I made this recipe over the summer, somewhat successfully but I actually lacked the proper amount of chives that the recipe called for. Last week, I got a massive bunch of chives within my CSA box and immediately thought of this recipe to put them to use. A quick side note on CSA boxes! Over the summer, I worked in food systems and nutrition research and found out that CSA boxes were not only a great way to help a local farm but they also help you to reduce the carbon footprint of your food because it is sourced locally and it has helped me a ton in my journey to become a better cook. CSA stands for community supported agriculture and it’s much more common that I had previously thought. The pandemic has actually increased interest in this and many farms are unable to keep up with the demand!!!
It was hard to find an open slot when I came back to school in the fall but I’ve been getting a weekly “Ugly” share from Moon Valley Farm which delivers to various locations in Baltimore. My share or box usually contains various vegetables with the occasionally bunch of fruit and it has encouraged me to really broaden my culinary horizons. One of the veggies that has come pretty consistently in my boxes the past few weeks is okra, which I had never ever cooked or eaten. Now, I’m enjoying an okra and tomato stew for lunch that I never could have made a few months ago! I really enjoy my CSA box but I also have the time to dissect and cook through my whole box. It can be really tough at first but I have learned a lot and love getting my box every week. I encourage everyone to look into purchasing locally sourced agriculture in any form, not just from a CSA. It both reduces your carbon footprint and encourages you to eat seasonally! Although, I am still tempted by the sales of pineapple and lemons from far-away countries so even my food purchasing process has quite a bit of leeway!
Back to the baking aspect of this blog! This recipe is based off a recipe that came in my King Arthur Scone pan that was a Christmas gift from my lovely parents. I did make a few changes to the recipe to fit it to what I had in the fridge and to lighten up the recipe a little. American scones are a pretty heavy affair, full of butter and cream. Because I had some frozen low fat buttermilk, I defrosted that and used it in the recipe and it worked out really well! I often have to buy dairy for recipes but I don’t really drink it or use it in other recipes so I’ve taken to freezing it in specific quantities and defrosting it as needed. Fresh dairy is always preferable but if I’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that you must be flexible! On a college budget, I’m always looking for ways to stretch my grocery budget and my freezer has been the greatest thing ever for helping me do that. I also substituted the regular bacon for turkey bacon. It’s not as greasy and I think it adds plenty of flavor without some of the fat. I’ll put the original recipe guidance down below in parentheses next to my additions. I really recommend not doing the recipe if you don’t have enough chives or green onions. The two are interchangeable and you could probably even use half of each if you don’t have enough of them individually. They really add just a subtle onion flavor that complements the overall scone. These come together super quickly and are a delicious breakfast treat! They can also be frozen and baked at will, just freeze the dough before you get to the step where you brush them with buttermilk/cream. Let me know if you try the recipe in the comments below and happy baking!
Bacon, Chive, and Cheddar Scone Recipe
241 grams (2 cups) All Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
14 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar (offsets bitterness of baking powder, please use)
57 grams (4 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter
113 grams (1 cup) coarsely grated or diced cheddar cheese
14 grams (1/3 cup) chopped fresh chives
227 grams (1/2 pound) turkey bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled (original recipe calls for regular bacon)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk (original recipe calls for heavy cream)
Preheat oven to 425F with a rack in the middle or upper third of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, slat, baking powder, and sugar. Work the butter into the flour mixture until the mix is unevenly crumbly with the butter in pea sized pieces.
Mix in cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.
Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk or cream, stirring to combine. Try to squeeze the dough together and if it won’t stay cohesive, add a little more buttermilk or cream.
Transfer dough to lined cookie sheet and pat into a 7 inch disk about 3/4 inch thick. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the disk into 8 wedges. Separate these wedges a little and brush them lightly with buttermilk or cream.
Bake scones in the middle or upper third of oven for 22-24 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool them in the pan they were baked.
So this started as a big mistake on my weeks produce box. Since coming back to Baltimore for a slightly strange school year, I decided to sign up for Hungry Harvest which is a service meant to rescue ugly or excess produce and was started at the University of Maryland! In my first order, I didn’t quite read the fine print while customizing my order and accidentally ordered 30+ pluots…Yikes! While I do love pluots and my boyfriend has grown fond of them, there is no way that the two of us could consume that many without starting to hate them. At the suggestion of Jason, I turned my pluots into a modified tarte tatin and it was delicious to eat! I will concede that this is not a “true” tarte tatin as it does not have a caramelized bottom but I think the maple syrup base adds more flavor than the overwhelmingly sugary taste of caramel. I would like to make some changes to the recipe at some point so if I have time to experiment, I’ll update the recipe.
For this recipe, I ended up making my own puff pastry which I think went rather well for my first attempt. There weren’t as many layers as I was hoping for but I think it was an impressive showing for my first attempt. Pluots also have a high volume of water and they may have soaked the pastry a little too much, retarding the rise of the layers of pastry. Either way, Jason and I have nearly polished off the whole tart in two days which I think is rather impressive! I also remembered after the fact that for a liquid filling, you normally cut a little steam hole in the top of the tart in order to let the moisture escape. Guess who forgot their steam hole? I can’t wait to make this again with a few improvements. I also really enjoyed the process of making puff pastry, with a cold countertop, it wasn’t nearly as daunting as it looks on television. I did have much more time to leisurely make the pastry which I think is key for keeping the butter chilled. The pastry can be made throughout the day between larger tasks and then rested overnight before use. Obviously, if you’re rushed for time, do NOT try to make your own pastry! As Ina Garten says, if you can’t make your own, store-bought is fine. Especially if you’re a novice baker, pastry can be tricky and finicky and you may have more failure than success but I encourage you to keep going, you will get there one of these days!
Pluot Tarte Tatin Recipe
For the Puff Pastry (Paul Hollywood’s Recipe)
Makes double what you need for the tarte tatin, roughly 600 grams
150 grams chilled Bread flour
150 grams chilled All Purpose flour
Pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
2 large eggs
100 milligrams cold water
250 grams chilled unsalted European-style butter
Combine the flours, salt, eggs, and water in a large bowl and gently mix to an even dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth (up to 10 minutes). The dough will feel tight. Shape into a bowl, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge overnight.
Flatten the butter into a rectangle, 15″x 7″ and return it to the fridge, overnight or for at least an hour to harden.
Roll out the dough to 24″x 8″ and place the butter on the dough so it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough.
Fold the exposed dough on the top over the butter and then fold the bottom butter covered third over the top flap. Pinch the edges together to seal and put into a plastic bag to chill for 1 hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a slightly floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle and fold the bottom and top quarters to meet in the center. Fold this dough in half and chill in a bag for another hour. (This is a book turn! It creates lamination very quickly so if you want more layers, make the next two turns book turns rather than single turns)
Take the dough out and roll it into a rectangle. Fold down the top third of the dough and then fold up the bottom third to make a square of dough. Wrap and chill for another hour. (This is a single turn)
Repeat step 6 and chill overnight. After overnight chill, the pastry can be used at will or frozen up to three months. If frozen, thaw in the fridge the night before.
For the Tarte Tatin (Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Plum Tarte Tatin recipe)
Serves about 8,
600 grams ripe pluots, de-pitted and halved
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
120 milligrams maple syrup
30 milligrams water
320 grams puff pastry, rolled into a circle
Vanilla Ice Cream for serving
Preheat oven to 425F.
Warm a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Add pluots to the pan with the water and cook for 1 minute. Place them carefully for decorative purposes, a tarte tatin is turned upside down to serve so the base ends up on top.
From a height, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon over the pan and evenly pour the maple syrup over the pluots. (The cinnamon is sprinkled from a height to prevent it being burned in the pan, which is v unpleasant, and it helps it to spread evenly on the pluots)
Place the pastry over the pluots and using a spoon or your hands, press the pastry to the edges and over the pluots. Trim excess pastry and use it to patch any holes. Use a paring knife to cut a small hole in the center to allow steam out.
Bake at the bottom of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed up.
Using GOOD and LONG oven gloves, place a plate over the skillet and flip the tarte out of the pan. If properly baked, it shouldn’t stick at all.
Dish up with ice cream and sprinkle remaining cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
For the Fourth of July (I know this post is wee bit behind the curve) I decided to tackle pie! I’ve never liked pie all that much but I know that it’s revered as an American classic by many, including my boyfriend. The only pie I can remember enjoying was my cousin’s strawberry and rhubarb pie that had crunch but still melted in the mouth.
I ventured into the realm of fruit pie for the fourth with the help of Los Angeles food writer, Ben Mims. In the food section from the Los Angeles times, Mr. Mims extolled the virtue of this simply made blueberry pie and I had to try it. Be warned, this pie took three days from start to finish. It’s not a particularly complicated recipe but it takes a long time to set. Mr. Mims was also very specific on the way certain things should be done such as the washing of the blueberries and the preparation of the crust and I followed his directions to a T.
On July 2nd, I made the crust and on the 3rd, I made the filling. Following the recommendation of Mr. Mims, I allowed the pie to set overnight before serving it for our Fourth of July lunch. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction of my family because we are collectively not big on pie. I found that the amount of cornstarch was slightly overwhelming and made the blueberry gel too jelly-like but my mother thought it was just fine. I found that if made again, I would make some minor modifications but for now, here is the recipe for my lovely Fruit Pie for the Fourth of July.
Blueberry Pie Recipe
For the Crust
1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes, (113 grams)
For the Filling
2 pounds and 2 ounces blueberries, cleaned
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Topping
12 ounces cold heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To Make the Crust
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and use fingers to rub the butter in until the mixture forms pea sized crumbles (can use the food processor to do this as well)
Add 1/3 cup ice water and toss the mixture with a fork until it begins to come together.
Turn out the crumbly mass and pat together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
Unwrap the dough and roll out to an 11″ circle that is 1/8″ thick. Flour this circle and roll it around the rolling pin.
Let the dough fall over the 9″ pie plate or tin, letting gravity pull the dough down to fill in the tin. Don’t push the dough in, the thinness of the dough means that it may rip if you do so.
Trim the dough until there is 1/2″ of dough left hanging around the edges of the pie plate. Fold this additional dough over the rim of the pie plate, creating a double layer of crust at the top. Crimp with fingers or a fork and freeze for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 425F and crumple up some aluminum foil. Reflatten the ball and place it over the frozen pie crust. Add in about 4 cups of pie weights or rice or lentils to where the entire pie crust is filled (I did not do this and part of my crust slipped down, see the above picture)
Bake crust until the edges turn light brown, about 25 minutes.
Remove the crust from the oven in order to remove the pie weights. Turn the temperature down to 375F and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
For the Filling
Reserve 1/3 cup of blueberries and place the rest in a large bowl.
In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the filtered water and mix until smooth. Add the reserved blueberries. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the mix thickens to a stiff gel, about 5 minutes.
Once thickened, stir gel to break up blueberries to color the gel about one minute more. The gel should turn a dark magenta.
Remove the gel from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract while still hot.
Pour the gel over the large bowl of blueberries and use a large rubber spatula to fold the gel into the blueberries until they are fully coated.
Immediately spoon the filling into the cooled pie crust, mounding it up slight. In between spoonfuls, stir the blueberries to make sure the gel doesn’t coagulate on the bottom.
Smooth the berries and let cool while preparing the topping
For the Topping
Beat the heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Once the blueberry filling is cooled, top with the whipped cream and decorate as desired. You can pipe it out over the filling for a neater look or pile it on the filling for a more rustic look.