Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheddar & thyme scones

This week, I continued my exploration of bread-products by making scones. I had never made scones before and I was surprised how easy they were. I made them on a weeknight! I'm not even sure they count as bread now that I've made them, since it was so easy!

I looked for a basic "savory" scone recipe that I could play around with, I think the basic recipe could be made with just about any flavorings, though if I was making a sweet scone, I might skip some or all of the sugar.

This recipe for Fresh Herb Scones was the starting point. My recipe for Cheddar & Thyme Scones is below.

Basic recipe

2 cups flour
1 Tb sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Cheddar & Thyme additions

3/4 cup shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic

Cooking Equipment

Pastry blender

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, thyme and garlic in a large bowl. Blend butter in using either a pastry blender (or fork) until well blended and a mixture of course crumbs forms. Stir in milk, lightly beaten egg and cheese. A slightly moist, crumbly dough will form. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface and form in a round, flat mound. Place on a greased cookie sheet and cute into 8 wedges. Separate the wedges and bake for 15-20 minute or until lightly browned.

My whole apartment smelled like thyme, in a nice way. If I make this again I might scale back the amount of thyme I use because it was a little strong but otherwise they were tasty.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lentil Tacos

I heart lentils. But I have a hard time knowing what to do with them. I can put them in soup but that's about it. Until now - I have discovered lentil tacos. Do they sound disgusting to you? Well, you aren't alone. Just about everyone I mentioned lentil tacos to, replied with a sickened expression and an audible ew. There were a few people who said, "what is a lentil?" but the let's face it - if you aren't eating lentils already, you're not sitting at the cool lunch table. That's just a fact.

The lentil-taco-ewwers just needed a little bit of perspective. After I said, "ever eaten a bean taco or burrito? Lentils are basically a bean." They came around. I don't like beans much, but we're going to ignore that today (I'm trying to let beans grow on me). I'm also likely discussing my cooking projects too much with friends and associates, though to be fair, I was eating leftover lentil tacos at work for at least one of these conversations.

Moving on, lentil tacos are simply yum-tastic. Yes, I did just write that and with a hyphen. I made them twice in one week. That's right twice. In a week. I'm an addict. On the plus side, these are über healthy and consistent with the diet that I started a few weeks ago (unlike the ribs I made recently...).

Et Voilà!

Lentil Tacos (adapted and scaled down from here)

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup lentils (dry)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp oregano
1 1/4 cups of chicken broth (I imagine veggie broth is fine too)
1/2 cup salsa
taco shells and your preferred toppings

Makes 8-10 tacos.

Sauté garlic in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet until tender. Add lentils and spices; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes or lentils are tender. Uncover and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. Stir in salsa, spoon mixture into taco shells and top with desired toppings.

I recommend you use a fruity salsa. I chose a peach & pineapple salsa and found the sweet salsa to be a nice juxtaposition to the spice I put on the lentils. I didn't have any avocado or guacamole to top my tacos with, but I suspect this would be an excellent choice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Slow cooker ribs - dinner success! Diet fail!

I've been staring at ribs at the grocery store all summer. More than once I put them in my cart, wheeled them around while I did my shopping and then decided to return them to the meat section. They can be a bit pricey and I felt they were impractical for one person because the packages are so large! But earlier this week at my local Safeway (or un-safeway as it's known around DC), they had country style pork ribs for .99/lb. I couldn't pass it up, so I bought some (5lbs!) and took them home.

I had no idea what to do with them.

I don't remember ever eating ribs until my mom married my step-dad. He makes a mean rack of ribs - bar-be-cued, beer marinated, slow-cooked or smoked, they're always delicious.

They seemed a good match for the crock pot, they could slowly cook and become tender and juicy while I was at work. After my numerous crock pot disasters, I did not want to risk messing up my ribs so I called mom to get rib advice. She told me to broil them before I put them in the crock pot but otherwise there wasn't anything special I needed to do except cover them with bbq sauce.

So one night I set out on my rib adventure. I rubbed them with garlic, sea salt and paprika. I would have also used pepper but I was out! I set the oven to broil and cooked them 8-10 minutes on each side. Alright, one side was a little longer because I got distracted and forgot to take them out. Oops.

I let them cool a bit and placed them in my crock pot. I poured BBQ on top and a little bit of water, maybe 1/2 cup. I put the crock pot in the refrigerator for the night and then in the cooker the next morning before work. I turned it on low to cook while I was gone, it was about 9 hours before I got home.

Results? They were fantastic. I had made 2.5lbs and put the rest in the freezer. For dinner that night I think I ate a pound of pork. Did I mention I'm on a diet? Yea a pound of pork for dinner is a huge diet failure but it was good I could not help myself. I think I could have eaten all 2.5lbs in one sitting.

I should have probably put a little more liquid in the crock pot because the exposed parts of the ribs got a little charred looking but even the charred bits tasted amazing. I can't wait to make the other half but I should probably wait a few weeks, since I'm supposed to be dieting...