Monday, February 27, 2012

Savory Cauliflower Soup

This recipe appealed to me for three reasons. One, it's soup, and, as I've stated before, I love soup. Two, I like an excuse to use cauliflower in a way that doesn't involve smothering it in cheese. Three, this was a comparatively short list of ingredients compared to some I've seen recently.

I didn't have to substitute much for this recipe. Part of the whole milk was substituted with skim milk since that's what we usually have on hand. The one thing that I was worried about was the pancetta. The article explains that this is "Italian bacon that is cured but not smoked." I have to admit I was a bit nervous about using regular bacon. But this turned out just fine, and the crumbled bacon was a nice garnish.

The taste of the soup was almost like a potato soup. It would be a very good low-carb substitute for potato soup for anyone watching their carbohydrate intake. The texture was a bit creamier, but overall, it was very tasty.

One thing I would suggest to anyone trying the recipe is instead of using sliced cauliflower for the garnish, simply saute some chopped cauliflower in butter for the same taste without the hassle of cutting and cooking slices. The taste is fantastic, so I wouldn't leave it out completely, though. If you do want to try the slices, I discovered that the smaller florets are a bit easier to slice and are usually prettier than the larger florets.

Recipe from Tea Time Magazine January/February 2012

Savory Cauliflower Soup
Yield: 6 cups (6 to 12 servings)
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cool: 30 minutes

6 slices deli pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
Garnish: shaved cauliflower

  • In a large saucepan, cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp, approximately 6 minutes. Remove from pan, and discard.
  • Add olive oil and onion to pancetta drippings. Cook over medium heat until onion is tender, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add broth, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until cauliflower is tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool for 30 minutes.
  • In the container of a blender, puree mixture in batches until smooth. Return puree to pan.
  • Add half-and-half and milk. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, but don't allow soup to boil. Serve warm.
  • Garnish with shaved cauliflower, if desired.
  • Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice cauliflower florets. In a nonstick pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add cauliflower slices. Brown slices on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Use immediately.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cheesy Potato & Broccoli Soup

My mother has a penchant for creating dishes in the kitchen using the leftovers from a previous meal. Unfortunately, she rarely writes down what she did, so even if it turns out really good, we have no way of replicating the dish. She recently made a soup that was so good I made her write down what she did to make it.

I love soups of all kinds. Potato soup and broccoli & cheese soup are two of my favorites. So this soup that combines the two is something that I know I'll make again and again.

Cheesy Potato & Broccoli Soup

1/4 cup (or less) chopped onion, sauteed in butter
2 cups chicken broth
4-5 potatoes, peeled & cubed
1-2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup broccoli florets
4 slices American cheese
1 cup milk
Salt to taste

Cook first four ingredients until potatoes are tender. Mash potatoes a little bit to get smaller chunks. Add broccoli florets and cook about 5 minutes. Add cheese to soup and stir until melted. Add milk and salt to taste.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Summer Reflections

The past summer has been busy with travel, and my poor blog has gone neglected far too long. It seems that I was gone at least every other weekend, and spent the remaining weekends recovering from all the driving.

My travels have taken me to seven different states. Normally, I don't stop much along the way, but on my most recent trip, I had planned to stop by a tea room or two. However it seems that Tea Map does not update as often as they should, and most of the shops that I had intended to visit have now closed. I did, however, find a collectibles mall where I spent an enjoyable half-hour browsing through a varied assortment of antique tea cups.

While visiting my sister in Louisiana, I was delighted to find clotted cream at World Market. It's the first time I've come across it in a store, and I was anxious to get it home to try on some freshly-baked scones. Unfortunately, while on the way back, it was left in the car during the hot weather and spoiled in the heat. While I was disappointed, at least I know where I can purchase it again, and next time, I'll bring along a good scone recipe to try.

At the end of the summer, I moved back home to Alabama. The past year has been full of new experiences, and I have enjoyed it immensely. I feel that this move is what's best for me, and while I search for a new job, I have a feeling of anticipation. I'm looking forward new adventures and new friends. Now if only I could be paid for drinking tea...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Red Velvet Scones

As I was making these, I told my mom that every time I make a new scone recipe, I always say it's my best ever. I'll have to say it again on this recipe. These were my best scones yet!

You could smell the cocoa in these as they were baking, and I could hardly wait to pull them out of the oven. I didn't even wait for my tea to finish steeping before I ate my first one. These scones were so good. As a combination of scone and red velvet cake, this was a huge success.

There was also a recipe for Creamy Mascarpone Hearts, which was easy to mix up, having only five ingredients: cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, butter, vanilla and a little powdered sugar. Actually taking the time to spread and harden the mixture, then cut it into hearts was a bit more trouble than it was worth, but both my mom and sister declared them very good, and a nice substitute for clotted cream.

The scones were palatable the next morning, which was a bit surprising. Their deep red color was made even prettier when cut into heart shapes. This is an excellent recipe for a Valentine's Day tea. Easy, cute, and delicious...I'd give these scones an A+.

Recipes from Tea Time Magazine January/February 2011 issue

Red Velvet Scones
Yield: approximately 1 dozen scones
Preparation: 10 minutes
Bake: 15 minutes
Cool: 5 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe Creamy Mascarpone Hearts

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, food coloring, and vanilla. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until a dough forms.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 8 to 10 turns. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut as many scones as possible, rerolling scraps no more than once. Place scones on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely, or serve warm with Creamy Mascarpone Hearts.
Creamy Mascarpone Hearts
Yield: approximately 2 dozen butter pats
Preparation: 10 minutes
Refrigerate: 2 hours

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
1 (3-once) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a medium bowl, combine cheeses and butter. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.
  2. Spread mixture onto a parchment-lined 13-x-9-inch baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Using a 1 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter, cut out mixture. Store heart shapes covered between layers of parchment paper in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In Search of Clotted Cream

I have tried over the past month to find a source for clotted cream. I tried it once and absolutely fell in love. But apparently Arkansas is the wrong place to be looking. I can purchase it over the internet, but that gets too expensive when it's shipping from England.

I finally abandoned all thought of buying it and started searching for recipes for how to make it. And actually, the basic method is not that complicated. Why have I not tried it? Because I cannot find any cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. I'm told I can use pasteurized heavy cream, but not ultra-pasteurized.

My last resort is Whole Foods. I really hate to have to go to that part of town, but if they have pasteurized cream, I will make the trip as I am getting a bit desperate.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones

I came home from a trip craving cinnamon chocolate chip scones. I was a little short on my usual ingredients, but I decided to make some anyways. When they turned out well, I posted a picture, and my friends wanted the recipe, so here is what I put together:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, chilled, diced
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2/3-1 cup water

1) Preheat oven to 400°F.
2) Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon.
3) Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4) Mix in chocolate chips.
5) Add 2/3 cup water and stir. Add water until dough resembles good cookie dough.
6) Spoon dough onto cookie sheet; shape into round discs about the size of your palm.
7) Bake 15 minutes; serve hot! (Just don't burn yourself)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Oeufs Cocotte

Baked Eggs is the translation the recipe gives. And while I'm told that I do have some French ancestry, it didn't help me appreciate the recipe much.

The recipe is actually very simple: goat cheese, smoked salmon, herbs and an egg in each ramekin. Bake for 12 minutes and voila!

It was simple. It looked good; it smelled good, and the presentation it makes would impress any guest. But I finally came to the conclusion that to like this recipe as is, you need to absolutely love smoked salmon, goat cheese, or both... preferably both. As I am still acquiring a taste for each of these ingredients, you may well imagine how my taste-buds reacted.

I tried to like this, I really did. But the only thing going through my mind was my sister's comment, "I can't decide if I really like it, or really hate it." I finally gave up trying to eat the dish and gave it to my cat, hoping that he would eat it for the sake of the salmon. Alas! my cat has no French ancestry to speak of, and after a few hesitant licks, Harley turned up his nose and stalked off, and I finished my meal with another cup of tea and a tea cake.

As I was reviewing the recipe, I am pretty sure that I didn't quite put this together right. My water was not boiling when I poured it, and while it would not have affected the taste, it probably did affect the texture.

In retrospect, I would try adapting this recipe. I'd cut the goat cheese in half, and bake it longer. As is, the consistency was that of a thick soup. So, if you're feeling adventurous...go ahead and try this. I don't think I'll be serving it to anyone anytime soon, though.

Recipe from
Tea Time Magazine May/June 2010 issue

Oeufs Cocotte (Baked Eggs)
Yield: 12 servings
Preparation: 20 minutes
Bake: 12 minutes

1 (11-ounce) package chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled
2 (4-ounce) packages smoked salmon, torn into pieces
4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
3 teaspoons dry mustard
12 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon coarse salt, divided
1 tablespoon ground black pepper, divided
24 slices French baguette

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons goat cheese in each of 12 (1/2-cup capacity) ramekins. Divide smoked salmon pieces evenly among ramekins. Top each with 1 teaspoon tarragon, 1 teaspoon chives, and 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard.
  3. Gently break one egg into each ramekin. Sprinkle each egg with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining chives.
  4. Place ramekins in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake until egg whites are set and opaque, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.