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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Making scones is a weekend tradition for us. I’m a big fan of the British scone. Cooks Illustrated has the nerve to say this:

The British original is lean, dry, and barely sweetened. Spoonfuls of jam and clotted cream are a must.

Bollocks! I know I’ve mentioned before how Cooks Illustrated recipes annoy me with their ridiculous obsessive compulsive details. Here they ask us to freeze the butter then grate it. Screw that!

And the Cooks Illustrated recipe has blueberries. Blueberries (insert shocked reaction). What is it with Americans and their fear of raisins? I know so many people who don’t like raisins. Or if they do they only like them alone but not cooked in stuff. I remember being a kid in kindergarten and having little boxes of Sun Maid raisins as a treat. When did everyone develop a complex about raisins?

We pulled out Jake’s British Good Housekeeping cookbook and here is my slight modification to the recipe.

1. First we make our own cultured butter. The culture is added to some heavy whipping cream (double cream) then sits in a dark cabinet for a few days. We then take a sample to freeze and shake the jar until butter forms. Afterwards you get cultured buttermilk and cultured butter. Making your own butter is obviously not part of either recipe but this is part of our weekend tradition.

2. Thank god for my John Lewis scale. It weighs grams and ounces and the top part doubles as a liquid measurer with millilitres. So I put 225 grams of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and mix it up. I’m adding a half teaspoon of baking powder than in the British recipe because they use self-raising flour. And the two tablespoons of sugar is my addition too. I do light a slightly sweeter scone.

3. I cut in 40 grams of my newly made cultured butter with a pastry blender. Then I add about a 1/2 to 3/4 cups of raisins to that.

Next is 150ml plus of the newly created cultured buttermilk even though the British recipe asks for just plain milk. Stir it into the flour mixture until it starts to pull together. Add more buttermilk if needed.

4. Here’s where Cooks Illustrated has me. I drop the scones onto a baking sheet into amorphous blobs. I just don’t care enough to roll them into pretty uniform circles. And another American touch is to top them with a little sprinkle of raw sugar.

Finally bake at 425 degrees(220 C) for 12-15 minutes.

5. Cut open and eat with the newly made butter, which ahem, Cooks Illustrated, is the whole point. And cultured butter is the best. Yum.

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Okay.

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Not only are roasted chestnuts perfect for the holiday season, but you’ll get a lot of accolades for bringing them to your holiday party despite the fact that they are easier than pie to make.

Cut a an X in each chestnut. Roast in the oven at 425 degrees F for a half of an hour. Pile them up in foil and take immediately to the party. If you’ve invited me over this season to a party, you may find that I’ll be bringing these. More info here.

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Smoked Turkey Day

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we decided to smoke our turkey instead of bake it for our Thanksgiving feast. I was responsible for preparing the turkey which included injecting it with a butter marinade and brushing it with butter. It was by far the easiest preparation I’ve ever had for a turkey. Jake took everything from there and tended the BBQ adding wood chips and coals every so often as well as checking the temperature.

What did I learn about smoking a turkey? Surprisingly the flavor only had a hint of smoke. You could taste it on the skin and in the dark meat, but other than that it is pretty comparable to a baked turkey. For this reason I think next year I’ll prepare it with a similar recipe to what I do when baking which means massaging butter underneath the skin, adding herbs to the cavity etc.

My favorite part about smoking the turkey rather than baking it is that I was able to use all three shelves in my oven. With the root vegetables, the two stuffings, and the veggie casserole, there was actually no room to spare. I can’t imagine what I would have done with a turkey in there too. The roasting pans for turkeys are ridiculously large and they pretty much take up your whole oven. I think smoking the turkey is definitely the way to go if you only have one oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I can’t remember the last time that I truly experienced fabulous journalism in The Seattle Times, but here it is. Rebekah Denn details the story of a local energy bar maker who finds how difficult it is to control his product in, to borrow Denn’s vernacular, the industrial-food chain. After salmonella contamination was found in peanuts, this producer decided to get his peanuts from a small local peanut producer in would-you-believe Western Washington. Not a place known for growing peanuts. I highly recommend the article.

TWO MILES from the Kingston factory where Lunde hand-cuts his Caveman bars is an incongruous sight for Washingtonians: a small, family-owned peanut factory.

Clark and Tami Bowen run the certified-organic “micro-roastery,” CB’s Nuts, with — literally — an open door. Anyone walking into the remodeled fire station can peer from the small retail area to the factory floor, watching the peanuts move from enormous hanging cloth storage bags to the carefully tended roaster to the other stages of processing and packing.

“These guys were a lifesaver,” Lunde says, dropping by CB’s one day on the way to work. Their nuts smell better than any others, he says. They look better, more golden and robust. They taste better — a lot better.

“It’s night and day by comparison,” Lunde says. “At CB’s, I can actually go down and see what they’re doing.”

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Organic Chickens

I really enjoyed this column from food writer Nancy Leson. What did I learn? Heritage turkeys = bad. Organic chickens = good.

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Reading the New York Times article about a woman who was paralyzed by ecoli, I was struck by the following passage:

The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.” Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

How can something labeled Angus beef be a mix of trimmings? Jake wondered if “Angus” had become a fake word that didn’t mean anything similar to the word “natural.” So I asked the Explainer and surprisingly they answered. Here is the link to What is Angus Beef?

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