Monday, January 10, 2011

Tea, Scones and a good book

This is the time of the month when I submit my column to the Bolton Common newspaper.  I shared a recipe on "Scones" today.  It is a traditional recipe that I have used for 25 years.   Here goes:

The Mixing Bowl
By Renee Zarate
“Afternoon Tea”

Lately my book club has been reading a couple of novels by Charles Dickens.  When I read novels from that era for some reason I start dreaming of afternoon tea and scones enjoyed in front of a warm and inviting fire.  Here is a traditional recipe that makes a large batch of scones.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can have some now and freeze some for another time.  The scones are served warm with your favorite jam and a thickened cream that you can make yourself.  Split the scone in two horizontally, then spread it with a layer of jam and top it with a large spoonful of the heavy cream.

SCONES (makes 32)

6 cups of all purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup of baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ lb. + 2 Tbl. of unsalted butter, cut into 1” pieces
2 cups of buttermilk (or add 1 Tbl of vinegar to 2 cups of milk)
1 cup of raisins or currants

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter to get a coarse meal consistency.  Combine the buttermilk and the raisins and add to the above ingredients.  Turn out the dough onto a floured board and knead it until it holds together, handling it as little as possible.  Divide into 6 pieces.  Roll out each piece and cut out scones with a 2 inch round cookie cutter.  Put on an unbuttered cookie sheet and glaze the tops with egg wash.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or a little longer.  They should be golden brown.  (If you want to freeze the scones, do not bake them at this point, wait until you are ready to serve.  Do not defrost; put them frozen into the oven.  Bake until brown.  The baking time will probably be a little longer, check one to make sure they are done.)


Break one egg into a small cup and beat it gently with a fork.  Brush this mixture on the top of the scones being careful not to drip it on the sides.


2 cups of whipping cream
2 Tbl. buttermilk or sour cream
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
1 or 2 Tbl. sugar

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for a least 24 hours.  Beat with an electric mixer just before serving, this will make the cream really thick.  The cream will keep for a week covered and refrigerated.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Think "yellow" even though it is white outside

Today my creative juices were really flowing.  I think I drew my inspiration from the fact that when I looked at the Stampington website I saw one of my cards from the "Blue" challenge in the advertisement.  Woo Hoo!  That made me so happy I decided to submit more cards for the "Yellow" challenge, which I really wasn't too excited about.  So when I got up this morning I immediately started thinking yellow.  I came up with 3 cards that I like quite a bit.  As soon as I figure out how to post photos of the cards I will.  Joe is home now so that should help with the photo posting.  Nothing like having your own IT guy! 

It is freezing cold out so I made a large pot of chicken soup.  I'm going to put leftover Risotto and veggies in it.  I need to write my food column for the Bolton Common this week.  I believe scones would be a good choice....with homemade Devonshire cream.  Mmmmmm.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Let them eat cake!

I love coconut cake, as does my neighbor.  I really don't know anyone who doesn't like it.  I have made several versions but I have found that my "cheaters" version that I adapted for my daughter is the best.  This time I stumbled upon a new type of frosting which I think is pretty wonderful.  Here goes:

Cheaters Coconut Cake
1 box mix of white moist cake (I used Duncan Hines, but it really doesn't matter)
14 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk, less 2 Tbl (save the 2 Tablespoons for later)
4 large egg whites (beaten) (save 2 of the egg yolks for later)
2 tsp coconut extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8" round cake pans, set aside.  Mix together the cake mix, coconut milk and  2 tsp. coconut extract.  Beat at a low speed with a mixer about 30 seconds and then 2 minutes at medium speed.  Fold in the beaten egg whites by hand.  Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 21 to 28 minutes, check with a cake tester for doneness.  Allow cakes to cool  in pans for 15 mins.  Remove from pans and place on racks until completely cooled off.  Make frosting.

Coconut Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting
Combine in saucepan:
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Cook over medium heat stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes, until the eggs have thickened.  DO NOT BOIL.    Remove from the heat and add:
1 & 1/3 cup flaked unsweetened coconut that has been mixed with the leftover 2 Tbl of the coconut milk and 2 to 3 teaspoons of coconut extract.  Add 1 cup chopped pecans.  In a separate bowl beat one 8 ounce package of room temperature cream cheese.  Fold the cooked pecan mixture into the whipped cream cheese.  Fill and Frost the cooled cakes.  Top the cake with a few whole pecan halves.

So now I am happy because my driveway is snowfree and I got to bake a cake without actually eating it.  My neighbor and his family are happy with their annual coconut cake.  And Joe is happy because he didn't have to shovel snow.  Everyone is happy!