BTC Scones

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sweet and fruity scones are always a staple at my house, but sometimes we want something savory. These scones are savory, packed with flavor, and make a meal of themselves!

2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp granulated sugar
4 Tbsp cold butter, diced into cubes
2 Tbsp cold shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
4 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded white cheddar sun-dried tomato and basil cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and sugar. In the bowl of a standing mixer, hold a sifter over the bowl and sift the flour mixture through it and into the bowl. Attach the paddle attachment to the mixer and add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture. Mix on medium speed until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles crumbs the size of peas. Add the egg and milk and mix again until just combined. Add the bacon and cheese and mix again until all is combined well. Do not overmix!
Lay out a layer of parchment paper on a baking tray. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the scone batter onto the tray. Don't worry about making perfectly rounded scones or if peaks develop; you want them to look rustic and homemade. Place them about 1-2 inches apart and make sure they are all about the same size to ensure even cooking among the scones. You should have 12-15 scones depending on their size.
Bake in oven for 16 mintues exactly. Tops will begin to golden. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.
Serve hot out of oven or at room temperature.

Caribbean Style Fish for a Hot Summer Night!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Caribbean-Spiced Grilled Red Snapper with Tropical "Salsa" and Tandoori-Spiced Shrimp

Sometimes, especially in the summer, I really crave tropical flavors. Caribbean food is wonderful if done right and hits all of my favorite notes in food: spice, depth, heat, color, freshness. It's earthy, soulful food without being heavy and consuming, and often is quick and easy to prepare.
We got some red snapper fillets this past weekend and I played around with my recipe. It's inspired by Jasper White's Summer Shack Cookbook, which if you do not own yet and love fish of any kind, must go get. Now. It's the bible of seafood cooking.
At any rate, here's the recipe:
For the Tropical Salsa:
1 ripe nectarine or yellow peach, chopped
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
splash of lemon or lime juice
small pinch of kosher salt
couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, combine all above ingredients and set aside for at least 1 hour to marinade. Serve chilled as a cold contrast to the hot grille fish. Can also add cilantro as a garnish if desired.
For the Snapper:
2 red snapper fillets, skins removed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Quick Caribbean Spice Blend (recipe follows)
Take the fish and brush vegetable oil on both sides. Sprinkle desired amount of Caribbean seasoning. Set aside. (this can be done ahead of time and refrigerated even the night before, but the loner it stays, the more concentrated the spice flavors will be so use less if doing it further in advance).
On a high heat charcoal grill, place fish flesh side down and grill for 2 minutes on direct heat. Gently loosen with spatula and flip the fish over and grill other side another 2 minutes. Move to colder part of grill (the peripheries) and let finish cooking about 4 more minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Remove and top immediately with the tropical salsa and shrimp.
Quick Caribbean Spice Blend
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
few turns of black pepper mill
Combine and season or place in storage container.
Tandoori-Spiced Grilled Shrimp
1 tsp tandoori paste (found in your import section of local supermarket)
1 heaping tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 pound shrimp, shell and tails on, cleaned and deveined if possible
Combine the tandoori paste and yogurt and set aside.
On a high heat grill, place shrimp on (with shells still on) and grill on both sides until just turning orange-pink in color. Remove promptly and take shells off, but leave tails on (this is easiest done with scissors). The shrimp will be half-cooked at this point. Brush the tandoori-yogurt mixture on the shrimp, and return them to the grill to finish cooking. When the shrimp are just firm to the touch and turn opaque, they are done. Remove them promptly, apply another coating of tandoori-yogurt and serve hot.
Serving Suggestions and Plating:
Plate a generous portion of white rice and black beans on the bottom of a plate. Place a red snapper fillet on top of that, and top with tropical salsa. Layer about 3 shrimp on top of that and serve hot with a margarita.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Monday, July 6, 2009

I find most spinach-artichoke dips go heavy on the cheese and cream sauce, and skimp on the actual spinach and artichokes! This recipe does just opposite, and is one of the ways I can get my kids to eat spinach with no complaint. You can serve it hot with a side of blue corn chips, pita chips, or even vegetables. And the best part is you can prepare it way in advance for a party, and just bake it off before your guests arrive!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
8-10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and well drained*
3/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup set aside
1/4 tspn cayenne
1/4 tspn salt
1/4 tspn black pepper
3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese + 1/4 cup set aside

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place very well drained spinach in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 -7 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add to spinach. Add artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and 3/4 cup fontina cheese and mix very well until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary (saltiness will depend on how seasoned your artichokes are from the marinade).

Place mixture in a casserole dish that's been buttered or sprayed with nonstick, and top with remaining 1/4 cups of Parmesan and fontina cheeses. Bake in oven 15-20 minutes or util bubbling and golden brown.

Serve hot with blue corn chips, pita chips or vegetables.

Bleu Cheese Cole Slaw with Honey-Cider Dressing

When we do a bbq at our house, cole slaw is a must. And since we're huge fans of bleu cheese and pecans, this recipe was a no-brainer. I substitute honey for sugar which is commonly used in the dressing, and I find it gives the cole slaw a deeper, more well-rounded flavor that complements any bbq sauce. We like to serve it with bbq ribs or pulled pork, but it's fabulous even on its own with a corn bread muffin!

Bleu Cheese and Pecan Cole Slaw with Honey-Cider Dressing
2 10 ounce bags of shredded cabbage + 1/2 of one 10 ounce bag
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled then grated
1 cup chopped pecans
4 ounches bleu cheese, crumbled by hand (recommended: Point Reyes bleu cheese)

For the Dressing:
2 cups good quality mayo (recommended: Hellman's/Best)
4 tbsp Dijon mustard (recommended: Grey Poupon)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey (recommended: orange honey)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a very large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, red onion, and carrots. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, combine the mayo, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and whisk together vigoriously. (Tip: use room temperature mayo so it combines better and makes a smoother dressing). Pour dressing over cole slaw cabbage mixture, and combine very well, making sure everything is coated well. Cover and refridgerate for at least 4 hours (better if overnight).

Before serving, toss half the pecans and bleu cheese into the cole slaw mixture and combine well. Top with remaining half of pecans and bleu cheese and serve cold or at room temperature.