Sunday, June 25, 2017

Date Mint Scones



I'm currently in the middle of rebranding my Instagram to reflect my blog versus my business page. I've come into a different job that requires 100000% of my attention, so my farmer's market stall has taken a back seat. I'll still take orders, of course, but when one is called to service, one serves. That being said, pushing things more towards my blog allows me to do this at leisure, which will put me in an entirely different mentality; it's for fun! When things are done for fun, I'm far more motivated to keep up on the maintenance of it. (Piscean attention spans, amirite??)

On a personal note, I've been pushing away my "Yes Man" tendencies and practicing more realistic goals for myself. This means letting go of the farmer's markets so I can have my weekend off, to relax from work. This also means that I have much more time on my hands, and when I bake for fun instead of production, I get to goof around a little more without worrying about breaking even. Just yesterday I got the urge to bake, and so I did! I have, after all, a fully-stocked pantry of goodies to use...

B was going to his grandparent's new apartment to help them set up their new TV. I knew about it late Friday night, but since it was our gaming night, I didn't think to make something for them until that morning. What's quick, though? Why, quickbreads!

Quickbreads are categorized by the speed in which they can be thrown together, without the need for yeast to rise them. Muffins, scones, biscuits, etc., all count as quickbreads. I didn't feel like muffins, so I thought scones would be a nice thing for me, for them, and for later. I ended up making enough for B to take to his grandparents' place, for us to keep, and for me to take some to my friend's birthday party later that evening.

A scone is a wonderful vessel can be sweet or savory, and you can put virtually anything in them. Being the responsible wannabe-homesteader that I am, I wanted something to use up some of the stuff that I might have a little too much of, and when I saw the container of dried dates in my cabinet, I just couldn't resist.  Using what you have is not only being financially smart, but it makes you sometimes be a little more creative. Trying new things in the kitchen and figuring out if something works or not is a sort of exciting gamble that lets you eat your experiment. So what if it fails? You only lost a little flour and sugar; not your house.

I love peppermint!
Dates are a wonderful fruit that have a ridiculous amount of sugar. There's a wonderful company that I've worked with called The Date Lady which makes caramels, syrups, sugars, chocolate spreads, and more from dates! I simply adore their date syrup on pancakes, because it's just as sweet as maple syrup but has so much more depth...and I can feel a little better about it because it's made from fruit. Seriously, check them out!

What goes with dates? Why, mint, of course! Mint grows like a weed, and I've got an honestly ridiculous amount all around my garden, in various locations on my property, too, as I've planted it, forgotten about it, and then seen it pop up randomly the next spring. Mint is a perennial, which means it comes back every year. Mint flowers are also extremely popular among foraging honeybees, so you can definitely feel good about having it in your garden, be it for tea, for baking, for making oils, natural shampoos and air-fresheners...the list goes on and on. Anyway, time to bake!


Mmmm...Glaaaaaazee....

Date Mint Scones with Honey Glaze

yields 12 scones
Adapted from "The Afternoon Tea Collection"

Scones

  • 30 g coconut oil
  • 55 g honey(you can use date sugar, though!)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 375 g AP flour
  • 7 g baking powder
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 115 g chopped dates(this is an estimate, as I just grabbed a handful)
  • 10 mint leaves(I used peppermint, but spearmint or apple mint would be fine)
If you can invest in a marble slab, do it. They keep doughs cool
when you need them to be (Hello pie dough) and you can even find them at reclaim stores.
Honey Glaze
  • 120 g powdered sugar
  • 15 g coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Combine your flour and baking powder in the bowl of a standing mixer and fix with a paddle attachment. Mix for about 30 seconds, just enough to make sure everything is combined. Add the honey and the coconut oil, and mix until the mixture looks just crumbly. Add in your chopped dates and fresh mint, then stir for about 10 turns, just to coat everything with flour. Add your coconut milk and that's it! This is an extremely quick recipe that produces a rather wet dough, but you can use a nice ice cream scoop or two large tablespoons to make dollops on a baking sheet, lined with parchment or a silpat mat. You can attempt to roll it out and just cut off pieces that you think you'll want for the size, but I didn't want to risk over-working it with a floured surface. Quickbreads should be just that: quick!

Bake at 425 for about 17 minutes, or until the bottoms are crisp and color on top is set. You can also give the tops a bit of an egg wash, but that's up to you. While everything is baking, clean up and make the glaze. If you're feeling a little crazy, you can even add some fresh mint in to the glaze, for some of that pretty color! Garnishing with candied mint leaves, as well, is a good way to use up that quick-growing mint.

All you do is combine everything with a whisk until it's smooth, and then set in the fridge to chill just enough to be pourable but not solid. Simply let your scones cool for about 10 minutes before you ice them, and you're good to go. 

I hope you've enjoyed the recipe! Follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and look for my tags, #wannabgourmande! Of course, you can get more info and more fun content on my Facebook page. Thanks for hanging out with me! Happy cooking and happy eating!


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spicy Garden Pesto Pasta



I love pasta. I am safely pro-pasta. In fact, if I were to run for President of the United States of America, I'd say "Hello, I am WannaBGourmande, I am pro-pasta, and I am running for president." I'd clearly get elected because there are literally zero qualifications at this point to run the arguably most-powerful country in the world. (I hope I get to look back on this post and laugh.)

I'm an avid gardener, and wannabe homesteader. I sometimes think about changing my name to Wanna B. Homesteader, but that doesn't quite have the fun ring to it as 'gourmande' does. Plus, if my initials ended with "H", I couldn't call myself "Notorious WBG." Ultimately, I don't feel truly right calling myself a homesteader if I'm still living on the grid, but I try every day to live a better, more wholesome life through my food, through the ways I consume products, and the ways I live. I've sort of decided to call myself a lifestyle blogger, without the excessive posts on pinterest and falling into the trope of 'rich girl pinterest'. You know, chia seed smoothies in mason jars with organically-grown kale from the co-op? I want to write about cooking and being a chef and eating well on a tight-ass budget, because that's the truth that I know and have lived. Anyway, on to the eating.


Easy Homemade Pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Cool water, as needed

Making your own pasta is rewarding in both the culinary sense and the emotional sense. When making pasta, you can use the dough as a sort of worry stone. You'll have to knead the dough to be quite glutinous(no gluten-free pasta here; sorry, guys) and chewy, so you can use this moment to have your own version of tactile therapy. Go ahead; take the opportunity to imagine strangling your annoying coworker as you work the dough into the counter...because yes, Janet, I'm sure in your day you did just 'deal with it' even though the reality of anxiety and depression is that nobody ever got diagnosed properly, but sure, my generation totally invented mental illness.  But, seriously, there's no Netflix in prison, so just take your frustrations out on the dough and it'll be ready in no time.

You can combine this dough in the bowl of a standing mixer or do it the old-fashioned way, which is what I prefer. Simply pile your flour in the middle of your impeccably clean counter and make a well in the middle. Dump your eggs and oil in the center of the well, and use a fork to sort of break it up and beat it together. Using a dough scraper and your hands, fold the flour over and over each other to mix, then knead. Knead this for a solid five minutes, and remember that it's totally okay that you skipped arm day at the gym because of this.


Wrap your dough and let it rest for about ten minutes. If you have a pasta machine, take the time to set it up now. If you don't, you can easily just use a rolling pin to create long sheets of pasta and cut tagliatelle strips with a knife that you've rubbed with flour. Otherwise, once your resting time is up, roll and use your pasta machine as needed. Don't have these neat beechwood pasta racks? You can use plastic coat hangers(no seriously) or just pile them in 4 oz nests like these for easy portioning. If you don't intend to use them that evening, simply allow them to dry overnight, pop them in plastic bags (with a silica gel pack if you're feeling fancy), and then store them for up to 6 months in your pantry.



Green Garden Pesto
(rough estimates; use what you have!)
  • 2/3 fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup nasturtium leaves
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 9 small hot chile peppers, pan-roasted and seeded
  • 1/3 cup raw pistachio nuts, shelled
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
So here's the only bit of cooking that you have to do for this recipe: blister the peppers. I have so many tiny cayenetta peppers from my hanging basket planter, it's not even funny. You can wait until they turn red or use them green(which I like to do for this recipe), but be advised that they are spicy, so use with discretion if you're sensitive to that! I like lots of peppery bite, so I used plenty. This is easy: just take a saute pan, heat it up - without any fat in it, mind you - and blister the skin of the peppers. Just cook them until they're soft inside, and then remove the seeds by popping off the tops and just squeezing the insides out, like you might for a tube of toothpaste. 

This is the easiest pesto ever - just pop everything in a blender and blitz until smooth. You can add more mint, more basil, more parsley, whatever! I like lots of spinach in this because it gives such a nice sweetness and a bright green color to it. The nasturtium is used because I have lots of it, and it has a nice peppery bite to it. I've got more mint than I have basil, so I used that, as well, but not too much as to prevent it from overpowering anything. You can substitute the nasturtium for tarragon, chives, or olive oil instead of coconut/grapeseed. Use what you have; this recipe is meant to be easy!

For this recipe:
  1. Cook your pasta in boiling water. (90 seconds for fresh, 7 minutes for dried)
  2. Drain your pasta.
  3. Toss your pasta in a spoonful of pesto sauce and a dab of butter.
  4. Serve.
Thats. It. 

I served mine tonight with a center-cut pork chop, and some braised swiss chard with corn and leeks. It was a simple meal, and the only thing I really had to buy was the pork chops, which were from a BOGO(buy one, get one free) sale at the Hen House down the street. You don't even need the extra stuff; just a few shaves of parmesan or even a poached egg will do for a light dinner.  This, obviously, can be very easily made vegetarian, and even the most-discerning guests will appreciate something that you grew and made by hand!

A post shared by Kolika of Pistachio Bakehouse (@wannabgourmande) on


In reality, I spent about $5.49 for a nice meal for two people, considering everything else was already available in my home and garden. I know you won't be able to buy a house with that kind of savings, but you can certainly splurge on one more avocado toast at brunch when you're only spending roughly $2.25/per person, per meal, in your own home. The only real investment here made was time, which took - roughly - 40 minutes from start to finish. It might take the average home cook a hair longer, but it's still a simple meal that's economic, has a teeny-tiny carbon footprint in comparison to going out to a restaurant, and is very tasty. 

Oh, and you don't have to have a big garden to grow the herbs in this recipe; a sunny window box with mint, basil, nasturtium, etc., in it will do just fine. You can garden. I believe in you. You can empower yourself and homestead in a tiny apartment, in your own quiet way. Happy cooking and happy eating!