Sally’s Baking Addiction: November, 2018 Challenge: Savory Vegetable Cheese Tart🍠🍅🧀

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Once again, I am getting this done just under the wire! 😬 It’s the last day of November and Sally will be revealing the December challenge tomorrow. Perhaps I will challenge myself to get that done BEFORE December 31st😁!

Sally loves pies!! Like, really loves them. And, every year in November, she dedicates her blog to all things pie related. This time, she went with a savory tart, which is just a flat pie😂

Sally’s savory vegetable cheese tart recipe begins with a choice of crust. I went with her All butter pie crust, so glad I did! I don’t make a lot of pies, and have never had the best of luck with these types of crusts. Usually I make them too dry, because I am worried about it turning out too wet. But I went for it anyway!

The concept is pretty straightforward. Mix the flour, salt and a little sugar together. Cut in the cold butter.

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Until it is the size of peas

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Why does every recipe say that? the size of peas…? How big is that really?🧐 my “pea size” is actually quite a bit larger 😉

Then add the ice water until it is not dry, but not too wet either 😳 Whatever.

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This recipe will make two crusts, one is needed for this tart. I let it rest in the fridge overnight. The next day I rolled it out.

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This was the best roll out I have ever made, hopefully I can replicate it again!

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The dough went into the tart pan

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Then I blind baked it for 15 minutes at 350F. I don’t have pie weights, so I went with the dried beans!

While the tart was blind baking, I mixed the second element of this dish, the ricotta filling. The cheese filling went into the warm tart shell.

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Now came the creative part! We could use whatever vegetables we liked to top the tart. Sally provided lots of great ideas, and I went back and forth as to what to choose. Finally, I settled on sweet potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini. I was worried that the tomatoes might be too wet, but I cut them thin and blotted with a paper towel, just to be safe.

I tried to do something creative 😂

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This was brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and thyme.

And, baked until the veggies were tender, for about 40 minutes in my oven.

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And then we feasted!!😋

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My hubby really liked it. And what about the other crust that was left over?

I have always wanted to try a sweet potato pie recipe. I chose one from Alton Brown, and yeah, it was great!

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November was a good month at our house 👩🏻‍🍳❤️!

Sally’s Baking Addiction: October, 2018 Challenge: Pumpkin Spice Toffee🍬🎃

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I know, I know, EVERYTHING is pumpkin spice right now. And, people often fall into the “hate” or “love” group when it comes to pumpkin spice. I happen to love it❤️ If you do too, then this is a great, easy recipe.

Sally’s Baking Addiction Challenge this month does involve candy making. Many people are a little intimidated by this process, but as usual, Sally has some great tips to make it simple.

The essential tools will be a candy thermometer, a heavy bottom sauce pan and a wooden spoon. Sally also recommends a silicon mat to pour the candy mixture onto. I am sure that this would be helpful, but I just used parchment paper coated with non-stick cooking spray.

There are only 5 ingredients  needed to make the toffee: butter, warm water, light corn syrup, salt and sugar. All these go into the heavy bottom and pan and stirred with the wooden spoon. This does take some patience as you wait for the color to develop.

Initially, the mixture is pale and thin

 

While the sugar mixture is boiling, you will need to periodically brush down the hardened sugar crystals that collect on the sides of the pan with cool water and a pastry brush. Sally has a video showing what this looks like.

In the video below you can see the color and consistency changing as it nears the recommended 290F degrees.

This is removed from the heat and the pecans are stirred in, and you need to immediately pour the hot mix onto the prepared pan.

IMG_7388 It will be thick and requires about 5 minutes to set before adding the melted white chocolate.

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This is topped with the rest of the chopped pecans and sugar/pumpkin spice mix

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And that is it!!😊 give it some time in the fridge to set and then break into pieces. 😋

 

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This is the easiest toffee I have ever made, and the flavors can be changed to whatever YOU like💕 Give this one a try👻🎃🍬

Sally’s Baking Addiction, October Challenge, Pumpkin Roll Cake

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This month Sally challenged us to make a pumpkin roll cake. We had a roll cake challenge back in May. At that time I talked about how my roll cakes always crack and I have to cover it up with icing or flowers or some type of decoration.

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This time I thought I would really challenge myself and put a pattern in my pumpkin sponge cake. I saw this, for the first time, on The Great British Baking Show. Since this was a pumpkin sponge I wanted a pumpkin patch pattern but couldn’t find anything I liked or could put on the cake, so I made my own template using stickers from a craft store. Sally recommends a 10 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan, so I made my template that size. I cut a paper to the same size and measured to find the exact center. I knew I would be rolling the cake from the short side so made my pattern such that it would repeat in that direction. I also knew that the edges would most likely be trimmed away so I left a good sized border along both sides. I used a pencil to draw in, roughly, where the vines would connect the pumpkins.

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I then layer a parchment paper over the template, securing it with tape, so I would be able to pipe the batter onto the parchment.

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Now I needed to mix up a cake batter that would be denser than the pumpkin sponge so that the pattern would not mix into the cake batter and disappear. I used this mixture:

50g butter, room temperature

50g powdered sugar (or icing sugar)

50g egg whites

50g flour, all purpose

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Using a hand mixer, combine the sugar and butter until smooth, then add the egg whites and finally the flour and stir to make a strong paste. You want this pretty thick, you need to be able to pipe it but still want it to hold a firm shape. I needed two colors, orange and leaf green.

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I used gel food colors and a number 1 piping tip to make the pumpkins

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Another portion was colored green, and using a number 3 tip, I piped the vines.

 

This went into the freezer for, at least 30 minutes, while I prepared the Pumpkin sponge cake as per Sally’s recipe. Once the mixture was ready I had to remove the template from the pan and replace the frozen pattern. Then I spread the pumpkin batter, carefully, over the design.

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Sally’s recipe stated that the baking time would be ~17 minutes, but mine was done in 10 minutes. It is important to not over bake the cake or it will crack when it is rolled (I should know, this is my big problem with roll cakes!). I had to flip my cake twice when it was done. The first time I turned the cake out onto a sheet pan covered with powdered sugar and removed the parchment paper-carefully, so the design would stay intact.

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The prepared pan

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The cake after I removed the paper. It worked!

To my surprise the patten was intact! From here I followed Sally’s instructions and flipped the cake onto a tea towel that had been generously sprinkled with more powdered sugar. Now the pattern side was down and I could roll the cake up, while it was still warm, to allow it to cool in the final shape. I was so busy doing all this while the cake was still warm that I did not get a picture of it this time. Here is what the process looked like from May, when I did the last roll cake.

 

The rolled cake needs to chill for about 2 hours in the refrigerator before adding the filling.

The cream cheese icing was also from Sally’s recipe. I did make one small change and added 30g of finely chopped crystallized ginger for some extra flavor and texture.

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The cake is unrolled, the filling spread out leaving a 1/2 inch border, then tightly rolled back up

This was the first time that my cake did not crack! And, the pattern is pretty good. There is some powdered sugar still on the cake, but that does disappear after a little time has passed.

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The cake and filling are delicious! Sally has another winner recipe on her hands!

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I had fun working this out and challenging myself a little bit. It is a great cake for Halloween and I am really looking forward to what Sally comes up with next month!

 

 

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Kaiserschmarren! Hard to pronounce, easy to eat!

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The lovely and talented Karin from The Austrian Dish posted this recipe for a sweet pancake called Kaiserschmarren. I was already thinking about making breakfast for dinner one night since the weather has turned decidedly fall like around here. When I saw Karin’s recipe I had to go for it, even though I had no idea how to pronounce it!

I contacted Karin and asked a few questions which she graciously answered, then set to work! The first step was to rehydrate raisins in either rum, bourbon or water. I chose cranberries because we prefer them, and let them soak in water for 30 minutes while I worked on the next step. I separated the eggs and whipped the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until stiff peaks formed. The yolks were combined with the sugars and mixed until light, fluffy and pale yellow.

The flour and milk were added to the yolk mixture, alternating between the dry and liquid and mixing between additions. The melted butter was next.

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The egg whites were then folded into the mixture.

So far, this is a fairly straight forward pancake recipe. Until now! The batter is poured into hot pans with tight fitting lids. Karin told me to make sure that the batter was not deeper than 3cm to allow room for puffing up! Which they do, quite a bit. I wanted to use a cast iron pan because that was what I had! I added the batter and scattered the cranberries over the top. I watched them cook, until the bubbles formed to indicate it was time to flip. Karin recommended that they be cut into quarters to make them easier to turn, so that is what I did!

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The flip went okish!

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The cast iron pan did cook a little faster, but we were ok with that. I decided to add some maple sausage and berries to make a full breakfast/dinner.

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We had some whiskey syrup that we received as a Christmas gift last year. This was delicious on the Kaiserschmarren.

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We will certainly be making and eating this again! Thanks for a great recipe Karin!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, September Challenge: Sunflower cupcakes

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I made sunflower cupcakes for the first time a couple years ago, in culinary school. The are so sweet and adorable! I was excited to see that Sally had chosen these for the September challenge because I had been looking for a reason to make them again. This time I combined the two versions of the recipes that I had to, hopefully, put together the best part of each process.

I started by baking spice cupcakes from Sally’s recipes. After baking and cooling the cupcakes, I made the vanilla frosting recipe that she recommended for the piping of the sunflower pedals and leaves. I colored one small batch leaf green, and the larger portion lemon yellow, using gel colors in order to maintain the overall consistency of the frosting. I always save some white portion of the frosting, just in case I need more of one color later on. My original recipe called for Oreo cookies for the center of the flower and red candies, which could be made into lady bugs. Sally used frosting and chocolate sprinkles to make her center (you can see how she did it and how she piped the flower pedals in the video embedded in the vanilla frosting link from above).

I took a short cut with the lady bugs by purchasing black gel icing. This worked ok, but royal icing is really better. I should have taken the time to make some, next time I will!

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I pulled everything together and loaded up two disposable piping bags, each with a #352 leaf tip.

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The first step was to lightly frost the top of the cupcakes to provide a base for the Oreo to sit, and for the pedals to have something to adhere to.

 

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There are two options for the Oreo. You can use a whole cookie which will make a tall sunflower with a fair amount of icing or you can split the cookie to make a shorter flower. I made some of each just for variety.

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A whole cookie from the side,

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And from the top view

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From here I just added some leaves in various spots to fill in the flower. I used the black gel icing to draw a line and spots on the red candies to create the bugs.

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It appears to be quite the infestation! The finished cupcakes will stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days, according to Sally’s recipe.

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These were really simple to make. Once you get the hang of the piping tip it goes quite fast. Perfect for a fall dessert table, especially for the kids. I have a feeling Sally’s next challenge may have something to do with pumpkin! Cant wait 🙂

Sally’s Baking Addiction, August Challenge: The Checkerboard Cake

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The Seahawks won last week!! Probably because I made this checkerboard cake in their honor, because it’s all about me right? Well, maybe their success is not so much about me, but I did enjoy making this cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction Monthly Challenge. I barely got it finished in time as we have been traveling so much and did not return until August 29th. That left me two, jet lagged days, to complete the challenge before month’s end. I finished baking, photographing and tasting then posted to her Facebook at 2pm on August 31st. I think I was the last one done, fortunately, this project was easy enough for a sleep deprived zombie to bake!

Sally has wonderful recipes for both the vanilla cake and frosting, and a step-by-step video to successfully pull this together. Click on the link above for all the details. Since I missed the first 3 preseason football games this year, I decided to use Seahawk colors for the batter and icing. The first step was to make Sally’s vanilla cake batter, which was very straightforward, and divide into two equal portions. Yes, I used my scale for this! ~26 oz. (1 lb.  10 oz.) of batter into two bowls.

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This part was a little tricky. Matching the neon green was simple as I had that gel color on hand, but dark blue was tougher. I used sky blue and a little black to get the “Seahawk blue” I desired.

 

I still wasn’t sure how the colors would translate after baking, but this was how they looked at this point. Each color had to be split into two 9 inch baking pans, for a total of 4 layers. Yes, I used my scale and ~13 oz. went into each pan. Even with a scale it is hard to get it just right, but I poured the batter as best I could into the greased and floured pans. These baked at 350°F for 25 minutes. Once they were cooled completely, I wrapped them in plastic and stored them in the refrigerator overnight, which for me was from 6pm to 3am (jet lag, remember).

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The next (very early) morning I prepared the vanilla frosting, as per Sally’s instructions. It was time to assemble the checkerboard. Sally recommended two ring cutters, one 6 inch and one 3 inches in diameter. I had the 3 inch already but had to make a paper pattern for the larger one. I traced around a 6 inch plate to create that template.

The cakes are easier to cut when cold, so you don’t have to wait overnight, but do make sure the cake is chilled well ahead of time.

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I was happy with the final color of the baked cakes

I placed the paper template on the darker cake, taking care to center it as best as I could, and cut around the circumference with a sharp knife. Then, flipping the template to avoid color contamination, did the same for the green cake. I then used the 3 inch cutter to remove the center of both layers.

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Now it was just a matter of inserting the cut outs to form an alternate color scheme. This is where it is helpful to have chilled cake in order to manipulate the pieces together.

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Then  just repeat the process for the other two layers. At this point I noticed that my green layers were slightly higher than the dark blue, but oh well!

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Time to frost! I chose my bottom layer to have a darker outside ring, spread on a layer of frosting. The next layer was one of the lime green outside layers, and so on.

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This creates the alternate layering affect shown below.

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The final cake was frosted completely, and I reserved a small amount of the white frosting which was divided and tinted neon green and dark blueish to be use for the final decorations.

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I kept the finishing touches simple as I was still too groggy to do anything too spectacular. A simple shell border for the bottom, dots around the top, a few mounds of green, blue and stripped icing and a dusting of Seahawk sprinkles completed the cake.

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This was a fun challenge, and most importantly the flavors from Sally’s recipes are wonderful!  It is a really easy technique execute and a fun option for a special occasion cake. Next month is already posted and I am already looking forward to making some cupcakes in September.

GO HAWKS!!

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Strawberry Basil Shortbread

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A really good friend was recently in town for just a couple days. He lives in California and has never been to our current home (which we have been living in for 12 years!) Yes, he is a good friend but, like all of us, has a very busy life and just has not had the time to visit as much as we all would like. So, when he told us he was coming up for a business meeting, we had to have him over for dinner. I was planning the menu when I realized he would be here on one of the hottest days of the summer (so far). I wanted a light and easy meal but still wanted to make some effort in honor of our buddy. I settled on rosemary mustard roasted pork loin with bacon, roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and asparagus), homemade ciabatta bread and limoncello ice cream. I got to thinking that it would be nice to have something to go with the ice cream, you know a little something crunchy that would complement the lemon flavor. Strawberry basil shortbread just popped into my head and I had to try to make it happen. And that is how this recipe was born!

The trick is getting all the strawberry flavor and not all the moisture that comes with fresh fruit. I used freeze died strawberries from Trader Joe’s. The same brand that I used when making strawberry frosting for one of Sally’s baking challenges (the roll cake).

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I decided to grind the dried strawberries with the granulated to sugar to incorporate the berry flavor into the shortbread dough. My recipe was 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup dried strawberries which I then combined with my food processor.

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I wanted a course texture so the dough would have specks of strawberry

From here on it was a pretty straightforward shortbread recipe. I creamed the butter and strawberry sugar and added lemon extract. The flour and salt were added and mixed until just combined. I then added the finely chopped basil and mixed until thoroughly incorporated. The dough was chilled for 30 minutes and then I rolled it into a square roughly 6 in. X 6 in. 1/2 inch-3/4 in thickness.

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You can see specks of basil and strawberry and the dough has a pinkish hue

I used a ruler (because I am anal and a control freak) and cut 3 inch bars.

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These went on a parchment lined pan and were sprinkled with Demerara sugar for sparkle and crunch. This shortbread is not overly sweet but I wanted it to pair with the limoncello ice cream, so I resisted the urge to add a glaze. If it was to be served solo then I would add a glaze that would boost the strawberry flavor.

 

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Into the oven at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes

And voila!

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I am happy with how well these complemented the lemon in the ice cream. I would like to perhaps enhance the strawberry flavor in the future. Maybe more than 1 cup of dried berries? Is there a strawberry extract that could be used? I am happy with the basil and don’t want to alter that as I am worried it could overpower the cookie. If any of you try this recipe please give me your thoughts and critiques, I would love your input!

Strawberry Basil Shortbread

  • Servings: about 30, 3 inch bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This tender, savory shortbread pairs well with citrus notes or is delicious on its own. A unique item for your brunch guests!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1 cup dried strawberries (fresh will not work as they contain too much moisture)

-3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

-1 teaspoon lemon extract

-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a flat blade. Pulse until the berries are coarsely ground and well incorporated with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Be aware that this will create some dust.
  2. Cream the sugar mixture and room temperature butter-it must be room temp. I leave my butter out the night before to make sure it is soft, if the butter is too cold the dough will not come together.  Add the lemon extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on low speed, just until the dough come together. Add the basil and mix until well distributed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and form into a disc. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes. You may chill for longer but allow the dough to warm a bit before rolling out as it may be crumbly if it is too cold.
  4. Work with 1/2 or 1/3 portion of the dough at a time. Roll or pat into a 6 in X 6 in square. Using a sharp knife, or cookie cutter, cut bars or desired shape. Place on paper lined pan, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a baking rack. 

 

 

Is it a biscuit or a savory scone?

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I have been noticing recipes for savory scones for quite some time, and they are fantastic! I have made a few of those recipes and have really questioned the difference between biscuit baking and scone formulas. They have the same basic ingredients: flour, leavening agent, salt, butter and milk or buttermilk. Sugar seems to be a key difference in that biscuits have less than scones, yet savory scones have very little sugar as well. Then there is the similarities in the basic method. Both biscuits and scones have cold butter (some biscuits have cold shortening in some combination as well) which is a requirement if you wish to have light, flaky products. So, when do you call it a biscuit and when should it be referred to as a scone? Here is the rule at our house: if it’s dinner time then it is a biscuit, and if it is breakfast or brunch, then it is a scone. Either way, these are delicious!

These are made with roasted sweet potatoes. I word about this ingredient. I know that different areas of the country call these by various names. Whether they are called yams or golden sweet potatoes really doesn’t matter because they all taste great. I like to use the orange sweet potatoes from my local grocery store because of the color of the biscuit/scones.  Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong!

Begin by preheating an oven to 425°F and roasting your yam or sweet potato until it is soft to the touch. Allow it to cool completely.

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The vegetable is combined with fresh ground nutmeg and buttermilk and ground in a food processor until smooth.

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I also use the food processor to combine the flour, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. This mixture is quickly pulsed to mix.

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1 1/2 sticks of cold butter is added and pulsed until it is the size of small marbles, or peas.

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The two mixtures are combined until a soft, sticky dough forms.

The dough is turned out onto a floured board. Resist the urge to use a rolling pin as the dough is too soft and tacky to roll out. Using floured hands, pat the dough into a circle, approximately 3/4 of an inch thick and, using a 2 1/2 inch floured, fluted biscuit cutter, punch out the discs.

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Just to confuse the biscuit/scone controversy even further, I brushed the tops with melted butter (like a biscuit) and sprinkled them with vanilla sugar (like a scone).

These were baked at 425°F for 25 minutes.

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They are nice and light, just as a biscuit or scone should be, and they rose nicely with many layers.

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Whatever you choose to call them, you will be happy you gave them a try!

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Sweet Potato Savory Scones

  • Servings: about 12, 2 1/2 inch scones
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These savory pastries are a flavorful addition to your dinner or as a slightly sweet treat at Sunday brunch

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 lb sweet potatoes, 2-3 small potatoes or 1 large one

-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

-2 to 4 Tablespoons buttermilk, cold

-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-3 Tablespoons brown sugar

-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon allspice

-3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-1 1/2 sticks butter, cold

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Poke the potatoes with the tines of a fork and bake until tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Allow the potato to cool and then peel and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the nutmeg and 2 Tablespoons of the buttermilk. Process until smooth and add more buttermilk, 1 Tablespoon at a time, to thin the puree if needed. Set aside.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to briefly combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small marbles or peas. Fold in the sweet potato mixture until just combined, do not over mix.
  3. Turn out the soft, sticky dough onto a well floured counter top. Pat the dough, with floured hands, into a disc 3/4 inch thick. Cut out scones with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 425°F until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

ENJOY!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, July Challenge: Cherry Pie, from scratch

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I have never made a cherry pie before, in fact, I have made very few pies in total. When I was in culinary school we made hundreds around the holidays. So, apple and pumpkin were the extent of my pie repertoire. I love fruit desserts and make many crisps, tarts and galettes, just not pies. The reason is that my family just doesn’t like pie. I think it has to do with the crust component which usually are soggy or too buttery for our liking. So when Sally’s Baking Addiction had a cherry pie as the July challenge I was not sure I would make one. Not because I was worried about the difficulty of making one but I did not have anyone to eat it! But I really wanted to take the challenge seriously and stretch myself as a baker so I forged ahead, and am so glad I did.

As usual, Sally provided wonderful directions as well as tasty recipes for both the crust and the filling. I began by making her pie crust recipe which is much like others I have seen and used as she mixes shortening and butter for the fats and stresses the importance of keeping all the components very cold for a flaky crust.

The flour and salt are combined, then the cold butter and shortening are cut in with a pastry cutter until the fats are the size of small marbles or peas.

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The cold water is added, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together into a ball.

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The dough is separated into two portions, discs are formed and wrapped in plastic. The dough is placed in the refrigerator for, at least, two hours.

While the dough rested the filling was prepared. No cans of pre made cherry pie filling allowed. I used my cherry pitter to remove the pits from 12 oz. of Bing and 12 oz. of Rainier Cherries.

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This yielded approximately 4 1/2 cups of halved, pitted cherries. I followed Sally’s recipe with the exception of using vanilla sugar instead of regular, granulated and I added the zest of the lemon used for juicing, just couldn’t help myself! The addition of the almond extract was really delicious! The cherries, flavorings, corn starch and sugar rested in the refrigerator while the oven preheated and I rolled out the pie dough.

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I made sure to roll the bottom crust thin since we don’t really like a thick crust and then filled the shell with the cherry mixture. Sally’s directions specified that the extra liquid from the cherries should not be added to the pie to prevent a soggy crust, but don’t throw the liquid away! It is delicious as a topping for ice cream or as a simple syrup for drinks!

The second disc of dough was rolled out and cut into strips which were woven together to form the lattice crust. The pie went into a 400°F for 20 minutes, then the temperature was reduced to 375°F and baked for an additional 30 minutes.

It came out smelling wonderful and looked pretty good too.

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Sally recommended waiting 3 hours before cutting, to let the pie set up.

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My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it! The fruit to crust ratio was perfect for us! I think I will try other fruit pies in the future and will be sure to keep Sally’s crust recipe on hand for next time! Another great result from Sally’s Baking Addiction!

Oh, and it was yummy with ice cream!

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His and Hers Ravioli

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A couple weeks ago I posted a picture on Instagram of a ravioli dinner my husband and I had before a training run. A short time later, my mother-in-law told me that they had seen the picture and my father-in-law was bugging her to make a ravioli dinner for them. Here’s the problem, my MIL doesn’t eat cheese! And, in a cruel twist of fate, neither does our daughter! Many a time food has gone back to the kitchen at restaurants because a shred of cheese dared to touch the plate! This is a big deal people.

As it turns out, it is near impossible to find a prepackaged ravioli from a grocery store that does not contain cheese-tortellini, yes-but not ravioli. Of course, in another cruel twist of fate, my FIL loves cheese, and since they have been married for 50+ years, they obviously have figured out how to deal with this issue! In an attempt to be helpful, I brilliantly said “I will make you some ravioli with and without cheese!”

And then my quest began. It has been, at least, 5 years since I attempted to make fresh pasta, and it wasn’t a huge success at that time. I did learn a few things however. For example, the pasta should be rolled as thin as possible, but not too thin that the filling will burst out. I also figured out that even fresh pasta noodles need time to dry before going into the water. Oh, and not vigorously boiling water either! I had the best results, all those years ago, when I brought the water to a heavy boil and then lowered the heat before adding the noodles. I finally settled on a plan of action: I would prepare the filling first then work on the pasta dough, that way I could split up the work into more manageable chunks and troubleshoot along the way.

The filling. I wanted to use a meat filling because half the ravioli batch would not have cheese and I felt it needed some heft to it. Perhaps in the future I can work on a vegetarian option, but for now I wanted to stick with what I know. I looked at a number of recipes and settled on a chicken and pork combination. I browned 3/4 pounds of ground chicken and 3/4 of a pound of ground pork in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Each batch of meat was drained and split between two bowls.

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I then sautéed 1/2 of a yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, spinach and sage. This mixture was also divided.

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At this point the mixtures are identical

One bowl was selected for the addition of goat cheese and gruyere. Now is the time for salt and pepper. The cheese mixture received 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and I added 2 teaspoons of salt (since there was not addititonal salt from the cheese) and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the non cheese combo.

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I next passed both filling preparations through a food processor so that the filling could be placed into the ravioli. I was careful to process the non cheese filling first, so there would be no chance of “cheese contamination” to the non cheese mixture.

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The top bowl has no cheese, the bottom has both goat cheese and the gruyere.

The fillings were covered and stored in the refrigerator for later assembly with the pasta.

The pasta. I prefer the taste of pasta made with semolina flour, although all purpose and 00 flour work well too, if you can find it. Generally, pasta is made by creating a well in the flour and salt mixture followed by the addition of eggs, water and oil to the middle of the well. A fork is used to slowly bring the sides of the flour into the center. This is done to give the flour time to adsorb the moisture. Once a ragged dough forms you begin kneading the dough by hand until it is a soft, smooth ball.

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This works fine, but it does make a huge mess. I decided I would let my mixer do some of the work for me. I added the flour and salt into a the mixing bowl and used the dough hook attachment to stir on low speed. A well was naturally created, I poured the eggs, water and oil into the well and mixed on low speed until the flour was slowly incorporated into a loose ball. Then I placed the ball onto the counter, with the reserve flour and continued kneading by hand.

 

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The kneading incorporated an additional 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and took about 12 minutes. The result was a smooth and soft ball of dough that needs, at least 30 minutes of bench rest to allow the gluten to relax. I covered the dough and let it rest for 1 1/2 hours.

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I worked with 1/4 of the ball at a time, making sure to keep the rest of the dough covered. I have a very simple, hand crank system for pasta making.

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I think I bought this from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It clamps to the bench top and has 7 settings. I began on the widest setting (7 on my machine), taking care that both the pasta rollers and the dough were heavily floured. The dough was passed through the rollers, floured, folded into thirds and passed through again. This helps to further knead the dough and helps to form the rectangle shape. I then lowered the width of the rollers and passed the dough through several times. The dough no longer should be folded at this point. Just keep passing the dough through the thinner setting (to about settings 3 or 4) until the desired consistency is acheived.

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Thicker dough from widest settings

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Thinner dough sheet from setting 4

I used an inexpensive ravioli mold, small rolling pin and pasta cutter to form the ravioli.

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I laid one sheet over the mold, filled the depressions with ~1 teaspoon of either filling, covered with a second thin pasta sheet and rolled to cut the dough with the small rolling pin. I had to go over the mold several times with the rolling pin and make the final cuts with the pasta cutter. It took awhile to get this down, but once I had practiced with a couple dozen I figured out a system that worked for me.

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Brushing the pasta with an egg wash helps the second layer of dough adhere

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Then I just had to repeat this for a total of 10 dozen ravioli! I laid them in a single layer (or they will stick together!) on a parchment lined sheet pan to dry for an hour or so. After that you can cook them or freeze them. I put the single layer sheet pan in the freezer for an hour, after that they can go into a bag without sticking together.

The next day was the taste test! I decided to pair this with a simple tomato based sauce.

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I began by sautéing both red and yellow grape tomatoes in olive oil

 

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Then added corn and capers

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finally arugula, pine nuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, basil and the ravioli that had been added to lightly boiling water. A sprinkle of basil finished it off.

Now to taste it!

 

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It was actually pretty good! Could it be better? Always! I would suggest adding some red pepper flakes for some heat, or maybe some apple cider vinegar to brighten it up a bit. I will try that next time. The good news is that I have plenty in the freezer to continue experimenting and combining flavors. Do give this a try with your favorite fillings and let me know! I will be taking both versions to my in laws next week to see if they like them, I hope they do!

His and Hers Ravioli

  • Servings: about 10 dozen ravioli
  • Difficulty: moderate to advanced
  • Print

Fresh pasta from semolina flour provides the perfect canvas for your family's favorite flavors. This recipe is extremely versatile and the extra steps are well worth the effort!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

For the Filling:

-2 Tablespoons olive oil

-3/4 pound ground chicken

-3/4 pound ground pork

-1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-2 cups fresh spinach

-2 teaspoons sage, chopped

-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

-3 oz. gruyere, grated

For the Pasta:

-2 1/2 cups semolina flour

-1/2 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting

-1 teaspoon kosher salt

-4 eggs

-4 Tablespoons water

-4 Tablespoons olive oil

-1egg, broken up for an egg wash

For the Sauce:

-1 pint each red and yellow grape tomatoes

-1 Tablespoon olive oil

-2 ears of cooked corn with corn removed from the cob

-4 oz. fresh arugula

-3 oz. pine nuts, toasted

-2 Tablespoons capers

-Zest of 1 lemon

-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-2 Tablespoons of basil, chopped

Directions

  1. Prepare filling. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron, or heavy bottom pan. Brown the chicken and the pork until no longer pink in the center. Break up large chunks as you stir. Drain and divide equally into two medium sized bowls.
  2. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the spinach and sage and heat until wilted. Divide equally between the bowls.
  3. To one bowl add: goat cheese, gruyere, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. To the other add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Process the mixtures separately in a food processor until a finely ground consistency is achieved, cover and refrigerate. Make the ravioli.

Prepare the pasta:

  1. Place flour and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer and, using a dough hook, mix on low until a well appears in the flour. While this is happening, beat the eggs, water and oil in a liquid measuring cup with a pour spout.
  2. With the mixer on low, pour the liquid into the center of the well and allow the dough hook to slowly incorporate the flour into a ball.
  3. Turn the slightly sticky dough out onto a well floured counter and continued kneading by hand. Incorporate the additional 1/2 cup of flour as you knead to achieve a smooth and soft dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. After the dough has relaxed, pass 1/4 of the dough through a pasta maker or roll out by hand. Continue rolling until a thin sheet of pasta has been achieved. You will need to move from the widest setting for the rollers to one of the lower settings (not the lowest). Do not make the pasta too thin or it will tear due to the filling.
  5. Lay one sheet over the ravioli mold pan, if using, and fill the pockets with ~1 teaspoon of filling. Lightly brush the pasta with the egg wash then lay another pasta sheet over the filled pockets. Press the two sheets together to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Place finished ravioli on a parchment lined pan, in a single layer for, at least 1 hour, to dry. Cook immediately or place in freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag for longer storage.

For the Sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Slice the tomatoes in half, lengthwise and heat in the oil. Add the corn and cook for a few minutes.
  2. At the same time, heat a large pot of water for the ravioli. Be sure to use enough water for the amount of pasta you are planning to cook, and salt the water heavily.
  3. Lower the heat on the tomatoes and add the pine nuts, and capers. When the water for the pasta begins to boil, lower the heat and add the frozen ravioli. They will take between 5 to 8 minutes to cook.
  4. When the ravioli are done add them to the sauce and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, pine nuts and fresh basil, toss gently to coat the ravioli.

 

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