Set a Festive Fall Table

Naturally, we love good food.  But we also love to enjoy it with people we love.

Fall, particularly, is a time to celebrate: family, friends, the harvest, and the changing of the seasons.  So a festive table setting is only appropriate, and we love these ideas from HGTV:

Add Glitz:
For a sophisticated but not over-the-top look, balance the sparkle of metallics with natural elements, like fall branches or fresh fruit. Erinn’s Tip: “Metallics add a great modern touch to a fall tablescape. Deep copper and bright bronze are a lovely additional to a traditional table. I prefer to bring in natural, textured elements like these seed-beaded placemats so the table doesn’t get too glitzy.” Photo courtesy of Bobbi Fabian. See more of Erinn’s designs in HGTV’s Designers’ Portfolio.

Contrast Colors:
A humble pinecone adds an organic touch to each place setting. Erinn’s Tip: “Have fun with materials; contrast ceramic with glass, wood and gleaming metal. Forgo the old standby tablecloth and opt for glamorous, polished silver chargers and chocolate-brown linen napkins.” Photo courtesy of Bobbi Fabian.

Add an Aromatic Centerpiece:
Who said a centerpiece needed to time-consuming, expensive or even floral? Erinn created this arrangement by grouping scented candles with an earthy potpourri. Erinn’s Tip: “During the fall, natural elements are the best decorations. This potpourri creates a lovely centerpiece and its subtle fragrance is a great addition to the table. Look for large, chunky potpourris and add elements from your own backyard, like pinecones and seed pods, to the mix.” Photo courtesy of Bobbi Fabian.

Accent with Glass:
Golds and ambers pair beautifully with the traditional browns and oranges of fall. Erinn’s Tip: “Glass vases can be found very inexpensively in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes at your local housewares store. They’re fantastic for adding a splash of luminescent color to the room. So go wild! Bring a bunch home, try them out and return what you don’t use.” Photo courtesy of Bobbi Fabian.

Making the Perfect Scone

Making the Perfect Scone: Take your time!

Scones: we love them, who doesn’t it?  Buttery, often sweet – what’s not to love? But if you’re wanting to make them at home, they often prove to be a rather poor comparison to the lovely scones found in restaurants and bakeries.  So we’re here to help!

No, we’re not giving away the farm and revealing our ultra-tasty scone recipe, but we wanted to provide a few simple tips for the next time you make scones at home. The key: take your time!  Making scones is not a quick process.

First, a bit of Scone History:
Scones are traditionally connected with Scotland, Ireland and England, but exactly who deserves the honor of invention, no one knows for sure. Originally, scones were made with oats, shaped into a large round, scored into four or six wedges (triangles) and griddle-baked over an open fire (later, a stovetop). With the advent of oven baking, the round of dough was cut into wedges and the scones were baked individually.

Today’s scones are quick breads, similar to American biscuits. They are traditionally made with wheat flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda, butter, milk and eggs, and baked in the oven—both in the traditional wedge form and in round, square and diamond shapes.

How to Make the Perfect Scone:
1.
Use the right flour. Use a soft, low protein flour, such as aquality pastry flour. You want soft, tender scones and too much protein leads to too much gluten which makes your scones chewy.

2. Keep your ingredients cold. Temperature is critical to buttery, flakey scones. Start with very cold butter—it should chip when you cut it into chunks and your liquids should be ice cold. Before you start, measure your milk or water and put it in the freezer for ten minutes. Consider chilling your mixing bowl before mixing. Work with the dough quickly to keep it cool.

3. Don’t work your dough too much. Kneading converts the protein to gluten. Mix only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.

4. Use a folding technique to produce flaky, layered scones. Roll the dough out to about 3/8-inch thick. Fold the dough in half and in half again and again. Roll the dough out to about 3/4-inch thick before cutting the scones.

5. Use a ruler. For appearance’s sake (if you would like nice, neat scones), use a ruler both as a straightedge to cut against and to measure equally-sized scones.

6. Leave the cut edges of the scones alone. Patting the edges with your fingers melds the edges so that the scone will not rise as nicely or have a flakey, layered structure.

7. Don’t over-bake your scones. Over-baking for even a minute or two will dry your scones out. As soon as the edges begin to turn brown, remove them from the oven. Immediately, place the scones on a wire rack—the hot pan will continue to cook, and therefor dry, the scones.

Storage tip: can be frozen for up to three months. Reheat them at 300 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Probe the inside of the scone to make sure that it is warm.

Ready to try?  Check out this recipe from Food Network: Dried Cherry Almond Scones.  They’re delicious!

A Spring Menu, Winona’s Style!

Get outside and celebrate spring!

Spring is in the air, which inevitably brings the gathering of family and friends, whether to celebrate  Easter, the first time eating outside after the long winter, or simply the sight of green grass!

Below is a fresh, inspired spring menu, Winona’s Style: That is, delicious, simple, and fabulous to eat!  It’s perfect for an Easter dinner or restive spring meal.  So dig out your apron and get cooking!

Smashed Peas With Mint Bruschetta (Real Simple)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 baguette
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Thinly slice half a baguette. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and broil them until they’re golden brown (about 1 1/2 minutes per side).
  2. Process the peas in a food processor until roughly chopped. Stir in the mint, oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Spread the mixture on the rounds. Garnish the bruschetta with fresh mint leaves, if desired.

Salmon with Brown Sugar & Mustard Glaze (Martha Stewart)
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 side salmon (about 3 pounds), skin removed, cut into 8 fillets
  • 1 bunch watercress (about 3/4 pound), thick stems trimmed
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat broiler, with rack in top position. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallot and cook, stirring often until softened, 3 minutes. Add vinegar and cook until slightly evaporated, 1 minute. Add mustard and brown sugar; stir until warm and combined, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. (To store, refrigerate cooled glaze in an airtight container, up to 1 day.)
  2. Place salmon fillets on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/2 cup glaze to a small dish and brush on top of salmon. Broil salmon until glaze is bubbling and fish is opaque throughout, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness; brush remaining glaze over fillets. Serve salmon along with watercress and lemon wedges.

Strawberry & Asparagus Salad (Food Network)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (1-inch pieces) fresh asparagus
  • 8 cups arugula
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Directions

In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Put 2 cups of arugula on each serving plate, top with strawberries and asparagus and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

Mashed New Potatoes with Fresh Mint (Food Network)
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and put them in a mixing bowl while they are still nice and hot. Add the chopped mint and mash so the potatoes are chunky and green in spots. Fold in the butter and stir everything together so the butter melts. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with a healthy amount of salt and pepper.

Lemon Cloud with Strawberry-Mint Compote (Cooking Light)
Serves 6

Cloud:

  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites
  • Dash of salt

Compote:

  • 2 cups quartered small strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Preparation

  1. To prepare cloud, preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly coat a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, shaking out excess. Place dish on a baking sheet.
  3. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Stir in lemon rind, juice, and egg yolks. Place over medium heat; cook for 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; immediately scrape mixture into a glass bowl. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Place egg whites and salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 30 seconds or until foamy. Increase mixer speed to high. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating just until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon into prepared dish. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Remove from oven, and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and chill.
  5. To prepare compote, combine strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, and mint; toss gently. Cover and chill. Serve with lemon cloud.