Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, April 19, 2012

17 days and counting

How can something you've been planning for and anticipating for over two years suddenly seem to sneak up on you?  It's hard to believe, but I only have 17 more "real working days" left at KC.  I remember when I first started the countdown - it was "only 23 months to go" - and now I'm down to less than a month - incredible.  I am happy to report that things are actually going pretty smoothly - I'm finishing up a few last project items, but most of my work has been transitioned to my incredibly-competent replacement and I'm actually starting to settle into a less frantic routine.  As a matter of fact - I actually left work at 4:30 the other day - can't remember the last time I did that!  Life is still very busy with planning for a month in Europe this summer and sorting through choices related to culinary school - but, my stress level has seen a dramatic decrease, thankfully.

One of the things I wanted to take the opportunity to do before I left KC was actually bake for my team.  I know it sounds crazy that someone who professes to "have a passion for baking" was actually too busy to do it, but that is the sad reality.  In the past two years, I haven't managed to bring in a single home-made treat for my team - even though I hosted "Monthly Team Breakfast Meetings".  I am somewhat chagrined to admit I was a regular customer of Alon's to supply the requisite carbohydrates for these forums.  (Here's the real dirty-little-secret - there was even an occasional stop at Duncan Donuts when time was really tight.) 

But - no more - I want to take advantage of this waning level of responsibility and stress to roll up my sleeves and "bake someone happy".  Today's team breakfast featured one of my favorite scone recipes - Ina Garten's Maple-Oatmeal Scones.  These easy-to-make scones feature a light and tender inside and a crisp,  maple-glazed outside.  It worked out great - got them all prepped the night before and simply took them out of the fridge in the am and popped them into a hot oven.  I have found that even folks who "don't like scones" find this recipe hard to resist because the scones are so moist and flavorful.  I've included the recipe below, along with a pic of my ever-cheeful and uber-efficient admin assitant Deborah taking a break to enjoy one of my home-made treats.  Now this is my idea of a productive morning! 

I'm already thumbing through recipes trying to decide what to bring in for next week's breakfast...muffins or coffee cake?

Deborah and I enjoy a morning break - nothing better than a home-made treat!

Maple-Oatmeal Scones

For the scones:
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash
For the glaze:
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add quickly to the flour-and-butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough may be sticky.
Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and be sure it is combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 to 1 inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough. Cut into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. When the scones are done, cool for 5 minutes and drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. I like to sprinkle some uncooked oats on the top, for garnish. The warmer the scones are when you glaze them, the thinner the glaze will be.

Recipe from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

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