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Recipe: Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Now that summer has announced itself, it's time for those outdoor gatherings we have been looking forward to. Fresh corn is now available, if you'd like to use it in this recipe, or you may use frozen. It's the perfect dish for dipping into, with lots of body and good ingredients! Be sure and have plenty of big tortilla chips on hand.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed, or 2 cans Green Giant Niblets corn
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped, or 2 cups Cherry or Grape tomatoes, cut up
1 large sweet red or orange pepper, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
A can (4 or 7 oz.) chopped green chilies
A small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup red onion, chopped fine
½ cup minced fresh cilantro (you can use scissors and cut stems and all, if wished) Juice of one large lime, at least 2 TB.  or more
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp. sugar
1 ½  tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
A jar good quality salsa (16 oz.)

In a large bowl combine all ingredients, adding salsa last
Taste for seasoning, and correct if needed. Enjoy with nice big tortilla chips! Serves about 20

Recipe: Hot Cross Buns

 

 Hot Cross Buns have an intriguing History       

In many historically Christian countries, including ours, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and the weekend of Easter, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion, but they have also become a tradition of springtime sales for many bakeries across the world.  The slightly sweetened yeast buns studded with raisins are noted for the white icing cross across their tops, and are delicious served warm with butter for a coffee or teatime treat.

The first mention of “hot cross buns” seems to be around 1733, but when the buns became so popular, Protestant monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous holdover of Catholic belief in England.  An attempt was made to ban the sale of the buns by bakers, but they were too popular for people of all beliefs, and instead Queen Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas.  Here in our country the buns are popular, especially in the eastern states in the springtime, regardless of beliefs.

The buns became such a tradition that there are several childhood ditties about them that many of us grew up with:

“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns,

One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny, Hot Cross buns.

If you have no daughters, give them to your sons,

One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny, Hot Cross buns.”

Ha’ is pronounced hay and meant a half-penny, which no longer exists in currency. There are also other versions of the ditty.

There are many recipes for hot cross buns, but I have found one which I like and have adapted slightly, and am submitting the recipe.  They are easy to make, the only caution is to be patient with the rising, as it is a fairly heavy dough, and takes longer. For this reason I put the dough in a covered bowl to rise overnight in the refrigerator, and take it out to come to room temperature and rise a bit more in a warm place, then make the dough into rolls and let rise again before baking.

Hot Cross Buns Recipe

2 tsp. yeast, or one packet
¾ cup sugar
1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees F.) ( Can heat in microwave 30 seconds, check for warmth.)
1 stick butter, melted and cooled somewhat.
1 large egg
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. nutmeg
3 ½-4 cups flour

Combine yeast, sugar, and milk in electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Beat on low speed one minute, add: the butter, egg and raisins.

Whisk together 3 ½ cups flour, salt, and spices, then add and beat on slow speed until the flour is incorporated, then increase speed.  If the dough is not leaving the side of the bowl, add rest of the flour, until you have a dough that is beginning to climb up the dough hook. Remove the dough from mixing bowl, and with your hands form into a smooth ball. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to oil it on all sides.  Cover and set in a warm place to rise, or in the refrigerator overnight. Either way, let the dough rise and is ready to form into buns.  Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead lightly, then pinch off pieces about 2- 2 1/2  inches in diameter, and roll them in your hands to form a smooth ball. With the seams of the ball down, place buns two inches apart on baking pan lined with parchment paper. Four buns should fit cross-wise in the pan. You should have about twenty buns.

With a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top of each bun, about 1/8 inch down.  Brush tops of buns with one egg which has been well beaten. Let rise again in a warm place. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake buns about 15 minutes, turn and rotate pan and bake 10 minutes more, or until buns are golden brown.  Remove to cool slightly on rack. 

Mix together 3 Tb. warm milk and enough powdered sugar (1 to 1 ½ cups) with ½ tsp. vanilla to make a smooth, fairly thick icing. ( I place mine in a Ziploc small bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and pipe a cross over the indentations of each bun.) Buns can be served warm, or placed in the freezer for later.  They will not keep very long, but can be freshened up with a quick run through the microwave.  Hot cross buns should always be served warm!

Recipe: Blueberry Sour Cream Scones

Blueberry Sour Cream Scones

Springtime is ripe for Blueberry Scones!

Now that blueberries are starting to arrive in stores at a reasonable price, I thought it a good time to reveal my special recipe and new technique for Blueberry Sour Cream Scones!  Last fall I printed my newly discovered method for making pumpkin scones an easier way, and I have also tested it on these mouth-watering gems!

Blueberry Sour Cream Scones

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Have on hand:
1 cup fresh blueberries

Blend together in a small bowl and set aside for about ten minutes, mixture will foam up a bit. Don't stir down: 1 cup plus 2 TB sour cream
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. baking soda

In another bowl, whisk together and set aside:
4 cups regular flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

In electric mixer bowl, cream until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes:
1 cup (two sticks) soft butter *
1 cup sugar

Directions:

Pour into mixer bowl, all at once, the flour mixture, and beat at medium speed just until small lumps appear. The mixture will appear crumbly. Gently fold in the sour cream mixture until moistened throughout, then fold in 1 cup blueberries by hand. Flour your hands, and lift out mound of dough onto floured board. Pat the dough into either one large or two small rounds, about 1 1/2" thick. Cut large round into 12 even wedges, or if making two rounds, into 8 even wedges each. Before separating wedges, brush tops of scones with either milk or Half and Half. Sprinkle with coarse white sugar if you have it. Place wedges at least 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes, rotate and alternate pans, and bake 5 minutes more or until set and lightly browned.

When scones have cooled, you may choose to drizzle with simple powdered sugar glaze, or you can melt some white chocolate or almond bark in a small Zip bag, cut a small hold in the corner of bag, and drizzle zig-zag over scones. (Powdered sugar glaze: 1/4 cup milk or cream, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract. Whisk until runny but thick enough to stick to scones.) *Quick softening tip for butter: Place the wrapped sticks in microwave, set power button to 50%, and zap for 30 seconds. Butter should be the perfect softness!

Recipe: Luscious Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Yaaay! A New, non-messy Technique for Making Scones!

I have entertained at the High Country Inn for several years now with High Teas, and as a middle course served homemade scones with “clotted cream,” but have never enjoyed the messy hands that result from having to handle the scone dough. Every recipe I have ever run across has called for cold butter, cut into tiny cubes, and mixed into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of peas. Well, just this last week, on the spur of the moment I decided to try to get some scones made in the hour I had before going to a morning meeting. In my hurry, before I knew it, I had softened butter and creamed it with the sugar before I realized with a jolt that I wasn’t on the road to making scones at all! So I gave that idea up and went to my meeting empty-handed, after calling myself several derogatory names,(including “stupid!”)

Later that day I decided to just go ahead and see if I could salvage what I had started, even if it meant wasting two sticks of expensive butter! After thinking a bit, this is what I did. I went ahead and added the bowl of mixed dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, turned the mixer on low and blended it just until the whole mixture was crumbly. I then added the liquid ingredients, and it all came together, and could be turned out onto my board without being sticky. I couldn’t believe my good luck, and proceeded with getting the scones into the oven. The finished product was better than any I had ever made before. Thinking it might just be a fluke, the next day I decided to try the same method with two different recipes, and all turned out just the same! So I became anxious to share my “new” technique. Below is my recipe for pumpkin scones, ideal for serving for Thanksgiving breakfast, or any time you feel like a delicious scone! They also freeze wonderfully to thaw and reheat in the microwave. I hope you’ll try this new method of mine and enjoy making them. I’ll be serving them at the Christmas Tea if you can wait to taste them!

Luscious Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Have ready:  2/3 cup chopped pecans. (optional, but delicious!)

Coarse granulated sugar for sprinkling

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone (Silpat) liners.

Cream until just blended:

1 cup butter (two sticks) softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed.

Mix together in separate bowl:

4 1/2 cups regular flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tb. pumpkin pie spice (Or make your own, directions follow recipe)

In another small bowl, mix together with fork:

1 cup plain canned pumpkin

Two eggs

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup whole milk or half and half cream

Directions:

With mixer running, add flour mixture to butter and brown sugar, mix on medium high just until mixture is crumbly, scraping bowl once.  Immediately add pumpkin mixture and 1/2 cup pecans, and beat on low until it just comes together.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and with your hands form dough into about an 11-inch round.  Brush all over the top with half and half or milk, sprinkle over this coarse white sugar and rest of chopped pecans.  Cut into twelve even triangles, using a bench knife or other sharp knife, place 6 scones on each baking sheet, at least two inches apart.  Bake 10 minutes, rotate pans and bake another 3 or 4 minutes or until scones are lightly browned and firm. Let cool on pan. Ice the scones with Vanilla Glaze.

Make a simple vanilla glaze, with 2 Tb. warm milk, 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Mix with whisk until well blended, and thick enough to set up (add more sugar if needed.)  Pour into a sandwich zip-type bag, close and snip a tiny bit off one corner.  Use this as a piping bag and drizzle criss-cross over each scone. Scones can be made and frozen ahead for a delicious start to a holiday breaakfast or any autumn or winter morning or afternoon!

Pumpkin pie spice: (If you already have the following on hand.  If not, it is probably less expensive to just purchase the prepared spice.)

Blend together, crushing any lumps:

1/4 cup good quality cinnamon (Saigon or Ceylon)

2TB. Ground ginger

1TB. Ground cloves      Mixture can be multplied to keep on hand.

 



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