Friday, 22 February 2013

By Request - The Scone

The Scone

Unusually for me, I'm going to begin with the basic recipe.

3 cups flour + 3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk

This is THE classic scone recipe converted to EWAM, and it works perfectly.

You blend/sift the flour and BP. (Or swish it around with a fork). Add salt.
Rub in the butter to a fine crumb.
Stir in the milk.

This will give you a perfect plain scone. There are uses for plain scones, as is*.

However, the two typical, traditional versions are:


Add 1 tablespoon of sugar before the milk, and a generous handful of raisins.


Add grated cheddar* before the milk.

Roll this dough gently out to 3/4 inch, and cut into rounds. Bake at 220C for about 11-12 minutes.

These days, there are about 40,000 other things you can do with a scone, and please do so with my blessing, but first let's look at the cousins of the scone.

1. The "Biscuit". Famous in much of the US, this is a slightly different recipe, but the end products are pretty much interchangeable, just used, commonly, in different ways. Mostly savoury.

2. The "Tea Biscuit". A runny batter version, looking like it's been dropped from a great height, popular in parts of Canada. Occasionally looks like the dog had an accident. Mostly sweet.

3. "Soda Bread", a large Irish version of the plain scone. Rather boring as is, but once sliced, can be used in many ways. Always savoury.

4. "Pogácsa", the Polish version. They have some really creative and very good ways to use this simple comestible. Mostly savoury, but not always.

5. "Los Scones". South American version. I only recently discovered these, and it helped me get my head out of my arse regarding how they are used/what they are used with. Can be savoury or sweet. 

It has become my #1 mission in life to understand this food item. We eat A LOT of scones here, mostly cheese, and I'm sort of passionate about them.

*Regarding cheese, cheddar is your best bet for everyday cooking. It's relatively inexpensive, with a good flavour, so long as it is "old" (don't waste your money on anything mild or medium, those words mean "NO TASTE").

* Cobbler. Take any gravy-based dish, and use a scone topping instead of a pastry crust, or accompanying carb. Bake.

Buffet & Boys

If you saw my other blog this morning, then you know I went out for dinner last night. Dinner theatre, to be accurate, the best thing ever invented. It's a buffet, but it's not your boy scout potluck, oh no. This is a buffet of the standards found on a cruise liner. It's always good, but last night it was exceptional. There were even boats involved, but of a rather different type.

Quite frankly, it was as if a fishing boat had tipped its entire haul out there. It was a seafood lover's paradise. A great irony really, considering the nature of the show. Shrimp ain't Kosher.

Not my problem. I stuffed myself on lots of ex-swimmers, including calamari and catfish. The beauty of seafood is that it's not terribly filling, especially if you keep accompanying carbs to a minimum (I had one tiny serving of couscous and two dainty parisienne potatoes) so I managed to eat two platefuls, ha!

There was also a  fantastic stuffed chicken with asiago and spinach, that I absolutely have to re-create at home, and when I figure it out, I'll share it here.

I even ate dessert. Well, they had St Honoré, or a version of it anyway, rather more flan-like than I'm used to - more cream, less choux, and all the better for it. I have a very poor sweet tooth but I do love a bit of the French stuff.

And a grossly over-priced bottle of Wolfblass Yellow Label, which my husband was still complaining about on the drive home, and I doubt I've heard the end of it, but it's his own fault - "You choose the wine, I've forgotten my glasses". Anyway, I pointed out how rarely I go out and told him to be quiet.

The thing about buffets is that you should be able to put several items together, that work together, as if planned as a dish. That didn't happen last time we went, and I assume changes were made after people with influence said something. Never mind, they've certainly got it together now. For people used to high price restaurant bills, it's really not a bad deal, when you remember you get a top-quality show included.

We left the house just after 4pm, to get to the city in time for doors opening, and we left no instructions. It crossed my husband's mind about halfway there, that the boys would be fending for themselves for dinner. Not a problem. They're perfectly capable. It is a responsibility I take very carefully that they are able to cook for themselves, and cook well.

So it came as no surprise to discover that they'd cooked a sausage pasta dish, which I'll share with you now.

You'll need to slice up some Italian sausages (mild or hot, as you please) and cook them until the fat runs. Then, sauté into that diced onions, mushrooms, and lots of peppers (I would personally add zucchini too) and plenty of garlic. Add tomato sauce of your preference, and herbs and spices. Cook pasta, make a creamy cheesy sauce for it, and serve it separately or combined, as you prefer. Very quick, easy, and infinitely variable.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Simple Moussaka

There are many, many ways to make moussaka. But there is a simple, basic way that requires no fancy ingredients or special skills and this was what Tyler (18) made tonight.

First he took two pounds of ground beef, browned it, and poured off the fat for the barn cats. YOU may have to dispose of it another way, just don't pour it down the sink, it'll block your pipes up.

Then in the the meat/residual fat he sautéed two large onions (finely diced).

He then added 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, and 2 tablespoons crushed garlic.

He then used the secret CHEAT ingredient: Lamb Oxo cubes. If we had lamb, we'd use that instead of beef, but we don't yet, so we did this. You can buy it on Amazon, if you can't get it locally. But it's not the end of the world if you leave it out.

Then he added 2 litres of tomato sauce and covered it, leaving it to simmer while he did the rest.

He pre-heated the oven to 175C. Then he sliced up two large eggplants and laid them out on three large cookie sheets, and baked them DRY (NO OIL) in the oven. This dries out the eggplant so it doesn't go soggy. You CAN sprinkle salt on it to draw out the moisture (makes it salty) or you can fry it (makes it greasy). We find this method works better. They are ready when they start to turn brown.

Then he made the sauce. There are several ways to do this. He grated half a bar of old cheddar. Then he beat 4 eggs with 1/2 litre of cream, and added the cheese.


So, he got a deep lasagne dish. He put 1/3 of the baked eggplant slices on the bottom, then half the meat sauce, then 1/3 eggplant, 1/2 the meat sauce, 1/3 the eggplant then poured the cheese and egg sauce over the top.

He baked this at 175C for 20 minutes, and served it with a mixed salad.

Twas good.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Junk Food HIT

OK, maybe not junk food as most people define it, this recipe involves a bottled salad dressing.

So. You buy "Zesty Italian Dressing" of any brand (NOT "lite", that stuff will kill you).

You take a bunch of chicken breasts, cut them up into strips, and marinade them in the dressing.

You COULD make the dressing from scratch, as I shall in future, back-engineering it, a simple red wine vinegar and olive oil blend with herbs and spices.

You bake the chicken right in the marinade.

Alongside that you serve pasta, veggies, and a cheese sauce.

All the flavours blend together on the plate. The zesty dressing oozes into the cheese sauce.

If you need more help, just yell, but seriously? Try it.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Grilled or Broiled

OK, so I started something at FB, but it needs more explanation. This may clear up a lot of transatlantic confusion.

In Britain the word grill is equivalent to the North American word broil. We can argue until we are blue in the face that this is wrong, that a grill actually means the metal apparatus used to separate food from its heat source (think of the bars on a window, also technically a grill) ultimately derived from the word griddle, from a latin term meaning "latticework". But how it is used NOW is what matters.

What grill means NOW is dry heat, i.e. to toast something. It can be a barbecue grill, or a waffle pan (although these are often actually greased, see below) and all sorts of things in-between. It can be above or below (or both) or at the side. It can be a long fork over an open fire, really.

Even then there is a looseness in these definitions, as North Americans fry a sandwich and call it grilled, and restaurants have a large, solid, flat hot surface which can be called a grill, griddle, and other things.

There is no wrong or right in this. Word usage changes over time and from place to place, that's just how it is. The local term is correct, locally.

But because we discuss food, coming as we do from all corners of the globe, it can get very confusing.

Frying, generally, means to use fat (oil etc) to cook food. It can be just a little fat (a fried egg) or a whole lot (deep fat, turkey fryer). However, the french term sauté is often used to describe gentle frying. I think this has bercome a popular term simply because people have equated frying with bad (unhealthy or unpleasantly greasy) food. But it's more of a euphemism than a difference.

So, when a piece of bread is cooked with a little fat in a hot, solid, flat pan, strictly speaking it is being fried, but it tends to be called a grilled sandwich. People are funny that way. In Britain this might be called a toasted sandwich, and in France "un toastie". The French think this sounds cool. In revenge we have started making croque monsieurs. It's all jolly good fun.

There are pans and small appliances on the market on both sides of the Atlantic that are used in this way, over heat on a stove, or with its own independant heat source, that are called grill pans, or grillers, etc etc. Adds to the confusion.

Therefore the best we can do is define the end DISH.

A grilled sandwich, a toasted sandwich, un toastie, or a croque monsieur involves TWO slices of bread with a filling, and the bread is FRIED. Call it what you like, that's what happens. It might be fried in a frying pan, or in a special electric press, possibly even a panini press. I'm not even going to start on the panini debate. We'll just leave it at that.

But cheese on toast is ONE slice of bread, and it is toasted, not fried. The cheese is melted right onto it using the same dry heat. Doesn't matter how.


(And/or crave)