Friday, December 27, 2019

ChezCindy: Crudite Platter

Consider the crudité platter.  A bit of an old fashioned idea.  Set out on the buffet in earnest by the host, sampled by the guests in equal earnest.  It can be a boring smattering of baby carrots, celery and ranch dressing.  But hey, we need to have something "healthy", right?

I recently entertained a small group of friends and wanted to start the evening with a nibble while they sipped a glass of champagne.  I was serving a rich meal of Coq au Vin and potato gnocchi.  The crudité platter served as a deconstructed salad with a homemade vinaigrette.  The guests could select a single vegetable and dip into the vessel, or assemble a variety of items onto a plate with a drizzle of dressing to their liking.

When making a crudité platter, shop the produce department for interesting color and texture.  I used baby carrots, cutting them in half lengthwise at an angle.  I love the small Persian cucumbers as they are crisp with tiny seeds and tender skins.  I also cut these into bite-size pieces at an angle.  I blanched French green beans for just 2 minutes on the stovetop, chilling them in ice water and then dried and placed the beans into a gentle curve around one side of the platter.  For more color, I added tiny whole radishes and young organic purple kale torn into small pieces.  Switch up what is included on the platter depending on the season.  Serve with a homemade vinaigrette, a sprinkling of course sea salt, with small plates and forks for guests to help themselves.

Homemade Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave sweetener
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Add the Dijon mustard, agave, salt and pepper to a medium size bowl.  Using a whisk, mix to combine.  Whisk in the vinegar.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking while you drizzle to emulsify the ingredients into a creamy consistency.  Pour into a small carafe or pitcher.

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.