Sunday, December 15, 2013

Banana, walnut, and white chocolate scones

A few weeks ago, an out-of-town friend was visiting with her teenage son.  I wanted to have a treat on hand for an afternoon snack and/or breakfast--a good occasion to try out a recipe that looked very appealing to me.  One afternoon, my friend brought a scone to her son, who was up in our guest room.  After he'd eaten it, she asked if he liked it.  His reply, "Could I have two more, please?"  Words to warm a cook's heart!  And since this recipe makes 12, I had plenty more to share.

Banana, Walnut & White Chocolate Chunk Scones

Makes 12
adapted from

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
            or use 1 T. dried buttermilk powder with dry ingredients, and 1/4 c. water with the wet ingredients.  Then brush scones with a T. of regular milk
1 large egg
1 ripe banana, well-mashed
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli baking white chocolate, broken into chunks)
6 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into a dozen or so pieces
sprinkling of sugar crystals

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Using a fork, lightly beat a 1/4 cup of buttermilk (or water, if using dried buttermilk powder), egg and banana together in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
Add the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a deep medium-sized bowl (and the dried buttermilk powder, if using). Whisk to combine. Work the butter pieces into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, until it forms a sandy-looking texture with some pebble-sized pieces.
Stir in the walnuts and chocolate.
Pour in the liquid-egg-banana mixture, and use a fork to stir together until it forms a crumbly-looking dough, and the flour is mostly absorbed.
Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured counter.  (I find it helpful to use a silicone mat on the counter; I use a Roul'pat.) Knead it once or twice to help the dough stick together. Divide the dough in half, and flatten it into two 1/2-inch thick circles. Use a sharp knife to cut each circle into 6 triangles (like cutting pizza slices).
Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of buttermilk (or regular milk) and sprinkle the tops with the sugar crystals. Bake for 11 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and set the tray on a wire rack to cool a few minutes before serving.

These are best the day they're baked, but are also fine frozen and re-heated.

Fish Greek Style

My sister Cookie sent me a recipe she'd adapted from Pierre Franey's recipe for "Shrimp Greek Style."  Knowing that I don't eat shellfish), she suggested I try it with fish.  The recipe is similar in principle to my standard way of making white fish (usually cod)--the fish cooked in a chunky tomato sauce--but somewhat different ingredients and proportions, and the distinctive addition of feta cheese.   I made the recipe with Alaskan Black Cod (sablefish) that I purchased from Sitka Salmon Shares.  Definitely a nice way to prepare this fish.  I'm sure it would also be good with most any firm-fleshed white fish.

The piece of fish I cooked was quite thick, so I knew the timing in the original recipe would be too short (10 minutes, for shrimp).  I've recently been enjoying reading The Science of Good Cooking, which explains all kinds of things about cooking, as well as providing recipes.  Its table of temperatures to cook food to included fish.  I'd never thought of using a thermometer for fish, but, armed with my new instant-read thermometer (recently purchased to make it easier for me to measure water temperature when I'm dyeing fabric), I cooked the fish to perfection!

Adapted from Pierre Franey’s  "Shrimp Greek Style" in 60 Minute Gourmet

Serves 3-4

1 lb. firm-fleshed white fish
2 t. olive oil
1 ½ t. finely chopped garlic
9 scallions, thinly sliced
14 oz. can petit diced tomatoes, not drained
Fresh tomatoes, diced, up to 1 cup (optional)
¼ c. dry white wine or sake
¼ t. salt
¼ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat 2 t. olive oil in mid-size sauce pan.

Cook scallions, stirring constantly for 15 seconds.

Add garlic and cook for another 15 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

Cook uncovered over moderate heat for 10 minutes.

Put the fish into a Pyrex baking pan.   Sprinkle the feta over the fish and then spoon the tomato sauce over all.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily (140 degrees, if you have an instant-read thermometer).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

I made this dish the other night, to accompany fish baked with tomatoes, with some brown rice on the side.  All delicious!  I'll post the fish recipe also.  This brussels sprouts recipe would also be great for Thanksgiving dinner.  I'll have to try to remember it for next year. . .

adapted from a Steamy Kitchen recipe
4 servings

1-1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts, bottom of base cut off and halved
3/4 lb. seedless red grapes, halved
2 T. olive oil
2-1/2 T. soy sauce
1-1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Put the brussels sprouts and grapes in a bowl and toss with the oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper.  Cover a rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil.  Put the sprouts and grapes in the tray, spreading out to one layer.  Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, tossing them halfway through.