Pretzel Milk and Chocolate Chip Scones.

On a cute and crazy-creative blog called “A Cozy Kitchen, ” I saw blogger/pancake expert Adrianna do something magical: she made pretzel milk pancakes. This is one of the most food-genius things I’ve seen in a long time: she roasted pretzels in the oven, soaked them in milk, and then strained them out so that the milk was left in faintly golden pretzel-flavored perfection, making her pancakes deliciously pretzely. I was mesmerized by this idea, and initially wanted to make a cookie using the pretzel milk method. I’m still working on the cookie version of this recipe, but for now, these scones are pretty amazing. Pretzel milk – I am so glad we’ve found each other. The lightly golden milk gives the finished product the most unusual and profound savoriness—not in-your-face pretzely, but more of a welcome note of something warm and deep. It’s pretty special.

I have a question for my beloved readers: what to do with the milk-steeped pretzels you’re left with after making the pretzel milk? I ate a few (they’re actually good, in a weird, slightly soggy kind of way), but there’s got to be something interesting they could be used for. Crush them up and stir them into muffin batter, or even cookie dough? Or food-processer them with lots butter and maple syrup, shape the butter mixture into a log, toss it in the fridge, and a few hours later you’ve got maitre d’ maple pretzel butter for toast and waffles and all those goodies? If you come up with a good use for them, let me know! And PS – when they’re in the oven, watch these more carefully than I did….my scones got a little bit toastier than I would have liked. Still awesome though!

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INGREDIENTS

3 cups pretzels
1 1/2 cups cream or half-and-half
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (feel free to use all A-P flour if you prefer)
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into little cubes
1/2 cup chocolate, chopped into small bits (I used semi-sweet)
optional: turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Just the Recipe link: Pretzel Milk and Chocolate Chip Scones

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread pretzels onto a sheet pan in a single layer and roast until they turn a nice dark brown, about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely (don’t worry, they cool very quickly).

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Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Transfer the cooled pretzels to the cream or half-and-half and let them soak for about 15 minutes. Then strain, leaving just the beautiful pretzel-y cream. The pretzels will have soaked up some of the liquid; you’ll need just 1 cup total for this recipe. If you have any leftover milk, keep it on hand and maybe dip the scones into it once they’re baked. This stuff is amazing.

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Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl or food processor. Whisk or pulse together until combined. Add the butter; if using your fingers, quickly rub the flour mixture into the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand, handling the butter as little as possible and careful not to melt it as you go. If you’re using a food processor, pulse together until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

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Add the chocolate bits and stir or pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl if it was in a food processor. Stir in the pretzel milk until the dough starts to come together. Then turn it out onto a floured workspace.

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Knead the dough a few times gently with your hands, just until it comes together in a ball – the less you work the dough, the better, since you don’t want the heat of your hands to melt the butter.

Flatten the dough into the shape of a rectangle (roughly….), about 3/4 inch -thick. Okay fine, so this dough is obviously not in a rectangle. I took this picture before I decided what shape I wanted the scones to be. Whatever.

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Cut the dough into squares. Then cut each square diagonally in half, to make little triangles…..Or, cut them however you want!

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If you like, sprinkle each scone with a bit of turbinado sugar. It’s sweet and gives the scones a little bit of crunch. And it’s pretty.

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Place sconces on a baking sheet and bake until light brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. These more than rock with sweet cream butter and a cup of black tea.

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And seriously – any ideas what to do with these already-steeped pretzels??

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Apple Walnut Cake.

Many many thanks to fantastic art director and mi amiga Vanessa Palacio for photographing this cake for me! These are by far the most expert and mouth-wateringly gorgeous shots that have graced KellyintheKitchen. And not only that, but she also picked the apples herself on a recent apple orchard excursion, so muchas muchas gracias a ti, Vane!! We got together on Sunday at my apartment to bake this yummy apple walnut cake, inspired by a similar recipe from smitten kitchen. It’s a pretty unique cake—we loved that instead of butter, this recipe calls for olive oil and lemon-flavored yogurt, which really changes the texture and makes it super moist and soft. After all our hard cake-prep work, it was quite a struggle waiting for our pastel de manzanas y nogales to finish baking, but once it was done (and had posed for its close-up), each bite was everything we dreamed of and more. Nos gusta comer manzanas.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup lemon yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
3 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat the sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until totally smooth and incorporated. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla.

Sift the flour and baking soda in a bowl. Alternate adding half the flour mixture and half the oil, stirring between each addition.

Then fold in the apples and walnuts.

Pour into a greased springform pan and shake from side to side, to distribute batter evenly. Sift the cinnamon over the cake.

Use the handle end of your spoon to swirl the cinnamon into the top of the batter.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it gently. If you find that a toothpick inserted into the cake never comes out clean, don’t worry—the toothpick test doesn’t work with this cake. It’s too moist!

Dust with powdered sugar…

…and enjoy!

Shepherd’s Pie.

It’s been a year and a half since I last went to Europe, and it is definitely time to go back—and for this trip, it’s Scotland that’s calling my name. The first time I visited Edinburgh and the Highlands, I spent just a short weekend there, while I was at college in Ireland. This time, I’ll have a good 8 days of listening to those dreamy Scots accents—and I don’t think I can survive the month I still have to wait! Ever since we booked out tickets, my travel buddy and I have been getting together to plan and just get excited about our trip, and this weekend, our afternoon took a culinary turn, in the form of this shepherd’s pie. That, plus two bottles of homemade mulled wine with brandy, a couple of Yorkshire puddings, and Braveheart. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 lb stew beef, cubed
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced into coins
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine (we used a cabernet sauvignon)
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/4 tsp curry powder
3 medium potatoes, washed and cut into large cubes
whole milk
2 pats of butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Season the flour with salt and pepper and place in a bowl. Toss beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pan and cook beef until just browned on all sides. I cooked the beef in two batches so as not to crowd the pan. Set the beef aside.

Add more oil to the pan and add the carrot and onion, with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until softened, then add the mushrooms and cook an additional 5-7 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan with the tomato paste, bay leaves, wine, stock, and curry powder. Stir well, bring to a boil, and then cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the beef is fall-apart tender, at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot full of cold salted water. Bring to a low boil and cook until fork tender. Drain potatoes, then mash with milk and butter, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in most of the shredded cheese and the parsley and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a casserole dish or pie pan. When the beef is cooked to your liking, remove the bay leaves and pour into the dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Place the dish on a tray, in case it bubbles over in the oven.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the potatoes start to brown a bit on top, about 25 minutes. Highly recommend serving as we did: with yorkshire pudding, mulled wine, and Braveheart. Aye, it’s quite a feast!

Challah Bread.

This challah makes me holla, honey boo-boo child. While the recipe is a bit more complicated than I usually like to make, there’s something special about this bread: its subtle sweetness and springy softness, with a touch of honey to give it that awesome classic challah flavor, make it pretty irresistible. Inspired by a recipe from the forest feast, this is a homemade bread for the ages. Frequent readers of KellyintheKitchen might know that I usually end my recipe posts with a few serving suggestions. Well, this one ends with a serving command: eat this with honey butter. If you don’t, you will be sorry. Pillow-soft and meltingly good (not to mention gorgeous!) everything about this bread is worth the extra time and effort.



INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
2 eggs, divided
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (give or take)
1/2 tsp sugar
optional garnishes: sesame seeds, raisins, walnuts, poppy seeds, etc.

Just the Recipe link: Challah Bread

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, gently stir yeast into warm water. Place it in the oven – the oven should be off, but the oven light should be on. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1 egg, honey, sugar, salt, and oil. Mix into yeast and water. Then begin adding the flour, about 3/4 cup at a time, until the dough becomes kneadable and is no longer sticky.

Knead dough for 3-5 minutes. Flour the bowl and place the dough back into it. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and place back into the oven (again, oven off, oven light on) until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

When the dough has risen, punch it down in the middle. Now you have a decision to make: one big loaf, two small loaves, or about 12 small rolls? I decided to make 2 loaves, so I separated the dough into two equal-sized sections. If you’d like to separate the challah the traditional way, here are some tips.

Optional step: I wanted to make one loaf plain and one loaf with raisins and walnuts, so after separating the dough, I worked about 1/3 cup raisins and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts into one of the sections and then proceeded as usual.

Now, place the sections on lightly-floured baking sheets for shaping. Here are some great ideas on braiding the challah. For the raisin and walnut loaf, I did a standard four-stranded braid. So pretty and classic! And I did the other loaf in the shape of a wheat stalk: roll the dough into a rough baguette shape. Then, using a scissors, snip sections of the dough at an angle and pull them off to alternating sides.

Place the loaves back into the oven (you know the drill—oven light on, oven off) to rise again, about 35 minutes. Then take them out of the oven to rise for 10 more minutes, meanwhile preheating the oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, whip the second egg with sugar. When the loaves have risen, brush with the egg. If you want, sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, a bit of brown sugar, etc.

Just before you start baking the challah, toss a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of oven, for steam. Bake the bread until well-browned, about 20 minutes. The wheat-shaped loaf definitely baked faster than the braided one, so be sure to keep in mind the shapes/sizes of the loaves as you bake them.

Enjoy the bread steaming hot right out of the oven with a big dollop of honey butter. Challah also makes great toast and sandwich bread when it’s fresh, and if you find you have some stale bread left over, it’s also a heavenly French toast. With more honey butter, of course. And did I mention this goes great with honey butter?

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake.

Yesterday I noticed that we had 2 apples that were about to go bad. I hate wasting perfectly good fruit, so I did some recipe-hunting and found some inspiration for an apple cake. After a few tweaks and additions, I came up with this super tasty coffee cake, with just the right sweetness and spice. A perfect accompaniment to my morning pot of Barry’s Irish Breakfast Tea (the best black tea on earth). Coffee cake is pure joy!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake | KellyintheKitchen | 2 apples, 1/2 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, 6 tbsp butter, heaping 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 tbsp baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup almonds, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, pinch of ground ginger

INGREDIENTS

2 apples, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
heaping 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cups flour (I’ve used half wheat, half all-purpose, and I’ve used just all-purpose. Both are good)
1/2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground ginger

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Toss sliced apples in cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Sift in half the flour and stir to combine. Then stir in the milk. Finally, add the rest of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Stir until just combined.

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Grease a spring-form pan or other cake pan. Spread about half the batter on the bottom of the pan, and cover with apples. Then spread the remaining batter over the apples.

Combine almonds, cinnamon, and ginger, and sprinkle evenly over the cake. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. I don’t blame you if you dig right in, but cooling it slightly means it will cut a little cleaner. Yum!

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