Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Broccoli Smoothie

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Blackberry Smoothie

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And the Beet Goes On…(Making the Perfect Beet Smoothie)

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Be a Smooth Operator

Beginning with Breakfast

Green Smoothies…The Why’s from A to Z

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Scones

hello+lovely+apartment099kIn the last post, we talked about how to make the perfect biscuits…

Now let’s learn how to make the biscuit’s closest kid—the scone—anotherf quick bread that is made using very similar ingredients and techniques.

The perect scones are moist, light, tall and fluffy…slightly crispy on the outside…puffy and tender on the inside…with just the right amount of sweetness…served with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eaten plain. the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

That is, assuming you’re an American.

 

True British scones are actually drier and more crumbly.

The “original” scones, called “bannocks,” were actually large round breads that were  made simply of oat or barley flour and water…and then dry-fried on a griddle before being cut apart into wedge shapes.

 

 

When it comes to making the perfect scones, you have to have quality ingredients and know the correct method of making them instead of just slopping all the ingredients together and hoping that they come out fit to eat.

By now, whenever you read a recipe for a bread that uses baking soda or baking powder…instead of yeast…to make the bread rise, you should see a pattern emerge.

This pattern of doing things is called the “quick bread method.”

 

 

Once you see just how easy it is to make scones yourself, they will no longer be a rarely eaten treat served only for special-day breakfasts and formal high-tea fare….scones that are just as good, if not better, than the ones that I fork over how much money at Starbucks every time that I splurge and buy myself coffee there.

So let’s get started.

 

 

 

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The Ingredients
  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 2C flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2C sugar
  • 1/2C butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1C heavy cream or buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla

 

 

The Baking Powder…If you forget the baking powder, your scones will not rise…go figure…

 

 

The Sugar…This may seem like a lot of sugar…feel free to experiment to find out if you still like the taste using less sugar…but remember that changing the amount of sugar that you use will chl

If you are making savory scones, reduce this amount to about 2Tbsp.

Brown sugar often makes certain flavors of scones taste even better, but if you are using brown sugar, you should whisk your wet ingredients until you  get out all the lumps of brown sugar…otherwise, guess what your scones will contain…

Lumps of brown sugar…obviously.

 

 

The Butter…Butter is responsible for the crisp edges, flakiness, flavor, and rise of your scones.

 

 

The Egg…Eggs add flavor, lift, and structure.

 

The Milk…The thicker this dairy ptoduct is, the more your scones will rise and the better they will taste. If you are looking for a “politically correct” form of milk, choose one from this previous post regarding milk options.

 

 

The Vanilla Extract… because all baked goods require vanilla, right?!

Wrong…Don’t use the vanilla if you are making savory scones…as opposed to sweet ones.

 

 

Optional Ingredients…The optional ingredients that yuu can incorporate into your batter change the taste of your scones and make them much more fun.

A few options include the following…

Chopped Nuts…Add these after cutting in the butter…but before adding the liquid.

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios

Citrus Zest…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredient

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange

Extracts…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredients

  • Almond
  • Anise
  • Lemon
  • Mint

Fruit…Use either fresh or frozen fruit. If using frozen fruit, do not thaw the fruit out first. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Glaze or Frosting…Top your cooked, slightly cooled scones with one of the following…

  • Brown butter icing
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Lemon curd
  • Lemon icing
  • Maple icing
  • Orange icing
  • Powdered sugar glaze
  • Raspberry icing
  • Salted caramel frosting

Herbs…Add one of the following into your dry ingredients…

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Spices …Add 1/2 to 1tsp one of the following into your dry ingredients….

  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon,
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Other Ideas

  • Chocolate chips
  • Toasted coconut
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The Prep Work

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Adjust oven rack to center position.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray or baking spray.
Set aside.

Stick your butter in the freezer.

 

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The Dry Ingredients

Whisk together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder— in a large bowl.

…or simply pull out your KitchenAid to do this instead.

Actually we moved last month and I’ve had to hide the red KitchenAid that I love so much because there’s not enough space between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets for it to fit.

Regardless which method you are using, be sure to use a big enough bowl that will allow you lots of room to work in when combining your ingredients..

Add any herbs or spices that you have chosen at this point.

 

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 The Butter

Now it’s time to “cut in” the butter.

Cut your frozen butter into small pieces.

“Cutting” in your butter makes sure that your butter is evenly distributed throughout the dough. This will create little pockets of steam as the scones bakes, making them flakier.

If making your scones by hand, cut your cold butter into the dough with a pastry cutter or fork.

If using a mixer, mix on a medium-low speed for about thirty seconds.

Be careful not to over-mix.

Over-mixing will make your finished scones dense, instead of soft and crumbly….so work with the dough as little as possible.

You want the butter that you see in your dough at this point to be about the size of large peas.

If you are using any optional ingredients—other than herbs or spices which you should have already added to your dry ingredients by now—

 

 

 

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The Liquid Ingredients

Now lightly whisk together your liquid ingredients—the heavy cream, the egg, and any zests or extracts you may be using.

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Mix just until liquid is absorbed.

At this point, your dough should be lumpy, with raggedy edges — not smooth at all.

You do not want to over-mix your dough…

Be very gentle with your dough…otherwise your scones will turn out crusty and chewy.

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Working with the Dough

 

Once you have finished making your dough, refrigerate for at least fifteen  minutes. This will keep your scones from spreading out too much wheever you bake them.

You could even refrigerate your dough overnight at this point and finish making them for breakfast the following morning.

Your goal is to Keep your dough as cold as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top or marble pastry board. Using a marble pastry board will help keep the dough cool.

Divide the dough in half.

Sprinkle a pinch of flour on top of each half.

Fold the dough in half.

Turn it 90 degrees. Pat out.

Repeat this folding process five more times….being very gentle with the dough when you are doing this.

Shape each portion into a 6″ circle…about 1″ thick. Use your hands to do this, not a rolling pin.

Cut each circle into six even wedges, using a pizza cutter…making sure that you cut the wedges apart completely.

You could also use your biscuit cutter and cut out circles of dough. If you use a biscuit cutter, remember to push your biscuit cutter straight down instead of twisting it. Otherwise your biscuits and scone won’t rise as tall

If your dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour…but be careful not to add too much excess flour because this will make the scones drier.

If your dough seems too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream.

Lift the wedges, one at a time, with either a pie server or a spatula.

Place the wedges about 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet,

Brush the top of each scone with heavy cream or buttermilk. Doing this will give your scones more of a golden brown, extra crispy, and crumbly exterior.

You could also sprinkle some sugar on top to add even more crunch.

 

 

 

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Baking Your Scones

Bake the scones at for about fifteen to twenty minutes,,,until they have about tripled in height…and are  golden brown on the tops and bottoms.

If your scones seem to be browning too fast as they bake, then tent them with aluminum foil.

After this amount of time, stick a toothpick into the center of a scone to see if they’re done. If the toothpick emerges clean, or with a very few moist crumbs, they’re ready. If the toothpick emerges with anything on it, other than perhaps a few crumbs, then let them bake a bit longer.

Remove the baked scones from the oven,

Let cool for a couple of minutes before topping them with any frosting or glaze.

Scones are best served warm, or within a few hours of baking.

If your scones seem to be spreading out too much as they bake, remove them from the oven and press them back into their original shape using a rubber spatula.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Homemade Biscuits

The Ingredients

  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 2C flour
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2C butter
  • 3/4C milk

1.The  Baking Powder…Baking powder acts as a leavening agent…meaning that it serves to help the biscuits rise.

 

Baking powder is used instead of baking soda because baking soda is only needed when you are working with an acidic ingredients—such as buttermilk, lemon, or vinegar. So if you choose to use buttermilk instead of regular milk, you will want to used in addition to the baking powder.

Be sure that Is your baking powder is not outdat4ed before using it.

Use only aluminum free baking powder so that your biscuits will not have a metallic tate, 

 

Ir ia important that you bake your dough right away instead of  making the dough and then waiting for a while before you finishing your biscuits. Otherwise, the baking soda will not have the same leavening power.

 

2. The Flour…Choose an unbleached all-purpose flour.

 

3.  The Sugar…Sugar adds a nice balance to the salt.

 

4. The Salt…Salt is pretty much a basic ingredient in any recipe…so why not this one?

 

5. The Butter…There has always been a debate as to whether your butter needs to be ice cold or simply softened. Honestly, either of these will work…but you never want to use melted butter, so don’t try softening it by sticking it in the microwave. Leave the butter out on the counter instead. Let it soften to the point that an indentation is left on the surface of the butter whenever you press your finger into it.

You could use any other type of fat—such as margarine, shortening, or coconut oil—but nothing compares to biscuits made with real butter.

 

 

6. The Milk…Biscuits have traditionally been made using buttermilk instead of regular milk…but you could also use regular milk…much better option, because how many of us actually keep buttermilk in our fridge on a regular basis.

Just remember that using buttermilk will make your biscuits have more of a “tangy” taste and is thicker than other milks…so you may need to adjust the amount used.

 

Another option would b4e to make your own “buttermilk” by adding 1Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar. 

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Prep Work

Preheat oven to 425.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner.

 

 

 

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Dry Ingredients

Whisk together the baking powder, flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.

If  you don’I mix your dry ingredients together well at this point, your biscuits will end up having brown spots on them. So be sure to really stir everything together,,,, more than you think you probably need to,,for at least thirty seconds non-stop with a fork.

 

 

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The Butter

Even though I just said that you could use either cold or lukewarm butter, your best bet is to actually use  cold butter…really cold butter…the coldest butter possible.

Why?

You do not want the biscuits to get too soft before sticking the biscuits into the oven.

The colder the butter is, the more dispersed the butter will end up being throughout the biscuits…and the softer and more flaky your biscuits will turn out.

Freeze your butter for at least twenty minutes before using.

Now either cut the butter into small pieces or grate the butter before adding the butter to your dough…

If you decide to gate the gutter, eave the wrapper on one end. Use this wrapped end to hold the stick of butter as your are grating it.

You can use either your hands tor a bod grate to wotk mix the butter into the dry ingredients. 

Once you finish adding the butter, make a well in the center of your mixture..

As your are working with your batter, ir is important that you handle the dough as little as possible so that your butter will stay cold..

 

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The Wet Ingredients

 

Not only is it important that you use cold milk, you should also use a cold egg and cold mil,

Add your cold milk and cold egg to the well that you  just made in your dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon until the ingredients are combined. Bring your dough together: gently turn before dumping it onto your counter.

Add in a tablespoon of flour your until your dough is just dry enough to handle. The dough should come away clean from your fingers when you touch it, but stick to your fingers if you pinch it.

 

Be careful how much flour you do add thought. If you add too much flour, your biscuits will turn out tough instead of fluffy and light. 

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Rolling Out the Dough

Now that your dough is ready, it’s time to finish making your biscuits.

To roll the dough out, follow the following steps…

First flour the surface where you will be working.

Now dump the dough onto this well-floured work surface.

Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour.

There is much debate as to whether or not to use a rolling pin to roll out your batter.

Many people prefer to simply use their hands, claiming that using your hands to pat the dough to the right thickness will melt the butter in the dough. Regardless which method you end up usingf, it is important that you do this gently.

You want to roll your dough in a 10×9 rectangle.

Now fold the dough in half. Folding the dough like this will create layers in the biscuits.

Roll the dough and fold it two more times.

Add more flour to the surface if doing this becomes too sticky.

Once you finish rerolling and folding your dough, you want to shape it into about a 10″ square that is about an inch high.

 

 

 

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Cutting Out Your Biscuits


Now that you have pressed your dough into a rectangle, it’s time to start cutting our your biscuits, either with a biscuit cutter or glass.

First dip your biscuit cutter or glass in flour.

Cut out as many biscuits as you can with your dough. Go ahead and re-roll the dough as you need to…taking the time to gently knead the dough back together and fold the dough as you did when you were making them the first time.

As you finish cutting out each individual biscuit, place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet…

As you are cutting out this second batch of biscuits, you might want to stick them in the fridge so that they will stay cold.

Never twist your cutter as you are cutting out your biscuits.

Instead press the cutter firmly into the dough and lift. Otherwise, your biscuits will not rise as high.

 

 

 

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Baking Your Biscuits

 

Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Bake around ten to thirteen minutes…until the tops of the biscuits start turning golden brown…being careful not to overbake.

Brush tops of the biscuits with melted butter as soon as your take them out of the oven.

Serve warm.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect French Toast Casserole

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The Ingredients


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Instructions

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect French Toast

Everybody is familiar with the expression, “Waste not, want not.”

And everybody knows that when your bananas start getting too ripe, you either make banana bread or end up throwing them all away…

…but don’t stop there…

..also stop wasting your stale bread…by making French toast out of it.

French toast is great because it only requires ingredients that most of us keep stocked always…or have to go to the store or add to our Instacart account quickly…

The perfect French Toast is fluffy, soft, and cinnamon-y, 

French toast is also so darn easy to make….and can be made in less than fifteen minutes….and you really fon’t need a recipe…but there are a few tips that are worth knowing.

\So let’s talk about these tips…

 

 

 

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The Ingredients

Two of the types of people that I envy the most are those people who can play the piano by ear…and those people who can cook without a recipe.

I am an accountant. I have to know exactly how much of each ingredient to use whenever I am cooking ANYTHING…My husband always laughs at me for this fact.

I have made French toast that has turned out soggy or egg-y way too many times to wing it like almost everybody else..

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Waffles

Now that we’ve learned how to make the perfect pancakes, let’s move on to making the pancake’s kissing cousin…the waffle…

You might think to yourself, we just learned how to make the perfect pancake batter…can’t I simply use the same recipe to now make waffles…

 

 

Actually…

No!!!

 

Waffle batter and pancake batter may seem very similar….you really can’t use your pancake recipe and expect great waffles.

 

 

 

Why? 

Pancake recipes are created to make flat things without a crispy exterior…

 

 

 

But before we learn HOW to make the perfect waffles, let’s talk about what the perfect waffles would be like.

The perfect waffles are buttery, sweet, and thick…with a perfectly crisp extterior……with a light and fluffy interior…and  topped with the perfect amount of butter, syrup, and whatever else you wanna put on them.

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The Ingredients

  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2gsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2C buttermilk
  • 1/4C butter
  • 1tsp vanilla or 1Tbsp amaretto
  • 1/3C vegetable oil
  • 1/2C cornstarch
  • 1-1/2C flour
  • 3/4C sugar

 

 

 

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The Waffle Iron

If yuu’re gonna make good waffles, you really should have a good waffle iron, such as this KitchenAid Waffle Baker 

So go ahead and buy one that cooks waffles evenly if your waffle iron has become crabby and temperamental.

If you are shopping for a waffle iron, things to consider include…

  • cool-touch handles...waffle irons with plastic handle heat up less than models with chrome or stainless-steel handles
  • fllip style…using a waffle iton that you can flip pver after pouring in the batter will allow the batter to spread out evenly and also make sure that the waffle cooks evenly on both sides.
  • size…think about how much space you have to store the waffle maker when you aren’t using it.
  • temperature control...adjustable thermostats allow you to control the cooking temperature so that you can make both soft, light-colored waffles…as well as crispy, dark-colored waffles.

Now that you have bought…or found…your waffle iron it is important to read…or have read…the instruction manual because different waffle makers will cook differently.

 

 

 

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Preheat Your Waffle Iron

Preheating your waffle iron before adding any batter to the waffle iron is very important for two reasons….prevents soggy waffles…and makes the batter turn crispy as soon as it hits the surface.

 

 

 

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The “Dry” Ingredients

Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, Whisk to combine. Set aside.

(Yes…I do realize that sugar is a dry ingredient, but add it later…you will soon see why.

 

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The $ggs

First separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. This will give them a crispier exterior….as well as make the interior of the waffle more fluffy. and light, instead of heavy and dense.

Now add your sugar,

Whip your egg whites to the soft-peak stage., meaning until stiff peaks form….you should be able to lift the beaters straight out of the egg whites and invert the beaters, and find that the egg white stand up on their own.

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The “Wet” Ingredients

Whisk together your egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla In a medium-sized mixing bowl.

 

The Buttermilk…If you do not have buttermilk in your fridge…and are too lazy to go to Walmart of somewhere and go get some, combine a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar with  to a cup of milk.

Some people recommend that you use a combination of buttermilk and regular milk because this makes your batter even thinner…personally I like the extra buttermilk flavor.

 

 

 

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Batter Up

At this point, you should have three bowls of “stuff”===your dry ingredients, your wet ingredients, and your beaten egg whites.

So now let’s combine all three of these mixtures so that we can get on with out waffle making.

 

 

When stirring together your ingredients, it important that you never overmix your batter.

You want your batter to be smooth enough that it flows freely through the dimples of the waffle plate..yet not over-mixed to the point where the flour turns into gluten… making your pancakes chewier, instead of fluffy.

So at this stage, a gentle hand and patience and very important..

 

 

Anyway…how do we do this?

  1. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula and a gentle motion.
  2. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Now scoop the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined. It is important that you do this very gently..
  4. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter….being careful not to deflate them..
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Cooking the Pancakes

Scoop 1/2C batter into the center of your waffle iron,

Close the lid.

Let cook until the indicator light or beeping mechanism does its thing. Do not lift the lid too soon.  Lifting the lid too soon could mean that half of your waffle ends up on the top of the waffle iron…while the other stays on the bottom..

Remove hot waffles from the waffle iron.  

The that waffle that you make is probably not going to turn out perfectly. If so, you may need to adjust the amount of batter or color control settings until you get the results you

Respray the waffle pan after each waffle.

Continue cooking waffles until all batter is used,.

 

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Keeping Your Waffles Warm

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Place the cooked waffles directly on the oven rack while finishing cooking the rest of the waffles.

Not only will this keep the waffles warm as you are cooking, but doing this will also make your waffles crispier by allowing the steam to escape and will allow everyone to eat at the same time instead of staggeredly, as each individual waffle finishes cooking.

Just make sure the waffles do not burn…five minutes is about the maximum amount of time they can sray in your oven without burning.

And do not stack the waffles…otherwise, they will turn moist and limp.

 

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Storing

Place any leftover pancakes in a freezer bag once they cool down. Place wax paper between multiple waffles. Squeeze as much air from the bag as possible.

 

 

 

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Reheating

Set out however many waffles you need on the counter for ten minutes…while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees .

 

Clean your waffle iron shortly after each use. This will make cleaning the waffle iron so much easier than if you wait and clean it much later after 

Use a plastic or rubber utensil to remove waffles from the waffle iron. Using a metal fork or knife could eventually damage the sufaces of your waffle iron.