Simple Fruit Scones

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I guess you can say I’m on a bent with the idea of ‘simple’ meals lately. These scones are what I’ve been eating recently, usually alongside a big pan of sautéed greens and turnips or beets, with a couple eggs scrambled in. It’s like a savory ‘fancy’ breakfast for dinner several nights in a row, and only takes a few minutes, no planning ahead, and whatever vegetables are already on hand.

For these scones, I revisited this recipe, adjusted the types of flour by switching to whole buckwheat groats and oatmeal, which I weighed and then ground in my coffee/spice grinder. And then I added in a small handful of dried fruit, a mixture of chopped dried apricots and cranberries in the first round and simple raisins in the second–since I live with a William of very simple tastes. Both are delicious, and it’s fair to say that these are my favorite of all the British or Irish style scones so common alongside breakfast or served with a vegetable soup.

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Interestingly, in my original recipe I wrote that I’d post a whole grain version of the scones. It only took seven years, but I’ve finally done it!

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The impetus for these are from The Recipe Redux February theme of Oscar Movie Inspiration. Since the Academy Awards are on February 24th, we were asked to head to the movies – and into the kitchen to show our favorite movie-themed recipe. My all-time favorite movie – and one of my favorite books – is Pride and Prejudice. I watch it often, usually when I need a little emotional lift and basically have the entire thing memorized. Aside from that, I tend to gravitate toward British-historical movies in general and the Harry Potter series. With all that British influence, tea and scones are a nice quick mini-meal. Eat them for mid-afternoon tea, an on-the-go breakfast, or like I did, as part of a simple breakfast as dinner.

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Simple Fruit Scones
, makes 4
I’ve made these with vegan butter (Earth Balance sticks), unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, and Kerrygold butter. They all work well as long as you freeze your butter or oil and then grate it into the flour mixture, though I’m partial to the vegan butter since it gives a slightly more ‘buttery’ taste than does the coconut oil. If you have no reason for avoiding true dairy butter, opt for that instead and choose a good brand, like Kerrygold. 

80 g oatmeal
55 g buckwheat groats
5 g arrowroot starch or cornstarch
2 teaspoons / 10 g baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
25 g / 1/4 cup dried fruit of choice
30 g / 2 Tbs. frozen grated vegan butter or coconut oil
120 ml / 1/2 cup cold non-dairy milk

  • Preheat oven to very hot 475°F
  • Grind the oats and buckwheat into a fine flour/meal in a coffee or spice grinder. Then add with the remaining dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  • Rub the frozen grated butter or oil into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces.
  • Add the liquid at once into the mixture and stir until it just forms a sticky dough. They will seem a touch wet, but they will end up more tender this way!
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture.
  • Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle or circle that’s a little more than 1 inch thick. Cut or separate it into four equal portions and gently form into rounds.
  • Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish and bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 12 minutes (check at 10 minutes so as to not overbake!) until the scones are well risen and are lightly colored on the tops.
  • Immediately place the pan onto a cooling rack and serve while still warm, or gently reheated.

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve always been a big fan of St. Patrick’s Day.  Chalk it up to green being my favorite color since the beginning of time (hello emerald birthstone), my bright orange hair, and seriously Irish last name.  Then there was the actual living in Dublin for study abroad and then summer internship.  I’d like to say I’ve gotten familiar with the cuisine–and the St. Patrick’s celebrations that go on there versus here (hint:  we Americans like an excuse to throw a big party).

Though a great deal of people think first of Corned Beef and Cabbage when it comes to traditional Irish food (which you’d be hard-pressed t0 actually find in Ireland these days), I’d like to introduce  you to one of our true favorites–Shepherd’s Pie.  This is an awesome end-of-winter comfort food and a g0-to for myself and W when we are feeling the need to use up extra ground beef.  Truly, we eat it all the time and it’s always special.  Perhaps because our version showcases a few of W’s favorite ingredients–in a pie (okay not a true pie, but still).

Though our version wouldn’t exactly be in the way of the traditional form (not a big fan of eating lamb here), and we like to stir in lots of extra vegetables, I’d have to say we truly enjoy this version better than those you’d find in a standard Irish pub.  Serve it up with some nice Irish Cider–or Guinness, if that’s your style.  Sláinte!

Shepherd’s Pie
For the Topping:
3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped, (about 1 large potato)
3 oz. parsnips (about 1 large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Filling:
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 cup chopped shitake mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
rounded 1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbs plus 3/4 tsp. corn or potato starch
1 cup frozen peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Make the topping:  Bring potatoes and parsnip to a boil, in a medium pot, covered with water.  Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of potato liquid.  Mash potatoes and parsnips.  Stir in yogurt and about 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Season with pepper.
  • Make the filling:  Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms, stirring until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add beef; cook, breaking up any large pieces, for about 5 minutes.  Stir in 3/4 tsp. salt, the thyme, chili powder, and then season with pepper.  Whisk together corn or potato starch separately in reserved potato liquid; add to beef and veg mixture.  Boil for about a minute and then stir in the peas.
  • Transfer filling to a 2-quart baking dish and top with potato mixture.  Bake until bubbling and top is beginning to brown; about 35 minutes.