Recipe

Toffee-Butterscotch Scones

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Yield: 8 to 10 scones

This is by far the best scone recipe I’ve ever tried!  I gave a few to my neighbor after he mowed my law and he told me there were the best scones he’s ever had, so I have proof.  And they’re a snap to make!  Substitute with whatever mix-ins you like, or cut these in half and serve strawberry shortcake-style.  These are quite sweet, so try to stick to the smaller size (or don’t).  You can add slightly more cream to these and make them in more of a drop fashion, as the original recipe calls for; just use a cookie scoop to portion the dough.

 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced and kept chilled

1/4 cup toffee bits

2/3 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled (you may need up to 1/4 cup more)

1 large egg

1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream, to brush on top

Turbinado (raw cane) sugar, for sprinkling on top

 

Preheat the oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the brown sugar to the flour and mix to combine.   Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the toffee bits and butterscotch chips and stir again to combine.  Mix the heavy cream and egg together and add to the flour mixture.  Using a fork, mix until dough begins to come together into moist clumps, using up to an additional 1/4 cup heavy cream (added a tablespoon at a time), to achieve the right consistency. The dough should just begin to come together and should not be sticky.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about 3/4-inch thick.  Cut into 8 wedges and place on the baking sheet.  Brush with heavy cream and, with a light hand, sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Inspiration: Butterscotch Drop Scones on epicurious.com

Recipe

Creamy Coconut Rice

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Yield: 4 to 6 servings

I have a confession: rice is not my favorite thing.  Fried rice is about the only exception I make…until now.  This is the rice of your coconut dreams!  Make this immediately.

 

1-1/2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained

One 14-ounce can coconut milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

TO FINISH:

One 14-ounce can coconut cream (substituting with coconut milk is fine), shaken or stirred to combine

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

 

In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, coconut milk, 1-3/4 cups water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, so the liquid is barely bubbling, cover and simmer until the rice is cooked and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and use a fork to fluff the rice. Add about 1/4 of the can of coconut milk, salt and sugar, and fluff again.  Taste to ensure you don’t need more salt. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

 

Inspiration: Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice, Cravings by Chrissy Tiegen

Recipe

Korean Short Ribs

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Yield: 4 to 6 servings

I have a slight obsession with short ribs in any form, but Korean short ribs might be one of my favorites.  I first had these at a football tailgate, when my mom’s half-Korean friend brought them, using his mom’s recipe.  I’ve begged for the recipe for years, and all I’ve gotten was a list of ingredients. I try to be in attendance any time I know he’s bringing the ribs, but once a year doesn’t satisfy my regular cravings for these. I came across a recipe in Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook and haven’t looked back since!

 

RIBS:

2-1/2 to 3 pounds flanken-style short ribs*

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

MARINADE:

3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup finely minced garlic

1/4 cup mirin

3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons coarsely grated yellow onion

One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple

2 tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon sesame oil

FOR SERVING:

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

2 scallions, finely chopped

 

*Flanken-style ribs are cut across the bone in thin strips.  These will be the opposite of the short ribs used for braising that you regularly see in the grocery store.

 

Prepare the ribs by placing in a large baking dish and sprinkling with the brown sugar, salt and pepper, rubbing into the meat and flipping the meat around to coat both sides. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to become one with the meat.

 

In a blender or food processor, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Process until relatively smooth, but still slightly chunky.  Pour over the meat, ensuring it touches both the bottom and top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight at a minimum..the longer, the better!

 

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before you want to grill.  Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat for at least 15 minutes.  Scrape off the marinade flavorings from the meat before grilling; you don’t want burned garlic anywhere near your ribs!  Allow the excess liquid marinade to drain off before placing on the grill pan. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until the marinade is caramelized and the ribs are a mahogany brown.  Sprinkle with the chopped scallions and sesame seeds before serving.

 

Inspiration: Pineapple-Grilled Short Ribs, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Recipe

Fontina Grilled Cheese

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Yield: 2 servings

It’s a cold day here and nothing sounded better than a melty, gooey sandwich with some hot tomato soup.  This sandwich is a re-creation of one of my favorite sandwiches from a well-known nationwide café that also makes bread (can you figure it out?).  It was removed from the menu long-ago, but every time I find myself grabbing lunch there, I pine for it; nothing else I order ever satisfies me when I have this sandwich on the brain.  This is a really quick dinner for two that can be very easily adjusted to serve more or less.  P.S. the secret to a great golden-brown grilled cheese is spreading mayonnaise instead of butter on the outside!

 

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (about 7-8 chives)

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions (about 2 onions)

4 ounces fontina cheese, grated

4 slices good-quality sandwich bread

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grated

 

Preheat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet for 10 minutes over medium-low to medium heat.  The spread on the outside contains cheese, so it’s important to use something that will allow for an easy release.  Mix the cream cheese, chives and green onions until combined; season lightly with salt.  Spread on two slices of the bread.  Layer the Fontina cheese on top and close the sandwich.  Mix together the mayonnaise and Parmesan and spread on the outside of each slice of bread.  Place in the skillet for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and melty.  You can keep this warm in the oven if you’re cooking a few or your cheese hasn’t melted all the way through; it’s better to take it out of the skillet when your crust is golden brown and finish in the oven if the cheese is not melted through.

Recipe

Sherried Tomato Soup

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Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Sherry and tomatoes are meant to be together, and this soup is a great accompaniment to a gooey, cheesy sandwich.  I like it semi-smooth, which makes it a little thicker than normal tomato soup, but blend to reach your preferred consistently.  Add more or less Sherry depending on your taste-just make sure you give it enough time to cook to take out the alcoholic bite.  Perfect use for your immersion blender, if you have one!  Be careful with the red pepper flakes-a pinch is all you really need.  I was a little heavy-handed the first time I made this and it really overpowered the soup.

 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 small shallot, minced

2 small garlic cloves, finely minced

1 cup dry sherry, divided

One 28-ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a large bowl with your hands

1 tablespoon white sugar

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup whole milk or cream

1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar, or more to taste

 

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the butter and allow to heat.  Add shallots, sprinkle with salt and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, until softened and very lightly colored.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, until garlic has softened slightly.  Add 3/4 cup Sherry and allow to reduce for about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and sugar and stir together. Season with salt and both peppers; tomatoes need tons of salt, so be generous and taste often.  The longer it cooks, the more you need to taste and re-season.  Bring soup to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  Add the milk or cream (this would be a great time to start preheating your oven and skillet for your sandwich!) and simmer for another 5 minutes.  You can prepare your sandwich in the meantime.

 

Add the remaining 1/4 cup Sherry and simmer for 5 minutes.  At the very end of the cooking time, add the Sherry vinegar and stir to combine.  Taste one more time for seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Blend to your desired consistency, or serve as is.  Drizzle with a little cream or make some basil oil and make pretty swirls on top (it’s not as easy as it looks!).

 

Recipe

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies

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Yield: about 24 to 30 cookies

The basic recipe for these sugar cookies came from one of my mom’s old church lady cookbooks.  I grew up eating these, so there’s a bit of nostalgia attached to these cookies.  They bake up so crisp and flavorful, and really melt in your mouth.

 

1 cup Crisco (plain flavor)

1 cup canola oil

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

Cream the shortening, oil and both sugars until fluffy and thoroughly combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract, flour, cream of tartar and salt.  Beat until well mixed, taking care not to overmix.  Chill for at least one hour, and up to overnight.

 

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Place about 1/2 cup white sugar in a large, shallow bowl.  Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the balls into about the size of a walnut.  Roll the balls in the sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, several inches apart from each other.  Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar.  This part is key; try to really flatten these as thicker cookies don’t get as crisp and that’s really what separates these cookies from other, less superior ones!

 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until crisp.  If you are baking more than one cookie sheet in the oven at a time, you will want to bake closer to 12-13 minutes.  Cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, and transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

 

You can freeze these cookies with great success.  Thaw for about 30 minutes before baking and pick up at the “rolling in sugar” step.

Recipe

Christmas Eve Chicken Pie

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Yield: 8 servings

Chicken pie is one of my favorite traditions.  I knew all about chicken pot pie (ugh), was introduced to (just) chicken pie a few years ago when I began attending Christmas Eve dinner at my brother’s girlfriend’s family’s house (lots of possessives there).  Her family is from North Carolina, where immigrants from Moravia settled and introduced the area to some delicious culinary traditions, like this one.  Her mom doesn’t use a recipe, and I knew I needed a jumping-off point to try to recreate this when I stumbled upon a similar recipe in The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook.  This cuts out all those unnecessary vegetables in chicken pot pie, and just combines chicken, gravy and crust…could anything be better than that?!

This is a somewhat time-intensive recipe, so I recommend preparing the dough the day before you want to use it, so the recipe seems slightly more manageable.  Or charge a price of admission by making your friends or family help if they want to eat it.  Of course, you can substitute a store-bought double pie crust and/or all white meat chicken; I’ll leave that one up to you.

 

FOR THE CRUST:

1/2 cup sour cream, chilled

1 large egg

2-1/2 cup (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

12 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

Small cup of ice water, prepared right before beginning to make dough

1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

PIE FILLING:

3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds)

3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

GRAVY:

4 tablespoons drippings

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups cooking liquid (reserve all cooking strained cooking liquid)

 

To make the crust: Combine the sour cream and egg in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add flour and salt to a food processor and pulse for about 3 seconds.  Add the butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms, about 10-15 pulses.  Add half of the sour cream mixture and pulse until combined, about 5-10 pulses.  Add the remaining sour cream mixture and pulse until dough begins to form, about 10.  Add one to two tablespoons of ice water until dough just comes together.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly until dough comes together in a smooth ball.  Divide dough in half and form each half into a disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator and let sit for 10 minutes to make it easier to work with.  Right before beginning to roll out dough, take second dough disk out of refrigerator.  Lightly flour a surface and rolling pin, roll into an approximately 12-inch round and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.  Make sure to leave a 1/2-inch overhang of dough to seal crust two crusts together.  Repeat process with second dough disk and transfer this rolled dough to prepared baking sheet.  Cover both dough rounds with plastic wrap (or foil if you’re like me and never have success with plastic wrap) and refrigerate while you prepare chicken.

 

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and sear until browned, about 6 minutes per side.  You may have to cook your chicken in two batches.  Pour the fat off and reserve for the gravy.  You should have about three to four tablespoons, but you can supplement with butter if you don’t have enough drippings, or you can render some of the skin you’re about to take off to have more of the delicious chicken fat (also called schmaltz); preheat oven to 425° and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until fat is rendered and chicken skin is crispy.  These crispy chicken skins also make an unreal treat for the cook!  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin.

 

Add the broth, chicken, bay leaf and thyme to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  As soon as the broth boils, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until thickest part of breasts registers 160° and thighs register 175°, 16 to 20 minutes.  Remove the chicken and allow to cool.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces; you should have between 4 to 5 cups of shredded chicken for your filling.  Pour the broth through a mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl and reserve for gravy.  This should yield about 6 cups of broth.

 

Adjust your oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450°.  Heat the butter and reserved chicken fat in the Dutch oven over medium heat and melted. Add the flour and cook, whisking vigorously to remove all lumps, for about 2 minutes, until golden and bubbling.  Whisk in 4 cups of reserved broth, slowly at first to combine and then you can dump it all in.  Continue to whisk vigorously to remove all lumps of flour.  Add the cream and milk and simmer gravy until thicken, about 7 to 9 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, tasting as you go to get the flavor right.  This will take more salt than you think is reasonable.  Combine 3/4 cup of the gravy with the shredded chicken.

 

Remove the pie plate filled with dough from the refrigerator and place the chicken mixture inside, spreading into an even layer.  Top with the second dough, leaving at least a 1/2-inch overhang all around.  Fold the dough under and press two layer together to seal.  You can do something decorative, like pressing together with the tines of a fork or pinching the dough with your thumb and forefinger to flute edges. Cut four 1-inch slits in the top of the dough and brush with egg wash.

 

Place pie directly on the lowest rack (do not bake on a cookie sheet; this will prevent the bottom crust from setting).  Bake pie until top is light brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375° and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is a deep golden brown.  Let pie cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes.  Seriously…wait!  If you slice this to early, the filling will run everywhere and you will regret your impatience (it’s still delicious though).

 

When ready to serve the pie, bring the remaining gravy up to a simmer over medium heat with about 1 cup of the remaining reserved broth.  Your gravy will look lumpy before you do this, but will smooth out when you add the remaining broth and whisk vigorously.  You should taste your gravy and see if you need to adjust the seasonings before serving.  Heat until the gravy is at a comfortable temperature to eat.  Slice the pie and top with the gravy.

 

Inspiration: Moravian Chicken Pie, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen