Thursday, September 23, 2010

Strawberry Scones

I always love welcoming a new season, you can always smell change in the air. As fall ascends upon the Pacific Northwest the air become phenomenally crisp, it smells amazing and fresh with the linger of rain and the promise of chilly mornings. Recipes for sweet potato pie, pumpkin waffles and apple dumpling appear high on my list of things to do in the coming weeks. While I am excited for what this fall will bring, summer is always the hardest season to move on from. There is nothing like long warm days, mountains of fresh berries, the excitement of new jobs, friends and experiences to be lived out in the dream state that is often referred to as summer. These strawberry scones are the perfect snack to enjoy with grasping onto the last moment of summer. They are laden with fresh strawberries, light and refreshing, perfect with just a drizzle of honey.

Strawberry Scones adapted from King Aurthur Flour

1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup milk of half and half or light cream
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup diced strawberries
course sugar to sprinkle

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2. Combine 1/2 cup of diced strawberries with the milk product of your choice. Mix in a blender, food processor, or muddle with a fork.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter, using your fingertips, a fork or a pastry blender.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together the strawberry/milk mixture, the egg, and the vanilla extract.
5. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the cup of diced strawberries and stir just until everything is well combined. The dough will be slightly wet.
6. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets; each scone should be about the size of a golf ball. Sprinkle each scone with course sugar.
7. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until they are golden brown around the edges. Break one open; just to be sure; they should be moist, but not gummy, at the center.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Szechwan Eggplant & Tofu

A few months ago a friend made the best eggplant I had ever had. It was caramelized beautifully and spiced with an intense amount of ginger, garlic and soy sauce. It was heavenly. This dish is only slightly different, the sauce is a bit thicker but the flavors are great. The fresh green toppings add a refreshing crunch and round out the deep flavors of the sauce. This recipe requires very high heat, the eggplant alone would be a beautiful side dish but the tofu and rice make it a fabulous meal.

Szechwan Eggplant & Tofu adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry, Chinese rice wine or in a pinch rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white or brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, cut into strips
1 large eggplant, cut into strips (cut into thin slices lengthwise, then cut across. This should make about 7 to 8 cups of strips)
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cake (about 3/4 lb.) firm tofu, cut into strips
8 scallions: green minced, whites in strips (keep separate)
1 medium bunch fresh cilantro, minced (optional)

1. Combine soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and vinegar in a liquid-measuring cup. Add enough water to make 1 cup. Place cornstarch in a small bowl, pour in the liquid, and whisk until dissolved. Set aside, keeping the whisk handy.
2. Heat a large wok over a high flame. Add oil and onion, and stir-fry for about a minute. Add eggplant and salt, and stir-fry for 8-10 minutes, until the eggplant is soft. Add garlic, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne. Cook a few minutes more.
3. Add tofu and scallion bottoms. Stir the bowl of liquid (step 1) from the bottom, using the whisk, and add to the wok. Mix well, and stir-fry another few minutes, until the sauce is thick.
4. Remove from heat, and serve over rice, topped with minced scallion greens and cilantro.