Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cinnamon Struesel Scones

Cinnamon Streusel Scones (slightly over baked)
My family and I moved to a new house a few weeks ago, and for some reason I had signed up to take a baked breakfast treat to a friend's end-of-cancer-treatment party the Sunday of our moving weekend. Not sure what I was thinking but it actually worked out because it gave me a great reason to try out my new oven--a GAS oven, no less! I was stoked (no pun intended) to see how my new oven worked. 
Well, I tried it on the convection setting, which ended up being a mistake, because as I'd already read (and apparently not believed), convection settings generally bake things faster than a regular setting. So the scones you see are overbaked probably by 4 to 5 minutes on the convection setting. I keep meaning to try them again, but I need an event for making scones because these are so good I will definitely eat too many.
These scones are pretty sweet, but in an absolutely delightful way. They're kind of a biscuity rather than cakey version of something like a Hostess crumb cake. Mmm.
My husband even ate several of these and declared, "I don't normally like eating the scones you make, but these I want to keep eating!" I'll take that as a huge compliment and look for an opportunity to make these again as soon as possible. Maybe for a housewarming party...

Cinnamon Streusel Scones

Streusel Ingredients:
Scone Ingredients:
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (rounded)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup half & half
 Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (Parchment isn’t necessary, but it helps.) 

Make the streusel first: Place sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the butter and then with your fingers, kneed the butter into the dry ingredients until it is evenly distributed and streusel starts to form small clumps. Set aside.
  Now make the scone dough:Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into large bowl. (By "sift" I mean put the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well with a whisk.) Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. It's fine to still have some visible chunks of butter about the size of a used pencil eraser Add half & half, tossing with fork until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly to bind dough, about 4 turns.  Cut ball of dough in half.   

Form dough into two 1/2-inch-thick circles. Spread about half of the streusel onto the surface of one of the circles. Press down lightly. Top with the other circle and press lightly to smoosh them together. Don't press too much though. 

Cut the stacked circle into 6 wedges. Then cut each wedge into four somewhat equal triangles by cutting off the tip and then cutting the back side into three triangles, like so...
Carefully transfer wedges to prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each with some streusel. Bake at 375°F until scones are golden brown, about 12-16 minutes. (If you're baking one pan at a time, place the waiting pan in the fridge while the first bakes. If you're baking both pans at the same time, swap oven rack levels about 10 minutes into baking. ) Let baked scones stand on baking sheet 10 minutes. Then with a spatula, transfer to a wire rack to cool more. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 dozen little scones

I like my new quartz countertops.

The streusel gets a little messy, but it's all delicious.

Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew -- needing a better pic in some natural light

This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated Special Collector's Edition Cook It Right magazine. I bought it during an extra long planning period I had while subbing at a high school. If you've ever substitute taught high school, you may know the boredom that often accompanies the job. High school teachers very rarely leave actual teaching to the substitute since they never know what subject the sub's teaching license is in, if any. And although I respect each teacher's choice to give me a minimal amount of work to do, I have to say, it's hard to keep awake sometimes--especially if the book I've brought to read requires too much thought.
At any rate, I knew that a Cook's Illustrated magazine would be super interesting, but also allow me to pay attention to the students under my care.
Now onto the stew... I've never had a Cook's Illustrated recipe let me down, and this one didn't either. I must admit, my family enjoyed this stew much more than I did, so I will be tweaking it next time to get it just right. My husband is all for that because he really wants me to make this again.
It's a very rich stew with very meaty, savory, umami flavor. It's not too thick, and it's not soupy either. It hits the spot on a cold autumn evening, and it tasted perfect with some warm homemade French bread
So if you're looking for a stick-to-your-ribs chicken dish that is warm and comforting, this is it.

Chicken Stew
    --Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Special Collector's Edition Cook It Right

  • 2 large chicken breasts (or 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken wings, halved at the joint
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic chili paste/sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour (I used Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into half-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place chicken breasts (or thighs) on a plate and lightly salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is somewhat browned. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the bacon and place in a heat-proof bowl. 
Add the chicken wings to the hot bacon fat in the Dutch oven and cook wings on both sides until well browned. When brown, move wings to the bowl to sit with the bacon.
Add onion, celery, garlic, and thyme to the Dutch oven. Stir until veggies are browned. 
Turn heat up to high and stir in 1 cup of broth, wine, soy sauce, and garlic chili paste. Stir and scrape bottom of pan to get up the browned veggies sticking to the bottom. Cook until liquid evaporates and the veggies begin to sizzle. 
Add butter and melt it. Sprinkle flour over the butter and veggies and stir to combine and cook the flour. 
Gradually whisk in 4 more cups of broth and whisk until smooth. 
Stir in the potatoes, carrots, wings, and bacon. Bring to a simmer. Transfer Dutch oven to preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring once, halfway through cooking.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir, using the liquid to wet and scrape down the browned sides of the Dutch oven. 
Place Dutch oven over high heat.  Cut the chicken breasts/thighs into large chunks (about 4 chunks each for breasts and two chunks each for thighs). Stir and then return to oven to cook another 45 minutes or so, until the chicken breast/thigh meat is tender and easily shredded.
Remove the chicken wings and discard. Shred the chicken breasts/thighs into bite-size pieces. 
Taste and decide if you need to add any salt or pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Makes about 6 servings

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