Over the summer, I spent the weekend in New York City with some of my blogging friends. Naturally, our visit was food-focused, including eating in restaurants, browsing a farmers market, exploring Chelsea Market, and shopping at bakeries.
One of my favorite bakery treats was the Fennel-Golden Raisin Semolina Twists at Amy’s Bread in Chelsea Market. I accidentally ordered an extra one, and I enjoyed every last bite. I added them to my never-ending list of recipes to try to recreate.
This week, I decided to bring refreshments to a morning meeting. I had scones on my mind, and when browsing cookbooks for ideas, in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, I came across a recipe for savory scones reminiscent of the twists at Amy’s Bread. I was thinking of something sweet, so I decided to play around with it. First of all, I halved the recipe, then I added more sugar to make these sweet, not savory, and finally, I made mini-sized scones instead of large ones. I love the tiny size for a group. They are small enough that people will always take a sample without feeling overly indulgent.
The end result was a success. The flavor brought me back to my weekend in New York. The only thing missing was a touch of semolina, so next time, I’ll try using some in place of some of the flour. The scones’ crumbly texture held up after a couple days in my cake dome. The leftovers didn’t even need toasting to revive them after the first day.
Fennel-Golden Raisin Scones
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
1 Tbsp fennel seeds plus extra for sprinkling on top of scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ stick cold unsalted butter (2 oz/¼ cup), cut into small pieces
¾ cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup heavy cream plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a spice grinder, coarsely grind the fennel seeds (about 10 pulses). If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Work in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers (my preferred method) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add raisins, ground fennel seeds, olive oil, and cream and stir just until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add a cream in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time) until a dough forms.
Lightly flour your work surface. Pat the dough into a round about ¾-inch thick. Using a 1½-inch cookie cutter (or glass), cut out scones and transfer to the baking sheet. Gently push the scraps together and repeat until all dough is used.
Brush the top of each scone with some cream (you can also use milk or an egg wash) and sprinkle with a few whole fennel seeds.
Bake the scones for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until they are a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2½ to 3 dozen mini scones. (If you want bigger scones, don’t pat the dough as thinly, probably closer to an inch or a little more thick, and you’ll need to bake them longer.)
I felt ambitious this month and chose 3 different recipes to make for Cottage Cooking Club, a cook-along group for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s “River Cottage Veg”. Started in May 2014 by the talented German blogger, Andrea, of Kitchen Lioness, this group is collectively making all the recipes in this book in one year.
The first recipe I tried was for Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Paprika. Cauliflower and broccoli are two vegetables that I’ve only recently started to enjoy. I like them best roasted. I’d never tried this seasoning combination before: roasted lemon wedges and smoked paprika. The flavors were delicious, but I mistakenly chose to roast the cauliflower in a high-sided roasting pan because it came out more steamed than what I expect for roasted. I might try this again, but if I do, I’d use a baking sheet with the hopes the cauliflower would caramelize.
The other two recipes were salads with warm interesting toppings.
One was topped with white beans with artichokes. This comes from the Pantry Suppers chapter. If your pantry is stock with a can of white beans and a jar of marinated artichokes you can whip this up whenever you wish. The beans and artichokes are sautéed together with garlic. This simple combination tops mixed greens for a light lunch.
Finally, what’s not to love about roasted squash and sautéed mushrooms on top of salad greens? I think this was my favorite of the three, so it’s pictured at the top of the post. The sweet roasted squash and the earthy mushroom were the perfect pairing. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette tied this hearty salad together. (This recipe called for blue cheese, I skipped it completely.)
After three months cooking along, I have to say that I’m really enjoying this book. The recipes are straightforward and delicious, offering flavor combinations that are sometimes familiar and sometimes new. I also value Andrea’s seasonal selections, allowing me to make the most of the best vegetables around each month. I wonder what November will bring?
If you are interested in reviews of other recipes selected this month, follow participant links here.