Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Scones

In case any of you were wondering, Earl Grey Tea does NOT ward off the flu as claimed. I know this because in the midst of my Earl Grey love affair I was ruthlessly struck down with H1N1.  About three days in, my 17 month old also got it, hence, the missing post from last week.  However, I was able to get off the couch for a few hours yesterday and then was able to wake up with the baby (who is running around like a mad man and you would never know he's sick at all).  He slept in and then wanted breakfast so I figured no better time than the present to jump back into Mommy duties.  These are a play on the Starbuck's seasonal scones and the first scones to ever grace my "test kitchen".  They received raved reviews from the husband who was more than happy to sleep in and wake up to fresh baked scones, and the little guy.  I personally couldn't tell you as my sense of taste is still missing, but maybe later when I peel myself off the couch again to make potato leek soup I will clear that problem up.

Pumpkin Scones


2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.

Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

Plain Glaze
Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.

When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

Spiced Icing
Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Earl Grey Cookies

It has been around 35 degrees here for almost a week.  THRITY-FIVE!  Hello?  It's early October.  Ridiculous!!  I am aVermont girl, and while I expect this kind of weather there, I do not expect it here in the Midwest, but low and behold it is 35 with snow, did I mention there was snow?  No?  There is snow, I am unimpressed.  I also would like you to know that it was in the 70s right before this lovely turn of events so we are not ready for the change, and when I say we I mean myself and my chattering teeth. 

So after coming in and being chilled there is nothing like a hot cup of tea.  However, I can only handle so much caffeine in a day so I opted for Earl Grey decaf tea.  As I sat with my hands wrapped around my steamy cup, I inhaled it's rich aroma and let it's spicy taste hit the back of my throat before setting down the cup in contentment.  As I sat relaxing I realized that there is a flavor I have never had anywhere other than Earl Grey tea and I couldn't place it.  Not surprising if I've never had it anywhere else, but I found it odd that I had never at least made a Google attempt.  It is unlike me to ask a question and not go look for the answer.

I decided I must know what this flavor was but first I needed cookies to go with my tea, and since Early Grey has such a fantastic flavor I thought why not make Early Grey cookies?  But how?  How to go about making a cookie with tea in them.  Do you just throw some tea leaves into a cookie recipe?  I am not really a baker, however after starting this site I have baked more in a few months than I have in the past five years.  I realize it's easier to cook and photograph when the baby goes to sleep.  However, I am not normally in the mood for an entire meal at 10pm, but I can eat baked goods the next day.

So how would someone with a limited baking repetoire go about inventing a cookie?  Ummm, steal it of course.  Who better to steal from than Martha?  She has yet to let me down for baking goodness.  She did have a lot of explaining to do after a Putunesca recipe that flopped after a whole lot of time, but that is for another day.

These are the easiest cookies in the world.  Another easy find and fall back for busy Mom's on the go.  SCORE!!  You can make these guys and leave them in their log in your freezer for months, then you can slice off a few cookies at a time and make them for drop in guest or dessert for the family when the mood strikes.  That is convient.  Even I have time to bake cookies somwhere inside of a span that covers months of time.  If you don't have time to bake a cookie that takes under 15 minutes in a three month span, then stop reading right now, get off your computer, and go enjoy your 5 minutes of freedom, I can't help you.

As for the flavor, I was a little surprised to find that the flavor is Bergamont, which is a citrus fruit.  It has been used throughout history to treat fevers, as a disinfectant and as an antidepressant (no wonder I feel warm and fuzzy after drinking a cup, well the warm part is probably from boiling water), a nerve calming agent, and helps fight the flu, fevers, and colds.  So apparently this Bergamont is some kind of super fruit, and I will be drinking a cup of Earl Grey every day all winter, or just eating the tea in these cookies.  Tomorrow  morning?  Probably both.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Adapted from
Martha Stewart, Weddings, Spring 2009


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves, (it was 4 bags for me)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (8 ounce) sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest


Whisk together flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Put butter, sugar, and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; slowly mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll the logs into parchment twist the ends ala tootsie roll. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until edges turn golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beef Tenderloin with Shallot, Port, and Bacon

It is the last week of classes and we had house guests so since I took time to actually cook a meal (only one though we ate out the rest of the time...oops) I do not have time to write.  However, this is a fantastic dish for Fall/Winter and falls under the request for me to make something "easy that my family will eat."  Even my super picky teenager asked if we could have this more often.  If you have young picky eaters serve the sauce on the side to dip the meat in, cut it up small and tell them it's steak, and you're not really even lying.  See you after finals.

Beef Tenderloin with Bacon, Shallots, and Port

adapted from Bon Appétit December 1997


6 large shallots , halved lengthwise, peeled
¾ tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups canned beef broth
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons cups tawny Port
¼ tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ pound beef tenderloins (large ends), trimmed
½ teaspoons dried thyme
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. In 9-inch-diameter pie pan, toss shallots with oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until shallots are deep brown and very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Boil broth and Port in large saucepan until reduced by half. Whisk in tomato paste. (Shallots and broth mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.)

Pat beef dry; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. In large roasting pan set over medium heat, sauté bacon until golden, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add beef to pan; brown on all sides over medium-high heat, about 7 minutes. Transfer pan to oven; roast beef until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125°F for medium-rare, about 45 minutes. Transfer beef to platter. Tent loosely with foil.

Spoon fat off top of pan drippings in roasting pan. Place roasting pan over high heat. Add broth mixture and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer to medium saucepan; bring to simmer. Mix 3/4 tablespoons butter and flour in small bowl to form smooth paste; whisk into broth mixture and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 3/4 tablespoons butter. Stir in roasted shallots and reserved bacon. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Cut beef into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon some sauce over. Pass remaining sauce.