Archive | August, 2013

Scandalous FIG Scones

30 Aug

Here’s the scene: last night I had 1.5 lbs of FIGS left that were threatening to turn from perfectly over-ripened and sweet to a rotting breeding ground for fruit flies at ANY second. While I pondered what to do, BFKef puttered around his closet, deciding which boat shoes to bring on his Labor Day weekend to the Hamptons (irony so fully noted here: it is one of the great joys of our relationship that I stress over how not to waste my local, fairly-sourced Fair Trade FIGS and he just *can’t* choose between this year’s Sperrys and last year’s).  Anyway,  since the invitation to Diddy’s White Party never arrived, I figured I would add the last of my foraged FIGS to some scones so that he and his friends could enjoy a dignified, WASPy breakfast on their dignified, WASPy get away (irony also fully noted here, as BFKef & co are not always dignified and  are described as WASPy only in relationship to Honey BooBoo).

I used this awesome FIG Scone recipe and will only make two addendums (addenda? addendia?)- I added 1 tsp of vanilla, and STRONGLY suggest patting the dough into a circle and refrigerating for about 20 minutes before cutting into triangles and baking. I knew better than to forgo this step but tried to get away with it, as the linked recipe does not call for a chilling phase.  I’m sorry to say that my laziness brought dishonor and shame on my family, and I had to endure the indignity of sending my boyfriend to the Hamptons with… less-than-perfect-triangular scones. Can you imagine? I had to avert my eyes as I clutched my pearls in HORROR at this scone scandal. I truly hope the Quogue Police Department does not investigate this matter– I would hate for Billy Joel to see my mug shot in the East Hampton Star!

Imperfectly formed, yes, but I think they were tasty none the less. I just love that scones are fluffy and dry and juuuuust a little sweet. I tried a GF/SF version with Jules Gluten Free, and they tasted good but texture was wrong– so no GF version for today’s recipe.

photo-39

I was too distraught by being implicated in the Great FIG Scandal of 2013 to even dream of taking a good picture.

FIG Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/3 c  + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 TBS unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1-1.5 c d figs, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c of fatty dairy (sour cream, half and half, heavy whipping cream, evaporated milk–whatever)
  • 1 egg

Assembly

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Put rack in lower half of oven. Combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the butter, either in very small chopped pieces or by grating it. Use your fingers to combine dry mix and butter, until it resembles course meal with pea-sized lumps. Add figs, mix (I used my hands to mash up the figs a bit and it was fun).

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, dairy, and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir in to the dry ingredients. When the dork won’t help anymore, use your hands to make a dough ball.

3. Lightly flour wax paper or a cutting board and turn out dough onto it. Pat the dough ball into a circle about 8 inches in diameter and about 3/4-inch thick. Cover and chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.

4. The dough should be a bit firmer now. Cut circle into desired-size triangles and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet a few inches apart from one another. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden.

FIGGIN’ Out

29 Aug

The FIGS continue to rain down goodness during the dog days of summer.  Hyperthermia alert in late August? No problem. I got some FIGS for ya.

Here’s a too-easy-to-be-true recipe for FIG jam that combines all of the fruit’s awesomeness with a savory kick of black pepper.  There are hundreds of recipes for jam on ye olde interwebs- choose one that fits you.

FIGGIN’ Out Jam

photo-38     Ingredients

3 c FIGS, stemmed and quartered

1/3 c honey

1.5-2 tsp black pepper, to taste

a pinch of sea salt

     Assembly

1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

2. Allow the mixture to simmer for 45 minutes, until deeply fragrant, brown, and figs

have become quite soft. Stir occasionally to keep too much honey from sticking to

bottom.

3. Set aside to cool. Blend in a food processor until you reach desired texture.

A Playlist For Your Running Week

26 Aug

I haven’t posted a playlist in a long while- here’s one I’ve been loving for a good pound-the-pavement, answer-life’s-questions run. What are you running to these days?

1. I Shall Sing – Miriam Makeba

2. Valerie – Mark Ronson (featuring Amy Winehouse)

3. Get Lucky – Daft Punk (featuring Pharrell)

4. Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris (feat Florence Welch)

5. Let the Groove Get in – Justin Timberlake

6. Comment #1 (Who Will Survive in America?) – Gil Scott Heron (featuring awesome production by Kanye West)

7. The Show Goes On – Lupe Fiasco

8. Yalira – The Very Best

9. Will You Be There? – Michael Jackson

10. Dust – Van Hunt

Occupy the Grocery Store: Creamy Yogurt Pops

26 Aug

I have often wondered if you could just freeze yogurt to make frozen yogurt (spoiler alert: you can’t). I’ve wasted a lot of perfectly good yogurt trying to transform it into perfectly good froyo–but today I have a finished product I can be proud of.

I found this idea somewhere on Tastespotting (and for whatever reason can’t find it again–sorry, original post!). Seriously- all you do is freeze three measly-little ingredients and a few hours later you can enjoy a perfectly healthy, good-enough-for-breakfast creamy treat. Does life get any better?

I’ll be experimenting with chocolate and pumpkin versions in the near future–what else would you guys add?

Image

Creamy Yogurt Pops

Ingredients

  • 2 c plain Greek yogurt (Fage is best but you do you)
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 8-12 oz berries of your choice

Assembly

1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.

2. Divide between popsicle molds or ice cube molds. Insert pop sticks or toothpicks.

3. Freeze for at least four hours or overnight.

4. Allow pops to thaw for at least 10 minutes before removing from molds (running warm water over the molds helps, too).

Love, Actually, Is All Around

21 Aug

This has been a disappointing week for humanity: a sad sentencing outcome for Bradley Manning, chemical warfare in Syria, an unimaginably tragic killing in Oklahoma… all of these in addition to the injustice, indignity, and inequity running around the world on a daily basis.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the evil we see, to become jaded by the sheer magnitude of need, to fall indifferent to the basic requirement of every human to feel worthy, loved, and welcome. We live side by side with intense suffering and learn to protect ourselves by ignoring the needs of others.

Antoinette Tuff changes all that. If you haven’t heard, she’s the elementary school book keeper who prevented a potentially catastrophic tragedy from taking place when a heavily-armed man entered the school. Much attention has been paid to the outcome of her heroic efforts–but I think the real story is the remarkable compassion and empathy with which she diffused a truly life-or-death situation.

Can you imagine the courage of heart required to share your own life’s struggles with someone who entered your place of business with an AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammunition? The amazing amount of faith required to stay calm and comfort a man who could take your life at any moment? What if–instead of compassion and connectedness–she had responded to Michael Hill’s actions with disdain and dismissal? If, rather than find the spaces in which she and Michael were inextricably bound as humans, she had focused on the boundaries and divisions we create and cling to as suffering-saturated Americans? I am so thankful Antoinette Tuff had the courage to care, and am inspired by her commitment to making sure Michael Hill knew that, through it all, he was not alone in his struggle.

“My pastor has been teaching on how to anchor yourself in the Lord, and so I just sat there and started praying. I realized at that time it was bigger than me, he was really just a hurting young man, so I just started praying for him. And just started talking to him about some of my life stories, and letting him know that it was gonna be okay.”

Marilynne Robinson writes that “the only way to limit the regret we feel for our inadequacy toward one another is consistent … and imaginative respect.” Is there any better example of that “presumptive and attentive” respect than Antoinette Tuff? Listen here to the full audio, starting at about 1:04.  So many of those praised as heroes deflect praise by saying that they did “just what anybody else would do;” what makes Antoinette Tuff so special is that she did exactly the opposite of what almost all of us would do. I can only hope I would be as caring as she was in the face of an AK-47–but I can be sure I bring more of Antoinette Tuff to my family, my neighbors, and my patients. Consistent and imaginative respect–it may be what saves a life.

Not a sermon, just a thought.

The Best Blueberry Buckle Recipe on God’s Green Earth

21 Aug

Let’s take our time machine back to the summer of 2008. I had just finished a crazy stint with City Year on the now-defunct HIV Outreach, Prevention, and Education team, my lease on an absolute hellhole of a first-house-out-of-college had finally ended, and I had just landed an awesome job as the Sex Ed Czar of DC (okay- so that was a self-appointed title informed by delusions of grandeur. Whatever.). Most people would take an awesome vacation or get new business cards made or something. Chef Kefi hosted a “Summer Garden Party.”

I am not one for over-punctuation, so let me explain my use of quotation marks and capitalization: a  summer garden party is a gathering in which real humans get together in someone’s well-manicured garden, sip curated cocktails, and sample the three or four varieties crustless tea sandwiches prepared by an effortless, coiffed host; a “Summer Garden Party” is an excuse for lots of 23-year-olds to masquerade as real humans by drinking Andre-based Kir Royales, stand around a mosquito-infested patch of grass and gorge themselves  in a most uncivilized fashion on the seventeen kinds of hors d’oeuvres the host had made because she had not yet learned the art of an edited menu.

At this point in life it was not yet fashionable to take a picture of everything you ate/cooked, so my point will be illustrated in portraiture. In the beginning, we looked like this:

garden party

cool, calm, collected. Everything you’d expect from a summer garden party. But after about 12 minutes, it turned into this:

straighttalkexpress

and that’s how you know it was a “Summer Garden Party.”

Now that you have the background, I’ll bring you to the star of the show: Blueberry Buckle. If you don’t already know, a buckle combines of the best of pie, cake, and streusel with its buttery crust, cakey texture, and crumbly topping. I have never once brought this to a gathering without stealing the show– so use wisely!

Blueberry Buckle

(originally found in Gourmet July 2004, lost in a move and presumed dead in July 2009 and resurrected in July 2013 to great fanfare)

Ingredients

  • a deep dish pie pan
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 TBS heavy cream

  • 2 c sugar
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small bits

  • 2 c flour
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c well-shaken buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 c blueberries (recipe says fresh or frozen but I have always used fresh and can’t speak to frozen)

Assembly

buckle

Thank you to yourfoodchoices.wordpress.com for the picture!

1. Make the crust: whisk together flour and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until  mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolks and cream with a fork and stir into the flour mixture until well combined. 

2. Gently knead mixture in bowl with flour hands just until a dough forms. Flatten dough into a 6-inch disk and chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for at least one hour.

3. Unwrap dough and roll out between 2 sheets of wax paper to fit your pie pan.  Remove top sheet of wax paper and invert dough onto bottom and sides of pie pan. Cover surface with wax paper and chill again for 30 minutes.

4. Make the streusel topping: Whisk together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or pastry blender until until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Chill until ready to use.

5. Put oven rack on lower third of oven and preheat to 400F. Make the filling: Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or pastry cutter until mixture resembles (you guessed it!) a coarse meal with roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolks, buttermilk and vanilla with a fork and stir into flour mixture until combined well (batther will very thick).

5. Peel off wax paper from dough in pan and arrange half the blueberries over the dough in a single layer. Spread batter as evenly as possible on top of blueberries, then arrange remaining blueberries on top of the batter.

6. Sprinkle with streusel topping and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake until top is golden, 45-60 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Cut into slices and serve warm or at room temp with ice cream or whipped cream.

Orange Cilantro ‘Slaw

19 Aug

In between all of my summer fun, I’ve been working marathon three-in-a-rows (nurses, residents, and oil-rig workers: you know what I mean; rest of the world: you’ll never understand). This means that on the eve of my first shift I need to cook enough of something to get me through several lunches and dinners.  Lots of times I just saute up some frozen spinach and call it a meal–but recently I haven’t been able to get enough of slaw.

slaw

But before the reciple, a few thoughts on slaw. First of all– is it common knowledge that coleslaw is a one-word wonder, with no need for space or hyphen? This fascinates me–almost as much as finding out that that they are actually brussels sprouts, not brussel sprouts. Second, I have always thought that this was something someone named Cole made up– no no, it is actually just another one of those words English speakers couldn’t say and comes from the Dutch koolsla. Which brings me to point three- can you say koolsla without sounding like Zoolander? I can’t.

This koolsla (hehe) in particular is the convertible dress of summer salads. I saw this recipe on Tastespotting (seriously people– get on it), removed the fancy ingredients and doubled the quantities (original porportion below), and it provided a great base for just about anything– first I ate it with the dressing as described in the below recipe, then I used the ‘slaw (sans dressing) in place of rice with some tilapia and a sweet potato, then I mixed the veggies in with leftover Indian to much break-room fanfare, and–just when I thought this dish had run its course–I made a fried “rice” with it for an encore performance.  Mmmhhm!

Orange Cilantro ‘Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 c white vinegar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (worth the $3.99!)
  • 1/2 a large cabbage, shredded
  • 2 c kale, shredded
  • 2 c corn (I threw mine in a pan for a minute to brown it)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded/chopped/whatevered
  • 6 medium green onions, thinly sliced (I just used scissors)
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBS whatever seeds/crunch you like

Assembly
1. Combine orange juice, vinegar, olive oil and sesame oil until homogenous. Set aside.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix.

3. Serve with dressing. Enjoy.

%d bloggers like this: