Sunday, April 4, 2021

Novel Food #41: Spicy cheese scones

 


 

Even though our public libraries are still not open for walk-in browsing, there is still a way to peruse the new books.  We can put holds on books, and, when we pick them up, the library staff have filled the windows with all kinds of new books.  During a recent visit, I spotted my title book in the window, and immediately checked it out:  A Promise of Ankles by Alexander McCall Smith.  It’s part of the 44 Scotland Street series.

One of the characters, Angus, is out walking with his dog, Cyril, when Cyril runs off into the bushes and makes a great discovery – a skull.  And, not just any skull, but a Neanderthal skull!  Angus’s wife, Domenica, has identified the skull as such, and has contacted the National Museum of Scotland to verify the find.  A representative from the Department of Neanderthal Affairs, Dr. Colquohoun, has agreed to come over and verify the authenticity of the skull.  In honor of his visit, Angus makes his famous cheddar cheese scone, liberally laced with cayenne pepper.  While the museum representative is visiting, there is a lengthy discussion on prehistoric peoples in Scotland, Neanderthal culture, and, of course, scones.  Dr. Colquohoun consumes at least three scones with his tea before returning to the museum with the skull, so it can be evaluated and authenticated.

To pay homage to this important meeting, I chose a cheese scone recipe from King Arthur Baking Company, substituting a healthy amount of cayenne for the hot sauce and mustard.  They did indeed have a kick to them.  

 



To find out what the outcome was, you’ll have to read the novel.  As for me, I need to get caught up with all the local residents, so I’ll be in search of more books in the series.  

 In the meantime, this is my submission for this edition of Novel Food (#41).

 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Green Tea and Candied Orange Peel Bread

 


 The March Kitchen of the Month is Cathy from Bread Experience.  Cathy’s choice was a lovely bread flavored with matcha tea and candied orange peel. 

I already had matcha tea, and, even though I used the indicated amount, the bread wasn’t green, but the color of rye bread. (So much more appealing than gray.)  I did add the matcha to the dry ingredients to make sure it was well incorporated.

The candied orange peel was another story, but a good one.  As I wondered where I would find this ingredient, I realized there was a fresh orange on my counter, and several more in the refrigerator, so I decided to make my own candied orange peel.

First, a story about the oranges.  The single orange on the counter was rescued from the clutches of a sneaky rat.  I planted a naval orange tree in 2019, and was very excited to see it produce one orange that first year!  I watched it carefully; then, one day in January of 2020, I decided to see if it was ready to harvest.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was just a hollow shell!  The crafty rodent had breached the orange from the backside, and consumed it all, leaving only the shell that, for all intents and purposes, looked like an in-tact orange.   Grumble, grumble.  By the end of 2020, my little tree had two (!) oranges underway, and I vowed I wouldn’t let the rat beat me to them.  So, come January 2021, I was checking them multiple times a day for any sign of rodent activity.  I decided to harvest the best looking one, and not a moment too soon.  The next day, the second orange had succumbed to the rat attack.  So, there the orange sat, waiting for me to figure out how to eat it.  (Glad I procrastinated.)

The second group of oranges came from my former tree.  At my previous house, I had planted a blood orange tree, and after what seemed like an eternity it started to produce fruit.  And then I moved.  Luckily, the new owners are wonderful people, and every year they share the oranges with my former neighbor, who, in turn, shares them with me. 

I realized that making candied orange peel was the perfect use for all of my oranges. I combined recipes from two sources:  Alton Brown and Use Real Butter (Jen Yu).   And I made just enough for the recipe so I wouldn’t have leftovers.  (I did taste a few to make sure they were good enough, so making just enough was a wise decision.)


 This bread recipe makes four perfectly-sized small loaves.  While I thought about putting a few in the freezer, or sharing them, it wasn’t to be.  They are that delicious.


 The other Babes made amazing bread, so stop by their websites.  And, if you want to bake along as a Buddy, you can find the recipe on Cathy’s blog.  Send her a write-up and photos by March 29 to be included in the roundup.

 

Check out the other Bread Baking Babes:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Non/Nan (Uzbek Nan Bread)

 


 

February presented yet another adventure in bread baking.  This time it was Uzbek Stamped Bread (Non/Nan).  The dough itself was easy to make and very flavorful when baked.  I did brush the loaves with oil and sprinkled the tops with nigella seeds, which all promptly leaped off when removed from the oven.  So much for decoration.


 

While the other bakers sent off for authentic Uzbek bread stamps with beautiful patterns, I stuck with the original, time-tested stamp.   Call me poor, lazy, a skinflint, or all of the above.


 

I swear the loaves looked perfect right before they went into the oven, but that pesky old oven-spring obliterated the fantastic design.

If you want to see what the finished bread is supposed to look like, stop by the blogs of the other Babes:


 

 

And, if you want to give it a try yourself, you can find the recipe at Tanna’s website, My Kitchen in Half Cups.

 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

January Babes: Toasted Oats Bread

 


Every bake is an adventure in learning.  Let’s take this month’s bread baking challenge as an example.

First:  ingredients.

I didn’t have the wheat chops, so I doubled the amount of wheat germ.

Second:  starter.

I couldn’t get the starter to float, so I delayed an extra 24 hours to no avail.  In the end, it didn’t seem to matter as the final bread came out just fine.  After some research, however, I learned that the starter needs to be tested at the peak of its rising time, about 3-4 hours after feeding.  Then, it floats!  I made some simple sourdough loaves to test this theory with good results.

Unless you want to be baking the bread at 3 am, it’s a good idea to feed the starter in the afternoon, then make the dough in the evening so it can rise overnight.  The final shaping and rise can then be done in the morning.   (Unless you want to bake in the middle of the night, of course.)

While I used the basket to proof the final shape, I was concerned that it would deflate after I dumped it into the hot Dutch oven.  Once again, upon further research, I realized I could use a piece of parchment and a board to flip the loaf,  then use the parchment to lower it into the Dutch oven. That should have been a no-brainer.

Despite all of the issues, the loaf turned out well, and I would be willing to make it again, improving upon the experience from the first loaf.


 

For the recipe, detailed instructions, and fascinating discussion on Toasted Oats Bread, head over to Elizabeth’s blog.  If you bake and post by January 29th, you, too, will be included in the Buddy roundup.

 

Check out the other Bread Baking Babes: