Sweet Lavender Scones

Lavendar SconesI never thought that I’d actually make my own scones at home (my baby sister is the baker of the family), but I found this recipe to be quite easy to pull off. If you can’t find lavender buds (they’re in the spice section of the more higher-end grocery stores), you can substitute with another flavour profile, maybe up the lemon? Or add some almond bits and some almond extract for a nutty scone? The possibilities are really endless. I do recommend the lavender though, it add a nice floral note, and you can always use the leftover buds to make lavender cookies, lavender sugar, lavender sachets…. You get the idea 🙂 This recipe will make 16 tea sized scones.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk*
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
1½ cups store-bought lemon curd (for serving)

* Click here for tips on zesting and how to make buttermilk.

Directions:

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled butter in cubes, and rub it through the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and then knead until a cohesive dough forms, about 2-3 minutes. Gently shape the dough into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide the triangles between the two baking sheets. Brush each triangle with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to wire racks to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

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Salmon & Brown Rice Potstickers

Salmon & Rice PotstickersRice is nice! And this recipe makes a great appetizer, or if you’re like me, and get addicted, can easily wind up making a meal out of them! In this recipe I’ve called for Salmon, but you can easily substitute with a different fish, or different protein all together. They would be equally as good with chicken or tofu. This recipe will make about 24 potstickers.

Ingredients:

¾ cup of long grain brown rice, fully cooked
1 package wonton wrappers
¾ pound salmon (or other protein)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed*
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons of ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp black pepper or chili flakes (optional)
½ cup grated carrots
½ cup minced water chestnuts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking
water, for steaming the potstickers
garnish: toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions*

* Click here to learn how to properly clean fresh parsley and green onions.
** If using meat instead of fish or tofu, please click here to learn about the use of Worcestershire Sauce with meat products.

Directions:

Add salmon, oil, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic, ginger and pepper or chili flakes into food processor and pulse to make a chunky paste. In a bowl, mix together the salmon paste, carrots, water chestnuts and cooked rice. Fill the wonton wrappers as directed on package sealing the edge with a dab of water on your finger.

If you’re not making the potstickers right away, refrigerate or freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment until ready to use.

Heat a small amount of oil in a sauté pan, and lightly brown filled potstickers on one side. Flip, and add water to cover bottom of pan. Cover and steam about 4-5 minutes. Top with sesame seeds and green onion and serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

Lemony Almond Macaroons

Lemony Almond MacaroonsAdmittedly, these are not Manischewitz macaroons, but I think you’ll forgive me. That, and those that don’t like the store bought kind, may in fact like these type instead! This recipe will make 30-35 macaroons and can be used as a base for other flavours. Just leave out the lemon and add cocoa for chocolate almond ones! The possibilities for the creative cook are endless!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups shredded coconut flakes
1 ½ cups blanched skinless almond slivers
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In this recipe, you can use either grated fresh coconut or dried coconut flakes. If using dried coconut, rehydrate it by pouring it into a bowl and covering it with warm water. Let the coconut soak for 5 minutes, then drain. Squeeze all the excess liquid out firmly with your fingers. Proceed with recipe. If using fresh coconut, no need to prep it– simply proceed with recipe.

Place almond slivers and coconut in a food processor, pulse into fine crumbs. Add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, almond extract, vanilla, egg and salt to the food processor. Process for about 1 minute until the mixture becomes a sticky mixture of fine crumbles. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Place rounded tablespoonfuls of the coconut mixture onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced, forming the mounds into haystack-like shapes.

Place the macaroons in the oven and let them bake for 30-40 minutes, till the tops of the haystacks turn golden brown. Remove the macaroons from the oven and allow to cool directly on the baking sheet. Do not try to remove them before they’ll cool; when hot, they are delicate and prone to crumbling. They become firmer as they cool.

When cooled completely, gently pull them from the baking sheet. The bottoms should be golden brown. Store macaroons in a sealed, airtight plastic container. When fresh from the oven, the macaroons will be crisp on the outside, soft inside. They become softer over time when stored in a sealed container.

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crunch

Chocolate Toffee Matzo CrunchThese make a nice dessert, or “something” to serve with afternoon tea. As to how much the recipe makes, well, enough for a family of five, but it all depends on how small you break up the pieces. Here’s a tip: If you’re finding it hard to spread the toffee or chocolate out smoothly, coat your spatula in a little oil or melted butter/margarine. This will allow you to apply a bit of pressure while you spread without the toffee or chocolate sticking to the spatula.

Ingredients:

4-6 matzos
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (butter recommended)
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cups chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (use dairy free chocolate for pareve/vegan)
2 tablespoons chopped pecans (or your favourite Passover-friendly nut – optional)
Sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet tray with a layer of foil, then cover the foil with a sheet of parchment. Evenly cover the sheet tray with matzos. Break or cut the matzos into smaller pieces if necessary.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter/margarine, brown sugar, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 additional minutes and continue stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour the toffee mixture over the matzos. Use a spatula to spread evenly across the entire surface of the matzo. Make sure you spread it out fairly quickly or it will start to get sticky and become harder to smooth over.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Check frequently to be sure that the mixture is not burning. If it appears to browning too quickly, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees, then replace the tray when the temperature drops a bit.

Once 15 minutes have passed, remove the matzos from the oven and evenly sprinkle the chopped chocolate chips over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzo. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and a light sprinkle of sea salt over the top of the melted chocolate. While the matzos are still warm, break them into smaller squares or pieces. You can use a knife to break them up, but I like the rustic look of the “natural break”. Place in the freezer until the topping has set. Serve straight from the freezer, chilled, or at room temperature.

Sweet-and-Sour Celery

Sweet and Sour CeleryThis is a nice, easy side dish that gives a little sweet and a little sour to balance out the flavours. This recipe will serve 8 people.

Ingredients:

¾ cup water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons mild honey
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 lbs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces, reserving about 1 cup inner celery leaves* (2 to 3 bunches, any dark green outer ribs peeled)
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley*

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these ingredients.

Directions:

Cut a round of parchment paper to fit just inside a wide heavy 6-to 8-quarts pot, then set round aside. Simmer water, lemon juice, oil, honey, salt, and pepper in pot, stirring, until honey has dissolved. Stir in celery (but not leaves) and cover with parchment round. Simmer until tender and liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup, 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop reserved leaves. Serve celery sprinkled with celery leaves and parsley.

Linzer Tarts

Linzer CookieThe Linzertorte is one of the oldest known tarts with a recipe discovered in an Austrian abbey from 1653.  Johann Konrad Vogel (1796-1883) is credited with first mass producing it while Franz Holzlhuber, an Austrian émigré who worked as a baker, is recognized for introducing it to America around 1856.  Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich around the preserves.  Moreover, the top cookie has a small cutout in its centre (known as Linzer eyes), thus exposing the underlying jam and adding to the visual appeal.  While the traditional cutout is circular, all sorts of shapes, such as hearts, are also popular. This recipe will make 2 dozen finished tarts/cookies.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 ⅓ cups white sugar
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided
3 ½ cups finely ground almonds (or a mixture of your favourite nuts)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup and 2 tablespoons raspberry jam (or other jam of choice)
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration

Directions:

Beat butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in ½ cup flour, the ground almonds, and cinnamon. Mix in remaining flour ½ cup at a time until the mixture becomes a slightly stiff dough.

Shape the dough into a ball; divide it in half. Wrap both halves in wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour, even better if you can leave them overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, or even better, on a piece of wax paper, roll half of the dough into a sheet ⅛ inch thick. With a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter, cut as many circles from the sheet as you can. Before separating the shapes from the remaining dough, stick your whole dough sheet (on the wax paper) in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will make separating the cut cookies from the extra dough easier and there is less of a chance that your cookies will break when you lift them. Knead the leftover scraps of dough into a ball and roll it out again into a ⅛ inch sheet. Cut out more circles. You should now have about 24 circles.

Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Refrigerate while working with remaining dough.

Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of the dough, but after placing the second batch on the baking sheet, cut out the centre of each circle with a ½ inch cookie cutter.

Bake cookies in preheated oven until light brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan or microwavable bowl, gently heat up the jam, so that it can be easily spread. Spread a thin coating of jam on each of the base cookie rounds.

Meanwhile, take the top portion of your cookies (the ones with the cut-out sections) and lightly dust the tops of them with confectioners’ sugar. If you coat them now, you don’t have to worry about getting sugar inside your “jam window” later.

Set a cut-out cookie on top of each base cookie, pressing the two together so they make a sandwich. Serve and enjoy!

Gluten Free Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies

Ginger CookiesNormally, I wait until the end of the week to give you a dessert recipe, but these are so good, I couldn’t wait! I’m sure you’ll forgive me! Most of these ingredients will be found either online or in specialty stores, but even some of the larger supermarkets carry them these days. If you can’t find them though, substitutions are okay! Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups chickpea flour
1 ½ cups gluten-free oat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
5 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
1 ½ cups coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
4 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons almond/soy milk
large grain sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside. In another large bowl, cream the oil and sugar with an electric mixer, then beat in the molasses. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, and beat until combined.

A little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine with electric mixer on medium-low until all flour is combined and no lumps remain (batter will be thick and sticky at this point). Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from refrigerator. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop balls of dough out onto prepared baking sheet, spacing each cookie 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until they darken a bit and are fragrant. Place cookies on a rack and let them cool before eating. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.