Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Berry Picnics.....

It is that time of year when the weekends start to fill up with events, parties and get-togethers where the grills are hot and fruit is a staple for the weekend picnic. I love finding recipes perfect for a sunny day at the park or a backyard picnic with friends.

This weekend was one of those times (unfortunately, this weekend the summer rain had different things in mind....but a weekend is a great time to enjoy the summer no matter the weather). So with that in mind I decided to pull out an old favorite - Strawberry Sour Cream Pie.

The first time I made this pie it was for my brother. It was a new recipe based on what I could find during winter and happened to have strawberries in the freezer. Every time I make this I think of my brother and smile since he ate the entire pie less a couple of slices in about one day. So I guess I consider this pie to be his....but now have to enjoy it for him since he is a thousand miles away.

Strawberry Sour Cream Pie

Butter Pie Dough 
(this is my classic pie dough - make at least 1 hr ahead. I always make 1 day before)

1 1/4 C Pie and Pastry Flour
1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 stick (1/2 C) Unsalted Butter
3 Tbsp Ice Water

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Add butter and combine until butter is combined in small pieces (resembles course meal). Add water and blend until ball forms. (Can add more water if needed). Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and put in refrigerator for 1 hour. Can be made up to one day ahead.

When ready to use, let sit out for 30 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface. Roll out into a 12" disk and transfer to pan. Trim off excess and shape crust. I use my knuckles but you could also use a fork or other tools.

Strawberry Sour Cream Pie Filling

1 Quart Fresh Strawberries (see note for frozen strawberries below) (could use any other fruit on-hand)
1 1/4 C Sugar
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 C Pie and Pastry Flour
1 C Sour Cream
2 Tbsp Vanilla Sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Hull, rinse and halve strawberries. Place berries in prepared pie crust and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add sour cream and combine well. Pour mixture evenly over strawberries and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.  Bake for 12 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn down oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tip on Frozen Strawberries - on occasion I use frozen strawberries for this recipe or freeze berries when I find a great sale. For any recipe I prefer to use my own frozen berries instead of frozen from the store.

To prepare frozen strawberries for use the rest of the year, hull, rinse and cut strawberries in half. Place on a cookie sheet cut side down and place in freezer for 1 hour. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. This allows the berries not to stick together and form a large clump. When needed, just add to recipe and cook as recommended (adding additional time only if needed).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Morning Scones......

On a Saturday morning, I can be found venturing to my local coffee shop to purchase a cinnamon chip scone and a soy latte. The combination of the two is one of my favorite things to enjoy on the weekends.

I always knew I needed to make a similar scone to fill this favorite but over the years the hunt for cinnamon chips has been futile in our local area. Aside from ordering them from great websites, I have always hoped to be able to walk in to a store and see them on the shelf. I can happily say that day finally arrived.......AMEN!!!!!

My wonderful Aunt, who has taught me so much about cooking, baking and hosting, helped make this day finally become reality. While driving around Southern Illinois, she was explaining the history of the area. In this history lesson, she spoke about a local country store containing an amazing deli counter they were known for.

Immediately, I looked at her and asked if this same store sells baking supplies in bulk. As I waited for her answer, I could only hope as I have been searching. I heard rumors of these country stores but still couldn't find one in my local area. To my delight, she said we were on our way and boy was I excited!!

Arriving at this store, I was delighted to find many options of flour, spices, and baking supplies. Unfortunately, I have no photos since I wanted to respect the store patrons and owners.  Among these options, I was excited with my purchase of the cinnamon chips, powdered buttermilk, powdered vanilla (I will give tips on how to use in the future) as well as pounds and pounds of several different Flours (the price couldn't be beat!).

Little things such as these make me happy....or as my mother put it...If I get that excited over baking supplies, she NOW knows where to shop for

So this recipe is to honor the cinnamon scone I have been searching for. Enjoy!

Pecan Cinnamon Chip Scones
1 1/2 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 C Pie and Pastry Flour (can use all all-purpose if not available)
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 C Sugar
3/4 C Oatmeal (blended)
1/2 C Pecans (chopped)
1/4 C Powdered Buttermilk
1/2 C Cinnamon Chips
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, cold
3/4 C Water (or Buttermilk, omit powdered buttermilk if used)
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla

Turn oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, oatmeal, pecans, and powdered buttermilk (if used). Cut butter into mixture until it resembles cornmeal. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, water (or buttermilk) and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. Add Cinnamon Chips just until mixed.

Place mixture onto floured surface and knead until combined well. Pat into a rectangle about 10 x 12 then cut dough into diamonds. Place onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Makes 16 scones.

Note: Powdered Buttermilk can be used in place when buttermilk is called for in recipes. Add the powder with the dry ingredients and add water in place of the liquid buttermilk when wet ingredients are added. Use 1/4 C powder to 1 C Water (1 to 4 ratio)