Im Borrowing: Lemon Lavender Shortbread

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So the other week, my wife (seen at her badass foodie blog here) directed me to one of her old classmates' new endeavours. I explored, thinking it would be good, but wow, this one is a winner. Yummybooks blends her love of lit with that inner push that finds us crazy bakers in front of the oven with hot oven rack marks left all over are forearms.... or is that just me? She gives you a preview for what might be your next classics read and what for sure will be accompanying your side (and tastebuds) during the adventure. The featured recipe was inspired by the Secret Garden...which I think inspires some of my daily day to day life.

I chose to borrow Yummybooks lemon lavender shortbread mostly because they looked delicious, but it didn't hurt that we welcomed a new lavender plant to the garden the other day. And I must agree with this baker... use fresh. use fresh. use fresh lavender. The plant is beautiful and smells wondrous... not to mention it will withstand the sweltering hot California Valley heat that (knock wood) seems to have forgotten us this year. And of course it didn't hurt when I read she topped her cookies with sea salt. I love salt. Especially from the sea.

I thought I had my favorite shortbread recipe. This one, fairly thin and so flaky, is quite the contender. It will be served alongside peaches and vanilla ice cream for a dinner party tonight to make somewhat of a deconstructed peach pie. So fresh, so delicious.

Thank you so much Yummybooks for a new read in your blog and this delicious idea for a recipe. Profitez le weekend tout le monde!

Lemon Lavender Shortbread
adapted from Yummybooks

I tweeked this recipe a bit here and there, but the delicious idea remains the same. My best results turned when I refrigerated the cookies on the pan right before popping them in the oven and with a bit of whole wheat pastry flour for a nice crumb.

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh lavender

zest of one lemon

sea salt to finish

Start by beating up your butter and cane sugar nice and well. Sift together the salt, flours, and powdered sugar. Once the butter/sugar is beat up for a couple minutes go ahead and slowly add your dry mixture as well as the lemon zest and lavender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the goodness. It should come together into a ball. Refridge for 2 hours or so.

Once your dough is nice and chilly lightly flour a rolling surface. Set oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough so it is about 1/4 inch thick and cut out whatever shapes you desire. I stuck with the inspired design because I thought they looked nice and will work well with the peach pie sundaes I am adding them to. Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle (just a tad!) of sea salt. They bake for about 10 minutes or until just golden brown. Let cool on a rack and they will firm up and be delicious.

Music Pairing

Audiobook of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Its not music, but its sound. Might as well dive back into the classics with a shortbread in hand.

Cherry Barley Scones, Oh My.

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My Apologies. I built up cherry season so much, promising jams, pies, salads, and basically anything one could possibly think of pertaining to cherries (the food that is).... and I just never did post anything. Before you get too mad, please picture a mid 20 something girl, so overwhelmed by the bountiful-ness of cherry season happening in her backyard that the tiny stone fruits are flailing through the air, leaving the grout on the kitchen tile a delightful but equally maddening shade of red, and all this while running around on a sugar high from the foods that were made subsequently from the mass influx of this great fruit.

Ok. I'm exaggerating a bit. But just a bit. Our cherry season went wonderfully and I managed to can some jam (even though I heard my mother say the word botulism 567 times), dry some cherries, make a grain salad with them, and then of course were these delightful scones.

If you've been at the other end of my baking, you know I love cooking with kooky (as it may seem to some) ingredients. I love to try and obtain a depth and interesting flavor that is a little beyond the grasp of white flours and sugar. Not to say they aren't delicious! Please. I would never say that. I do love a wondrous and simple croissant of course. But, more than sometimes a little creativity is worth your pursuits, and I don't think that this recipe with fall short of meeting high expectations. I used barley flour here, which is a tinge sweet with a malty sort of flavor. Indeed, I think its my new fave. I should have a biscotti recipe also using this flour comin at ya very soon as well. But you know me.... maybe that happens.... maybe that doesn't. But until then, please try these...

Cherry Barley Scones

adapted from Good to the Grain

If you love cooking with whole grain flours, Kim Boyce's cookbook Good to the Grain is essential to have. It meets all my criteria for a great book, hitting the high mark in fields of photography, interesting and innovative recipes, and not to mention the pic of the author in the bck is adorable. And she looks happy too. What baker shouldnt look happy? Anywho, tangent, mangent.... Feel free to experiement with different types of jams you have on hand from the season. I would guess that peach, nectarine, and berry work very well also in this recipe.

1 cup Barley Flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
scant 1/4 cup turbinado sugar plus 1 TB honey, or 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg

to finish:

1/2 cup Cherry Jam

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

Les Directions:

Go ahead and set your oven to 350 degrees F. Rub a baking sheet with butta.

Sift all of your flours, sugars, powders, sodas, and salts into a bowl. Cut up the cold butter into small-ish chunks and add to dry mixture. Then you may either:

1. use your fingers, swiftly, to break butter into smaller pieces, resembling tiny pebbles or large-ish grains of rice. If you have hot hands.... forget about it and...

2. Use a pastry cutter or even a fork. This will buy you more time, not melting the butter while working.

Ok. Back to work. In a separate bowl, wish the egg and the buttermilk together. If you don't have buttermilk don't fret, just combine milk with a tablespoon or so of vinegar or lemon juice. Let it set for a minute et viola... your replacement for buttermilk.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Don't worry about leaving behind a few crumbleys. The less hands on time, the better the scones. Separate the dough in two. Turn the first of the two doughs onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten out to make a fairly thick round... about 1/2 inch. Do the same with the second dough. Now its time to make the scone sandwich. Spread the jam onto on one of the rounds and place the second on top. Cut into about six triangles and you are there. To finish, spread melted butta on top and sprinkle with some sugar.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes and enjoy!

Music Pairing

"Little Lion Man" by Mumford & Sons
Barley's a lil country and so are these guys.

My Favorite Breakfast

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I've converted many a naysayer before, so it comes as no surprise that everyone doesn't share the same affinity for the rice cake as I do. The poor things do get a lot of crap. And if you are talking Quaker, then, yes it is even warranted crap. But next time skip over the styrofoam stuff and pick up a natural foods brand, like Lundburg. Top with some pb, raisins, banana, and cinnamon, and you wont be sorry. Pick up the Sunday Times..... and now thats a morning.

Seconds Please: Zucchini Spelt Bread

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I feel like every post has become an "Im bacK!" post. Apparently its the fault of the migrant lifestyle I've become accustomed to. I just cant seem to stay put, now can I? I even found myself planning my next move before I returned home to California, from family vacation.... where I leapt to after camp counseling in Monterey, and that's what I did when I got back from Paris. I mean, I need to get a flippin grip. So, I'm trying something new... I'm just here in Stockton, Not somewhere in my next 20 adventures, but just here. And there is nothing that brings me back to the right now with a smile on my face like baking. And my garden. Any maybe goblets filled with jewels. So, when I can incorporate 2 out of 3 into a recipe, I barely recognize that there is still a world happening outside of my kitchen.

This recipe is one of my favorites Ive put together in a while. It is pretty multifunctional; working as a breakfast item, an afternoon tea snack, or a light dessert....or not so light dessert when some people (maybe me, maybe not me) pair it with Haagen Dazs ice cream. I have so many monstrous zucchini squash in my backyard that there wasn't any way they were escaping the oven in a bread form. And everyone just loves it when you can tag on a veggie in the title of a sweet bread. I guess it lowers the guilt factor? And nothing says summer better than fresh zucchini and well, I just love it. I hope you like it too. Take it to the beach. or a picnic. Or ship it to one of your pals that you wish you were at the beach with.... or hell, even a picnic.

Zucchini Spelt Bread It Is!
inspired by Silver Palate Cookbook

makes 1 delicious loaf

I started the way I start most baking experiments, with a fairly simple base recipe, and then changed everything I possibly could. I decided to make this one with spelt flour because I think its absolutely delicious. And if you ask me, it completely makes this bread what it is.... and that is glorious.

oil/butter for the loaf pan
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup UNpacked natural brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated unpeeled raw zucchini
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup raisins (I didn't add them by request... but I really wanted to. Why don't raisins get any love?)
Sea Salt and Coarse Sugar to top it off

OK. Pretty simple recipe. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you are from Europe I am not providing conversions so use google.

Oil a rectangular loaf pan. Beat the eggs, oil, milk, vanilla, and sugars until combined and slightly thick. Fold in the shredded zucchini.

In a separate bowl sift together the flours, baking soda and powder, the glorious salt, and cinnamon. Add to the wet mix and stir until all is nice and combined. Fold in your walnuts and raisins. I'm guessing chocolate chips wouldn't be a bad call either. Instead of the raisins that is. But, oh so not necessary. Pour batter into the oiled loaf pan et voila! The zucchini is about to meet its fate dans le four!

I almost forgot my favorite part. Sprinkle just a TEENSE of sea salt and turbinado sugar on the top of the bread before it goes in the oven. Its too good. Just be careful with the salt. A little bit makes it amazing, but too much kills it. I would aim for about 1 teaspoon if not less.

It takes about 50 minutes in my oven, but it generally bakes things rather fast. Stick a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean, the bread is done. Enjoy...

Music Pairing
"SummerTeeth" by Wilco.

Its Summer. Nuff said.
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