Monday, November 7, 2011

Food Hack: Pumpkin Scones

These scones are redolent of autumn and a snap to make. You probably have most of the ingredients laying around your pantry anyway. This is also a “food hack,” sort of like the cake doctor, but for breakfast.

  • 2 cups of Bisquick
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (approx.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (to taste)
  • ¼ - ½ cup brown sugar (sweeten to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400°
Step One, add the ingredients to the bowl, starting with the dry and adding the wet. So it should be Bisquick, brown sugar, spices, pumpkin vanilla. Hold off on the honey/syrup.
Step Two, stir briskly with a fork. For like 5 or more minutes. The pumpkin has a surprising amount of moisture but it takes some work to incorporate.
Step Three, Add maple syrup or honey until well incorporated. Your dough should be moist with no dry or white spots. Make sure you taste it at this point. Feel free to add more spices or honey/syrup to taste.
Step Four, using two spoons, drop rounded mounds onto a cookie sheet. You should fit about 6 scones on a sheet. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over your unbaked mounds of dough.
Step Five, bake for approx. 17-20 minutes. The scones should be relatively firm but still moist. (Yay for pumpkin)

Allow your scones to cool. I like to eat them warm with honey or cinnamon butter. Maple butter would be delectable as well. I can't get over how simple these scones are, or how fabulously moist they remain a day or two after baking. If they do make it past the first few hours out of the oven, store in an airtight container.

Good Baking!

Roasted Vegetables

So something about the changing seasons, etc. could be said here for the merits of roasting vegetables. Frankly, I do not care. I am enjoying the seasons, don't get me wrong, but I do not need an excuse to roast my vegetables. For some reason, people find this complicated. It's not. Don't be afraid

I am going to list a few quick recipes for easy roasted vegetables that will impress mom, the boy, the girl, or whoever you are aiming at.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 Large Yams/Sweet Potatoes, washed
2-3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt (to Taste)
1 tsp Pepper (to Taste)
1 tsp Rosemary (not the powdered kind)

Pre heat oven to 375° Cube the yams into about 3/4 inch cubed. You do not need to peel the yams. Cut out any coarse or nasty spots. Put the cubed yams in a large plastic Ziploc type bag. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bag with the yams. Close the bag and shake it until the yams are evenly coated. Pour the coated yams onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes. The yams should be slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I recommend shaking the baking sheet half way through cooking.

Roasted Asparagus
1 Bunch Asparagus
1-2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp salt (to Taste)
1 tsp pepper (to taste)

Pre heat oven to 350°. Wash the asparagus and cut the ends off, about 1 inch. You want to remove all the tough parts. Put the asparagus into a large Ziploc type bag and add the rest of the ingredients. Close the bag and shake until asparagus is evenly coated. Spread the asparagus spears on a baking sheet, I like to make sure none are overlapping and usually pointed all the same direction. Bake for about 15 minutes. Check periodically and shake the baking sheet. The asparagus spears should darken and become slightly crispy.

Roasted New Potatoes - Now I would like to note that you can use the recipe for yams unaltered for regular potatoes. This is a little fancier but no less simple
1-2 lbs of new or fingerling potatoes
3 tbsp chopped white or yellow onion
3-4 tbsp EVOO
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Crushed Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Pre heat oven to 375°. Wash potatoes and make sure they are all roughly the same size (you may need to cut fingerlings in half if some are particularly large). You need everything to be about the same size so that it cooks at the same rate. Your onion should be chopped to approximately 1/3 inch, or your fingernail size. Put everything (Spices, Potatoes, Onions, EVOO) in a large Ziploc type bag, close, and shake until evenly coated. Pour your coated potatoes on to a baking sheet. Roast potatoes for approximately 25 minutes. Check occasionally and shake once during roasting process. The potatoes should be soft and fluffy all the way through when done.

I will add pictures when I get around to taking them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Whiskey Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Whiskey Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting
Welcome for my first edition of Adventures of a Late Night Baker. So I have been plotting a more grown up, whiskey based cupcake for a little while, and tonight, I began  executing my plan.
    These cupcakes are for a friend's birthday party. I wanted them to be vaguely reminiscent of a birthday cake (read: vanilla bean frosting) but with a more adult kick (hence the whiskey.) I adapted Billy's Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes, seen here cupcake recipe. I am going to walk you through how I made my creations.
An Auspicious Start to an Evening
  • 3 cups white all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla porter (I used Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter)
  • 1/2 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put your cupcake liners into that muffin tin.
     So Step One Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. This means your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
     Step Two Mix your cubed butter into your dry ingredients. I ended up using my thoroughly washed hands, like you would a shortbread, to mix the butter and dry ingredients until it was a fine crumble.
     Step Three Crack 4 eggs into a larger glass liquid measure. Add 1/4 cup of milk and whisk together, should become smooth and pale yellow, but not overbeaten, just combined. Slowly pour your milk/eggs into your dry ingredients, with mixer running, until mostly incorporated.
Batter while filling the first tin
     Step Four  Rinse out that liquid measure. Pour your porter and whiskey into measuring glass. Slowly pour into your batter while running the mixer until it is pale, smooth, and combined.

      Step Five Using two spoons, fill your cupcake liners to 2/3 full. Bake your cupcakes for 17-20 minutes (I took 20), until a utensil inserted comes out clean.

These beauties will have a smooth, nearly caramelized top, crispy and whiskey-esque. Do not be afraid when your batter gets bubbly when waiting to fill your muffin tin a second time. Beer has yeast in it and it does yeast-y things.

Out of the Oven to Cool!
Here you see my first batch out of the oven, lined up to cool. You may notice the dark papers, you'll get a better view of my sweet baking papers when I show you the icing.

Like we agreed, this will be a vanilla bean frosting. I acquired a few vanilla beans. You could also use a vanilla paste, but just pure vanilla extract probably won't cut it here.

Here is the base for my frosting Frosting Recipe. I am doubling the recipe because I am going to do some serious frosting. Try not to be disturbed by the quantity. I used slightly more confectioners sugar as well, I like a fairly stick icing however, that depends on your preference. I had about an additional 1/4 cup confectioners sugar.

  • 3 cup confectioners' sugar (add more until it reaches your preferred consistency)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Scraped insides of 2-3 vanilla beans. It depends on the size.
  • 2 tablespoon milk
Creaming the butter, pre-sugar
Directions -
Step One, Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. Think fluffy!
Step Two, Add vanilla bean scrapings and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
Step Three, If desired, add more vanilla bean scrapings to taste, or more confectioners' sugar to make it stiffer., as I did.

Now lets talk about icing these bad boys. I filled up a pastry bag and using a large star tip did drop stars covering all of the cupcakes. I didn't want the frosting too thick because of how rich there are.

Close up of star drops icing.
When doing a drop star, you just squeeze out a little of the icing to the size star you want, and lift up with a slight turn of the wrist.
These cupcakes are super moist and have a strong whiskey flavor. You will be told repeated that whiskey never tasted this good.
Good baking!