Sunday, March 31, 2013

Raspberry chocolate scones

My mother grew up reading and loving Enid Blyton books, so I was introduced to them very early. I too started loving to read about fairies and goblins dancing at moon-lit parties on toadstools and eating elaborate, mouthwatering, very British sounding food. But of course, this was pure imagination. If you, like me, grew up in Kuwait in the eighties- nineties there was no way of knowing if "exotic" foods like kippers, scones or clotted cream were mouthwatering or not. The one remote chance I had of trying it then was on a British airways flight. Scones and clotted cream were on their on-flight menu but they had to cancel the meal service because of extreme turbulence. Instead of being relieved of surviving a 50 ft turbulent drop, I found myself disappointed in missing out on the scone experience. What can I say? My priorities were always spot on! ;)

Fast forward 20 years or so (ok maybe more, but I have a birthday coming up and I'm trying to keep the years back as much as I can!), I finally had a scone in the US, and my excitement was crushed...dry, doughy nastiness that made a globby bolus that you had to gulp extra hard to push down. That was it, I swore off scones forever. TILL I was forced to eat one at a conference in Maine-- that was all they had for breakfast and starvation made me cave. And I'm SO glad I did. Moist, flaky and crumbly with bursts of berries-- delicious. That was it! My hunt began. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a good scone in and around Baltimore that could compare to that scone in Maine. But I DID find this amazing recipe and it totally delivers. I've used the recipe many many times with dry fruit and today was the first time I tried it with frozen berries and chocolate, excellent either way.

Best. scones. ever.    

You will need:

1 stick (8 tbsp) frozen butter
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used fat free)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen berries (I used raspberries) / dry fruit
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional, I used semi-sweet, but you can use whatever you like)
Melted butter and Demerara sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 425F. Grate frozen butter with large holes of box grater. Put grated butter back in the fridge to keep cold. Mix milk, yogurt and vanilla in a bowl and place in fridge. In a medium mixing bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. If using dry fruit you can mix them in with the dry ingredients at this point. Add grated butter to flour mixture and toss lightly till butter is coated with flour but not completely integrated into it. Now, fold milk-yogurt mixture into the flour with a spatula until just combined.  Transfer dough onto a well floured surface and knead few times (5-6 times). Now you have to pay attention, the following steps are what makes the scones flaky. Roll the dough into a 12 inch square. Fold the top third of the dough inwards to the middle. Next, fold the bottom third to the middle overlapping with the first fold. Press down to flatten. Roll into a 12 inch square again. Repeat the folding and rolling process 3 more times and then transfer the "folded" dough to the fridge for 5 minutes. Get the dough out, roll into a 12 inch square again, sprinkle frozen fruit and chocolate chips, gently press them in to make sure they are embedded in the dough. Fold top third to the middle and bottom third of the dough to the middle, gently flatten and shape into a circle about a 1 cm in thickness and 6 inches in diameter (thickness being most important here). Cut the circle into 8 equal wedges. Freeze extra scone wedges in plastic wrap at this point. Or if devouring right away, brush with extra melted butter and sprinkle demerara sugar over the tops. Transfer wedges to a greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hot cross buns

My family never quite celebrated Easter but that hasn't ever stopped me from eating! Here's a recipe for hot cross buns that you find everywhere at Easter. I have a problem with raw egg whites thats why I havent used traditional royal icing for the crosses but you are welcome to substitute the icing recipe here with royal icing.

Recipe for buns:
1/3 cup warm milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 pack active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
An 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, NOT drained (about 2/3 cup)
4 cups bread flour (all-purpose would also work)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
1 egg
1/4 cup water 
Mix milk, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, salt, oil, butter, eggs, and pineapple. Mix to combine. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead for about 10 minutes (I just did it by hand). Drizzle a little extra oil on the dough, flip dough over to completely coat with oil. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch the dough down and divide into twelve equal balls (or you can get creative and make snails like I did). Place in a well buttered 9x13 inch pan and let rise again until doubled (again, 45-60 minutes). Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat together the egg and water for the top and brush the tops of the risen rolls with the egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.  Cool the rolls, drizzle icing (recipe below) as a cross over the rolls and enjoy!

For the icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp water (more as needed)
1 drop of vanilla
Mix all ingredients together. The icing should be real thick and feel like mixing cement, if it feels too watery just add more icing sugar.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Chicken (sort of) tortilla soup

I graduated from grad school last July and am still on the rebound. I never packed lunch because there were so many semi-healthy options mere steps from my office. The Daily Grind (DG as we lovingly called it), had a rotating soup menu and my absolute favorite was the chicken enchilada soup. It was spicy, creamy, chock-full of veggies and beans and simply comfort in a bowl (ok, paper soup carton but whatever!). But now sadly its become a long lost taste memory (its a dramatic kinda day...). So today, thanks to snow-questration and leftover roast chicken, I decided to reincarnate the taste memory with this tortilla soup. I basically threw in whatever was lying around and it was yumm. Its a very flexible recipe so get creative!


For Soup

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pack McCormick Chili spice mix, hot (if you don't have this mix 1 tbsp each of cumin, garlic and paprika powder)
1 cup eggplant, chopped (optional, I didn't have any but its sooo good here) 
3 cups cooked (or 2 raw) chicken breasts, chopped
1/2 jar of salsa (medium heat)
1 carton chicken stock
3 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
4 cups hot water
3 tbsp corn meal 
1 can of white/black beans
1 cup frozen corn (optional, I didn't have any)
Salt and pepper to taste

Suggested toppings

Green onions, chopped (I didn't have any)
Sour cream
Frito chips/ Tortilla strips
Cilantro, chopped (I didn't have any)
Cheese of choice, shredded


Pour oil in a deep and large saucepan. Add onions, peppers, garlic, chili spice mix and eggplant (if using). Saute till all the vegetables soften. Add cooked chicken and mix well. If using raw chicken, saute till chicken is opaque and cooked through. Add salsa and cook for about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and tomato paste/ ketchup. Taste the soup and adjust salt and pepper to taste. I actually added a few swigs of hot sauce too. Bring heat down real low and simmer the soup for about half an hour. Mix the corn meal in hot water in a separate bowl and add that to the soup, stirring constantly. Add the beans and let cook for another half an hour. Add the corn and let cook for 3 minutes. Garnish with toppings of choice after serving in bowls.


Monday, January 21, 2013

And I'm back!

Its been so long that I don't even want to see when the last post was. It feels like I've been blogging forever (and I have! 7 years is a LONG time in the blogging universe! Caveforme is practically a fossil!) but apparently we are only 87 posts down. That's kind of sad.  You know what else is sad? The unfairness of life. It was hard to post happy things when a young friend saw the love of her life die and a second cousin in his early thirties is dying of brain cancer. But these sort of things give you perspective. Don't sweat the small stuff-- tough exams, zits or that guy (or girl) who broke your heart. It may seem like the end of the world but these are all temporary, things that you can (technically) forget about and heal from with enough time. You have one life-- its a blessing and its short. Hold your loved ones close, cherish happy times, bask in natures simple pleasures, make someone smile just for the heck of it and fulfill all your deepest desires.

Its not quite a resolution (stopped making those a long time ago) but this is the mantra I'm going to live my life on from now on. I've made a bucket list and am going to share it with you as I go. First up, a marathon in the Spring. Stay tuned!