Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Kitchen Scale

Question: "Wondering if you can put in cups and tablespoons, etc, too for those who don't have a scale."

Short Answer: Maybe, if I have time.

Long Answer: Some of my older recipes are in US Customary Units and I have converted them to metric. In those cases I have left both measurements in place.

However, ever since I got a Scottish cookbook and had to weigh out my ingredients I've become a convert to using the metric system in my cooking and baking. I have two major reasons for my love of the cooking scale. 

The first is that it cuts down a great deal on the number of dishes I generate during cooking because I can put my mixing bowl directly on my scale and pour or scoop my ingredients directly into it. This means that I don't get all of my measuring cups dirty (and then have to wash them later).

The second is that it does away with measurements like 'tightly packed,' 'a scant cup,' and 'a heaping tablespoon' as 100 grams is 100 grams regardless of if an ingredient is fluffy or packed. I still get some natural variation as humidity and other random factors can affect the weight of things like flour, but I still find I get much more consistent results using a scale and the metric markings on my liquid measures. I haven't quite gotten to the point of weighing my liquid ingredients but my kiddo was showing me that with liquids like milk and water 1 ml of liquid equals 1 gram on the scale.

As I have been working out my own recipes I have being defaulting to using the scale and metric measurements and I don't always have the time to test a version using the US measurement system.

So, when possible, and when I have time, I'll try to include US Customary Measurements but when pressed for time I might just leave everything in metric and hope you will be interested enough in the recipe to look up the conversions if needed-- or to buy your own scale if you don't already have one around the house that you can press into service.

I resisted using the scale for anything but those first UK recipes for years and now I can't bake without my digital kitchen scale.

Homemade Granola

I started with the King Arthur Flour Cruncy Granola recipe, and while it was tasty, I found it to be too sweet and my family found that the added fruit could send it over the edge into sickly sweet. I also found that 18 cups was a lot to make and have room to store, so I started tinkering with the recipe after I had made it as written a few times.

Here is what I came up with after getting feedback from my family and reviewing several other granola recipes online:


  • 300 g (3 1/2 c.)rolled oats, uncooked
  • 100 g (1 c.) sliced almonds
  • 100 g (1 c.) chopped pecans or walnuts, or mix of both
  • 100 g (1 c.) sliced hazelnuts
  • 60 ml (1/4 c.) vegetable oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 c.) pure maple syrup
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp.) vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Prepare a large (I use a bakers half sheet) baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper
  • Pre-heat the oven to 250F/120C/1/2gas
  • Mix the oats and nuts in a bowl large enough to fit all of the ingredients with room to stir-- mix until well combined
  • Mix the vegetable oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and wisk together
  • Add the liquid to the dry mix and stir until the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the liquid
  • Spread evenly in the baking sheet and press flat
  • Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through
  • Remove from the oven and let the granola cool in the pan
  • Store in an airtight container at room tempurate for several weeks (if it lasts that long!). I use a 2.8 l (3 qt) container to store mine


Mix a batch of your favorite dried fruit, chopped into edible bits, and use it to flavor the granola to taste. Keeping the fruit seperate helps control the sweetness of the granola.

Tools: large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, large baking sheet

Sunday, May 22, 2016

All-Fruit Smoothie

This makes about a liter of smoothie (4-6 servings). I'm trying making some ahead and freezing it in ice-cube trays. One batch fills two-twelve cube trays.  This is one of those, 'takes longer to clean up after' than it takes to make-- which is why I'm experimenting with freezing a batch at the same time I make a batch to drink.

  • 150 g. frozen orange juice concentrate (⅓ of a can)
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 banana
  • 150 g frozen blackberries
  • 150 g frozen blueberries
  • 150 g frozen raspberries

  • Set up the blender
  • Open can of orange juice and, while frozen, cut off a 150 g chunk and add to 400 ml of water. (The partial can can be stored in a zipper bag and kept in the freezer. This take up less space than making up the entire can)
  • Put the water, orange juice concentrate and banana in the blender and blend until well mixed
  • Add the frozen fruit in batches until the smoothie is blended to taste and texture. I find it necessary to let the blender rest for a few moments as I'm working, and to stir the mixture to keep the blender from just stirring the bottom half of the mixture.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Triple-chocolate scones

I have some recipes for scones that I love and a recipe for triple chocolate muffins that I love.

Scones are a lot less work so I combined them into a triple chocolate scone recipe. 


  • 250 g. all-purpose flour 
  • 70 g. brown sugar 
  • 10 g. cocoa powder 
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder 
  • ½ tsp. baking soda 
  • ¼ tsp. salt 
  • 90-100 g. Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled 
  • 75 ml. sour cream 
  • 75 ml. whole milk 
  • 30 g. unsweetened bakers chocolate, melted 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract 
  • 200 g. semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 100 g. chopped pecans 


  • Pre-heat oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6 
  • Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Cut the butter into 1 cm cubes and cut into the dry mix until the butter looks like coarse crumbs 
  • In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl combine the sour cream, milk, melted chocolate, egg and vanilla until well mixed 
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until a ball of dough just forms. If using a stand mixer the sides of the bowl should come clean and most of the dough should collect on the paddle 
  • Add the chocolate chips and pecans and mix until just combined 
  • Lightly flour a work surface and flatten the dough with lightly floured hands until 1.5-2 cm thick 
  • Handle the dough as little as possible
  • Using a 5cm biscuit cutter, cut out rounds until all the dough is used 
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough rounds on it about 1-2 cm apart 
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean 
  • Transfer the scones to a rack to cool for at least five minutes to avoid burning your mouth on the melted chocolate chips 
  • Move them to an airtight container once they are fully cooled 
  • Enjoy
I like to use a liquid measure for the wet ingredients because I can use it to measure the sour cream and milk (which should come out to 150 ml total) and then add the other liquid ingredients. This way I don't have to wash an extra bowl and it pours much more cleanly into the dry mixture. 

I also find using a pastry mat really helps, both with keeping the dough from sticking to the counter and during clean up, since I can carry the mess to the sink instead of having to clean sticky dough off of the counter.

Note that if you don't have unsalted butter, leave the ¼ tsp salt out and use salted butter.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

I've been looking for a good mushroom and rice soup recipe for a while. Last time I visited my parents I tried making up my own from what we had in the house but I got a bit carried away with rice and lentils and ended up with more of a paste. It was very tasty and worked well for filling tortillas but it wasn't soup.

I've been watching episodes of America's Test Kitchen on Netflix and one of the episodes featured a wild rice and mushroom soup and while their version had many things that we can't or don't eat there were several ideas in it that got me started on my own version.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup


For the rice: 

  • 4 c water, heated to a boil 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 tsp dried basil 
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 cup three grain rice 
For the soup base:

  •  4 Tbsp butter, salted 
  • 1 pound Cremini mushrooms 
  • 1 cup celery diced 
  • 1/2 tsp asafetida 
  • 1 tsp red curry paste 
  • 1 tsp pepper 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/8 c. apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar 
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce 
  • 3 c. water from rice plus water to make up the difference 
  • 4 c vegetable broth 
  • 1/4 c. corn starch 
  • 1/4 c. dried shiitake mushrooms shredded in to small pieces or ground 
  • 1/2 c cream 
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest 


For the rice: 

  • Use an oven-safe pot and start the water boiling 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F 
  • Add the salt, thyme, bay leaf, basil, baking soda, and rice to the water once it is boiling 
  • Bring back to a boil 
  • Put the pot of rice in the oven for 35-55 minutes 

 For the soup base: 

  • Using a sauté or frying pan melt the butter 
  • Add the celery and asofoetida and sauté until the celery starts to soften 
  • Add the curry paste, pepper, and salt and stir until well mixed 
  • Add the fresh mushrooms 
  • Cook on high for 10-15 minutes until well browned 
  • Turn down the heat to low 
  • Add the shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce 
  • Mix the apple cider vinegar with 1/8 c water and the sugar Add the mixture to the pan and cook for 2 minutes 
  • Keep on low heat until the rice is done 
For the finished soup:
  • Once the rice is done strain the cooking liquid from the rice. 
  • Reserve the cooking liquid and set the rice aside. 
  • Using the same pot you cooked the rice in combine the sauteed mushrooms, the rice liquid (add water to the rice liquid for a total of 3 c.) and the vegetable broth and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Add a mixture of 1/4 c. corn starch and 1/4 c water to thicken. 
  • Turn the heat down to low or off depending on how well your pot holds heat. 
  • Add the rice, cream, and lemon zest and let sit in the warm pot for 20 minutes before serving. 

Equipment needed: large sauté or frying pan, large oven-proof pot