpkin Butter
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup cider, apple juice or water

Measure each ingredient and add to a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring the ingredients to combine.  Stir frequently, cooking for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth.  Allow the pumpkin butter to cool completely.  Transfer to a jar with a lid such as a glass canning jar.  Label and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Measure each ingredient and add to a small bowl to combine.  Transfer to an airtight jar with a lid such as a small glass canning or jelly jar.  Label and store in your pantry for 6-9 months.

*If you have not made your own pumpkin pie spice, use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.