Tag Archives: Mollie Katzen

Scones: lost, found and reinvented

I made some some scones with blackberries the other day to serve with afternoon tea. Yum. They were so easy to make and tasty. And that got me thinking about how I came by this recipe.

About 15 or 16 years ago, my sister Milly gave me a calendar from Mollie Katzen’s “Still Life with Menu” book. It had Katzen’s charming paintings and a recipe for yogurt scones which I came to love so much that the calendar was always turned to the same page.

These pastries could be put together quickly, forming a wet dough that you sort-of plopped onto the baking sheet and brushed or patted with egg.  They called for yogurt instead of the more traditional (i.e. fattening) cream. And they were delectable. At first, the only change to the recipe I deemed necessary was to add (of course) grated lemon zest.

I never wrote the recipe down, because I just kept the calendar open to the scone page on top of the fridge, handy whenever I needed it, for the next couple of years.

Then it came time to move. This was about 13 years ago. I was packing up my things–but when I went to look for the calendar, it had mysteriously disappeared! I even plunged into the scary no-man’s land behind the fridge, braving cobwebs and crumbs, but there was no sign of the beloved scone recipe.

I suppose I could have bought Katzen’s book or, being cheap, checked it out from the library. Or even surreptitiously written down the recipe in a bookstore.

But instead I just tried to reconstruct it. That was pretty successful. Then I started changing it. And changing it.

At this point, I think it could be justifiably called my own recipe, or nearly so, gratefully inspired by Mollie Katzen.

The dough I use is not as wet, so you can pat it into a circle and cut it into the traditional triangular shapes.

Also, I always make these scones with berries, frozen berries–no need to thaw them– a tip that came from Nia (which she got from someone else). Steve and I picked enough blackberries this summer that I still have a couple bags in the freezer, but store-bought blueberries or raspberries will do just fine too.

I also often use whole wheat pastry flour, which works just fine. And nowadays, on the cholesterol watch, I substitute olive oil for half of the butter (the lower amount called for) and egg whites instead of whole eggs. These scones have adapted well and are still delicious!

They are perfect in any season, great in the morning for breakfast or with brunch, and just as nice as a  substantial treat for “elevenses” or afternoon coffee or tea. (Steve and I nearly always have them with tea — PG Tips, brewed for three minutes and served with milk, British style)

Yogurt Scones

  • 3 cups of flour – white or whole wheat pastry flour, or mixture. You can use up to ½ cup of oat bran in this mixture
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons butter (or 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil)
  • ½ to ¾ cup frozen berries or ½ cup currants or chopped nuts
  • zest of one medium lemon, finely grated, optional
  • 1 cup yogurt (nonfat or lowfat is fine)
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • confectioners sugar, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and brown sugar) in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter (or, if you’ve planned ahead and frozen the butter, you can grate it into the dry ingredients), using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers (working quickly).
  4. Add the frozen or dried berries and nuts to the mixture, along with the lemon zest if you’re using it and mix very briefly to distribute
  5. In a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, beat the egg or egg whites together with the yogurt.
  6. Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture, and mix with a fork only until the two mixtures are distributed and the dough holds together. Do not overmix.
  7. Finish patting the dough together with your hands, and stir in a little more flour if needed. The dough should be very moist, but not sticky.
  8. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a thick circle about the size of a small dinner plate.
  9. Cut the circle into 6 or 8 wedges, like a pie, and place the wedges on a baking sheet. (You can brush with beaten egg if desired, or add some glaze after baking.)
  10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.
  11. To glaze the scones, mix up some confectioners sugar with a little liquid, such as lemon juice or maple syrup, and brush it on the scones while they are still warm.

Mixed, baked and ready to serve in about 45 minutes


Filed under baked goods, breakfast, dessert, fruit, Praise for other cooks, summer, Uncategorized

Keepin’ warm and eatin’ right!

Print by Aviva Steigmeyer

I keep this print of Aviva’s on the kitchen cupboard, and I find myself looking at it a lot these days, especially around the holidays–which always seem to require copious amounts of fat and sugar– when I feel the need for an antidote to all the rich food.

Whether you’re preparing for these holidays or recovering from them (or even  avoiding them completely) it’s always good to have some simple and tasty food around. And it doesn’t hurt if it’s nutritious too. Despite the feeling after Thanksgiving dinner that you will never want to eat again, it’s pretty likely that you will….

So I’m back to that classic, can’t-be-beat winter meal: soup and bread.

In the week before Thanksgiving, I decided to make a big pot of soup to last all week long.  Something with white beans and green vegetables sounded good to me, and at the Food Coop, I was inspired by a nice bunch of kale.

Lacinato kale is also called black kale or Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale

I soaked some navy beans, sauteed onions (that essential step) and kept on cooking till I had a big pot of soup. Carrots gave it a little sweetness and the kale gave it that green nutritiousness.

White Bean soup with Kale

1 lb. white beans–Great Northern, cannellini or navy beans
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 4 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken—if you don’t have homemade, canned is fine. I like Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth)
6 to 8 cups of water
Seasonings: salt and pepper, bay leaf, chopped fresh rosemary or other herbs to taste, a rind of hard cheese such as Parmigiano.
4 to 6 carrots, halved lengthwise and chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 big bunch of kale (preferably lacinato), stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped

  • The night before, soak the beans in plenty of water.  (If you want the soup the same day, you can cover the beans with water, bring them to a boil, then remove from heat and let them sit, uncovered, for an hour. Then, proceed.) Drain and rinse.
  • Let the olive oil heat up, then sauté your onions over medium heat until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
    (It helps if you can fry the onions and garlic right in the pot you’ll be using for the soup, but if you don’t have the right kind of pot for sautéeing, you can transfer this mixture to the soup pot.)
  • Now add the beans, plus about 10 cups of liquid, a combination of broth and water.  You can use half broth, half water or less broth if you like (I used about 3 cups broth to 7 of water).
  • Add seasonings: A teaspoon or two of salt (bland soup may be under-salted; you don’t need to even approach the sodium levels of canned soup, but salt brings out flavors),  black pepper, a bay leaf, and a teaspoon or two of finely chopped fresh herbs if you have them – I used sage and rosemary. Also—if you have that cheese rind, toss it in too. It flavors the soup beautifully.
  • Bring the soup to a simmer and let it simmer, uncovered, until the beans are just tender, about 50 minutes.

While I was at it, I decided to start a bread that would bake the next day, meaning it would be ready to eat about 24  hours  after I started it. There are loads of good breads you can make that would be done sooner– and for that matter,  lots of great bakeries that will sell you a nice loaf of crusty bread–but it’s kind of satisfying to make crusty European-style bread in your own oven.

I won’t attempt to give the recipe here, but will direct you to Mark Bittman’s New York Times’ article and recipe adapted from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. Since it was published three years ago, it’s  become a home-bakers’ sensation. It’s a good weekend project — sometime when you’re not in a hurry.  But if you’re worn out from too much holiday cooking, perhaps it’s best to save this project for another day…..

This loaf took about 24 hours start to finish

As I’m writing this post, it’s two days after Thanksgiving, and I’m making more soup and another loaf of bread.

Oatmeal bread took a mere six hours before it was ready to eat

Back in the day when I had Thanksgiving at my house, there was not only leftover turkey for sandwiches in the days following, but also a hulking turkey carcass which had to be dealt with–which meant that every post-Thanksgiving Friday, I’d be making turkey-barley soup. And I usually made a batch of oatmeal-wheat bread, which was great for sandwiches and soup accompaniment.

Marc carved up the Thanksgiving turkey a couple days ago. The leftovers have probably become soup by now.

This Thanksgiving, I admit, I am thankful I don’t have to deal with a turkey carcass (nasty word).  I don’t even really miss the turkey sandwiches so much. Maybe I’m sliding slowly to semi-vegetarianism — or, as some folks call it these days (a bit absurdly),  flexitarianism.

So, there would be no turkey barley soup. But I did still want something with barley. So today I made mushroom barley soup.

Here’s about all you need to know for any barley soup:  Buy some pearl barley, either in bulk at a co-op or in a bag which you’ll find near the dry beans in your grocery store. Simmer 1/2 cup pearl barley in two cups of water (double the amounts for a giant pot of soup), covered, for about 20 or 30 minutes, until tender. You’ll be adding the cooked barley to your soup.

If you’re making turkey soup, you could saute some onions for 5 minutes or so, and then add garlic, chopped celery, carrots and saute them too. Now, take your turkey stock (after you’ve picked out the bones and much of the meat for another purpose), and add the cooked barley and the sauteed vegetables. After you simmer your ingredients together for an hour or two, add some chopped greens (kale again, or chard or spinach or beet greens) or green beans or other vegetables (including frozen ones) and simmer just till those are done.

For mushroom barley soup, I adapted a recipe I’ve been using for a long long time, from Moosewood Cookbook. It’s a handwritten and illustrated collection of recipes by Mollie Katzen when she was a member of the Moosewood collective which started a vegetarian restaurant in upstate New York in 1973.

The original Moosewood Cookbook, published in 1977, was–like The Vegetarian Epicure–a great inspiration to vegetarian cooks who wanted something other than brown rice and stir fried veggies.

My copy of the original Moosewood Cookbook fell apart with use, so I had to use this image from Wikipedia.

The original recipes were pretty heavy on butter and eggs. The book also had a maddening index, which required you to look up recipes by the ingredients. This meant you had to wade through about 30 recipes with mushrooms before finding mushroom barley soup. And it was even worse  with common ingredients such as potatoes or rice.

The classic vegetarian cookbook was revised in 1997

Fortunately, the revised 1997 edition has a normal index. And Mollie Katzen revised the recipes to make them lighter and healthier (but still very good).

Yes, it’s easy to make this recipe (or the white bean/kale one) vegetarian or even vegan. Simply ignore suggestions for butter, chicken stock or cheese.

It will still be delicious, and you could invite a vegan friend over for a bowl of soup.

Mushroom barley soup

  • Just saute a nice big chopped onion for 5 minutes or so in a tablespoon or two of olive oil or butter. Add a couple cloves of minced garlic and about a pound of sliced or chopped mushrooms and keep stirring until it’s all tender and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  • Next, toss in 1/4 cup or so of sherry if you have. I had some leftover cheap port that I’d used in making cranberry-port chutney, so that’s what I used,  but if you don’t have anything like that, don’t worry. It’s not worth going out to buy a bottle.
  • Now add the cooked barley with its cooking water, some salt and pepper, herbs (rosemary or sage is nice) and 4 or 5 cups of water or veggie or chicken stock, or a combination. ( Moosewood says to put in 3 or 4 tablespoons of soy sauce too, but I usually don’t.) You could add a bay leaf too, if you have one.
  • Let all this simmer, partially covered, for 30 or 40 minutes, and adjust the seasonings. If you like, you could serve with some chopped parsley or grated Parmeggiano or Romano or pecorino cheese.

Now you have a lovely soup to eat, and it will keep you warm and eatin’ right.

P.S. If you are tired of being in the kitchen, or simply need to take a break, sit back and enjoy reading Maira Kalman’s latest wise and wonderful blog entry about food, “Back to the Land.”

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Filed under bread and pizza, fall, soup, Uncategorized, vegetables, winter