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Cheese, Spring Onion & Bacon Scones

Cheese, Spring Onion & Bacon Scones

All scones are not equal . . . or are they?  What makes a scone a scone, or a biscuit a biscuit?  Are they interchangeable?  Are they the same thing?  So many questions about scones and one could debate these things for hours  . . .

I contend that scones and biscuits are two completely different things, both in how you put the ingredients together and in how they taste . . . I think scones are a bit lighter in texture than biscuits . . . most are sweet, but not all . . . as evidenced by these very delicious savoury Cheese, Spring Onion & Bacon Scones I am showing you  today. 

Just look at how light and puffed up these beautiful scones are.  They were fabulous served for breakfast this morning with hot cocoa . . .  but I think they would also be gorgeous served with eggs, or thick slices of ham . . . .

With salads or soups for lunch  . . .  in a portable lunch at the office, or enjoyed  in leisure at home . . .

In the evenings in front of the telly with a bit of chutney  . . .  and softened butter for spreading . . .

A scone does not have to be sweet to be enjoyed with abandon . . .  these lovely svoury scones could not be more enjoyable,  being filled as they were, to the hilt with strong cheddar cheese, smoky salty bacon bits and sharp spring onions  . . .

Todd and I could not resist scarfing down one a piece almost as soon as they came out of the oven . . .  oh boy but they were some delicious!

*Cheese, Spring Onion & Bacon Scones*
makes 10 large scones
These would be great served for breakfast or lunch, with soup, eggs, salad, etc.  I confess, they are also pretty tasty with jam.  

500g self raising flour (3 1/2 cups + 1TBS)
125g cold butter, cubed (1/2 cup)
90g mature cheddar cheese, grated (3/4 cup, Sharp cheddar)
90g streaky bacon, cooked and finely chopped (about 10 slices)
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large free range egg, beaten
180ml milk, approximately (3/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.  Set aside. 

Sift the flour into a bowl.  Drop in the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in 3/4 of the grated cheese (reserve the remainder to sprinkle), the bacon and the onions.  Mix the beaten egg with 3/4 of the milk.  Add  to the dry mixture a bit at a time, stirring it in and tossing it together with a fork, until the mixture comes together and forms a soft dough, only using the remainder of the milk if needed.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and cut the dough in half.  Shape each half into a ball and flatten the balls slightly to an 8 inch round.  Place each round on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between.  Cut each round into 5 wedges and push the wedges slightly apart.  Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown.

The original recipe came from a book I picked up at a National Trust shop the last time we were visiting one of their gardens.  It is entitled simply, "The National Trust Book of Scones," containing over 50 delicious scone recipes and some curious crumbs of history.

Good on their own  . . . .  but also quite tasty with a bit of jam. Don't judge me!  This was actually quite tasty!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Breakfast Waffle Quesadillas

Breakfast Waffle Quesadillas

One of my favourite pieces of kitchen equipment is my waffle maker.  I have a heart shaped one that I use a lot, I also have one that does waffle fingers.  That one I use mostly for, well . . .  waffles, but the larger one, I use for all sorts.  A waffle maker is a very handy piece of kit to have!

Grilled sandwiches are really nice done in a waffle iron . . .  you get all of those lovely crispy crevices to enjoy.  I love crispy cheese.   You can do potato waffles in them, and all sorts.  Today I made breakfast quesadillas in them and they turned out fabulous!

They are really very easy to do.  First you scramble some eggs.  I like to add a bit of chopped onion and bell pepper to mine, both for colour and for flavour and crunch!

Next you will want some crisp streaky bacon, or you could even use sliced ham if bacon isn't your thing, or sliced cooked sausages . . . or you could leave meat out of them all together.

You  then just layer everything in your waffle iron  . . .  first a tortilla, and a bit of cheese.  I like to use a grated four cheese blend . . .

Top that with some of the scrambled egg and some slices of bacon and a generous portion of cheese, finally placing another tortilla on top . . .

Press your waffle iron shut, or as shut as you can get it.  It won't shut all the way, but that's okay.  You just want it shut enough to start toasting the tortillas and melting the cheese  . . .

Once they are done you can cut them into quarters and serve them with your favourite quesadilla toppings. Guacamole . . .  sour cream  . . .  tomato salsa . . . all work beautifully! 

*Breakfast Waffle Quesadillas*
Serves 4
I love stretching the limitations of my waffle maker and this is one of the most delicious ways yet!  Scrumptious! 

6 large free range eggs
60ml milk (1/4 cup)
4 TBS each finely chopped red, green and yellow pepper
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
salt, black pepper and pepper sauce to taste
180g grated four cheese blend (1 1/2 cups)
6 slices streaky bacon cooked
4 (8-inch wheat tortillas)
butter or cooking spray

To serve:
guacamole, sour cream, salsa, etc. as desired

Melt a knob of butter in a nonstick skillet.  Beat the eggs together with the milk, onions, peppers, salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce.  Scramble them in the non-stick skillet, until cooked through.

Brush one side of each tortilla with some butter or spritz with cooking spray.  Heat your waffle iron according to the manufacturers instructions.  Place one tortilla onto the bottom of the waffle iron, buttered side down. Top with a bit of cheese.  Spread half of the scrambled egg over top and lay 3 of the slices of streaky bacon on top.  Top with more cheese and another tortilla buttered side up.  Close the waffle iron and toast until golden and the cheese is melted.  Keep warm in the oven and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Cut both into quarters and serve with your favourite quesadilla toppings or fixings.

These are really, really good.  Crispy and delicious and very moreish.  I baked some hash brown wedges to go along with them.  This made for a really, really nice meal.  Great for a weekend breakfast when you want to pull the stops out a tiny bit!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Dutch Apple Pie

Dutch Apple Pie

Todd is always wanting me to make him an Apple Pie.  I think Apple Pie is one of his favourite pies of all.  He had Mitzie to the dog groomer today and so I decided to bake him an apple pie as a surprise for when he got home!

I went for a Dutch Apple Pie.  He loves apple crumble as well and a Dutch Apple Pie ticks both of those boxes!   He is getting a double whammy of pleasure!

You will want to use a tart apple, not too sweet.  I used a Cox's Pippen, because that is what I had.  I also had Granny Smiths, but I felt they would not bake down properly in the time required.

They worked great.  I am not sure what the North American Equivalent would be, maybe  a Cortland.

You do have to keep an eye on it while it is baking. The crumb topping has a tendancy to burn if you don't watch it closely.  If you see it getting too brown, loosely top the pie with a sheet of foil.

The original recipe is one I clipped from Women's Day magazine back in the 1970's and it has always worked very well for me. 

I have seen some Dutch Apple Pie recipes which require the addition of raisins, and you could certainly do that in this case, but the original recipe doesn't call for that.  Also if your apples are really juicy, you may want to add a TBS of flour with the sugar when you toss them together.

My apples today were really juicy . . . .  you don't want a watery pie. The addition of a bit of flour helps to prevent this, but you be the judge.

This would be gorgeous served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We had none, so it was enjoyed simply plain.  I know Todd was wishing I had custard for on top of his, but well . . .  he enjoyed it all the same!  Its not every day I bake him a pie!

*Dutch Apple Pie*
Serves 6 - 8
I believe this recipe hails from Pennsylvania Dutch country.  I have also seen it with raisins in the filling. Either way it is delicious with a juicy apple filling and a sweet crumble topping.

2 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/3 inch thick
2 tsp lemon juice
126g granulated white sugar (2/3 vup)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground cardamom and grated nutmeg
dash ground cloves
pinch salt

For the topping:
125g softened butter (1/2 cup)
100g soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup, packed)
140g plain flour (1 cup)

You will also need:
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell
icing sugar to dust (optional)

Put the apples into a bowl and toss together with the sugar, spices, salt and lemon juice.  Set aside.

Cream the softened butter together with the brown sugar.  Add the flour and rub it in with your finger tips until you get a crumbly mixture with bits the size of small peas.

Take your pastry lined pie dish and  turn the apples into it.  Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the apples.  Place in the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes to set the crumbs.

While the pie is chilling preheat the oven to 225*C/425*F gas mark 7, and place a large baking sheet in the oven to heat.  (I like mine with foil for easier clean up.)

Place the chilled pie on top of the heated baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are tender and the crumbs are golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Dust generously with icing sugar before serving if desired.

*Standard Pastry for Single Crust Pie*
Makes one 8 or 9-inch crust 

156g plain flour (1 cup plus 2 TBS)
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBS all vegetable shortening
2 1/2 to 3 TBS ice water

Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt.  Drop in the shortening and then cut it in using two round bladed knives or a pastry blender, until it looks like coarse meal.  Add the water, 1 TBS at a time, stirring it in with a fork, lightly, until the flour is moistened and the dough barely clings together.  Gather the dough into a ball and pat flat into a disc.  Roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/4 inch thickness. (1 1/2 inch larger in diameter of the inverted tin, if using a 9 inch pie tin, and 2 inches larger if using an 8 inch pie tin).  Transfer to a pie tin.  Leave an 1/2 inch over hang and trim. Fold under and flute the edge all the way around, proceed as per recipe.

Note - if you are using this for a recipe which requires a pre-baked crust, prick all over with a fork. Bake at 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6 for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

This is a mighty fine pie.  If you like apple pies and you like apple crumble, then you will quite simply love this!  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Almond Cake

Almond Cake

I've had enough Christmas Cake.  I can't really eat Christmas Cake anyways, except for a tiny bite now and then . . .  Today I wanted cake.   I love almonds and so I decided to make my favourite Almond Cake.

This is a basic every day cake chock full of lovely almond flavours . . .  moist, dense and buttery . . .

The batter is an almost equal mix of self raising flour and ground almonds (almond meal) along with the flavors of both vanilla and almond extracts.

More almond flavour, and a lovely crunch, comes from the sprinkling of coarsely chopped almonds which you sprinkle on top of the batter prior to baking . . .

The cake is so moist and delicious that no icing or frosting is needed, but a drizzle of dark chocolate  really sets it off perfectly.  I drizzled it back and forth in one direction first and then did it again in the other direction. 

I thought it looked really, really nice.  Very tempting . . .

I use these cake tin liners, something like muffin or cupcake liners, except they are the size of a cake tin.  They work wonderfully, without the trouble of having to measure and cut.  I have them in three sizes.  8-inch 9 inch and then loaf tin sized.  They do leave lines on the sides of the cake, but for a cake like this, lines down the side don't really matter that much.

In fact I think they add to the attractiveness of it and actually provide lovely little crevices to grab any icing, or chocolate drizzle or whatever happens to float down the sides . . .

Mmmm . . .  next to a Victoria Sponge, this is my absolute favourite cake.  Truly.

*Almond Cake*
 one 8-inch round cake
cuts into 8 slices 

A great every day cake, moist and dense with lots of almond flavour. 

225g butter (1 cup) softened
225g caster sugar (1 cup plus 3 TBS)
3 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
140g self raising flour (1 cup)
175g ground almonds (2 cups)
50g whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped (scant 1/3 cup)
25g dark chcocolate (1 ounce)

Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2.   Butter an 8 inch round deep cake tin and line with baking paper. 

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat together the eggs and extracts.  Gradually beat this into the butter/sugar mixture.  Sift the flour into the bowl.  Stir into the batter along with the ground almonds.  Mix until smooth.  Spoon into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top.  Scatter the chopped almonds on top. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until golden, well risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before lifting out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. 

Break up the chocolate and melt in a glass bowl over gently simmering water, until smooth and free of lumps.  Drizzle over top of the cooled cake and allow to set before cutting into slices to serve.

This cake would be perfectly happy on any tea table.  I think you are going to love this one.  I really do.  Its delicious.  Its simple.  Its just a great, great all-rounder!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner

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