Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Lemon Scones


I have been looking forward to baking with fresh cranberries since last Thanksgiving, and these scones were at the top of my list. The recipe is for biscuits, but these are really more of a scone. I love the tartness of the cranberries and the subtle freshness from the lemon. The original recipe calls for meyer lemon, but my grocery store didn't have them so I just used a regular lemon.

Cranberry Lemon Scones
Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 beaten egg for brushing the tops of the scones before baking
Turbinado or granulated sugar for sprinkling on top before baking

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pinch of ginger, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter (using your fingers or a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until some of the butter flakes are the size of peas and some are the size of oat flakes.

In another bowl, combine egg and milk and beat lightly with a fork. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough. Fold in the cranberries and zest.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 10 times. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds using a round cutter or cut into 2×2-inch squares. Reshape and roll dough to create more scones with excess scraps.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sunday Supper: Early Winter 2014

 

Menu planning is one of my favorite ways to pass my free time. We are spending Thanksgiving at a friend's house this year, and I am in serious Thanksgiving-menu-planning withdrawal. I've fed my addiction through planning other menus, including a hypothetical Thanksgiving dinner with slow roasted duck. That menu is a doozy, and I plan to save it for a special occasion dinner this winter. I've also been working on dinner party menus and our New Year's Eve party menu. We are doing Spanish tapas this year! All this planning can only satisfy me so much so this weekend, I put one of my menus into action and made a delicious Sunday supper.

We had a rack of ribs in the freezer that Andrew has asked to eat every weekend for at least two months so I started there. Since this menu involves grilling the ribs outside, this isn't the perfect main dish for this time of year, but I didn't want them to sit in the freezer all winter. We usually make these ribs in the summer after a long bike ride or hike, but trust me, they are tasty any time of year. The basting sauce has bourbon and apple cider so it feels fall-y at least. The ribs do require some planning ahead. I like to remove the membrane and apply the seasoning rub the night before. Check out this handy tutorial for removing the membrane - all you need is a butter knife and a paper towel and it is very quick and easy.

Brussels sprouts on the stalk are too hard to resist this time of year. I halved and roasted them. Simple and perfect. I also made a cauliflower gratin. When I was studying abroad, my host mother would make cauliflower gratiné often in the winter, and it is one of my great regrets that I never got her recipe. This one is spot on. Creamy, cheesy cauliflower gratin on a chilly night? There's not much better!


For dessert, I made an apple galette. I made apple tarts in culinary class, but they were too sweet. I actually printed out this recipe and replaced the one from our book in my standard prep manual in case I had to make it again in class. The dough is a dream - elastic and forgiving, easy to roll out thinly and light and flaky once baked. I used less than half of the sugar that the recipe called for, and to me, it was perfect. We served the galette with vanilla ice cream.


And because it is the end of November, we drank Beaujolais Nouveau, mostly for nostalgic reasons. It was actually pretty good this year, which is a big compliment, in my opinion.


...

Early Winter Sunday Supper

Brown Sugar and Bourbon Ribs

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cauliflower Gratiné

Apple Galette

...

Recipes are after the jump.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day Trip from Santa Fe: Pecos National Historic Park

This time of year is always hard - shorter days, no daylight after work to do anything fun outside, chilly weekend days and snowy mountain trails. Until ski season starts, I find it harder to be active and feel good, but this year we have been trying to take advantage of free weekend days to do some day trips that we've been wanting to try. I love visiting Pecos, about 30 minutes from Santa Fe, in the summer for fishing and hiking, but I had never taken the time to visit the ruins of the Pueblo and Spanish Mission until recently.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Welcome to Winter


Chilly nights, crackling fires, cozy blankets, and lots of cuddling. Welcome to winter.

During the rest of the year, Elsa likes to spend her evenings hanging out in other rooms in the house. She's like a moody teenager keeping to herself no matter how much I encourage her to come spend some family time with us. She especially likes sleeping on the bed in the spare room her bedroom. But now that it is so cold in the house, and the best place to be is on the couch in front of the fire, she spends her evenings with us again. It is wonderful!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day Trip from Santa Fe: Salinas Pueblo Missions


We took a day off from work last week and decided to spend it having a day o' fun. We don't do this as often as we did when we were in graduate school, but days o' fun involve lots of fun obviously and zero planning. When we wake up in the morning, we pick a place on the map, hop in the car and start driving.

We picked Salinas Pueblo Missions, which is a National Monument about two hours south of Santa Fe. To start our day, we had breakfast at our favorite cafe and then headed toward Mountainair, which has a visitor center and small museum. Luckily we got to the visitor center just minutes before it was closing for lunch and watched a short video, picked up a map and set out on our way. The National Monument consists of three sites of abandoned Pueblos: Gran Quivira, Abó and Quarai. Each site has ruins of the Mission Churches built by the Spanish, and Gran Quivira has excavated Pueblo rooms.

When we arrived at Gran Quivira, we discovered that there was a television show being filmed and the site had been transformed into an Israeli archaeological dig. All of the interpretive signs were covered in Hebrew and the crew had set up fake columns. The park ranger was giddy because the actor who plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies was staring in the show. The ranger escorted us around the site to make sure we didn't interfere with the sets or filming. It was very bizarre and hectic, but the other sites were lovely and mostly empty.

We picked up some junk food - the kind you only eat on road trips - in Mountainair, and ate chips and dip in the car. We drove back through the Manzano Mountains and stopped for a glass of wine in Fourth of July Canyon before heading back to Santa Fe.

visitor center in mountainair
at abó
quarai
fourth of july canyon

Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday Cocktail: Pomegranate Moscow Mule


I was looking for a cocktail incorporating fresh pomegranate this weekend, and since I love Moscow Mules, this was the perfect find. I made them twice this weekend - once for friends and once last night for just the two of us in front of the fire. The pomegranate juice doesn't give a strong flavor, but the color is gorgeous. With a ginger-lime sugared rim, these will be perfect for the holidays.

the green flecks of lime zest on the rim and the red drink are so pretty together

I wanted to use fresh pomegranates, but you could also just buy juice which is less of a hassle; although I do find that the color of the store-bought juice is more purple-y and not as vibrant. The sugared rim adds a lot both in terms of taste and beauty so don't skip that. I added candied ginger as a garnish, and I love the sharp pop of the ginger to bite in between sips.



Pomegranate Moscow Mule

1 pomegranate (or 2 tablespoons store-bought juice)
1 lime
2 ounces vodka
3 ounces Ginger Beer
Candied ginger for garnish (optional)

Ginger-Lime Sugar:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Cut the pomegranate in half and juice both halves using a citrus juicer. Strain juice and set aside.

Mix sugar, lime zest and grated ginger in shallow bowl. Use fork to work zest and ginger into the sugar until well combined. Moisten the rim of a glass with a lime wedge and coat the rim in sugar.

Fill sugared glass with ice, add vodka, 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice, and the juice of half a lime. Stir to combine. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with candied ginger and lime slices.

Makes 1 drink.

The List: Things to Do in New Mexico

Mural in Mountainair, NM 

A few weeks ago, while my father-in-law was visiting, we rode a trail in Taos that we have been meaning to try for years. It has literally been years that Andrew has mentioned that he wants to ride along the rim trail. It's not difficult to get to or out of our way, but for all of these years, we've just never stopped to give it a try. This was also the case with Puye Cliffs, which we visited with my mom in the spring.

I'm not going to live in New Mexico forever, and I don't want to leave knowing that there are places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to see but I just never got around to them. That's why I've started a list of things I want to do before we leave.

On my list are things that I've been wanting to do like camping at White Sands under the full moon, hiking in the Gila wilderness, cross country skiing in the Valles Caldera and riding sections of the Great Divide Trail.

The list also includes things that I want to do again like bird watching at Bosque del Apache, visiting Chaco Canyon and hiking at El Malpais.

I divided my list up by region, and it will probably continue to grow, but it feels good to start crossing items off. I also started a list of things to do in the Southwest like rafting the Grand, visiting Canyon de Chelly and riding the White Rim Trail. We certainly have no shortage of adventures ahead of us!

Do you keep a list of places to visit in your town or region?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pick-Me-Up Paloma


Winter hit us with a force this week in Santa Fe. It's all relative, but it sure felt cold and dreary. My favorite pick-me-up this time of year is citrus. I made palomas for a get together with some girlfriends last night, and I thought I'd share the recipe. I made grapefruit simple syrup using the technique from my favorite grapefruit cake to work the zest into the sugar before I added water. I think it made the drink extra grapefruit-y. The picture from above is from a few months ago when it wasn't dark at 5:00 pm every day. Obviously, palomas are good any time of the year!

Paloma

2 ounces tequila
4 tablespoons grapefruit simple syrup
Juice of half a lime
Club soda
Pink grapefruit for garnish

Fill a glass with ice. Add tequila, grapefruit simple syrup and lime juice. Stir gently. Top with club soda. Garnish with grapefruit peel or slice.

Makes 1 drink.

Grapefruit Simple Syrup

3/4 cup sugar
One large pink grapefruit
1 1/2 cups water
(I like my simple syrup on the less sweet side, but if you prefer it sweeter use 1:1 ratio of sugar to water.)

Finely grate the zest from the grapefruit. On a cutting board, combine sugar and grapefruit zest. Using a bench scraper or a fork, work the zest into the sugar until fully combined. Transfer sugar to a small sauce pan.

Quarter the grapefruit and add to the sauce pan. Add water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour syrup through a strainer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mac Lovin'

When we first started dating, Andrew could cook pancakes, his family's Thanksgiving sweet potatoes and his favorite food, macaroni and cheese (from a box). He cooked each of these dishes for me during our first few weeks together. He gussied up his boxed mac and cheese with fancy aged cheese, green chile, and bacon. At the time, I barely knew how to cook much more than him, but I was confident that I could make macaroni and cheese from scratch. 

I was new to cooking, wasn't following a recipe and didn't really understand the power of minced garlic. I had bought a jar of pre-minced garlic and I added a few small spoonfuls to the noodles before I baked the mac and cheese. I dished up and told Andrew to go ahead and start eating as I finished the salad. I sat down next to him after he had had his first bite. He gave me a big smile and said it tasted great. I took one bite, and said, "I think this is way too garlicky. I don't know if I can eat this." At which point he said, "Oh thank god, I didn't know if I could eat this either." I wrapped up the pan of macaroni and cheese and put it in the fridge, and we went for pizza instead. The next day I pulled the pan out, and I considered throwing it away. I really didn't want to eat this macaroni and cheese.

Have you ever cooked food that turned out so terrible you had to throw it out? It kills me to be wasteful and not eat something that I've cooked. It has only happened a handful of times that I will throw food out - a ginger carrot soup and sweet and sour chicken are the only two I can think of off the top of my head. If I make something I don't like, I'll usually eat it anyway so as not to be wasteful. 

I ended up eating the entire pan of garlicky mac and cheese by myself. Luckily the garlic was less potent cold.

This week, ten years later, I made a different pan of mac and cheese to celebrate Andrew's birthday. It is still his favorite food, and while I've tried different recipes over the years, this one is easy and always good. The recipe below is for the full 12 servings, but I usually cut it in half when I make it. Six servings of cheesy pasta is enough for me in a week, although my husband may disagree... I also like to add green chile to give it a kick.


Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 12

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 cup roasted green chile, chopped (optional)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Add green chile.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Snapshots Fall 2014

September 13
Galisteo
We wake up to a cloudy morning and decide to try some trails at the Galisteo Basin Preserve that we know don't have much shade. As we drive towards El Dorado, the clouds burn off and the sun comes out. We ride up and over the ridge, up and over another ridge. We stop at a small viewpoint, and I find this tiny dog statue. It looks very similar to my cousin's dog statue. Suddenly, I'm seeing them everywhere. We eat a few shot bloks and keep riding. I practice riding on loose rock and turning on switchbacks. We stop in a shady spot to take a break and talk about how excited we are for Moab.

September 25
Santa Fe
Andrew and I meet for lunch before I head to the airport to see Katy Perry. My bags are packed and my nails are ready. We are one day off the Whole30, and it is a novelty to eat out at a restaurant.

October 4
White Mesa
We head south to ride at White Mesa before meeting friends in Albuquerque for lunch. I think it will be good practice for riding in Moab, and I learn quickly that the exposure of riding along a ridge is enough to stop me in my tracks. Even so, I push myself hard and ride sections of trail that terrify me. It will indeed be good practice for Moab.

October 5
Santa Fe
A sunny afternoon. Us and the girls strolling through our neighborhood and walking downtown to run errands and pick up last minute items at REI before the trip to Moab. The shadow of this puppy slays me. I literally can't get enough.

October 10
Santa Fe
We celebrate our ten year anniversary by going out for sazeracs and then tapas and Spanish guitar. A long table of a dozen older ladies fills the restaurant. After having several drinks, they begin dancing on the tables. The Spanish guitar player is beyond pleased. Our cheeks have rosied up after a glass of wine, and the energy in the air is palpable. We order another bottle of wine, a special wine on the menu for Balloon Fiesta, which our server has described as f*ing amazing. We agree.

October 25
Taos
Andrew's dad is visiting, and we take a day trip to Taos. The canyon is on fire with brilliant golden leaves from the cottonwoods. We stop along the river to enjoy the crisp, cool weather. We see dozens and dozens of big horn sheep in the canyon while hiking and driving up to the rim. We ride our bikes along the rim of the canyon before stopping in town for pizza. As we drive home through the canyon, the moon begins to rise above the canyon wall. The sun hangs low and the golden leaves shine. I remember the first time I drove through this canyon 12 years earlier and think it must have been around this time of year. Something in my spirit feels the same. Then I realize that it is the anniversary of Paul Wellstone's death, which coincides with the anniversary of my first visit to New Mexico. Funny how our bodies remember anniversaries.

October 31
Santa Fe
After not dressing up for years and years, I decide to partake in the festivities this year. Inspired by our time in Las Vegas, I join my best friend, 1200  miles away, in being a pink flamingo. Not wanting to be a party pooper, Andrew dresses up as Larry Bird. As he drops me off at work in the morning, he leans over and tells me that we are both birds today. I spend the rest of the day enjoying the novelty of Mr. and Mrs. Bird.

November 1
Home
I doze off on the couch while Andrew watches a movie. Lola, the puppy who refused to sit still and who hated cuddling, lets me hold her paw. The next day, I find lots of photos on my phone documenting this sweet moment.
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