Scotch Eggs & Chips

February 28, 2011

Its official. I definitely did lead a somewhat food deprived youth. Until last week I had never heard of a Scotch Egg. Indeed I have spent a lot of time in Ireland and have never stumbled across one there either. (Disclaimer: I do not mean to imply Ireland is anything like Scotland and certainly not part of the U.K.-I just thought encountering said egg might have been more likely due to the proximity of the countries). Any hooo……Whilst browsing recipes last week I found one for Inside-Out Scotch Eggs at 8.ate@eight. The author was planning a menu for a Robert Burns night and mentioned a Scotch Egg. She described it as “enrobing a hard-boiled egg with ground meat, breading and deep-frying the sucker”. She also indicated that it ends up “the size of your fist”. Deciding that it would likely not be appropriate as an appetizer for the menu she was creating, she went on to create what looks to be a very tasty and diminutive alternative to the unwieldy scotch egg, her Inside Out Scotch Eggs w/Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata. Don’t get me wrong…that recipe sounds fantastic, but I couldn’t pay it the attention it deserved. I just couldn’t get past the Scotch Egg. Somewhat obsessed, I searched around online to see what I could find out about them. They were introduced in 1738 by the London Department store Fortnum & Mason. In the UK they are regarded as a picnic food and are usually eaten cold. You can often find them pre-packaged in convenience stores. In the US they are usually found in “British” style pubs and are served hot with mustard or ranch dips. The Minnesota State Fair apparently serves them up on a stick. Again, I ask-Where have I been! I just have to have one of these things! So I set out to make it so and will tell you how you can as well.

You start by hard-boiling the eggs and then removing the shells. Cover your work area with a piece of wax paper and flatten approximately 1/4 lb. of sausage into a thin circle. This is easier to do if your hands are wet-the sausage won’t stick as much. Jay and I love spicy food, so I used “Hot” breakfast sausage. Place an egg in the center of the sausage round and work to enclose the egg entirely in the meat.

Eggs enclosed in sausage

Once this is done, dredge the sausage-coated eggs in flour, dip them in the raw eggs and then roll them in Panko (Japanese Bread flakes), making sure they are well coated.

Panko coated egg

You are ready to fry at this point. I just recently received a Breville deep fryer from my parents (thank you so much guys!) and I am always excited about frying anything! I decided to use peanut oil for frying. I know, I know….peanut oil is supposed to be just awful for you right? I’m not so sure I think thats true. It seems all of our ideas about what oils are healthy and what oils are not are always changing. Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is the kind we want. In addition it has resveratrol in it. That is the stuff that you find in grapes and red wine which has been linked to reduced cardiovascular disease. I am sure you shouldn’t be eating fried foods all the time, but we don’t actually eat them often. So when we are breaking out the deep fryer, I am going to use an oil which I know will give me a great tasting treat. The other very important thing to remember when frying things is that the oil needs to be at a pretty high temperature 350-375° F. If the oil is at the correct temperature, the food you’re cooking releases steam, which travels out and prevents oil from seeping back in. The result is food which is light and crisp rather than soggy and greasy. Remember not to over-load the fryer basket as well. Too many items can cause a lower oil temperature, which will result in the soggy, greasy dilemma. We cooked our Scotch Eggs at 365° F for 10 minutes.  Voila!

Finished goodness

We ate these with Coleman’s Original English Mustard on the side. They were nothing short of stellar! Since the deep fryer was already going, we decided to make some french fries or rather chips as well to go along with our eggs. Nothing fancy here. We just cut up some russet potatoes

Fries ready to go

and popped them in the fryer at 375° F for 15-17 minutes and sprinkled them with kosher salt and malt vinegar.

Yum!

Awesome!  Unbelievable! Don’t deprive yourself-make these today!

Scotch Eggs

1 lb. bulk sausage-we prefer “hot” but  country-style or herbed would work just fine.

4 hard-boiled large eggs-shells removed

1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

2 raw eggs, beaten lightly

1 Cup Panko

Peanut oil for deep frying

Divide the sausage into four equal portions. Flatten into thin circles. Place an egg in the center of each round. Enclose each egg completely in the sausage. Dredge the sausage-coated eggs in flour, dip them in the raw egg and then roll them in the Panko until they are entirely coated. In a deep fryer heat peanut oil to 365° F. Fry Scotch Eggs two at a time for 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and salt and pepper as desired.


Chicken Star Soup with Onion & Shallot Muffins

February 25, 2011

Last week we enjoyed two beautiful 70 degree, Spring like days. On Tuesday we faced ice and snow again. Are you kidding me?! Ugh! I guess that is often how it goes around here. We have several “teaser” days which trick us into believing Spring is here just to get smacked down with a “wintry mix” once again. I thought some nice home-made chicken soup might ease the pain a bit. Now, when I say “home-made” I suppose I should clarify the term a bit. It is home-made in the sense that I made it here in my home. However, it might be a bit of a cheat, because my chicken stock is from  the lovely folks at Swanson and my chicken meat came from a rotisserie chicken purchased at the local Giant supermarket. Unlike Grandma, I wasn’t slaving over the stove all day. I spent about an hour on it. But let me assure you, this soup is really yummy and definitely hits the spot on a damp and sleety day.

Mmmmm.....soup!

You can add any type of pasta you like to this soup. I chose Stelline pasta-a pasta shaped like little stars. Fun!

Stelline Pasta

One thing I have learned regarding adding pasta to soup though, is that you should cook it prior to adding it to the soup. I thought it would be fine just to throw it on it “raw” and let it cook while in the soup. That doesn’t work out so well. It absorbs way too much liquid this way and you end up with something that is much more solid than any soup should be.

Onion & Shallot Muffins

I thought a savory muffin would go along great with this dish as well, so I made Onion & Shallot Muffins while the soup was simmering. I was a bit nervous that these muffins would be too oniony. I mean a shallot is an onion, so are these guys going to turn out like little onion bombs? The answer is absolutely not. They were very moist with a delicate, subtle onion flavour. A really hearty, biscuit-like muffin.

Don't forget the butter!

The Jarlsberg cheese adds great flavour and texture as well. These would complement any soup/stew recipe, or are great all on their own for that matter. Give them a try!

Chicken Star Soup

12 cups low sodium chicken broth

2-3 tsp. Montreal Chicken seasoning

1 Cup chopped celery (4 stalks)

4 carrots-chopped

1 Cup onion-chopped

1-2 cloves garlic-finely chopped

Breast from 1 Rotisserie Chicken-shredded

1/2 C. fresh cilantro-chopped (if you don’t like cilantro flavour, substitute flat leaf parsley)

Chalula hot sauce, red pepper, black pepper and salt to taste.

1/2 box Stelline pasta-or the pasta of your choice

Directions:

In stock pot, or large pan combine broth and Montreal chicken seasoning. Bring to a boil. Stir in celery, onion, garlic and carrot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add Chicken, cilantro and other spices to broth. Bring to low boil.

Prepare 1/2 box of Stelline Pasta according to the directions on the box but cook for only 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain well and then add to soup. Stir well.

Turn heat down to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Makes about 15 cups of soup.

Basket of Onion & Shallot Goodness

Onion & Shallot Muffins

5 Tbsp. (3 fl. oz/80 ml) olive oil

1/4  cup (1 1/2 oz/ 45 g) finely chopped red onion

1 medium to large shallot, minced

3 cups (15 oz/ 470 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 oz/170 g) grated Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese

3 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano

1/2 tsp. celery seed

2 large eggs

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) milk

Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Grease 11 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavoured nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cup one-third full with water to prevent warping.

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat 3 Tbsp. of the oil. Add the onion and shallot and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) of the cheese, the parsley, baking powder, salt, oregano, and celery seed.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining 2 tbsp. oil, and milk until blended. Add the cooled onions, along with any oil left in the pan. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the onion mixture just until evenly moistened. The batter will be lumpy. (I actually had to add more milk-about 1/2 cup, because the batter was too dry. This batter is quite thick)

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim. Sprinkle each muffin with some of the remaining 1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) cheese.

Bake the muffins until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 25-30 minutes. a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book




Caramelized Rum Banana-Stuffed French Toast

February 21, 2011

So while we’re stuffing things into other things, à la the oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies of my previous post, I thought you might like to see some french toast stuffed with caramelized rum bananas. I know my husband was very happy at its appearance. It’s unbelievably yummy! If the words “caramelized rum bananas” didn’t capture your attention, I don’t know what you’re like. I must admit though, the original recipe that I consulted for this dish did not include rum as one of the ingredients. That might have been all me-with no regrets though! Bananas and rum are without a doubt a match made in heaven.

Rum Bananas Caramelizing

In order to be able to stuff the lovely caramelized run bananas into the toast, you have to start off with a pretty thick piece of Challah bread, about 1 1/2 inches.

Big ole hunk o'bread!

You cut a  2 inch long slit in one side of the bread slice, extending down three-fourths of the way, to create a pocket. Once done you stuff that pocket full of the rummy banana bliss,

Stuffed toast slices

dunk it in the usual french toast egg/milk mixture and then pop it into a Panini maker to cook.

Panini Maker in action

Oh my giddy Aunt! Soooooooo good! The recipe I used recommended topping it with not only a toasted pecan maple syrup, but also a whipped crème fraîche. We were happy topping ours solely with a simple whipped  cream, minus the crème fraîche, and a few extra of the caramelized bananas. We did not feel that any syrup was necessary-as if “necessary” is a word that should come anywhere near this dish. It is pretty darn sweet. However, to each his own and who am I to judge an individuals sweet tooth. So, I have included the toasted pecan maple syrup in the following recipe. Enjoy!

Caramelized Rum Banana-Stuffed French Toast

 

Ingredients:

For the toasted pecan maple syrup:

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup maple syrup

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the French toast:

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

2 Tbs. light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

2 Tbs. dark rum

1-lb. loaf day-old challah, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick

2 cups milk

6 eggs

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. honey

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

To make the toasted pecan maple syrup, in a fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and maple syrup, increase the heat to high and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

To make the whipped cream, place the cream, confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside until ready for use.

To make the French toast, in large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the 2 Tbs. light brown sugar and the rum, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the banana slices and gently toss. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized and the bananas are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting three-fourths of the way. Stuff the pockets with the banana mixture, dividing evenly.

Preheat an electric Panini maker. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, honey, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla extract and whisk together. Pour into a baking dish. Soak half of the bread slices for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place the bread on the Panini maker and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices. Serve the French toast topped with whipped cream and the maple syrup should you desire. Serves 6.

Adapted from a Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio found on William Sonoma Recipes.


Oh No I didn’t……Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies!

February 17, 2011

Mega Cookies!

Yup! Don’t ya know it, I actually did! A couple of days ago Jay e-mailed me a link to Buns in My Oven blog. I have to say, take a look at it-its an absolutely fantastic site. I am totally addicted to it now. She doesn’t publish a lot of recipes for entrée type items, but oh my….the desserts. Stunning! She seems to love peanut butter just as I do as well, which is very endearing. Anyway, recently she posted a recipe for Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. I absolutely could not stand it until I tried it out. What can I say that you already haven’t imagined? These cookies are just unbelievable, for so many reasons. Of course they are wonderfully yummy. They are also outrageously huge! Good Lord! I really had some fun making this recipe because it was my first real use of my new Kitchen Aid Stand mixer.

Fabulous Christmas Prezzie at work

Yay, oh Yay! Thanks so much Mom and Da. This stand mixer rocks! In addition, I’ve never really baked anything that made me giggle so much during the process. I was literally giddy the whole time and each time Jay stopped into the kitchen, he began laughing as well. I guess they really are that ridiculous. So how are these mood boosting cookies made? Basically you make the chocolate chip cookie dough and then you place one cookie scoop full of dough on the top and bottom of an Oreo cookie.

You then pinch the edges together around said Oreo and bake it.

Ready to be baked

 

Hot out of the oven

Voila! I would say they are little chunks of heaven, but as I mentioned before these cookies are far from little. They are the “Big Hosses” of the cookie world.

Now that's one BIG cookie!

Needless to say, we couldn’t have eaten all of these huge cookies ourselves….Well, actually we probably could have, but what with the supposed diet and all….So I made cute “cookie bomb” packages and sent them off with friends.

Cookies wrapped and ready to go!

You’ve gotta try ‘em.

Yum!

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from Buns in My Oven)

*  2 sticks butter, softened

*  3/4 cup packed brown sugar

*  1 cup white sugar

*  2 large eggs

*  1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*  3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

*  1 teaspoon salt

*  1 teaspoon baking soda

*  10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

*  1 package Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (that your parents may have gotten you for Christmas…Thanks bunches again Mom and Da) cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to the wet mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 15 minutes to make it easier to work with and to keep the dough from spreading when baking.

Using a cookie scoop place one scoop of dough on top of a Oreo Cookie. Place another single scoop on the bottom of the Oreo to creat a cookie sandwich. Seal the edges together to completely close in the Oreo.

Place the balls of cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 9-13 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Dogs love cookies!


Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Blackberry Glaze for my Valentine

February 12, 2011

I know chocolate gets all the prominent billing with almost everyone for Valentine’s Day, but not with my sweetie. He likes chocolate o.k., I mean who doesn’t,  but given the choice of delectable treats, he will go for the offering with fruit in it 9 times out of 10. So when searching for a Valentine treat that I could whip up for him, I kept his love of bread pudding as well as lemon bars in mind. I had seen a recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade Bread Pudding that I was dying to make at Spoon with Me a while ago. If you haven’t taken a peek at her site, you are truly missing out. Her recipes are fantastic and her photography is stunning. She had made the Meyer Lemon Marmalade that she used in this dish herself and I didn’t see any such thing available in my local grocery stores. Nor was I industrious enough to make said marmalade. However, my Valentine loves lemon curd, which we have plenty of in the house, so I adapted the recipe. I figured the curd wouldn’t make a very pretty glaze on top of the pudding, but another favourite of my darlin’s is blackberry preserves. Voila! He was very pleased with the results!

Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Blackberry Glaze

The fun thing about this recipe is that it is very customizable. You can replace the marmalade with whatever fruit strikes your fancy, or mix it up like I did with one flavour of pudding and a different glaze. Or you can just add different toppings to the pudding. I must admit that I really do love chocolate and was having a complete chocolate fit watching the flood of great chocolate Valentine’s recipes go by, so I might have made a couple of these little ramekins of pudding with a chocolate chip topping.

Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chip Topping

Excellent as well! And everyone is happy! (Just between us, I am still hoping for a Valentine’s Day cupcake, but my Valentine knows me well, so I don’t think I will be disappointed.) Veuve Clicquot goes well with both bread pudding and cupcakes, so we’ll be set. :)

Yum!

Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Blackberry Preserve Glaze

* 1 loaf challah bread

* 3 1/2 Cups heavy cream (you could substitute half & half or  even 2% milk if you wish to be more virtuous)

* 1 scant cup granulated sugar

* 2 eggs

* 2 egg yolks

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 cup Lemon Curd

* 1/2 cup raisins

* 2 tablespoons butter

* Seedless Blackberry preserves for glazing-about 6 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter 6  eight ounce ramekins.

Remove the crust from the Challah bread. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and toast for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then place in large bowl.

Place the raisins in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until plump and moist, about 15 minutes or so. Drain well and sprinkle raisins over bread crumbs.

Heat the lemon curd and butter in a small saucepan until melted and combined. Remove from heat and pour over bread cubes. Gently toss.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Heat cream in medium saucepan over medium heat until it simmers.

Slowly add the heated cream to the egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. If you add the cream too quickly it will cause the eggs to cook!

Pour the custard over the bread cubes and gently toss until coated. Allow bread to soak-up custard for 30 minutes. Fill the buttered ramekins with the bread-custard mixture, making sure to equally distribute the raisins which may have sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Bake* for 25 minutes, or until tops of the puddings began to brown. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the blackberry glaze over the top of each pudding. Bake for 5 more minutes.

*Puddings can be refrigerated overnight prior to baking. When ready to bake, remove ramekins from refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before placing them in the oven.

 

Happy Valentine's Day Darlin!


Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers

February 5, 2011

I first discovered Nutella when I was studying at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. I can’t believe that I totally missed out on having it during my obviously deprived childhood. I did grow up on an Island, which the yummy hazelnutty goodness of Nutella had apparently not reached. You can imagine my amazement when I saw my college buddies spreading it on toast. What! You can eat chocolate spread on toast! Where have I been! On my first taste I became an instant fan. Also being a huge fan of peanut butter, I immediately dreamed of pairing the two together. Peanut butter was not very popular in Ireland and usually the few jars of it I did come across in the stores were marked “American Peanut Butter” and were adorned with the stars and stripes to ensure there was no mistaking from where this strange concoction had arrived. Chuckling, I grabbed a jar and what can I say…perfection!

Nom!Nom!Nom!

Today, February 5th is the 5th Annual World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

To that end, I would like to share my fantastically tasty recipe for Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers.”What are ebelskivers” you may ask. They are round pancakes which originated in Denmark and are perfect for breakfast, appetizers or snacks. You will of coarse need one special piece of equipment to make these goodies-namely the Ebelskiver Pan. My husband received one for his birthday a couple of years ago. The ebelskiver turners, long, carved wooden sticks, are great to have, but you could possibly get by with chopsticks, wooden skewers or even knitting needles in a pinch.

Ebelskiver Pan and Turners

One of the biggest keys to being able to successfully create ebelskivers is having all of your ingredients you plan to use, prepped and ready to go.

Bananas standing by

Once you put the batter in the wells of the pan, you must work fairly quickly to add your filling items and then cover them with more of the batter.

Ebelskiver with filling ready for second layer of batter

Turning the treats takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Once it is time to turn them, place your turners on opposite sides of the pancakes and slide them down between the wall of the well and the cooked edges.Gently lift and rotate. Rather than flip mine over all at once, I quickly move around the pan rotating them 1/4 turn at a time until they are completely turned over.

Ebelskivers mid-turn

Once these ebelskivers were done cooking, I rolled them in cinnamon sugar. They are unbelieveable. So mouthwatering, I swear you will absolutely swoon!

Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers

1 Cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, separated

1 Cup (8 fl. oz/250 ml) milk

1/2 cup (5 oz/155 g) creamy peanut butter

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Nutella

1 banana cut into 1/2 inch slices and then quartered.

Cinnamon sugar for coating

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk, peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter until smooth. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. Don’t worry-the batter will be lumpy.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest just until no white streaks remain.

Add butter to the wells of the ebelskiver pan. This can be done with a pastry brush, or I often just put about 1/8 tsp. in each well. Place the pan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoon of the batter to each well. Working quickly, carefully spoon 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each pancake. Add 2-3 pieces of the quarter banana slices. Top each with another 1 tablespoon of the batter.

Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are lightly browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Use your ebelskiver turners or whatever you have, turn all of the pancakes and cook until browned on the second side-about 3 minutes longer.

Remove the pancakes from the pan, quickly roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture and transfer to a plate. Serve immeadiatly.

Makes 16 ebelskivers. Recipe adapted from Ebelskivers by Kevin Crafts.

Enjoy!

 


Happy Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, Candlemas and Groundhog (Hedgehog) Day!

February 1, 2011

So all of the above mentioned celebrations take place on February 1st or 2nd and have associations with fertility, fire, purification and weather prognostication. Imbolc is an old, pagan Celtic festival which marks the first day of Spring and a re-awakening of the earth. It falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The festival was later adopted by the Catholic church and re-named St. Brigid’s Day. St. Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints who lived in the early 6th Century and is associated with fire. In other parts of Europe, the Catholic Church declared this day Candlemas or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. It seems Jewish women went through a purification ceremony 40 days after giving birth to a male child (80 days after if the child was female…) February 2nd is 39 days after Christmas. People mark this day by both lighting candles and bringing candles to the church for the priest to bless. They are then kept in the home to be lit in times of need. When European settlers came to the America, they brought their along their own traditions for this day. All included some forms of weather divination based on the behaviour of various animals-snakes, badgers or hedgehogs. Not finding a lot of badgers or hedgehogs here, they substituted our native groundhog as the new oracle. Hence, we celebrate Groundhog Day. I must admit though, I really like hedgehogs, so Hedgehog Day would be pretty cool. Badger Day, on the other hand could be downright dangerous! A traditional poem states:

If Candlemas be bright and fair

Winter will have another year

But if it be dark with clouds and rain

Winter is gone, and will not come again.

Sounds a lot like the criteria for Groundhog Day here, but without mentioning the animal. If good ole Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his comfy den into bright and fair weather and sees his shadow, he’ll run back in thus predicting that we will have six more weeks of winter weather.

The critter himself

I certainly don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I think Pennsylvania is currently suffering a big winter storm and is unlikely to experience any sunshine.

What Phil will likely see...

I looked around for a recipe that would be good for marking the above mentioned holidays. Milk, cheese and dairy products are associated with Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day, so I made Cream Tea Scones with Currants. These scones are really great. They aren’t super sweet, which is how scones are usually made here in the US, but are more the traditional type scone you’d have with tea.

Cream Tea Scones with Currants

  • 2 cups all-purpose four, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking power and salt. Add the butter to the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Add all but 2 Tbsp of the egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once and stir until a sticky dough forms. Quickly stir in the currants, just until evenly distributed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead gently until the dough holds together, about 6 times. The dough should be soft; do not overknead. Divide into 2 equal portions and pat each portion into a round about 1 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Cut each round into 4 equal wedges.

Place the wedges 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Brush each wedge with the reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake the scones until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 scones. Recipe from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book.

I topped my scones with fresh strawberries and Devonshire Double Cream (clotted cream).

Actual clotted cream is difficult to find in the US. However, you can find jars of Double Devon Cream which is very similar to the fresh clotted cream.

English Double Devon Cream...YUM!

Its a bit pricey, but really worth it! Devon cream is the creamiest of cream. It is the consistency of butter or sour cream and tastes amazing spread on scones. Jay had his first taste of a scone with clotted cream on the last day of our honeymoon in Ireland and he absolutely loved it! Whipped cream on scones is nice, but if you haven’t tried clotted cream, go out and spring for some of this goodness.


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