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
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?
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