Dill Cheddar Scones

I really feel like if you serve soup for dinner, you need some sort of homemade bread or muffin to go along with it.  I have pretty much eaten my weight in goat cheese biscuits this winter, so when I made potato soup tonight, I decided to revisit these savory scones to go along with them.  Having made the recipe before, I knew that it yielded way more scones than I needed so I figured I’d half the recipe.  Unfortunately, I’m quite poor at math, so I split the whole recipe in half up until the end, when I added a whole cup of cream instead of a half cup, so, obviously, I ended up making the whole recipe of them.  The one I posted here makes about 12 medium-sized scones, a good amount to serve with dinner.  Like all scones, what keeps the flakiness intact is streaks of unincorporated butter.  Be mindful about that as you mix, especially if you use a stand mixer.

Scones

Dill Cheddar Scones

2 cups flour, plus a few tablespoons for assembling

1 T baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons)

2 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 oz. cheddar cheese

handful of fresh dill

1. Preheat your oven to 400.  Using either a large bowl or mixer, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the butter into small, centimeter-sized pieces and toss them in.  Mix briefly until the pieces of butter have broken up a bit.  Add the eggs and cream and mix until just incorporated.

2. Grate the cheese and chop up the dill, fold both into the dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and mold into a big rectangle, roughly an inch tall.  Using a bench scraper or  chef’s knife, cut triangles off and transfer to a baking sheet (I do 3-4″ hypotenuse triangles).

3. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops begin to brown.

Adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

Vegetable Lo Mein

One of my goals for 2014 was to incorporate more Asian cuisine into our menu.  Some dishes, I’m really excited about (hot & sour soup, eggrolls, thai shrimp), but vegetable lo mein wasn’t high on my list.  See, when I think of it, my mind immediately goes to the sad vat of colorless vegetables and greasy noodles at Panda Express, where, when given the choice, I always choose the fried rice.  However, I’m a sucker for a vegetable dish, so I decided to start my quest with this dish.  I’m so very glad I did because it was wonderful.  The vegetables were crisp, the noodles were flavorful, and the whole dish was really comforting.  Also, I typically associate Asian cuisine with spice, which I adore, but my dear toddler does not.  This dish isn’t spicy at all and my little girl really liked it, so that makes it a win for sure.

I was able to find all of the ingredients at my standard grocery store.  The chow mein noodles came in 6oz. packages, sort of a tray wrapped in cellophane.  I bought 3 of them, so I had a little more than a pound, which was fine.

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Vegetable Lo Mein

Serves 4-6

1 lb. chow mein noodles

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T fish sauce

2T oyster sauce

2T sesame oil

1 onion

1 bell pepper

4T olive oil

1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms

1 zucchini

1/2 lb. broccoli

1 inch of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

1. Boil the noodles according to package directions (about 4 minutes).  Strain and toss with about a tablespoon of oil (vegetable, olive, whatever) to keep the noodles from sticking together.  Chop the onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms.   Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.  Cut the broccoli into small pieces, removing most of the stems.

2. Whisk the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/4 cup of water together in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat 2T of olive oil in a large skillet (or better yet, a wok or dutch oven) over high heat and cook the onion and bell peppers until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and zucchini and stir fry until they start to brown, about 3 more minutes.  Scoop the vegetables onto a plate or bowl and set aside.

3. Add 1T of olive oil to the hot pan and cook the ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Then add the noodles and cook for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally.  Then, add the vegetables back in and toss in the broccoli.  Pour the sauce over the whole thing and use tongs to toss the mixture together until the liquid is absorbed and the broccoli is slightly tender.

Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma.

Eggnog pie

Full disclosure: I’m a serious pie snob.  As in, I don’t count it as “making a pie” if you don’t make your own crust.  As in, I have extended conversations about pie crust with my grandma.  As in, I plan my Thanksgiving pies a month in advance.  As in, I have serious opinions as to which pies can be served in which seasons.  As in, we served pie instead of cake at our wedding.  I take my pies very seriously, so my resolution to try a new pie every month was not flippant and it should be known that I already have a pretty vast repertoire of really good pies that I can make.

In my quest to add new pies to the repertoire, I invested in some resources, the first being the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.  It’s a really stellar collection of authentic pie recipes, organized by season, with creative flavor combinations.  The authors of the cookbook, and owners of an adorable pie shop of the same name, take pie snobbery to a whole new level.  I decided my first pie should obviously come from their “Winter” chapter.  Eggnog immediately caught my eye.

See, I’m not really an eggnog fan, but my husband is a huge eggnog fan.  It seems that there are really two camps as far as eggnog consumption and it boils down to whether or not you find the idea of melted ice cream appealing or not.  Personally, I say, I’d prefer it frozen.  My husband would say “drinkable ice cream? Awesome!”.  This pie is not nearly so divisive – it’s enough like eggnog to please eggnog lovers, but not enough so that it would turn eggnog haters off.  To me, it has a really nice cheesecake quality without the work (and extreme richness) of actual cheesecake.

Although this pie took me 3 days to make, it’s not really very difficult and you can knock it out in 2 hours (including baking time), which is great for a pie.  It took me 3 days because on Monday I decided to make the pie and added the ingredients to my grocery list, including gingersnaps for the gingersnap crust.  On Tuesday, I went to the store and they had no gingersnaps, so I decided to make my own.  Tuesday night, I made gingersnaps (and they were awesome, I’ll blog about them soon!), but realized I was a cup short of flour so I stuck the dough in the freezer until Wednesday, when I went back and got flour.  Wednesday I baked the gingersnaps, and Friday I finally baked the actual pie.  Then I went to Trader Joe’s where they sell gingersnap cookies.  Alas, storebought would work fine (I mean, the homemade cookies were REALLY good, but I’m not sure how much better).

So I say all of this to say – try this pie.  It’s really good.

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Eggnog Pie

For the crust:

1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs

2T sugar

4T butter, melted (I used salted, if you have unsalted, add a little salt)

For the filling:

3/4 cup cream cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla paste (which is delicious, but if you don’t have it, vanilla extract would be fine)

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

3T rum

1/4 of a lemon

1. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften.  Preheat the oven to 375.  To make the crust, use a food processor, crush the gingersnap cookies into a fine crumb (to get a cup, I used 13 2.5″ homemade cookies).  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar, salt, and melted butter.  Press the mixture into a pie dish, using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to distribute.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 after you remove it.

2. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, spices, and vanilla together until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides between to make sure you don’t get a big glob of cream cheese at the bottom.  Add the heavy cream and rum, continuing to beat until incorporated.  Squeeze the wedge of lemon in and give it a few more seconds of mixing.

3. Pour the filling into the prepared, cooling crust.  I had slightly too much filling, so you may have a little excess.  Bake the pie at 325 for 25 minutes, then rotate it to make sure it bakes evenly.  Bake another 20 minutes, until the edges are set (45 minutes).  The middle will still not be set, but it will after you remove it from the oven.

4. Let the pie cool for a few hours before serving.  I found it really set up well after an hour in the refrigerator.  You could sift a little cinnamon over the top, but warning that it may come out in a big blob, which you’ll try to scrape off and leave a big hole and cinnamon smear in the side of the pie, which is why the picture is cropped way close.

Source: Barely adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Melissa and Emily Elsen

Rigatoni with Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash

I always associate butternut squash with baby food.  Mushy, bland, orange – not incredibly appetizing.  However, as a mother of a 5-month-old who is just beginning to enter the world of culinary goodness, I thought it was time to see what an adult could do with butternut squash.  As soon as I saw that this recipe contained blue cheese I was hooked – I love blue cheese!  I realized though that I’ve really never cooked with it – usually I just use it in salads and salad dressing.  Whatever your relationship with butternut squash or blue cheese, give this simple dish a try.  Bonus points in that it’s vegetarian, gives you a healthy serving of veggies, and, above all – it uses a small amount of wine (which is pretty essential) so you’re gonna need to drink the rest of the bottle.

One major change I made from the original recipe was omitting the pine nuts.  Though I adore them and think a cup of toasted pine nuts would be excellent, one tiny box costs 1/10th of my grocery budget for the week.  I don’t think the dish suffered from a lack of overpriced pine nuts.  This meal requires very little work, but the squash needs to cook down for a while, so plan to start about 45 minutes before you serve.

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Rigatoni with Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash

Serves 6

1 butternut squash

1 onion

1/2 tsp paprika

2T olive oil

1T butter

1/2 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1/2 cup water

1lb rigatoni pasta

5oz. crumbled blue cheese

1tsp dried marjoram

1tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

1. Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash into 1″ pieces.  I don’t know of a great way to do this, so I just hacked away at the thing.  Dice the onion.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over high heat and cook the onion until it begins to become golden and translucent.  Stir in the paprika.  Add the butternut squash and butter and stir it all together.  Pour the wine and water over the top and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, put a lid on the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Before draining, reserve a little of the pasta water.  When the squash is fork tender, but not mushy add the marjoram and oregano.

3. Pour the strained rigatoni into the pot with the squash and onion and stir together.  Mix in the blue cheese until it melts and is evenly distributed.  Add some of the pasta water back in if it seems too sticky.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the remainder of the white wine.

Source: adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella’s Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I find few greater joys in life than spending my afternoon baking an impressive dessert.  From a homemade pie to macarons to cheesecake – I love a challenge.  But about once a month the men in my life (husband, dad, brothers, probably soon my son) request that I just make chocolate chip cookies.  They’re a comfort – and what they lack in fancy they make up for in deliciousness.

When Ross and I were first dating (nearly 10 years ago!) we decided one night that chocolate chip cookies would be delicious, but Ross lamented that we had no dough, so cookies were out.  I remember trying very hard not to laugh at him when I explained that you can actually make dough.  To be clear, his mother made homemade chocolate chip cookies all the time – he was just oblivious to the dough making process.

Don’t let the oatmeal deter you from this recipe – it just adds a little weight and you don’t truly taste it.  Give it a try.  I also exclusively use Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (in the brown bag) – they’re slightly bigger than standard chocolate chips and a little melty, but they taste absolutely phenomenal.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes about 40 cookies

2 cups flour

1 Tsp. salt

1 Tsp. baking soda

1.5 sticks of butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp Vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups chocolate chips (most of the bag – you can either use the whole bag or save the last 1/4 cup for a snack later on)

1. Preheat oven to 325.  Sift flour, salt, and soda together.  Melt the butter and beat with both sugars until smooth (1-2 minutes).

2. Add both eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Add in flour mixture slowly.  Fold in chocolate chips and oatmeal.

3. I use a cookie scoop to drop 2T blobs of dough onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and allow to cool a few minutes on the pan.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container, but they’re obviously best straight from the oven.

Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Cookbook

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

On Top Chef this week, Tom Colicchio lambasted a chef for using boneless, skinless chicken breast to the tune of “how stupid are you!” and “it has no flavor!”  All of the other chefs nodded in agreement – who, in their right mind would use boneless skinless chicken breasts? Boneless skinless chicken breasts are the scourge of protein – you might as well be using something *gasp* CANNED!

Look, I get it.  Chicken with the skin indubitably has way more flavor, fat, and other components chefs find sexy.  But you know what it also has?  Bones.  And at some point as either the chef or the eater you have to remove them, which totally grosses me out.  I have few exceptions to my “boneless” rule, and this recipe is one of them.  It’s the ultimate winter meal – hearty, comforting, inexpensive, and easy.  The only real prep here is chopping, and otherwise it all bakes in one pan as a complete meal.  Also note, you could easily substitute the vegetables based on what you have, what’s on sale, or what you prefer.  I do think the carrots, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts are pretty integral.  It’s easy to scale this recipe, too – I plan on 2 pieces of chicken per person.  This iteration serves about 6.

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Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

4lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks

1lb fresh Brussels sprouts

1lb small red potatoes

1/2lb parsnips

1/2lb button mushrooms

6 carrots

6 cloves garlic

2T olive oil

1T dried Thyme

4T butter

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 475.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (unless scraping schmaltz is your thing).  Prep the vegetables by chopping into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the sprouts in half, peel and chop the carrots and parsnips, quarter the potatoes, peel and half the garlic, and cut the mushrooms into fourths.  Place all of the veg in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.  Arrange all of the veg onto the baking sheet in an even layer.

2. Melt the butter and stir in the thyme.  Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and season everything liberally with salt and pepper.  Next, using a pastry brush, brush the butter mixture onto the chicken until all pieces are covered.  Break the rosemary into small pieces and sprinkle across the top.

3. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the pan once or twice to ensure that it cooks evenly.  Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then toss the vegetables to make sure the juices from the chicken are distributed (the schmaltz on the bottom of the pan is the best part).

Source: Adapted from Cook’s Country

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This is my 10th post on Butter Is My Jam – and we’ve been live for 2 weeks.  In those weeks I’ve had more than 600 visitors from 7 countries!  Thank you so much for reading and sharing – I so appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read, perhaps try a recipe, or pin something you like.

Every time I cook with quinoa I think of the Budweiser commercial where there’s a guy tailgaiting and having a tormented inner dialogue about grilling a pathetic looking quinoa burger.  Fortunately, quinoa tastes much better than the ad would lead you to believe.  It has a really nice texture and gives you a great protein boost.  After making this, I ate it for lunch every day for a week – it was really filling and my toddler loved it, too!   It’s also vegan and paleo (according to some – apparently quinoa is up for debate).

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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa

1lb. cherry tomatoes (I used a mixture of yellow and red)

1 cup pitted kalamata olives

2 green onions

1/2 of a red onion

1 cucumber

for the dressing:

3T lemon juice

1T red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1. Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, and olive oil together in a small jar.  Mince or press the garlic and add.  I put them in a mason jar so I can shake it up.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Rinse the quinoa and place it in a saucepan with 2 cups of water, and a little salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, put a lid on the pan, and cook until the quinoa is tender (12-15 minutes).

3.  Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, halve the olives, and thinly slice the red and green onion.  Slice the cucumber into bite-sized pieces.  Place the quinoa into a bowl and stir in the tomatoes, olives, onions, and cucumber.  Drizzle the dressing over the top and season with salt and pepper as needed.   Chill before serving, the longer the better!

Source: adapted from Bobby Flay for Food Network