Mail order pastries from Williams Sonoma

I have tried Williams Sonoma mail order croissants, chocolate croissants, almond croissants and their newly carried Flour Bakery from Boston Sticky Buns! All are delicious. The sticky buns require a 2 hour thaw and rise before baking but is well worth it. I highly recommend getting these for a breakfast or brunch party. The croissants just have to be defrosted and baked.

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Irish Soda Bread

A wonderful recipe I found on Epicurious from Noreen Kinney. The texture is exactly like I had this bread in Ireland. I did not have the oat and wheat brans so used all wheat germ in its place. I can’t wait to try this recipe again with the other brans. It is very fast to make as you do not knead it-you just shape it and bake it! I have never baked with flax seeds before and have always thought they should be ground up to be digested? They seemed to have turned green in the bread and the bread is kind of yellowish! I would love any input if you have any ideas about flax seeds!

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour or graham flour, plus more for shaping
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup untoasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons flaxseed
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 large egg
About 1 3/4 cups buttermilk


Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a heavy baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray or line it with a silicone baking pan liner or aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the fat particles are very fine. Stir in the baking soda, salt, sugar, wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, flaxseed, and sunflower seeds.
Beat the egg lightly with a fork in a 2-cup glass measure. Add enough buttermilk to come to the 2-cup line and stir with the fork to combine well. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dough gathers into a thick, wet-looking mass.
Sprinkle your work surface with whole wheat flour and scrape the dough onto it. Dust the dough with a bit more whole wheat flour. Pat the dough into a circular shape about 7 inches across and 2 inches high and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Don’t be concerned about evenness—the loaf should look rustic. Make a cross-shaped indentation on top of the loaf going right to the edges. I use a plastic bench scraper and press it into the dough very gently; don’t actually cut the dough. During baking the indentation expands, giving the top of the loaf an attractive pattern.
Bake the bread for about 40 minutes, until it is well browned and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should register 195° to 200°F. Cool the loaf on a wire cooling rack, and serve warm or at room temperature. Cut into quarters and slice each quarter with a sharp serrated knife. Delicious with butter.
Storing:
The loaf keeps well at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 2 to 3 days. The entire loaf or quarters of it can also be frozen when completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap, place in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags, and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw completely before unwrapping. If desired, refresh the bread in a preheated 300°F oven for 10 minutes.

Eleven Madison Park Granola

From the famous restaurant in NYC-they give diners small jars of this after their meal. I love the combination of the pistachios, coconut and pumpkin seeds!

2 3⁄4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon salt (adjust according to your taste and type of salt)
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3⁄4 cup dried sour cherries.

1. Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkin seeds and salt.
2. In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.

3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.

4. Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container. Makes about 6 cups.

Adapted from Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York.

Perfectly Poached Eggs

The key to perfectly poached eggs is to strain each egg before you poach it. In this picture, I left my egg in the strainer too long, a few seconds is long enough and then put the egg into a small bowl to add to the simmering water.

Keep the water at a low simmer and cook for three minutes. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove from water and drain on a paper towel!

Sqirl’s Millet-nola

From Sqirl in LA. A very interesting and delicious version of oat-less granola! The turmeric and cardamom are so vibrant together. The puffed millet is so light that it is the perfect snack or addition to salads or ice cream!

4 1/2 cups (84g) puffed millet (or other puffed grains)
1/2 cup (60g) roughly chopped pecans
1/3 cup (40g) sliced almonds
1 3/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (75g) lightly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (32g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (111g) glucose (or honey, brown rice syrup, or corn syrup)
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Heat the oven to 325° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside.In a large heatproof bowl, combine the millet, pecans, almonds, turmeric, cardamom, and salt. In a small pot, stirring occasionally, heat the light brown sugar, butter, glucose, and molasses, until they reach 250°F (it will have been simmering in slow, steady large bubbles for a minute or two). Remove from the heat, whisk in the baking soda, and immediately pour over the dry ingredients. Stir well with a sturdy spoon or spatula (the mixture will be stiff), making sure to mix in all the spices that have fallen to the bottom of the bowl, and then spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow to cool completely before breaking up and storing at room temperature.

Indian Scrambled Eggs with Cilantro and Ginger

From an ancient cookbook, Time Life series Foods of the World, called The Cooking of India. I make a two egg version of this for myself if I don’t have others to feed. The flavors are so fresh and vibrant. Sometimes I add a small diced potato to the onion mixture and be sure to cook until tender.

6 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
3 T. ghee
1 t. scrapped finely chopped ginger root
3 T. finely chopped onions
3 T. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 t. turmeric
2 t. finely chopped fresh hot red or green chili
1/2 t. cumin
garnish with chopped tomato and cilantro

Break the eggs into a deep bowl and whisk lightly. Add the milk, salt and black pepper and stir until well combined. In a skillet, heat the ghee over moderate heat and add the ginger, onions,(potato if using) and cook until soft. Stirring constantly add the turmeric and cilantro. Pour in the beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with the fresh chili. Turn the heat down to the lowest possible point and stir constantly until softly set. Sprinkle with cumin and garnishes and serve.

Savory Oatmeal

From Shape magazine A wonderful savory way to start the day. I used a cube of vegetable bouillon to add to the water. I did not have smoked Gouda but used parmesan and it was delicious! There are lots of other savory oatmeals in the article in Shape.

2 cups water (1 cup water if using old-fashioned oats)
1 cup steel-cut oatmeal (or rolled old-fashioned oats)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional to taste
1/2 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup finely grated smoked gouda
Flaky sea salt to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Directions:
1. Bring water to a boil in a pot. Pour in oatmeal, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until oats have reached desired tenderness.
2. Meanwhile pour oil into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme sprigs and saute until mushrooms turn golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. (If liquid dries too soon, add 1 teaspoon oil at a time.) Remove thyme sprigs.
3. When oatmeal finishes cooking, remove from heat and fold in gouda. Scoop into pan with vegetables and mix thoroughly. Transfer to serving bowls and add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

The best Banana Bread

From Joanne Chang and her wonderful bakeries in Boston called Flour. Use your stand mixer for beating the sugar and eggs together for ten minutes. I cooked this an extra 10 minutes as I did not want a soggy center to the bread. I think it is one of the best banana bread recipes!

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Bacon and Cheese Scones

A very easy recipe from Williams Sonoma. The scones are light and crumbly and tasty!

3 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon
2 cups (10 oz.⁄315 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (4 oz.⁄125 g) grated Asiago or Gruyère cheese
Pinch of kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 cup (4 oz.⁄125 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
3⁄4 cup (6 fl. oz.⁄180 ml) heavy cream or whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop the bacon.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture into the processor and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in the bacon and then bring the dough together into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) thick. Using a 1 1⁄2-inch (4-cm) biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can. Gather the scraps of dough, roll out, and cut out more scones.

Space the scones evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the scones are golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Makes about 4 dozen mini scones.

Cardamom cream scones with candied ginger

From David Tanis’ wonderful book, Market Cooking. I made this for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan. It is very easy and delicious!

2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. cardamom, ground
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 T. (plus extra for sprinkling on scones sugar
6 T. cold unsalted butter, plus 2 T. for brushing the tops of scones
2 T. candied ginger, chopped
2 T. golden raisins, plumped in warm water and drained if dry
2 T. currants, plumped in warm water and drained if dry
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl stir the flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together. Cut the butter into small chunks and work it into the flour mixture until it is the texture of sand or pebbles. Add the currants, raisins and candied ginger. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs and cream. Stir in a circular motion with a fork until dough forms a rough ball. Dough will seem moist and sticky.
Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute Gently roll or pat the dough into 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into wedges or use a 2″ cutter for circles. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick each scone with a fork, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with flour.
Bake until nicely browned 12-14 minutes.