"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
- Roald Dahl
Loving that quote. Today I am happy about vibrant green vegetables, impromptu dancing with my babe of a husband, your emails and comments, my health, dreaming up a big trip for next year, new favorite nail polish and so many new cookbooks (I've had enough of the social networking crankiness from this election week, bring on the good thoughts!).
To read through Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen's book felt sentimental for me. The photos and writing are so quintessentially Deb. When I was trapped in a cubicle, I poured over her and Heidi Swanson's work. Printing out all the recipes I wanted to try (in color, of course), put them in plastic sleeves, and in a three ring binder because those things are at your disposal working in an office. I still have the binder, originally inspired by these two ladies, and now bursting open, far from organized with everything I've ripped out from magazines in the past few years. I'll stretch that baby pretty far before I buy a new binder. I emailed Deb when I first started this site, the kind of question I am sure she gets multiple times daily. I can't remember verbatim, but it was something to the effect of, "So, I started a blog. What do I do now?" Her response was short but perfect. She poignantly suggested that I cook and write authentically. That I stay true to myself and the way I want to cook - the process should be fufilling for me first, people will follow that authenticity, and I won't be dissapointed trying to create something that is chasing popularity alone. And maybe that isn't verbatim either, but it was certainly the jist, and it has always been in the back of my head as the best advice I received when making a blog, this journal, my own. I'm sure most of you are familiar with her site. She is witty, to the point, detailed and opinionated. Those same qualities come through in all the recipe headnotes of her new cookbook. She tells you the what, why and how, making the process easy to understand and foolproof. From someone who is not a perfectionist about the cooking process, I greatly respect people like Deb who test and fiddle until they've got the texture, taste and directions just right. I won't say it's necessarily health-focused, for those who are looking for books with gluten and dairy alternatives, but a number of the recipes are adaptable for preferences and allergies. She leaves no stone unturned, some of the most well written recipes I've seen, and you can see her hard work and quest for accurate recipes so clearly in her first book. Congratulations, Deb.
WHOLE WHEAT PERSIMMON RICOTTA SCONES // Makes 8-9 scones
Recipe lightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Deb calls for raspberries in her recipe, which look beautiful and I'm sure taste even better. My pastry eater around here isn't big on raspberries, so I tried a version with the persimmons I've been getting in my CSA basket and added a hint of fall-ish spices. If you want to stick with the original, substitute raspberries for the persimmons and eliminate the spices.
The lesson I've learned the hard way, a few times, is to not over handle the dough. It's fine if there are chunks and bumps in it, the less futzing around with the dough, the better. Deb makes a note that this dough is damp because of the ricotta, which is what makes them so tender, so keep your hands and counter well floured. Regarding do-ahead tips, "Scones are best the day they are made. However, you can make and divide the dough, arrange on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm, then tranfer them to a freezer bag. If you're prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. No need to defrost them, just add another 2-3 minutes to you baking time."
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp. aluminum free baking powder
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 cup finely chopped Fuyu persimmons
- 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 425' and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the dry ingredients together, the flour through the spices. Add the butter with a pastry blender, and cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of small peas (this can also be done with your fingers, just be quick to not warm the butter, or a knife). Toss in the persimmons and break them up a bit with the pastry blender.
Using a flexible spatula, add the ricotta and heavy cream to the butter mixture and stir them in to form a dough. Working quickly, use your hands to knead the dough gently into an even mass.
Transfer the dough to a well floured surface, flour the top of dough, and pat into a 7 inch square, 1 inch high. With a large, sharp knife, divide the dough into nine scones. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet with the spatula. Bake the scones for about 15-18 minutes until they are lightly golden at the edges. Cool them on the pan for a minute then transfer to a cooling rack.