Monday, March 29, 2010

Oatmeal Scones

CC2 and I are locked in mortal combat over the brackets. My first round three game lead has dwindled to a tie. If that weren't bad enough, I can't win. That's right, no matter what happens in the basketball tournament from here on, I can't win.

But I can lose.

Everything hinges on a single game, and it's not even the final. By the time they play the final on April 5th, it'll be all over. Fame and glory or bitterness and recrimination hang on the outcome of West Virginia vs. Duke. Here's the problem; I can't stand Duke. Normally I lump them in with the likes of Notre Dame and the NY Junkees - just one group of pompous, self-aggrandizing, preening schmo athletes. Duke is the jerk quarterback with cheerleader captain girlfriend. Duke is the too-slick-by-half frat boy driving his new convertible around campus. I hate Duke.

Duke has to beat West Virginia for me to hold onto my tie in the pool.

So here I sit on the horns of a dilemma, enjoy a favorite hobby and cheer against Duke and lose, or swallow my bile and root for Duke in order to preserve a tie. My own personal Scylla & Charybdis of basketball; either way I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth. Which brings me to today's recipe, oatmeal scones. Scones are dry crumbly pucks of packed sawdust. Scones are one of those things you're supposed to like. They're the "perfect little nibble" with a cup of tea. Well Crabby don't do tea and he don't nibble. SSSal loves scones. Sometimes you can't win for losing, enjoy...

Oatmeal Scones
by Benji, M-Hoffmeister and adapted by SSSal







7 cups

3 ½ cups

1 ¾ cups


2 cups

1 cup

½ cup

Baking Powder

2 T

1 T

½ T

Baking Soda

1 T

½ T

¼ T


1 t

½ t

¼ t


1 ½ pounds

3 sticks

1 ½ stick


5 ½ cups

2 ¾ cups

1 3/8 cups

Dried Fruit

3 cups

1 ½ cups

¾ cups


2 1/8 cups

1 cup + 1 T

Generous ½ cup

Heavy Cream

1/2 cup

¼ cup

2 T


Lemon Juice

½ cup

¼ cup

1/8 cup

Powdered Sugar

3 cups

1 ½ cups

¾ cup

Lemon zest

1 lemon

½ lemon

¼ lemon


2 T

1 T

½ T


56 scones

28 scones

14 scones

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl of standing mixer. Blend together with blade attachment.

Cut the butter into small cubes.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats and dried fruit. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just blended. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend just until the dough is moistened.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into rounds using a 3” cookie cutter. Brush the tops of the scones lightly with cream. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or so, until light brown.

While scones are baking, prepare the glaze. Mix lemon juice and powdered sugar in a glass measuring cup and microwave to completely dissolve sugar. Whisk in lemon zest and butter and nuke for 30 seconds more. Drizzle glaze over the scones 5 minutes after they come out of the oven.

· Use currants, dried cranberries, dried cherries, or whatever dried fruit you have on hand.

· The number of scones will vary depending on the thickness of your dough and the size you cut them. Be sure to vary the cooking time as well.

· Baked scones freeze well.

There you go crablings. They're saved by all the butter in them, so I can choke 'em down.

Watch the game, and remember you can do it, you can cook. GO......

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spicy Tangerine Beef

Sorry for the delay on the post this week, things have been a little hectic around here. Some might even say there was madness in the air.

Of course I'm referring to "March Madness" and the attendant basketball. For the last 7 years CrabCake2 and I have had our own bracket wars. Before the start of the tournament we both fill out our picks for all 63 games. This started when he was in grade school and it continues to this day.

It always ends up pretty close. In seven years we've had four outright winners, by a slim margin of one game, one winner with a two game "drubbing" and 2 ties that came down to the outcome of the championship game. We don't actually bet anything, no money changes hands, there's no increase or decrease in the amount of household chores. Nope, all that's at stake is bragging rights. That uniquely male prize that allows you to gloat and pontificate about your prowess at "mastering" something truly trivial and insignificant.

The battle follows a regular pattern. One of us goes out on a limb in the early rounds and either builds up a big lead or falls way behind. The next two weeks is spent analyzing which games have to be won in order to close the gap. You'd be surprised how hard you'll cheer for a Murray State or an Eastern Washington when the outcome can bring you back to within a game. It's a blast.

Of course planting yourself in front of the TV to watch meaningless basketball games severely restricts your cooking time. So it's only quick and fast meals this weekend. Spicy Tangerine Beef fits the bill. It combines easy prep with fast cooking so you don't waste valuable watching time. Prep everything before the game and cook the dinner during halftime. Enjoy...

Spicy Tangerine Beef
from Guy Fieri and The Food Network with a couple Crabby adjustments

3 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 pound flank steak cut in thin strips across the grain
2 TBSP grated fresh ginger

2 TBSP dry sherry
2 TBSP hoisin sauce
2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP hot chili sauce
2 TBSP soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (orange juice is OK if you have no tangerines)
3 TBSP canola oil

3 scallions, chopped
Zest of 2 tangerines or 1 orange
2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

In a large resealable plastic bag combine the 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of grated ginger. Seal and shake well to combine. Add the sliced beef, reseal and let marinade for 20 - 30 minutes.

Whisk together the sherry, hoisin, honey, chili sauce, soy sauce and tangerine or orange juice until well combined. Set aside.

Heat a large pan or wok over high heat. When the pan is hot add the oil and swirl carefully to evenly distribute.

Add the beef and cook for 3 minutes, turning often. After three minutes add the sauce mixture and cook an additional 2 minutes until it thickens.

Serve over rice on a warm platter garnished with the chopped scallions, tangerine zest and sesame seeds.

NOTE: The tangerine/orange zest makes a huge difference in this recipe, don't skip this part. The recipe can be easily doubled but cook the meat in two batches.

There ya go crablings. At the end of the first round I had a three game lead over CC2 so cheer for California and Pitt and I'll be able to end this year's bracket wars early. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Took the Boonsta to Costco yesterday. Many of you know of my undying admiration and love for Costco, but like any good love affair, eventually you end up seeing the seamier side of your consort.

It was Friday, an always busy day down to the Costco. They've got the recently-thawed-shellfish stand ready, and of course there are samples galore. You can try everything from fresh fruit and little white cups of chicken pot pie to 1-ounce samples of Vitamin Water and lo-fat chocolate mousse desserts.

Of course these free samples mean that the crowds are up as well, especially the seniors. I've seen grandmas pushing industrial sized shopping carts, practically run over their own grandkids to get a free sample of Irish butter on Italian bread. I've watched stooped shouldered elders turn into Schwarzeneggers elbowing their way up to get the free Mandarin Oranges after they finished off the single bite of Polish Ham.

Of course Costco wins. These same seniors, after having grazed their way through the store, approach the cashiers, carts brimming with 5 pound jars of cashews, 2 pound sacks of dried cherries, a half-gallon of ketchup and the 128-ounce "Economy Size" tub of Metamucil. The place is like catnip for old people.

Yesterday was St.Patrick's promotion day at Costco - Corned Beef, Irish Whiskey, Genuine Authentic Irish Butter and just about anything you could think of that would accept green food coloring and be portioned into convenient 10 pound bags. I don't have many Irish recipes so I've turned to our friend MacSully for inspiration. She offered up her latest favorite Irish Soda Bread recipe along with a photo by MoMacSully. Please enjoy...

Irish Soda Bread
by Margaret Johnson from Cooking Light, March 2010

Cooking Spray
11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) whole-wheat flour
2.25 ounces (about 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Steel Cut Oats
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, and coat with cooking spray.

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 6 ingredients (through salt). Combine buttermilk and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir just until combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 65 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Invert bread onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Remove parchment and serve.

There you go O'Crablings. I haven't made this recipe but all of MacSully's other Irish inspired recipes have worked out very well.

Until next time, have some green beer and remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Smokey Quinoa Chili

Last week SSSal's laptop got sick.

Really sick.

She started getting warning messages about the XPAntivirus2010 virus. The warning about the virus was actually the virus itself. This particular virus is something called scare-ware; it's designed to scare you into buying the alleged Microsoft anti-virus fix. The software has nothing to do with Microsoft and buying it only shuts off the virus that they just gave you. In it's own way it's an elegant scam.

Of course we didn't buy the "fix" but set out trying to purge it ourselves. I gave it a shot, no luck; CrabCake2 gave it a try to no avail. We tried calling Geek Squad, their answer: "Bring it in; it'll be at least 7 days and at least $200."

Really, 7 days and $200 from the supposed leaders of on-demand computer help.

"Look, we're really busy, maybe I can look at in 5 days."

No thanks.

The next place we called said 3 days and $300 or 7 days and $200. Ah, pay extra for faster service, what a concept! We live in Ann Arbor Michigan, home to the University of Michigan; there are kids roaming the streets who can build a nuclear reactor out of 2 burritos, 6 Gummi Bears and a case of Red Bull and we had to wait 5 - 10 days to fix a computer?!? It didn't make any sense.

And then light dawned on Marblehead.

"Call the University Computer Store" said I.

"But you need to be a student or an employee to use them" said she.

"No, no, we're not going to use them per se. We're going to ask them if they know someone who might be able to help us" said he, "and make sure you act a little frantic and close to tears when you talk to them".

A five minute phone call, a few conspiratorially whispers and a brusque, "Call Beagle Brain in Nickels", CLICK, and we were saved. Seven hours and $90 later the machine is running like never before; after they were done I swear we were picking up a live feed from a secret Russian Cabinet meeting.

Nickels Arcade
Ann Arbor, MI
Ask for Joel

Well when you're sick you need something hearty to bring you back to life. Chili I say. Smokey Quinoa Chili is a vegetarian recipe that can be easily saved by introducing some sauteed ground beef. Today I'm going to present the recipe as is and then let you folks adjust. Quinoa (pronounced: what the hell is that), is a seed that looks like a cereal that is packed with fiber and protein; it makes for a great base to this chili. So, take a risk and enjoy...

Smokey Quinoa Chili
from Peggy Lampman, adjusted by Crabby & SSSal

2 TBSP olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 3 cloves
2 celery stalks, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 TBSP chili powder, smoked if available
1 teaspoon cumin
1 15-ounce can kidney beans*
1 15-ounce can pinto or black beans*
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans*
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup quinoa, (red, black or white) rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable, beef or chicken stock (have more available to thin the chili if necessary)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

Sour cream, avocado slices and lime wedges for garnish

Heat the oil in a large heavy-duty pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, garlic, jalapeno, celery, chili powder, cumin and a pinch of salt for 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables are limp and slightly browned.

Add all the beans, tomatoes, stock and quinoa; bring to a boil. Stir.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-45 minutes. Have additional stock available if the chili becomes too thick.

Stir in the corn and simmer until heated.

Serve with sour cream, avocado slices and lime wedge garnish.

*Note that Peggy touted Eden Foods organic beans from Michigan which are fabulous. If you use organic beans, you don't need to drain or rinse the canned beans.

There. Pretty hearty if you remember to throw in some sauteed ground beef. The best part about this recipe is that no beagles were harmed during its preparation.

OK crablings, I'm outta here. Always use protection with your computer and remember, you can do it, you can cook.