Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Foccacia, scones and more

I got motivated to cook after my pick-up and strawberry picking, and I have some great recipes to share.

I have always snubbed asparagus, and while it's still not my favorite thing, I've eaten several nights in a row, which is saying something. Based on a friend's suggestion, I roasted the asparagus in the toaster oven with olive oil and and sea salt for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. It's a perfect dish for one because you cook as much or as little as you want. An added bonus is I covered the tray for the toaster oven in foil so there is no cleanup.

I finally found some guidance on the fresh spinach. I successfully sauteed it in butter, added some onion, garlic and cream, and it turned out edible. Pioneer Woman has a recipe for creamed spinach that looks great, but also seems a bit complicated and could probably feed an army. But I used her tips on sauteing the spinach, and it turned out significantly better than my last attempt.

I still had spring onions left, and someone recently posted a recipe for foccacia bread that calls for onions on her blog (as well as some things to go with the bread you should check out). I've never done the yeast thing, and I'm still not sure I did it exactly right but the bread turned out pretty well. Here's the recipe with my adjustments:
 (This is after I had eaten some.)
Spring onion foccacia
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 – 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh or dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used much less than this.)
Put water in a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Let yeast and water stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, the oregano and salt. Mix in enough remaining flour to form dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the bowl onto a floured surface and lightly knead until smooth and elastic. About 5 minutes. Oil a medium bowl. Add the dough, turning to coat. Cover and let rise for an hour in a draft-free, warm place, until doubled. About an hour.

Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add onion, basil and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are tender, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Punch the dough down. Turn the dough out onto a surface and roll into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Using two fingers, make indentations over the surface of the dough. Spread with onion, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle olive oil. Let rise in a draft-free, warm place for 30 minutes.

Bake the bread in in a 450-degree oven until crisp and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

This turned out great, and I enjoyed it with some cheese I picked up at the festival over the weekend. I'm sure I'll also eat it with some olive oil and seasoning. The next time I make it, I'll probably mix up the herbs based on what I have.

And then I had to find a good recipe to use up some of the strawberries, and I found the best strawberry scone recipe. These scones are some of the best I've ever had, and I spent four months in London. I literally just googled strawberry scones and found this recipe. Here it is:

 Strawberry scones
  • 1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (granulated)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk (I used half-and-half.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Cut the strawberries into small pieces. Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside. Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut in butter. (I just used my hands.) Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don't break up the berries and don't overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.

Press the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them. (Mine only needed a few more minutes.) Sprinkle sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking to create a simple, sparkly topping.

I made eight scones and froze half of them. We'll see how they turn out. If they survive the freezer, I might make many more batches while I have the strawberries because they are amazing!

I know in three months I might be tired of figuring out what to do with my produce, but so far I am really enjoying the challenge and finding that I will eat more things if I have to.

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