Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Europe Part I: Cuenca

Welcome to Cuenca. This darling medieval town nestled in the countryside cliffs between Madrid and Valencia was understandably one of Hubby's favorite study abroad locales back in the day. It was such a favorite that it was our first stop on our trek through Spain and France.

I was a big fan of the colors, cliffs, doors, architecture, food and so much more. The highlight of this town for me was our quaint picnic dinner of local fare atop the cliffs overlooking the city. We went on a hunt through the tiny town's wine and cheese shops to find our spread. Ultimately, a couple of Cuencan sisters (owned the wine and cheese shops, respectively) guided us in our selection and we were set to hike to our 'dining room.' This was truly an amazing way to kick off our vacation and get in the Spanish spirit :)

Hoping to get through all of our cities and share some fun stories coming up!

Next stop: Valencia!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheddar and Onion Scones

A savory breakfast lover's dream, these creamy biscuit-like scones are simply divine. The best news is that the recipe is totally interchangeable, so you can tailor it to your liking day by day.

Props to Smitten Kitchen for a convincing me that scones can be a cinch to make. My worry melted away as I saw that the steps were quite simple, the ingredients were quite few, and after a few quick pulses on my Cuisinart, these dreamy creamy scones would soon be mine.

When out of town guests headed were headed our way last weekend, I knew I had to prepare the perfect something for a morning pick-me-up. Inspired by one of our favorite Cambridge bakeries, Darwin's Ltd., it was clear I would need to go with something savory - perhaps a remake of Hubby's and my ultimate Saturday indulgence: the cheddar and onion scone.

My cousin actually said to me, "I wasn't too excited when you told me you made scones, but I didn't realize they could be soft and moist!" Or something to that effect... :) I took it as a compliment - but it was the empty service platter that further validated my assumption.

Without further ado, the recipe. As I mentioned before, please replace our cheddar and onions with your favorite treat - chocolate chips, blueberries, bacon, etc...

America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, via Smitten Kitchen
(with, of course, our own personal cheddar and onion rendition!)

2 C all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 T sugar
5T chilled unsalted butter (cut into little cubes)
*1/4 lb cheddar cheese
*1 red onion, caramelized
1 C heavy cream
(*if using another filling, something in the 1/2 C range is a good measure)

Preheat oven to 425
Place dry ingredients in Cuisinart (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt)
Pulse six times (if doing by hand, just mix together quickly)
Add cubed butter to Cuisinart and pulse until meal-like (not too many times...use forks to press into dry ingredients if doing by hand)
Add cheese and onions
Add heavy cream and stir for 30 seconds until dough-like
Flour a clean dry counter top
Place dough onto floury surface and quickly mold into desired shape (for me, I molded by hand into a 1 in high square; also consider using a 9" round cake pan as a mold, or a biscuit cutter for a round shape)
Next, cut your dough into the desired shape - I simply used a sharp knife to create 3x3 squares (in retrospect it would have been cute to then cut the squares into more scone-like triangles)
If using the round cake pan method, turn dough out and cut into wedges
At this stage, it is safe to freeze your unbaked scones - I transferred mine to a freezer-safe plate and covered tightly with plastic wrap, then foil (when ready to bake, place right onto baking sheet and add a few minutes to baking time)
Place on baking sheet and bake until light brown for 12-15 minutes
Remove from oven, let cool and serve to a hungry audience :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

The New York Times has a fantastic interactive map so we can all tell our stories of where we were on 9/11/01.

I was at ESD in my second period study hall - I remember crowding with classmates into our Headmaster's office and watching the tragedy unfold. Our lives were forever changed that day.

Praying for the fallen, their families and the brave men and women who fight to secure our freedom every day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sneak Peek

Well, I managed to make a certified mess of our kitchen this morning... but I think it will be well worth my pending adventure in clean-up.

Cheddar Onion Scones (in the making)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh, hello!

Where do I begin?

We took a little hideout this summer in sunny California and I was a bit too distracted to be blogging. Understandable, right? More on that later.

To win you back, I'm offering a shameless bribe: new iPhone backgrounds.


Maybe. But consider that these are inspired by our recent European vacay (more on this later too) - particularly our stint in France - and I think you'll be quick to (forgive me and) download them as your own little piece of Provencal prettiness.

Here's the inspiration from a darling shop in Nice:

And now a version for you:

Happy September!

Enjoy :)


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