Friday, July 30, 2010

Yogurt Blueberry Scones

The best days are those when you get to sleep in, and then you wake up and bake yourself a nice breakfast.

Today, I slept in until 11, finally getting more than the 5-6 hours I've been getting all week. I got up and decided to use those nice blueberries in the refrigerator! I found this recipe for blueberry yogurt scones somewhere on the internet, but adjusted to my liking and resources. What I changed was using flavored yogurt instead of plain, adding a hint of spices, halving the sugar, and reducing the amount of milk. Adding the recipe's amount of milk proved too much. The scone recipe could actually go without the milk that is added, or just 1-2 Tbs of the milk. The recipe below will have my recommendations.

Yogurt Blueberry Scones
2 cups of flour (1cup whole wheat pastry, 1 cup all purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs light brown sugar (instead of 2 Tbs)
Spices to taste (usually 1/2 tsp of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, etc.)
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
6 oz of some kind of berry flavored yogurt (instead of plain)
1-2 Tbs of milk (may omit if dough looks wet enough)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (may add lemon zest for extra flavor)

1) Combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and spices.
2) Cut in butter and mix into flour until crumbly.
3) Add in yogurt and vanilla, and milk if necessary. Fold in blueberries (and zest).
4) Knead two or three times.
5) Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Put parchment paper in a 9" round cake pan. Lightly butter if you want.
6) Roll dough into a ball, then place in center of prepare pan. Pat out into an 8" round, then slice into 8 pieces.
7) Bake in center of oven 12-15 min or 15-20 min, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and it's a light tan color. Let cool in pan 5 min, then remove to a wire rack to cool further.
Makes 8 scones

These came out very tasty. The mixed berry yogurt adds a wonderful aroma that wafts from the scones like heavenly perfume. So delicious and actually healthy! Not full of butter and cream like the traditional scones, yet still satisfying and taste-electrifying! Doesn't even need a lemon glaze (which I usually think overdoes it on any pastry). I bet crystallized ginger would have been a nice addition too, if I had it. Well, I hope you enjoy this wonderful treat sometime!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sustainable Food Debate

I just read this article against the current trend in "sustainable" food.

What the NPR host says is that, if we look at developing countries (ones that Americans and Europeans see as less high tech in their agriculture) such as Africa, they subsist off of this "slow food" movement. The irony is that they are a developing country because of and leading to this slow food way of getting and distributing their vittles.

I do agree with Paarlberg that Westerners must clear their minds of this idealized view of the "slow food" and "sustainable" movement. We should not give up on it, but rather not let ourselves get sucked into organic messages that overplay the moral values of their goods. Oftentimes, organic or local really is not better for you or the environment. I could sell you a lemon from my tree at home for three times as much just because it's local, but that may not defeat the fact that it's grown in a suburb or may have grown by use of synthesized fertilizers. My opinion is that the organic and slow labels are often overplayed by many companies and groups to try and woo consumers into forking over more money for their goods.

Addressing the world hunger case, I do agree that we must "de-romanticize our view of preindustrial food and farming. And that means learning to appreciate the modern, science-intensive, and highly capitalized agricultural system we’ve developed in the West" . The industrialized agricultural system is created to most efficiently feed a massive population of humans. Let us consider what the goal and what the methods are. The goal of "solving world hunger" cannot truthfully be met by a "slow" and "local" method because this does not output enough to feed a large number of people. World hunger means a lot of mouths to feed. Slow and local only feeds a small rich group right now in the West. I will admit that industrial agriculture of the modern day is not glamorous or humane at all. I personally detest the way they coop up the animals and the way they kill them; yet, if people want to solve the proposed "world hunger problem," I can't see a more efficient way to do so than this way. 

It's just unfortunate that solving world hunger and maintaining humane practices for all living creatures can't go hand in hand...

What do you all think about this?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scallop Vegetable Risotto and Double Banana Muffins

Hello again.


What? Don't remember me? Oh yeah. We haven't spoken in a veerryyyyy long time. Well, between fun stuff, procrastinating, school, and other various distractions, Blog, you have been set at a lower priority. But, now I have returned to post!

"Really? A review, huh?"

Nope! I have my own recipe and it's delicious! Although, I must admit, I do have a long list of restaurants that I must review on Yelp, along with other foods I have made at home since my last post.

Today, I surprisingly had a lot of time. Also, surprisingly, I was not too tired in the evening despite staying up late to try and finish homework and getting up semi-early to go to research lab. After class was over, and after taking a fun stroll through Whole Foods, I was prepared to finally achieve one of my life goals!

Cooking risotto!!!

So I did it. And I was so psyched when I finished and even now. Haha. The finished product was really good, and SOOO much better than Pasta Pomodoro's special this month: Asparagus Risotto. That thing was bland and had no love put in it. Just kinda thick rice with asparagus. Nasty. Their El Cerrito branch will be receiving a bad review on Yelp soon...

Anyways, back to the risotto. A couple days ago, I made my own vegetable stock out of a bunch of vegetable shavings and leftovers. So excited that this dish is COMPLETELY from scratch. Makes it such a proud experience. It is a scallop risotto with red bell peppers, red onions, celery, and carrots. Apparently, the onion, peppers, celery, and carrots is the usual base mix of vegetables to start any dish. My roommate called it some fancy Italian or French word, but I forgot.

I based my risotto of the general procedure for "Our Favorite Risotto" from Cooking Light that was made with mushrooms and mascarpone cheese. Instead, I added my own vegetables, herbs, meat, and cheese. Below you will find the recipe. It came out very creamy and delicious, but must be served warm-hot to really enjoy it to its full extent. Before making the risotto, I made some banana muffins modified from a recipe my mom used. My mom baked for the first time last night!!! She made these banana muffins and added too many bananas and less butter, but it came out amazing. But she's back at home home and I'm in my college home, so I didn't get any. So I craved and made some myself - with my usual changes of course (cinnamon, spices, wheat). The recipe for the banana muffins follow the risotto recipe. (Picture to be added tomorrow).

(Pardon the messy pot. It's the starch and cheese.)

Scallop Risotto (serves 4-5)
1 medium-large red bell pepper, large diced
1/4 large red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, including leaves, diced
1/2 lb small-medium bay scallops, patted dry
Various herbs (I used dried oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley, freely added)
3/4-1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/4-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil for sauteing
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat stock in saucepan to a simmer but do not boil. Keep warm.
2. Saute the red onions till limp. Add garlic and Arborio rice. Saute for 5 min. Add 1/2 cup white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed.
3. Add 1 cup of stock and cook, stirring until most of it is absorbed. Meanwhile, begin to saute the carrot and celery (reserve the celery leaves). Add the red bell peppers and continue sauteing. Remove from heat once cooked. Add stock to rice 1/2 cup a time, stirring constantly, until absorbed each time.
4. Season the scallops with salt, black pepper, oregano, and basil. On a hot pan with olive oil, sear scallops till cooked through on each side. Kinda stir-fry it. Add in vegetables to reheat, then remove from heat.
5. Once rice is thick and starchy, and fold in scallop-vegetable mix. Add in rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper, to taste. Add in Parmesan cheese, and fold through rice.
6. Spoon into bowls and top with chopped celery leaves. Enjoy!

Double Banana Muffins (14 normal muffins, or 12 muffins + 6 mini muffins)
4-5 ripe, medium bananas, mashed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sugar (mix white and brown)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 TBS canola oil
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, to taste
1/4 cup chopped banana chips, toasted in oven

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins with grease of liners.
2. Beat bananas, egg, sugar, vanilla, butter, and oil.
3. Mix dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients. Fold in banana chips.
4. Pour into muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: Make sure to check on the mini ones just to make sure they don't cook too much before the big ones.