So I said that more information would be coming on how I want to focus on my blog this year. It took me a few days to come up with a plan that I think will work well. My initial problem was that there are so many things I'd like to do. I have a ton of cookbooks, and I don't use them nearly enough. Ditto with the cooking magazines that I read regularly. I have lots of baking pans these days, and don't use them enough either. I have lots of great cooking tools, and interesting ingredients. When I started to think about all the possibilities, I didn't know where to begin. That's where the focus idea comes in. I started to make a list of ideas, and here's what I came up with:
Friends (featuring a recipe from a friend's blog)
Kids (cooking with, or stuff they would like)
Ingredients (maybe seasonal?)
Pantry (using what I routinely have on hand)
Bread (I want to make at least one new one a month)
Pans (I have lots of interesting ones, and lots of different sizes)
I stopped there--nine is my favorite number, and nine seemed like a reasonable number to fit into a month's time. Some recipes may fit into more than one category, but I'll post at least one for each separate category each month. I'm not going to do them in any particular order, since I don't need that much pressure. This idea appeals to me because it's sort of like a puzzle. Some categories may be easy to cover in a given month. Then I'll have to see what I can come up with to fill in the blanks. For January, I've already done Tools (my balloon whisk) and Magazines (the fudge cake was from Fine Cooking, one of my favorites). I've got ideas for all but Kids and Pantry, but it's fun to try to figure out what to make for those categories. This post is going to take care of Cookbooks.
I thought I'd go with one of the new cookbooks I got for Christmas. The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook is quite the tome, and contains all the best recipes from 20 years worth of magazine issues. I love my website subscription to CI when I'm searching for something, but I really enjoy browsing through a physical cookbook--that way things can jump out at me that I might never think to search for. In this case, I knew I wanted to make scones for breakfast because when I ask the girls what I should make, the answer is always "Scones! With chocolate chips, please!" I wanted something a bit more interesting than a plain scone. As for the chocolate chips, I'm not always in the mood the way they are, but it's pretty easy to divide the dough (usually two-thirds for them, one-third for me) and add in different things. I settled on the Oatmeal Scones--never hurts to sneak in some fiber when the girls aren't paying attention. =)
The thing that intrigued me about this recipe is that you toast the oats before you start mixing things together. I never would have thought to do that, but it makes sense that, like with nuts, it would add to the flavor. There are several variations at the end of the basic oatmeal scone recipe. I love maple scones, so I went with that option. In place of the granulated sugar, you use maple syrup (I used grade B). I also toasted some pecans to add to my part of the dough and I put a mix of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in the rest so I wouldn't have to listen to B&G complain. =) I think the substitution of the maple syrup made the dough stickier than usual, and I didn't think I could pat it out without having to use a lot of flour. So I made drop scones instead. I used my #16 disher and got an even dozen. I baked them for 12 minutes, but could probably have left them in a minute or two longer to get a bit more browning on top. Once the scones had cooled for a few minutes, I drizzled them with maple glaze (just some maple syrup & powdered sugar, with a bit of water to thin it out).
The verdict? Who would have thought that toasting oats would make such a bit difference in the taste? These are my new go-to scone. Brianna and Gillian loved them with the chocolate chips; I thought they were terrific with the pecans. They weren't at all dry; I'm sure the maple syrup helped with that, as did the high baking temp and shorter baking time.
If you'd like to give these a try, you can, of course, find the recipe in the new Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. It's also in Baking Illustrated, and can be found online here if you have a membership to the CI website.
I'm excited about blogging again, so I think my focus idea is going in the right direction. I've added a tab at the top of the blog where I can keep track of the different categories each month. I'm also tagging the individual posts (e.g. this one is labeled with "cookbook focus" among other things) so they can be searched that way. Next up, another new acquisition--my 6-cup Bundt pan!