Monday, August 30, 2010

end of august


We enjoyed a delightful weekend with the family.  I can't believe it was the last one in August.  This has been a fantastic summer and I will treasure the memories made this season.  My ipod played Yanni's End of August today, perfectly capturing my mood.  Wayne trimmed and cleared the hedges at the Sawyer home while I painted the border in back so our project is winding down.  Once the tenant moves out we only have one more level to gussy up.  That place is really coming along nicely and I look forward to bringing Uncle Steve there to see all the improvements.  On Sunday, we had a nice breakfast at Egg Harbor Cafe in Downers Grove with Mike and Margarita.  I always get the Sir Dugan frittata and add avocado; my favorite.  I wonder who Sir Dugan is...They really spruced up the downtown with new condos and a cute grocery store called The Lemon Tree.  Downers Grove was under construction for many years and lost many businesses and patrons but it finally came around and looks fantastic.  

randy jackson and jimmy fallon doing bruce

We grilled a dozen pub burgers for the family and enjoyed their company all day.  Mike washed three cars while he was here and Margarita and I read our books in the garden together.  I helped Darcy pack some things for her first day at Lewis and we watched most of The Runaways with Steve for a bit.  Then he got called out to rescue his buddy for the rest of the day. He has a big heart, as do all the boys.  Thumper had another tick so we performed emergency aid while she shivered.  Now she is in heat so she will be overly affectionate and whiny the next two weeks.  I made a pretty fruit salad including watermelon, orange, strawberries and blackberries.  Top it off with a little granola and this is a great treat to have while watching the Emmy Awards.  I was so impressed with the opening number.  Very Bruce Springsteen meets Glee. 
emmy awards opening act glee style

Today I will attempt to make a couple of new recipes found on Laura's Best Recipe link.  The main meal is Chicken Chile Tortilla Soup and for dessert Blueberry Scones.  I prepared her Cranberry Scones in the past and they were delicious, so I am looking forward to trying this one. 
Chicken Chile Tortilla Soup

3 large ripe tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
6 TBSP olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 cascabel chiles, wiped then stemmed and seeded - toasted
2 large pasilla chiles, wiped then stemmed and seeded - toasted
1 chipolte chile w/ TBSP adobe sauce
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
6 6-inch corn tortillas
1 medium Haas avocado, ripe but still firm
1 cup queso fresco, shredded or cut into small cubes
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
roasted corn - removed from the cob
4 jalapenos, roasted and sliced
1 lime, sliced into wedges for garnish
cilantro leaves for garnish
1 ripe tomato, chopped for garnish
sea salt  and pepper

Cook the chicken in a crock pot until tender and save the broth for recipe.
Preheat oven to broil.  Remove cores from the tomatoes and lightly score the skin.  Place on broil pan and broil (rotating often) until the tomatoes are nicely roasted (blackened skins) about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Turn oven temperature to 350.

 Heat the chicken broth in a medium sauce pan to a simmer.  Place chiles in a bowl, cover and pour some of the heated chicken broth over the chiles to allow them to reconstitute - about 25-30 minutes.  After they are soft, tomatoes should now be cool.

Cut tomatoes into quarters.  Place them along with the chiles, cumin seeds and the broth used for soaking and the garlic in a blender until just coursely chopped.  If necessary, add a touch more broth and continue to blend until smooth.  Using a strainer, strain tomato mixture into the sauce pan with broth.  Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer (never boil) for about 20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and heat.

Make tortilla strips.  Place tortillas in a stack and slice into triangles.  Cut each remaining stack of triangles into 1/4 inch strips.  Place all strips in a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil and dust with salt.  Gently toss strips until they are covered lightly with oil.  Spread the strips on a baking sheet so they are not overlapping and bake until crispy and golden - about 10-15 minutes.  Stir lightly during baking for even baking on all strips.

Assembly:  Slice avocados into equal slices.  Place 2-3 slices in the bottom of a soup bowl.  Place equal parts chicken, queso fresco, corn and tomato and tortilla chips in the bowl, then gently ladle the broth into the bowls and serve.  Optional:  roast jalapenos until soft and skin is slightly blackened - slice and serve a few slices into each bowl.  Garnish with fresh cilantro. 

Blueberry Scones with Lemony Glaze
by Chef David Lawrence

for the scones

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board
5 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 2 lemons
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and very cold
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops

for the glaze

1/2 cp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 lemon,  zest finely grated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.  Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or by pressing it between your fingers until the mixture resembles course meal and the butter is about the size of peas.  Using your fingers, gently toss the blueberries with the flour mixture.  Place in refrigerator to keep the butter cold while whisking together the cream and the eggs.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pout in the eggs and cream.  Using the tines of a fork and working from the outside of the flour mixture, gently start incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet being careful not to smash the blueberries.  The key is not to overwork the dough, just bring it together.  It will be crumbly, but that is exactly what makes it a moist and tender scone.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out into it.  Gently knead the dough and pat it out into a 6-inch rectangle.  Using a knife or a pastry bench scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal squares.  Cut each square in half on the diagonal to make 8 triangles.  Carefully transfer the scones to the prepared sheet pans.  Brush tops with remaining cream.

Bake until lightly golden brown and firm to the touch, about 15 to 18 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing the lemon juice and confectioners sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl (Purex glass measuring cup) Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter.  Nuke it for 30 seconds on high.  Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps.  Cool the scones slightly on a wire rack then drizzle artfully over the top of the warm scones. 

Variation:  To make Cinnamon Chocolate Scones, substitute 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in place of the lemon zest and 1 1/2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate chunks for the fresh blueberries.

Life is beautiful...
and so are you! xo