Saturday, January 03, 2009

Thursday, January 1st, 2009 - Day 1 - Scones and Macaroons

We were out last night at Dave Jez's "Please Don't Wreck My Loft Party." I broke a glass and drank copious amounts of sparking Vodka - Camitz. Seemed like a good idea. It was festive in it's frosted white glass bottle and red star. It was effervescent like Champagne, traditionally drunk on New Year's Eve. I would NOT NOT NOT recommend you try it. The novelty of the sparkle wears off the minute the harsh, edgy vodka hits your tongue. Though it was sat in the freezer, it was not at all smooth or silky. Without mixing with anything else, I still managed a pretty good hang over.

So we stayed in most of Thursday, January 1st, 2009. It snowed a bit. It never snows in Vancouver but there is a good half foot of snow out there now. Vancouverites have neither the technology or know how to remove urban snow. Trekking out is treacherous.

Waking up at the crack of 8 am or so, it was clear we were not going to hit the slopes today. Without being asked D headed upstairs and pulled out one of his most worn Cook's magazines. That can only mean one thing. Blueberry Scones. Alas, we've eaten them all so I don't have photos. But I can assure you they were amazing. Trust me. We're quite finicky on our baked goods, particularly scones and we tried this recipie a couple of times to perfect it. The recipie in its original form was a supposed mastery of much testing too but trust me, as a lay person, we used slightly less butter and drained and dried the berries. If not, you will get a greezzzy soupy mess.

The Best Blueberry Scones Version.D

8 T Butter (originally 16, I'd used 10 or 12 for slightly flakier)
1 C Blueberries (originally 1.5 C. We've used frozen. Either way, make sure they're drained and dry. For the frozen, sit them in a sieve with a paper towel)
1/2 C Milk
1/2 C sour cream (we've left the sour cream out and added more milk and this results in a tougher scone but it doesn't mean you can't do them if you don't have it in the house. They were still all eaten today)
2 C flour plus some more for the counter
1/2 C sugar plus a T for sprinkling on top
2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t salt (not coarse or kosher unless you've mashed it up. You don't want hunks of salt)
1 t lemon zest. mmmmm

1. Place the oven rack to the middle and heat to 425 degrees F. Dunno what it is in C. You can google it like I have to when I use British recipies. If you're fast and organised you can preheat as you are preparing and save on the energy.
2. Grate the butter on a box grater. Melt a couple of T of butter and set aside. Depending on how fast you think you can do the rest, you can leave the butter there or put it in the fridge. It needs to be cold. Place the blueberries (cleaned, drained and dried) in the fridge too.
3. Whisk the milk, sour cream in a medium bowl. Refrigerate this too if you're slow on the rest of the manoeuvres.
4. Whisk the drys now. Flour, sugar, bp, bs, salt and zest. Then toss in the grated butter. Make sure all the butter is coated with the flour mixture. When I didn't do this properly, the butter melted out of the mix in the oven. Toss with your fingers and squeezes with your finger tips just until you feel the butter through the flour. You don't want the heat of your hands to melt the butter so do this quickly.
5. Add the wets. Fold with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom. Transfer the dough to a liberally floured surface. Flour your hands and knead it only 6-8 times. Do not want to make them chewy. .... will be like raggedy ball. Add flour as you go to prevent sticking.
6. Roll the dough out to a 30 cm square. Spread blueberries out evenly and press into the dough. Roll in to a TIGHT log. Cut into four squares then cut those squares into two triangles like a sandwich. B
7. Brush top with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Bake for 18-25 minutes. As Golden Brown as you like.

I made latte's with the Life Saver Expresso Blend beans we bought in San Francisco at Ritual Cafe on Valencia while visiting my sister.

Though I followed the Youtube directions explicitly, I was unable to make anything other than a misformed blob with my milk foam.

We had the scones ready for around 11 so we watched football and Food TV for most of the mid day. Around mid afternoon we decided we should start thinking about dinner. We had some spicy lentil soup in the fridge from a couple of days ago and I thought about making couscous to go with it. But out of the blue, D suggested Chinese Take out. There is a pretty good Szcheuan place on 6th called Chilli's something or other. We walked down planning to get a video and some condensed milk to make macaroons with some old coconut we had in the pantry.

We go to Chilli's and they were closed. So walked over to this other Wok place next to Apple Hill Market but we decided to make a stir fry instead. I need to point out now that APPLE HILL MARKET is the strangest and best local market around. They have it all. You might think you have to haul around the little italy or chinatown or commercial for special ingredients but this place has it all from Fondue mix, Feta-cow and goat, agave syrup, 5 kinds of tahini...

Anyhoo, we bough a zuccini, carrot mushrooms for the stir-fry. I had put on some Basmati rice before we headed out. But D, sweet D, had only a small amount of Basmati and this enormous bag of sweet rice. Now, being asian, I know sweet rice is strictly for dessert purposes. It is alot more sticky and sweet than normal dinner rice. He did not know. But since we were short, I did a half half. It turned out okay. A bit sticky but since we were having chinese, it would be fine. We defrosted some shrimp, chopped up some onion and stir fried with the carrot and zuccini. Added some jarred Black Bean sauce. It's just a generic one from TNT, Koon Yick Wah Kee. It's very tasty and had less salt than others on the shelf. We used it with dungeness once before and it was great. Tossed it all with some water until the shrimp turned pink. Oh, I almost forgot, a healthy thumb sized or two portion of fresh ginger. I love ginger and D knows it so we always use more than normal amounts but we cut it big enough for him to pick out. We served it over the rice in bowls and ate it in front of the TV.

We got all the way home before we realised we bought all sorts of other stuff like soy nuts and a big ass bag of rice but forgot the Sweetened Condensed Milk. We dropped the bags in the doorway and head straight back out since we knew we wouldn't do it later. We walked up to Broadway to the 7/11 but they only had Evaporated Milk. If you simmer a can of EM with a 1.5C of Sugar, it's a fairly good approximation but we opted for a Milk free option so to ensure we didn't end up with mush.

Plain Macaroons
Oven at 35o F
Makes 20
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites beaten stiff
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Beat the Egg Whites
Mix all the other ingredients
Fold into the eggs

Place on cookie sheet in 1oz or walnut sized balls. Not much bigger. D uses ice cream scoops and they collapse under their own weight. They're still quite tasty but they flatten out and take a bit longer to cook in middle. Typically 20 minutes.

We melted some left over Christmas Chocolate and drizzled chocolate over them.

mmmmmm not bad for a snowy day in.

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