June 27, 2012

RECIPE: Grapefruit Ginger Scones



Did you know that grapefruit and ginger were destined to be BFFs? That's right. Long ago, the Universe looked about and said, "Hey, you know what would be cool? If this bodacious citrus fruit and this gnarly-looking root tasted AWESOME together." Apparently the Universe sounds like Keanu Reeves in the 90's. Who knew? Regardless, when it comes to grapefruit and ginger, the Universe was dead on.

How, you might ask, did I get turned on to this particular tidbit of the Universe's infinite knowledge? Through the wonders of the internet, that's how. You know, the man-made version of infinite knowledge (and porn). While exploring my favorite food blogs, I came across a mouth-watering scone recipe on Joy the Baker. Let me just take a moment to say how consistently fantastic Joy's blog is. Not only does she have the best name ever, she is a baking goddess with a quirky sense of humor who takes a mean food photo (PLUS she's vegan-friendly). Check her out.

So Joy the Baker gets me hooked on the idea of "Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones". Except, you know, all veganized and stuff... which means removing the honey and yogurt features... which leaves you with "Grapefruit Scones". Still yummy-sounding, but not in the "I-must-have-these-now" kind of way I was hoping for. Thus began a search for other grapefruit-y recipes to use as inspiration. Before too long, I landed on a promising tea bread by the folks at Vegetarian Times. The "grapefruit-ginger" combination sounded intriguing, the "tea bread" bit not so much. I ran off to the store to buy crystallized ginger and soy yogurt for a new recipe I christened "Grapefruit Ginger Scones".

These scones are... how should I put this delicately.... utterly kick-ass. I love them. I ate too many exactly the right number of them. And then I ate one more. The recipe came together beautifully, turning out bakery-worthy delights shrouded in a crunchy sugary crust. With each bite, sweet-tart grapefruit bounces off spicy ginger, rounded out by nutty whole wheat flour and a splash of agave nectar. Yep. You want to make these.

Grapefruit Ginger Scones
adapted from Joy the Baker

Ruby Red grapefruit, 1, zested and segmented (Confused? Here's a how-to segment citrus video!)
natural cane sugar, 1/4 cup, divided
white whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup
all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup
baking powder, 1 teaspoon
baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
salt, 1/4 teaspoon
organic canola oil, 1/4 cup
plain soy yogurt, 1/2 cup
agave nectar, 2 tablespoons
chopped crystallized ginger, 1/4 cup
non-dairy milk (just a bit to wash the tops of the scones)

First up is making some fancy-pants grapefruit-scented sugar. Take the zest from your grapefruit and combine it with the sugar in a happy little pile on your cutting board. Smush the heck out of the pair using the back of a spoon until the sugar turns a light grapefruit-y hue, signaling that the oil of the grapefruit zest has permeated the sugar (that's good). Set aside for the moment. Chop the grapefruit segments into bite sized bits and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit sugar, pulsing a few times to combine. Using the feed tube of the food processor, slowly pour in the oil while pulsing to create a crumbly, sandy mixture with pea-sized bits of dough beginning to form. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, form a well in the middle, and add the yogurt, agave nectar, grapefruit segments, and ginger.  Use a fork to combine the wet ingredients with the dry, being careful not to overmix. The dough will be quite sticky. Don't freak out.

Prepare a clean surface (I like to use a silpat on the counter) with a good sprinkling of flour and turn out the dough. With floured hands, quickly form the dough into a circle approximately 8 inches across and 1 inch thick. Cut the dough circle into 6 triangles and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment. Brush the top of each scone with a bit of milk, followed by a healthy layer of the remaining grapefruit sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes, until the scones are a rich golden brown. Cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying.

I ate the scones from this batch plain - no butter, no jam - along with a fresh cup of tea or coffee. But... the next time I make them, I may get crazy with a big dollop of whipped coconut cream. Because that sounds amazing. I think the Universe would agree.





June 24, 2012

VEGAN CHOPPED: Portobello Steaks with Bittersweet Blackberry BBQ Sauce, Black Eyed Rutabaga Puree, and Green Bean Salad with Mint Gremolata

UPDATE: What the what? I am super honored to have been named a Runner Up!!!! Many thanks to Isa, Jess, and Katie for judging the competition, and many hats off to my fellow competitors for creating some truly amazing dishes. You can see the full list of Winner, Runner Ups, and Honorable Mentions over on the PPK's facebook page.


Portobello Steaks with Bittersweet Blackberry BBQ Sauce, Black Eyed Rutabaga Puree, and Green Bean Salad with Mint Gremolata 
The many, many hours I've wasted invested watching competitive cooking shows have finally come in handy. Isa over at the Post Punk Kitchen came up with the brilliant idea to do a vegan version of Chopped, a show that challenges chefs to create awesome dishes utilizing a requisite array of ingredients (ranging from head-scratching to WTF in their strangeness) while under the clock. For the first Vegan Chopped, Isa challenged vegan cooks everywhere to create a killer entree in under 40 minutes which included the following ingredients:

1. Blackberries
2. Fresh Mint
3. Canned Black Eyed Peas
4. Bittersweet Chocolate

Yeeeah. Three of the four ingredients are traditionally used in desserts. This challenge is for an entree. Isa, you tricksy little vegan minx. This challenge is crazypants. 

I decided to go for it anyway.

After cooking like a crazy person and turning my kitchen into a culinary warzone (I now understand why so many competing chefs' stations look like a hurricane blew through), my entree was complete. The blackberries and chocolate became a spicy, tangy BBQ sauce that glazed hearty mushroom caps. Black eyed peas got friendly with oft-ignored rutabaga in a creamy, earthy-sweet puree. A classic side of green beans was re-imagined as a cool salad dressed in minty-lemony goodness. It's the perfect meal for summer entertaining, really - a dish that feels both fancy and familiar. We're not reinventing the wheel here. Just making it tastier.

Here's the breakdown of the dish's components (all conveniently gluten-, soy-, and nut-free!):

PORTOBELLO STEAKS WITH BITTERSWEET BLACKBERRY BBQ SAUCE:

Steaks: 
portobello mushroom caps, 4 large, brushed clean and stems removed
olive oil

Saute mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until tender and caramelized, glazing in BBQ sauce as you go.

Sauce:
frozen blackberries, 1 cup
ketchup, 2 tablespoons
adobo sauce, 1 tablespoon (the saucy goodness in a can of chipotle chiles)
balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon
olive oil, 1 tablespoon
lime zest, zest of one lime
bittersweet chocolate, 2 squares of a 3.5 ounce bar (a little less than 1 ounce)
salt to taste

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the blackberries until they break down a bit and release their juices. In a blender, puree all ingredients except the chocolate until smooth. Bring a saucepan to medium heat and pour in the sauce, bringing to a simmer. While simmering, finely chop the chocolate. Add chocolate to the sauce, stir until smooth, and taste for seasoning. Remove from heat.

BLACK EYED RUTABAGA PUREE:

black eyed peas, 1 (15 oz) can, drained and rinsed
olive oil, 2 tablespoons, divided
rutabaga, 1 lb, peeled and diced
sweet onion, 1 small, diced
garlic, 2 cloves
unsweetened non-dairy milk, 1/2 cup
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the rutabaga, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon of oil over medium heat until softened and caramel in color (I partially covered the pan to speed the process up, but this still was cooking in the background for most of the challenge time). Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a food processor. Add the peas, milk, and remaining tablespoon of oil. Puree until smooth, seasoning to taste.

GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH MINT GREMOLATA:

green beans, 8 ounces
mint, 1 cup leaves, minced
garlic, 2 cloves, minced
lemon, zest of whole lemon and juice of half 
olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons, depending on your preference
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water (you'll shock the beans in this "ice bath" after cooking). Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until just tender-crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to the ice bath and cool completely before draining. In a bowl, combine the mint, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss the green beans with the gremolata and check for seasoning.


So there you have it. Check out all the entries on the PPK Facebook page - winner to be announced on Tuesday!!!!