Chocolate Hazelnut Scones

Chocolate Hazelnut SconesOregone
I spent last weekend in Oregon and it was glorious. True, I spent four years living there—so I may be biased. But, the drive down to Eugene from Portland reminded me just how much I love it up there, green rolling hills, fields of frisky animals, charming red barns….

There is no greener state than Oregon. And yes, it does rain up there. A lot. And that rain makes for some of the most stunning scenery you can ask for. This time around, I was blessed to experience one of the few absolutely perfect-weather weekends. No rain and 70 degrees. Perfect. Add to that a football win for the home team and you just can’t get much better than that…unless we start talking about the food.

Oregon is a food lover’s dream and it’s no secret that the hot Portland restaurant scene is where innovation is happening. With the abundance of fresh-grown veggies and humanely raised meats available within an hour or two of the city, you’d have to work pretty hard to not to produce a quality product. Needless to say, I ate pretty well on this trip.

I took advantage of what there was to offer including the fresh veggies, and the Pinots, and of course, the coffee. Coffee is a religion up there. Like, literally. Oregonians don’t mess around. While consuming more than the recommended daily allowance of caffeine at one of my favorite coffee stops, I had the privilege of snacking on a hazelnut chocolate scone freshly made from Oregon grown hazelnuts and fresh butter. It was ah-may-zing!

I brought a bunch of coffee beans home with me in an effort to extend my trip (if only in my mind and coffee cup). For this same reason, I have been searching for a hazelnut scone recipe on the internet. I found this basic recipe on Food 52 and have been experimenting to duplicate my Oregon scones. It’s a tough job but I am definitely up to the task….

Chocolate Hazelnut Scones
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 12 servings Read more…

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Plum Upside-Down CakeDun Gone Plum Crazy
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s plum season. Beautiful black plums, red plums, French plums and all sorts of pluots are available for your eating pleasure pretty much anywhere fruit is sold. I love plums. In my opinion, they are best when they are still slightly firm so that the skin is still a bit tart but the flesh is super sweet. Yum!

In my yard, I have essentially two plum trees. One is a hybrid that combines a couple of varieties so its hard to say what type it is. The other is actually a pluot. Both are about 5 years old and neither one has produced any fruit…until this year.

Because we had a crazy amount of rain last year, my trees were loaded with fruit by May/June. I can’t tell you how excited I was. I went out there every day to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Each day they got bigger and bigger and when they finally started to change color and ripen I was vibrating with excitement and then one day, they were gone.

I don’t know if it was squirrels, rats or raccoons but my bumper crop vanished overnight with no evidence left behind. I was baffled and distraught and more than a little bit angry.

Since then I have been having to sooth my plum craving via the different varieties we have here at the store and also with what is available at the farmer’s market in my neighborhood. And, don’t get me wrong, the plums are great. But, it’s not the same as eating your own homegrown version right off of the tree.

Over the weekend I went plum crazy and bought more than we will be able to consume fresh so I plan on making this upside-down cake with what’s left over. There is never a bad time for cake and I will especially enjoy it with a cup of coffee looking out my window watching the squirrels eat the majority of this year’s pomegranate crop…sigh.

Plum Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
Yields one 9-inch cake Read more…

Fresh Cherry & Apricot Clafoutis

Fresh Cherry & Apricot ClafoutisRainy Day Cherries
It is the month of May, right? Ok. Good. I just wanted to check because as I gaze out my window right now it’s looking a whole lot like February. What is this rain, people? I had big plans for this weekend and now they are all washed out…

For the past week, I have been getting notices from some of my favorite U-Pick farms that they will be open for business this weekend. (Let the cherry and apricot picking begin!) And while I have no problem going picking in a light rain, the thunderstorms and torrential downpours that are predicted might be a bit much. My disappointment in possibly not being able to go is less about the fruit and more about this being the first time in years that we actually have a free weekend to go a-pickin’.

I love U-Pick farms. Probably to the point of obsession. I just get so much joy being outside on a ladder trying to find the best ones. Plus my kids still think it’s fun which is fantastic because the list of activities they deem acceptable to do with their parents is minuscule.

At this point, I am in wait-and-see mode. Sunday looks like it might be okay. And, yes, I can grab some at the store since the cherries and apricots are in. But, the experience is not the same. They kinda frown on climbing ladders in the Produce Department. Party poopers!

Fresh Cherry & Apricot Clafoutis Read more…

Swedish Pancakes

Swedish PancakesBreakfast in Bed
Mother’s Day is this weekend. And, while you would imagine that all thoughts would be on Mom, I can’t help but think of my Dad.

Mother’s Day was always kind of a weird day growing up. As a kid, I had a love-hate relationship with Mother’s Day. Obviously, I loved my mother and wanted to celebrate her. But, more often than not, Mother’s Day landed on my birthday and instead of having cake and celebrating with my friends, I would be forced to go to a Mother’s Day brunch at some restaurant because that is what my grandmother wanted to do. Not an 8-year old’s idea of a good time!

After my grandparents moved to Arizona, we celebrated Mother’s Day in the way you would expect with handmade cards (or the occasional school made pottery project of nondescript nature) and breakfast in bed. That’s where Dad comes in…

Mom had a snazzy white bed tray that was great for breakfast in bed because it had these cubbies on the side for a newspaper or whatever. But, the cubbies made the tray stable. You could push yourself up to a seated position without spilling the orange juice. And, if you weren’t eating, the top would stand up like an easel so you could read or write, etc. It was perfect. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Dad was the king of weekend breakfast. If there were waffles on the iron, toast that was French, or pancakes on the griddle, he was in charge. And, as you can imagine, these were some of the rotating items on the annual Mother’s Day menu. There was one option though that will forever be tied to my father, Swedish Pancakes.

I have a very distinct memory of standing by his side at the stove while he instructed me on the ins and outs of perfect Swedish Pancake preparation. They can’t be too thick but they can’t be too thin either. And the trick to spreading the batter out evenly in the pan is all in the wrist. Swedish pancakes were a big deal and without question for me a favorite Mother’s Day option.

Now that I have my own family, the tradition continues. Even my angst-y teenagers get excited and smile when I announce that I’m making Swedish Pancakes for breakfast. I have also passed on all of the prep knowledge to my daughter. And, I am happy to announce that she’s got the batter spreading wrist action down.

There will be no Swedish Pancakes for me this year though. My boys’ 15th birthday is on Sunday… So, yeah.

Swedish Pancakes
These pancakes are served folded with butter and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. They are also great with a squeeze of lemon, or a smear of jam, or berries on the side. Read more…