Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Chips

Many of my regular readers will know how much my husband loves pumpkin.  I've spoken about this many times.  Well, last year, suddenly he tells me that he's "off" pumpkin.  I apparently had made too many pumpkin things the year before and so he wasn't really feeling it.  I actually felt his forehead - I thought he was sick!  We have been together for seven years now (gee, where did the time go?) and he has always been, "Oh I love pumpkin!", "Make me something pumpkin!"  So you'll see why I wondered if I needed to rush him to the emergency room.  Or knock some sense into him... I wasn't really sure which.  So my mother-in-law (Hi!) calls me around a week ago asking if her son is still "off" pumpkin - she was as concerned as I was over that little development last year - and I was happy to report that he was, in fact, back in love with pumpkin!  We could all breath a little easier now.

Once my husband had made his happy announcement that he wanted pumpkin once more, off I went in search of recipes.  It had been a really long time since I'd made scones so I really wanted to make a pumpkin scone.  Apparently the recipe gods heard me because the very next day, my November issue of Bon Appetit magazine arrived in my mailbox and there it was:  Pumpkin Scones.  And as luck would have it, I actually had all the ingredients!  Oh happy day!  The original recipe included a cinnamon butter recipe and mixed cranberries into the scones.  Well, the husband doesn't like cranberries so I decided to meet-in-the-middle of this recipe and mixed in cinnamon chips (which are probably one of my favorite ingredients EVER).

I love making scones, almost as much as I love making cookies.  But scones can be deceiving.  When you add in your liquid ingredients, your dry ingredients look like they will never come together.  But PLEASE don't add in any more liquid.  Everything will come together, I promise.  I made the mistake of adding one tablespoon of extra liquid and it made my scones too sticky.  You want your dough to be on the dry side.

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Chips
adapted slightly from Bon Appetit (Nov. 2014)

1/2 c. Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
2 c. All Purpose Flour
3/4 c. Butter, unsalted (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 c. Cinnamon Chips
1 Egg
1/2 c. Pumpkin (Libby's canned pumpkin)
1/4 c. Buttermilk

In a large bowl, whisk together your sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda, and flour.
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate in your butter.  (Placing your butter in the freezer 30 minutes prior to grating and it'll go so much easier.)
Toss the butter in the dry ingredients to coat.
Mix in your cinnamon chips.
Now add your egg, pumpkin, and buttermilk, stirring to combine.  (Remember this may not look like enough liquid but keep going - it'll all come together.)
Transfer the dough to some parchment paper that's been lightly floured and pat into a 1 1/2" thick disk.
Cut into 8 wedges.
Freeze until firm, around 25 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Pumpkin-y goodness.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Small Batch Pineapple Jam

Ladies, lets talk about something men just don't understand - the clearance section.  I know I'm not alone in my love for a deal!  I still talk about the time I got $40 shoes for $3 (gold sandals at JCPenney's, by the way).  My best friend knows that if we're Target, we are going to go see the endcaps to see what steals and deals they have.  I tell my husband all the time that if we ever get separated in a store, he can always find me in the clearance section.  Now, one of the surprising places to find a deal is the produce section of your grocery store.  Did you know that sometimes they will put produce that's maybe not quite as pretty as it once was on clearance?  Me neither - at least until a few months ago.  Now I love pineapple whether its in juice form or chunks - I love it all.  But pineapples can be expensive.  My local grocery store usually has them for $4.99 each.  Which, for folks on a budget, spending $5 on a pineapple sometimes doesn't make the final list.  So when I came across a pineapple wrapped up in the cling film that was marked $.69?  Yeah, that was going in my cart!  No it wouldn't be winning any special awards for appearance and it wasn't going to last long on the counter either.  No, this needed something to make it last MUCH longer...

Enter Pomona's Pectin.  I LOVE this stuff!  Pomona's Pectin allows the at-home canner to make jams and jellies (and lots of other things, according to their website) using much less sugar than your traditional pectin.  For example: strawberry jam using traditional pectin requires THREE CUPS of sugar. THREE! Using Pomona's Pectin, I use ONE CUP for the exact same amount of fruit. Talk about a big difference!  And I don't know about you but I find a lot of fresh fruits don't actually need that much sugar so it's great to see a product that will allow me to have much more control over the sugars rather than letting the sugar control me.  The insert that comes with the packets of pectin have plenty of jam and jelly ideas for you to try.  The pineapple jam had always intrigued me but, as you can guess, pineapple never stuck around long enough in my house to ever be made into jam.  But now, I had a pineapple that was just begging to made into jam.

Also, as a side note... as many of my readers know, I like to steer clear of preservatives and keep things as natural as possible.  Now, I will occasionally use tradition pectin because - well, sometimes a tradition is a tradition for a reason.  But have you looked on the side of a traditional Ball Fruit Pectin jar? It's dextrose (which is a type of sugar), fruit pectin, and citric acid.  Not exactly something I wanted to see.  But Pomona's Pectin?  From their website: "Pomona's Universal Pectin contains only 100% pure citrus pectin, which is vegan, gluten free, and GMO free.  There are no additives, preservatives, sugar, or dextrose.  There are no corn or apple by-products."  Now that sounds like a product I can get behind!  (side note:  I didn't get any compensation from Pomona's Pectin - I bought this product and I use it with quite a bit of regularity.)

So for the next question:  where can you find this wonderful product?  I found mine at my local Williams-Sonoma but you can also find it at Whole Foods Markets.  You can also order from Amazon (Prime eligible).  On their website, they do have a Store Locator to help you find it at a store near you.

Pineapple Jam
recipe from insert in Pomona's Pectin

2 c. Pineapple, mashed (one pineapple gave me the full amount)
1 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Pectin Powder (included in Pomona's Pectin)
1 tsp. Calcium Water (included in Pomona's Pectin)

Get your jars prepared by washing them and letting them stand in a pot of hot, simmering water (making sure the water is at least one inch higher than the top of the jars).
In a separate bowl, measure your sugar and mix in the pectin powder.
Pour the mashed fruit into a pan (DO NOT USE CAST IRON!) and stir in the calcium water.
Bring the fruit to a boil.
Add in your sugar and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes until the pectin and sugar dissolves.
Bring the fruit mixture back up to a boil.
Remove from the heat.
Remove your warm jars from the water and turn up the heat, letting your water come to a boil.
Fill your warm jars to 1/4" from the top and wipe the rims clean.
Screw on your two piece, screwing them just "finger tight" (until you can't tighten anymore just using your fingers).
Return your jars into the boiling water.
Boil for 10 minutes (if you're above sea level, add 1 minute to each 1000 feet above sea level).
Remove from the water and let the jars cool with a towel draped over them.
The jars are sealed when you hear a loud pop as they cool.  (Unsealed jars should be eaten within three weeks and kept in the fridge.)

Makes two half pints.