In My Kitchen – February 2014

Since we’ve been in the deep freeze of one of the coldest New Englander winters of all time and with the new kitchen, you’d think that I’d be spending all of my time in the kitchen whipping up new recipes.  For some reason when the weather is like this, I tend to stick with the old favorite comfort foods and haven’t made anything new or very exciting – lots of soups, roasts, and casseroles.  I tend to hibernate when the weather is so bitterly cold that you get an ice cream headache stepping out the door and your face kind of cracks, falling into little pieces on the walk.  At my age, it’s hard to put all the pieces back in the right places which might explain the eyebrow being on my chin.

But, it’s always fun to join in to Celia’s In My Kitchen posts that she graciously hosts each month.  I don’t know about you, but I love snooping in other people’s kitchens to see what they have hanging around and this month Celia’s got lots of chocolate hanging around – in case you’re in the area.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photograph of the photographer but yesterday in my kitchen, I had our designer’s professional photographer taking pictures of my kitchen.  It’s amazing to watch someone who really knows his way around a camera but I’m afraid he would have critiqued my skills if I’d brought my camera out.  I missed that shot but Mary of Wayside Kitchens very nicely brought me these lovely roses and what I call bellflowers – maybe some of you experts out there could help me out on the blue flowers.  It brings a bit of spring into my kitchen which I really love.

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On the shelf on my range hood is Mr. Hooty the owl.  It was an adorable Christmas decoration from my daughter that was just too cute to put away until next Christmas.  He watches over what I do, and since owls are wise will hopefully bring me wisdom in my kitchen.  Plus, he gives the evil eye to any dogs who try to snarf up food off the counters.

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Ah, here’s my NEW coffee maker.  I may have mentioned that I’m having a little trouble getting used to the granite countertops.  I broke the pot on my old coffee maker but had a spare from the last coffee maker that burnt out.  Well, that pot seems to have hit the granite and was replaced with this new Mr. Coffee machine – yes, #3 and one of the less expensive models since I’m not trusting myself with breakables yet.  It might not be an expensive Keurig but at the rate I’m going I could rent out space here to Dunkin Donuts and buy coffee from them every morning – it would be cheaper I think.

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Now Celia, I thought of you on this one…I may have mentioned that my daughter is running the Boston Marathon this spring for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.  She had a very successful fund raiser for the MS Society at The Forum restaurant which was one of the places that was damaged last spring by the marathon bombers.  They were incredibly generous to donate a section of the restaurant for her to host the event and set up tables for raffle items donated by Boston businesses.  I was very relieved to not win the month membership to Beantown Bootcamp and instead lucked out with a much more appropriate prize of this decadent box of chocolates from Max Brenner’s store which also included his book “A Chocolate Love Story”.  The book has 65 chocolate dessert recipes so you should be seeing some posts titled ‘Bohemian French Toast Chocolate Sandwiches, ‘Parisian New Life Chocolate Dream Cake” or “Mon Cheri Chocolate Cherry Pie”.

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Oh… it seems that the tin of milk chocolate cubes filled with hazelnut cream and caramelized pecan bits (named Addiction) is empty!  I should take that back to see about a replacement…

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 Okay, a little explanation is necessary on this one.  I was reading Happiness Stan Lives Here’s post about his new Magimix that he got for Christmas.  I commented on the fact that I had this Pro model KitchenAid Mixer sitting in a box in my closet because it was going to be a Christmas gift for my daughter.  (She’d sent me a link, maybe it was a hint to this site that had them on sale).  After buying the mixer, I thought about her limited counter space and how she could really use a new laptop, so I bought her that instead.  When I told Stan about how I had this awesome KitchenAid mixer sitting in the box in my closet,  he wrote back – ‘use it’.  I don’t remember exactly what happened.  I think I may have blacked out for a few minutes and when I came to, this major mixer had replaced my 40 year old Sunbeam mixer on my counter and it was looking pretty good to me.  Of course the clock on the warranty starts ticking from date of purchase, not use and I was concerned that it might be defective – so I used it.

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That’s the dough hook attached right now which produced these cinnamon rolls (I’ve posted the recipe in a prior post, here) .  Sorry Niki, but will you forgive me if I keep turning out cinnamon rolls to share?  You’d reap the rewards with none of the work…

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Succulent Storm Scones

Well, the Boston area survived Hurricane Sandy with minimal damages and just spotty power outages, unlike New Jersey and New York which still resemble Venice.  We lost power for just a few hours when a transformer blew up down the street but lucked out because it happened pre-storm so the work crews were just hanging around looking for something to fix.  Today we’re just starting in on a very bitterly cold Nor’Easter that’s already causing accidents everywhere with winds that should be picking up later tonight.

The storm that I am most happy to have behind us though is the election!  Seriously, did anyone enjoy any of that?  I think it got to the point where no one even cared who won – just get it over, stop the ads and stop the endless phone calls.  For those of you overseas, we do have a “Do Not Call List” but conveniently politicians exempted themselves from that restriction.  To all politicians:  Do you REALLY thing that annoying me on the phone is going to make me vote FOR you or perhaps vote for the person who leaves me in peace?  Believe me if we weren’t in a dead spot for cell phone reception, we would have gotten rid of the landline long ago – 8 to 10 calls every day for the past 2 months is a bit much and frankly didn’t influence my decision in any way.  It was nice hearing from Bill Clinton though – glad you’re doing well.  Frankly I thought Pat Boone was dead, but guess he’s still “writing love letters in the sand” and thoughtfully called me.

The one call I really did appreciate though was from Matt Damon 

who not only urged me to vote but left a phone number for me to call if I needed a ride. I didn’t call him yesterday, but thought I might give him a call today to see if he wanted to go for a drive and hang out a bit.  So, now that the phones are quiet today I can finally concentrate on completing a sentence and would like to convince you to vote for whipping up a batch of these excellent scones.  Up until I found this recipe, I’d only tried a scone once in my life and wasn’t sure if I was eating a dog biscuit or a hockey puck.  These are unbelievably moist and you can add any type of fruit or nut to make your mouth happy.

CREAM SCONES

2 ½     Cups flour
2          Teaspoons baking powder
1          Teaspoon baking soda
½         Cup sugar
1           Stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (cold, cut into pieces)
½         Cup sour cream
¼         Cup heavy cream
1          Egg
Chopped pecans
Blueberries

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar in mixer or food processor bowl.  Add in pieces of butter until mixture is crumbly.  Mix in sour cream and egg, then pour heavy cream on top and blend until dough becomes sticky.  Add nuts and blueberries by hand.

Lay parchment paper on baking sheet and place scone mixture in the middle, smoothing it out until it’s about 1 or 1 1/4″ thick.  Bake in preheated 400° oven for about 30 minutes or until top is golden & toothpick comes clean.

Nantucket Island and Lobster Scramble Brunch

Years ago we used to vacation on the island of Nantucket.  Before the high speed ferry, the trip over was a little too long to attract day trippers and housing development on the island was minimal.  Yes, the island is more crowded but it’s as beautiful and charming as ever.

Although Nantucket was always a vacation island for the affluent, it still had plenty to offer for those of more modest means.  Bill Gates has a home there, and I caught this guy coming off the ferry we were about to board:

John Kerry, Massachusetts Senator, former Presidential candidate

And I understand that Mitt Romney headed over there for a fund raiser a couple days later.  He heard they had a bank there and being an island, that it was “off-shore”…sorry I couldn’t resist that one.

Of course prices have risen since we were there 25 years ago.  We used to stay at the Cliff Lodge, a quaint inn a short walk from downtown.  If I’m remembering correctly, our first year there, rooms were $25 per night, our last year they had skyrocketed to $35 per night.  Of course I had to check their website to see what the going rate is now.  Wow!  Okay, it’s been 25 years, but the starting rate for a single bed is $155 per night, in season.  Here I am standing on the porch of the Cliff Lodge – that was free.

I guess prices have jumped a little.  I remember always walking by the real estate office in town, ogling the houses for sale and remember saying to my husband, “Can you imagine somebody paying $125,000 for a house here!?”  Of course we’re kicking ourselves as we look at 2 bedroom cottages for over $1,000,000.  Hindsight – it does crazy things to your brain doesn’t it?

A landmark inn on Nantucket is the Jared Coffin House.  Built in the mid- 1800’s, it’s a 3 story brick mansion offering rooms, elegant meals, and a patio bar.  The patio bar was a daily stop for us after a bike to Surfside Beach – again, needed those margarita’s to re-hydrate and replenish the lost salt from a day in the sun.  Since it was mid morning and we hadn’t been to the beach, we decided to just have brunch…well a mimosa is fine with brunch right?  We both had to try their Lobster Scramble which I think I’ve successfully recreated here.  It’s very easy although if you’re like me – not a morning person – I would steam the lobster & pull out the meat the night before since that part doesn’t work out well for me in the morning.  Since we’re coming to the end of lobster season and I’m guessing prices will go up, I may not be having so many lobster dishes but while I can, I’ll have this over Special K any morning.

LOBSTER SCRAMBLE as easy as can be

Scramble up a couple of eggs, toss in chopped lobster meat, and just as the eggs are started to cook, add about 3 tablespoons of the best triple creme Brie you can find.  If you happen to have a mimosa standing by, all the better.

Streusel Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Perfect for an afternoon break, but look at the ingredients… milk, egg, Bisquick – sounds like a breakfast to me.  This is so easy to put together that you can’t have any excuse for not trying this.  Although it’s got Bisquick, it’s not at all heavy but very light & well… crummy.

Streusel Mixture:
1/2    Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2       Teaspoons cinnamon
1       Teaspoon nutmeg
1/3    Cup finely chopped pecans
3       Tablespoons melted butter

Coffeecake:
1        Egg
1/4     Cup granulated sugar
1        Cup milk
2-1/2  Cups Bisquick mix
2        Tablespoons melted butter

*  Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 9×9″ pan or Corningware dish
*  Combine Streusel using all ingredients & mix with fork
*  For Coffeecake mixture:
In mixing bowl, beat egg, sugar, and milk.  Add Bisquick mix and
and butter until well combined (do not over beat).
*  Stir in 1/2 Streusel mixture
*  Spread batter into prepared pan, then sprinkle remainder of
Struesel mixture over the top.
*  Bake for about 25 minutes until top is golden. Test center
with toothpick. Cool for about 15 minutes, cut while warm.