Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Queen

Apple Scones

Confession: I have a huge fan of British history.  In fact I can name all the Queens/Kings of England from King Henry I to present day, but could probably name only 30 or so presidents and only the first dozen or so in order.  With that said I didn’t realize my lack of British cooking material until this past Random Recipe challenge, hosted by Dom of Belleau’s Kitchen.   This time instead of picking a random book and then a random recipe, the books were to be narrowed down to those containing Tea Time recipes as part of a partnership with the Tea Time Treats link-up hosted by Karen and Kate.    I have a single Nigella Lawson book, but even that contains only a handful of Tea Time recipes.  So I decided to switch things up a little bit by allowing DV fans on facebook to decide what item I would be cooking.  In this case scones won, and in order to keep the random factor I then pulled all my cookbooks featuring a scones recipes.  From there Joy of Cooking was selected and then the classic scone recipe.  I decided to add some fresh fruit instead of the optional dried fruit, and it was a smashing success.  These scones were buttery and oh so moist, so now I’m wondering why this was the first time I ever attempted to make scones.    Below is as adapted for making only 8 scones with the apples, for the original recipe which serves 12-14 please check out Joy of Cooking.

The Queen


1 3/4 cups flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter

2 large eggs

1/3 cup half&half

1/2 cup apple, diced


  1. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Using two knives cut in the butter, the dough should form pea size pelts
  2. In a small bowl beat together the the two eggs, then add the half&half. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the egg/half&half mixture. Combine the ingredients in large sweeping motions until just mixed, then fold in the apples.
  3. Drop 1/4 cup of the dough at a time onto a non-stick ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15minutes, or until golden brown.

I’m also submitting this for /52weeks baking challenge, since this is probably one of the simplest things in the world to bake.  From prep to eating maybe 30 minutes elapsed, which is probably why they are such a popular breakfast item.

In other news, someone needs to write an American Historical Fiction series on par with Cynthia Harrod-Eagle’s Morland Series.

We’re Gonna

(My attempt at) Homemade Pasta

I’m a horrible Italian.  Why?  I can’t make homemade pasta without cursing, yelling, and occasionally throwing something.  I can do pie crusts and when the moon is properly aligned with Venus I can roll pizza dough, but there is just something about pasta dough that I can’t quite conquer.  I’ve attempted pasta a dozen or so times and have had something edible at the end of it maybe three of those times.  On all those other occasions I had to call in Chinese or Thai in order to insure there would be dinner.  I have tried a variety of recipes, from Pioneer Woman to Joy of Cooking to Martha to Fabio and the end result is always the same: super sticky dough that requires so much flour that they turn in to a gluten mess once cooked.  However last week I tried again, thanks to the /52weeks homemade pasta challenge.  I thought about skipping it and just moving on to the baking challenge, but I had promised myself that I would give every week my best try and so I did.

The bad things:

  • few survivors – had to make some dry pasta to supplement
  • very chewy
  • I can’t make pasta

The good things:

  • great ricotta filling made with the last of the fresh basil and assembled by my amazing husband
  • delicious onion sauce
  • awesome arm workout trying to roll out the dough

I used the standard 1 cup to 2 eggs ratio, and doubled it with the idea that there would be enough for two dinners and two lunches.   For the filling I had two cups of ricotta cheese, 8 basil leaves, and a touch of pepper.  Once I finally figure out this pasta thing I promise I’ll post a real recipe…just not sure when that will be!I’m thinking that if I had a stand-mixer I could get the pasta attachment and then maybe (maybe) I would finally be able to make homemade pasta on a semi-regular basis.  Until then it will be good old store bought pasta for this family!

My First

Japanese Soba Noodles with Ginger Soy Sauce

When I first saw the /52weeks of cooking challenge for last week was Japanese, I was all sorts of excited.  While I have had Japanese food a number of times, outside of some girls nights doing “sushi” I have no experience cooking the cuisine.  So off to the cookbooks I went to get some ideas!  Unfortunately my cookbooks turned out to be very light on Japanese recipes, which is probably why I haven’t cooked it.   I might have over a dozen curry recipes but I was only able to find locate one Japanese recipe that didn’t have a notation about being fusion or “in the style of”.  So I start Googling Japanese restaurants, hoping that I would find inspiration in menu items, something that I have done before with some success.  After seeing a few dozen recipes calling for Soba Noodles in some type of sauce I decided to give them a whirl.  I also decided to go out of my comfort zone and work with ginger, an ingredient that has caused problems for me in the past.  For the vegetables I decided to keep it simple and green, since I wanted the noodles and the ginger to be the start of the show.   I grabbed bok choy, which I had never cooked with before, and kale, and old friend, and headed off to heat up my wok.

My First

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes



1/2 lb soba noodles (buckwheat noodles), cooked and set aside

1/2 tbsp ginger, grated

3 gloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp rice vinegar

2 cups kale, torn

1 cup bok choy, torn

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. Use a small blender to mix the ginger, garlic, and soy sauces. Set aside
  2. Heat a large wok over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and rice vinegar. Once sizzling add the kale and bok choy and cook until just starting to wilt, about 7 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  3. Turn heat to low and add the soy sauce along with the noodles. Stir well and cover, cook for a final 7-10minutes stirring as needed. Serve topped with the halved cherry tomatoes

I’m know this recipe is more “in the style of” Japanese cooking, seeing as how bok choy didn’t make it to Japan until the early 20th century, but it has certainly inspired me to find some vegetarian Japanese cookbooks.  With that said, if anyone has a cookbook, vegetarian or not, that they would recommend please leave a comment!  I look forward to many more Japanese cooking adventures in my near future.

Only Light

Tofu Scramble

I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a breakfast person, I’m more the grab a(n iced skim caramel) latte and go kind of person.  However sometimes breakfast is needed, such as when you are trying to cram a million things in to one day and need the energy to get thru as much time as possible before stopping to eat.  On days like that I go for things that are full of protein and low in carbs, and for an added bonus items that are low in cholesterol.  It wasn’t too long ago that I turned my nose up when seeing tofu scrambles listed in the brunch section of menus, and it took til this past April for me to try my first tofu scramble. In fact, I didn’t even order it but rather tried a bite from my best friend’s plate.  I was immediatly impressed by how egg-like the texture was and how I could easily have been told that it was egg and not thought anything of it.  This past weekend I decided to give it a try, figuring that if it turned out horrible I had oatmeal as a backup.  I knew I was successful when Joe asked how I managed to make an egg dish when we were out of eggs. Victory!

Tofu Scramble


14 oz extra firm double, well pressed

1 tbsp EVOO

1/2 tbsp dry thyme

1 tsp crushed cumin

2 medium tomatoes, diced

5 basil leaves


  1. Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spices and stir well before adding the tofu. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning but allowing the tofu to brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes and basil leaves, stir then cook for an additional 5-10minutes. The tofu should be golden brown on all sides.
  3. Serve!

Nothing like a nice, simple, and filling breakfast to get you going in the morning!  I ate mine as written while Joe added a fair amount of Old Bay to his but either way is perfectly acceptable.   Siracha sauce would also go well with this scramble for those looking to add a kick to their meal.

Truth May Vary

Tamale Pie

So far September has been the lost month, filled to the brim with so many activities that I’ve lost total track of time.  Everything this month seems to be coming in pairs: two birthdays, two weddings, and two big decisions to make.  Needless to say I’m looking forward to October when this will all be behind me and I can start enjoying fall.  I am already plotting out my soup recipes and have so many different combinations that I’m looking forward to testing out.  I see squash, black beans, tomatoes, and spuds of all varieties in my future and I’m looking forward to every last one of them.

This recipe is one of my go-to-recipes once the temperature starts to drop.  While it can also be prepared in a slow cooker, there is something about using a cast iron skillet that adds a little something.  I haven’t been cooking with cast iron very often, but luckily my cast iron skillet came with a Cast Iron Cooking for Dummies.  I might not be the best when it comes to cast iron cooking, but with this book I’ve been able to correct most of my issues.    This tamale pie recipe was one of the first I tested out in the skillet, after the standard cornbread recipes.  The first attempt didn’t work very well, but since then I’ve figured out the right ratio of cornbread to fillings so lot more eating lot less turning off the smoke alarm.

Truly Scrumptious

Serves: 4-5 servings


2 cups pre-soaked black beans

1/2 vidalia onion, diced

1/2 cup corn off the cob

1 can rotel tomatoes

1 jalapeno, diced (optional)

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 tbsp chile powder

1/2 tsp cayenne powder (optional)

1/2 cup favorite salsa

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup corn meal

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Mix all the ingredients from the beans to the salsa in a 12in cast iron skillet. Cook for 10minutes then remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile stir together the flour, baking powder, egg, milk, and vegetable oil until ingredients are just mixed - be sure to not over stir! Pour over the vegetables in the skillet. Bake for 30minutes, or until golden. Optional: top with shredded Mexican cheese in last 5minutes of baking.

Feel free to top with sour cream, guacamole, or more salsa!  Instead of salsa enchilada sauce can also be used, or a fajita marinade.  The trick is making sure there is enough liquid to keep the vegetables from sticking but not so much that it keeps the cornbread from crisping up.  With my skillet the golden amount is just below the top of the vegetable/bean mixture, but I’m sure different skillets will have different results.