Posts filed under brunch

It's Tea Time

Sweet Melissa's Orange Blossom and Honey Scones

  • 1 cup self-raising flower

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 oz butter

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tbsp whole milk

  • 1 tsp orange flower water

  • 1 generous tbsp honey

 

  1. Preheat oven to 200/395F C
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat the egg, orange blossom water, honey and milk together with a pinch of salt and pour into the flour mixture - it may be a little dry so add a dash or so of milk.
  4. Combine until you have a smooth but fairly dry dough.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and press flat until a good inch thick.
  6. Using the rim of a glass cut out the scones and put them flour-side up on a prepared baking sheet.
  7. Brush the tops with a little milk and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (I find they are done much closer to 10 than 15, but you could have a slow oven).
  8. Turn out onto a cooling rack and serve cold with clotted cream and cherry jam.
Posted on September 28, 2016 and filed under baked sweets, brunch, dessert, snacks, world travel.

The World was the Kennedy's Oyster

President 35- John F Kennedy

Money does not buy class nor does it by style; just look at Kanye.  The national obsession with tacky over-the-top celebrities, who are unapologetically self-obsessed, has not always been our way. America did have once had a celebrity couple who embodied true elegance. They came on the scene when the television was making itself at home in most living rooms across the country. They weren’t showy. They were great parents. No matter what was brewing behind closed doors, they were aspirational and positive. They made the country feel like they could do anything, even put a man on the moon. They were John “Jack” and Jackie Kennedy.  

Food is fashion. A beautiful plate feeds your eyes before a forkful ever reaches your mouth. Jackie understood this and the menu served at the White House dining room was as impeccable as her wardrobe. Though they were the all American family, their tastes were exclusively French. From entrecotes to coq au vin to trout almandine, only Jefferson could surpass them in their love of the classics.  The Kennedys were the first administration to only offer four perfect courses, forsaking the endless courses offered by previous administrations. They understood that quality over quantity was always a winning recipe. As a couple they were not huge drinkers but glasses of wine were paired carefully and the President himself often decanted and sampled the night’s offerings before they reached the table. They never shared their wine selection, in order to avoid favoritism and controversy (my guess is they favored French in this area as well).

Jackie also made it her mission to make sure the White House’s ambience was impeccable. At first view, she felt the property looked like a “house that had been decorated by a whole furniture store during a January clearance.” Redecorating began, at large expense, and when the money ran out, she did what any woman would do: she got resourceful. Paintings were loaned to them by the Smithsonian and money was raised to complete renovations of the property by selling a printed guide to the White House (which was later translated into multiple languages as it was so popular). For parties, she was the first to fill urns and vases with fresh flowers throughout the house. She also changed the centerpieces to high and narrow ones, so people could see the other guests across the table from them.  The couple received guests as any normal party hosts would do, by moving through the room, and got rid of the receiving line. 

When they weren’t entertaining, the family ate New England classics John grew up with. He was not a big eater but enjoyed small portions that kept him energized.  His family’s hearty clam chowder (the recipe is accessible on the JFK library site) was the President’s lunch staple, normally accompanied by fruit or a side salad. Soups, of all varieties, were his favorite, and he often had a cup before bed.  A dunce in the kitchen, a White House butler fondly recalled that it took him “eight months to learn how to use a can opener”. Jackie had equal difficulties. When she married the then Senator Kennedy, Jackie was determined to make the ideal housewife. She wrote, “I’d heard those silly stories about the bride burning things, but I just knew everything was going right when suddenly…I tried to pull the chops out the oven and the door seemed to collapse. One of the chops fell on the floor but I put it on the plate anyway. The chocolate sauce was burning and exploding. I burned my arm and it turned purple. Then Jack came home and took me out to dinner.” Things are never perfect as they seem.

This snack; however, is pretty close to perfection. The Kennedys enjoyed many an oyster at their compound in Hyannisport on Cape Cod and it makes the perfect snack for those enjoying the water this weekend. These are a version of Oysters Rockefeller, aptly named Oysters Kennedy and God Bless America, they are tasty.

Oysters Kennedy

  •        24 shucked oysters on the half shell
  •          10 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  •         3 Tbsp butter
  •          1 large shallot, finely chopped
  •         1 garlic clove, minced
  •          1/3 cup chopped prosciutto
  •          2 Tbsp Pernod or anisette
  •         Light cheese sauce (below)
  •          Salt and pepper
  •          Panko bread crumbs
  •          Sprinkle of paprika to top

Light Cheese Sauce

  •          2 Tbsp butter
  •         2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  •          1 ¼ cups half and half
  •          ½ cup shredded parmesan
  •          ½ cup shredded cheddar
  •         ½ tsp fresh nutmeg
  •          Salt and pepper

Directions:

  •      Make sure your fish monger shucks the oyster for you. Keep them on ice till you need them
  •     In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes.
  •     Add the prosciutto and spinach. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove any excess water from the spinach.
  •      Stir in the Pernod.
  •     Add cheese sauce and stir. Add salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
  •    Preheat the oven to 375F
  •    Add 1 Tbsp of filling to the oyster. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and a little bit of paprika.
  •     Bake on a baking sheet until browned and bubbling, 15-20 mins
  •     Serve with a slice of lemon

For the sauce:

  •         In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. When liquid, add the flour. Stir to combine.
  •       Add half and half, whisking to thicken
  •      Add cheese, nutmeg, and s & p. When it has melted take off heat.

 

Posted on July 13, 2016 and filed under main event, appetizers, brunch, snacks, time travel.

Dam these Hoover Asparagus Souffles are Delicious

President 31- Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933

Everyone at my company has worked there for thirty years. Their dads worked there. Their granddads worked there. There is no mystery about what they will be doing for the rest of their careers. That terrifies me more than marriage and makes me want to run away and work at a beach bar somewhere, or perhaps on a game park feeding baby rhinos. Apparently, I am not alone. I read an article last week that the almost thirty-somethings are destined to lead “microlives”, reincarnating every couple of years.

From orphan, to member of the inaugural class at Stanford, to gold mining engineer, to President, Herbert Hoover was already on trend. He started his career in Australia overseeing the mines then moved to China in time to experience live fire during the Boxer rebellion. After helping thousands of Americans evacuate Europe when war was declared, he was appointed by President Wilson as the Head of the Food Administration and successfully kept the Allies fed without rationing. When peace time came, he continued on his quest to feed a hungry broken continent. When asked why food was being sent to starving Soviets, he famously responded, “Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!" 

When it came to White House entertaining, there was no rationing and no expense spared.  Lou Henry Hoover was in her element. She loved having company so much that the couple only ate by themselves three times during the first three years of Hoover’s Presidency (each year on their anniversary). Events were nonstop and there were often more than one going on at any given time; a tea in this room, a lunch in that one. This gave White House staff understandable kitchen anxiety. Miss Ava Long, the housekeeper, would get calls at 11am that the 1pm lunch, which had been planned for 10 people, had changed to 40 guests. One of her best menu improvisations had her grinding lamb chops down to make gorgeous lamb croquettes with a wild mushroom sauce. When guests asked for the recipe, she quickly named the dish “White House Supreme”.  Ultimately, Mrs. Hoover wasn’t specific about what should be served just that it should be made from the very best ingredients, no matter the season.  

The day to day meal schedule was predictable. The President had his “medicine ball cabinet” join him in exercising with the medicine ball in the yard for thirty minutes each morning before breakfast. Breakfast was then promptly served at eight beneath Magnolia Tree planted by President Jackson in honor of his late wife. Lunch was at one. Dinner was at eight. If you were late to the table, you were out of luck. The usher would ask you to wait outside until coffee was served or to come back another day.

Before Ava Long came to cook for the First Family, there was Mary Rattley. Too old to join them at the White House, she was the queen of the Hoover kitchen when he was Secretary of Commerce and is credited with the creation of most of their favorite family recipes. “Mr. Hoover is the easiest man in the world to please,” she always said, noting his love of Virginia ham, cherries and watermelon. Soufflés, like this one, were a favorite of Lou’s. Be warned soufflés are as impressive as they are tricky and don’t be discouraged if they fall flat the first time. They must be served straight out the oven to give guests some fleeting moments with the soufflé at its full height. While they are cooking, do not open the oven. Just leave it alone and it will rise to the occasion.

Mary Rattley’s Asparagus Soufflé Take one tablespoon butter and rub into it one and a half tablespoons flour and add one cupful cream [over low heat]. Cook until creamy and add the yolks of four eggs. Beat this mixture for five minutes and add salt and pepper to taste, the fold in one cup of asparagus tips, fresh asparagus preferred.  [remove from heat]. Then add the whites of four eggs, beaten stiff, [fold in] and put into a hot buttered soufflé dish, set the dish in a shallow pan of water and bake for thirty-five minutes in a moderate oven. It will stand up and look beautiful. Before you take it out of the oven, grease with butter and serve at once. 

Notes:

  • Bake in a 350 F oven and do not open while it is cooking or it will fall flat! You can expect this to happen shortly after serving anyhow.
  • Wait until your egg yolk mixture has cooled to fold in the egg whites.
  • Add grated parmesan (1/4 cup) when you add the asparagus and to the top as a garnish. I also added grated black truffle to the mixture for that added decadence.
  • To get the soufflé dish, “hot and buttered”, heavily grease the mold and store in the oven while it is preheating.

 

 

Posted on June 15, 2016 and filed under appetizers, breakfast, brunch, pies, time travel.