Saturday, February 23, 2013

After the {Snow} Storm

After hiding for quite sometime, the sun finally decided to shine last Saturday so hubby and I seized the day!   We hopped in the car and drove without a specific place to go. We went east and voila ... blue skies and fresh snow providing the perfect background to the beauty of the naked winter trees!

As the sun set, our eyes feasted on a different stoke of colors. If midday was magical and bright, the late afternoon was mysterious and enchanting!

Truly, when I stopped hating winter, I saw the beauty of it.

Shared with:  WEEKLY TOP SHOT

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Vanilla Scones for Weekend Breakfast

Eating breakfast at home on weekends is something hubby and I look forward to ... a nice table setting, simple home-cooked meals eaten leisurely, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee filling the entire house ... ahhh ... pure bliss!


One of our favorite weekend teats is freshly home-baked scones topped with  mascarpone cream and jam . Scones {Scottish quick biscuit}got its name from the Stone of Destiny {also known as Scone}, a place where Scottish kings were once crowned.Although scones are typically part of afternoon tea in Scotland and England, having it first thing in the morning with my favorite tea always make my weekend!

Scones are typically served with clotted cream {or Devonshire cream}but I prefer my home-made mixture of mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, vanilla and icing sugar.

The secret to a crunchy on the outside, flaky on the inside scone is using very chilled butter and kneading the dough just enough to blend.

The moment of truth is when the mascarpone cream melts into the hot scone while the blueberry jam sweet syrup runs on the flaky bread.

Best served with tea or brewed coffee. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Vanilla Scones 
{adapted from House of Annie}

2 cups  unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar 
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp very cold, unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream {more for brushing}
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse meal.
(At this point, you can freeze the mixture in a container for later.)
Add vanilla extract. Stir in heavy cream until it comes together in a shaggy ball. It will still have lots of loose, sandy pieces. If you the mixture too loose and sandy, you can add a little bit more cream to bind it a bit more — it shouldn’t affect the outcome if a bit more cream is added.
Place batter on a floured surface and roughly work it into a ball.
Press the ball down into a rectangular shape.
Fold the dough like you’re folding a business envelope (in thirds, first right fold to center, then left fold to center). Notice that it is still quite shaggy and loose. That’s ok.
Now press the dough down into a circle. Cut it into 8 large or 16 small triangles.
Separate the individual scones and place them on a baking tray that is lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of the scones with cream and then sprinkle each one with a little sugar.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown on top.

Marcarpone Cream
{adapted from Joy of Baking}

4 ounces of maccarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 Tbsp icing sugar  

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until the mixture holds its shape and look like softly whipped cream. Use right away or cover and refrigerate the cream until serving.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Among my cousins on my father's side of the family, I was the one who inherited most of my great grandmother's  Chinese features which gave me the "right" to claim that I am 1/8th Chinese. Celebrating the Lunar New Year is always a part of that "tiny bit" of Chinese in me.

After mass this morning, hubby and I had an authentic zǎo chá 枣茶 {Cantonese morning tea} at our favorite Cantonese restaurant then watched a traditional lion dance performances.

The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to business establishments, villages and houses.

May we all enjoy the blessings brought by the year of the water snake!
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