Sunday, January 30, 2022

Cream Tea Scones with Lemon Icing

Around here, snowy winter Sunday mornings are for baking. On these lazy days, it's inevitable that you'll find me whipping up one of a dozen recipes I make over and over again because they are so fast and easy to execute. I am a creature of habit, particularly where baking is concerned, and this is because I've just never felt I had the innate "touch" of a great baker, so familiarity comforts me. With that said, I sure do love tinkering with already excellent recipes to adapt them seasonally and more importantly, to my many cravings

King Arthur Baking's Perfect "Cream Tea Scones" 

Would anyone argue that a batch of scones, warm out of the oven, sliced open with a more than generous swipe of salted butter smeared inside, are one of life's great pleasures? The whole family loves them and because they require only one bowl to prep and ingredients you've already got in your pantry, they're an absolute no brainer. King Arthur Baking's Cream Tea Scones is a stellar recipe in the scone genre (there are also butter based scones as well). I've probably made these at least twice a year for 5 years now. They're simple, satisfying, special, and importantly, never dry. 

This morning, for whatever reason, something got into me and my persistent lemon cravings took over, causing me to want to put a little spin on our regular scones. With my favorite lemon brownies in mind, I went ahead and road-tested an ad libbed lemon iced version with half of the dough. The result I had hoped for, a sweet, tangy, slightly salty lemon icing on the same tender scones, only this time inflected with lemon zest, was as I'd hoped, and it definitely scratched my itch for a citrus. For the final flourish, I did not even consider leaving out the salted butter I usually spread inside upon serving - and in doing so, the perfect sweet, salty, zingy breakfast bite was born. Don't hesitate to try King Arthur Baking's fantastic original version, but I've jotted down my new Lemon Iced rendition below. I hope you enjoy it if you try.

Cream Tea Scones with Lemon Icing

Adapted from King Arthur Baking

Serves 12


3 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon


1 teaspoon real Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Lemon Juice

1 1/3 to 1 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, plus more for brushing on Scones

For the Lemon Icing:

1/2 to 3/4 Cup Confectioner's Sugar 

1 teaspoon Lemon Juice

1 tablespoon Heavy Cream + more as needed

1 drop Yellow Food Color (optional)

Pinch of Salt (plus additional)


Preheat the oven to 425

Line a baking pan with parchment

Mix Dry Ingredients in a bowl with the Lemon Zest, whisking together until well incorporated.

Measure Heavy Cream into a measuring cup and add the rest of the wet ingredients to that cup. Stir.

Flour a clean surface. 

Slowly pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, mixing with a large fork until a cohesive dough forms.

The dough should be drier, not sticky or wet, but you can add a little extra cream as needed to help it come together. 

Cut the dough into halves and place them onto the floured surface. Pat them into round discs, about 3/4 inch high and 5 or more inches wide. 

Brush both discs with additional Heavy Cream and cut them into six even wedges a piece. Move the wedges onto the baking pan and parchment with ample space in between them.

Place the whole baking pan in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

Once fully chilled, place in the oven to bake 14 - 15 minutes until the edges are becoming a dark golden but not burnt color. 

Pull out the scones. As they cool a bit on a new surface, mix up the Lemon Icing ingredients in a small bowl. If you need a little extra liquid add a few more drops of Heavy Cream. Stir or whisk until very smooth. 

Once the scones have cooled for about 5 minutes, dip their tops in the icing. Optionally sprinkle with another pinch of salt and enjoy! 

Lemon glazed and ready to be plated 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

New Family Classic - Salted Maple Blondies

Today, I am very excited to record another irresistible dessert that will undoubtedly make our family rotation. Conceived in a moment of desperation wherein I was craving something chewy, buttery, sweet and salty (what's new?), these Salty Maple Blondies were thrown together with the ingredients we had on hand in a pinch, and with the help of one of my favorite baking resources. More on that below. While Brownies are usually where it's at for me, I have been known to love a good Blondie, and the recipe I will share here is special for a variety of reasons. 

Salted Maple Blondies

Much like our house recipe Brownies, I don't prefer the cake-y variety, so I was thrilled when these came out extra chewy, sweet, and, as I had purposely intended, a little salty. They're also fully customizable (great with nuts or without, perfect with milk or dark chocolate), and they even give off some pretty strong cookie dough vibes, if you're into that kind of thing. Before we start, I have to give a shout to a wonderful resource that I turn to often, the Ovenly Cookbook. It's one of my go to dessert cookbooks and the Blondie Recipe you see today was adapted from their recipe, Ooey Gooey Honey Blondies, which I am sure are also fantastic.  

We used Maple Syrup instead of honey and upped the salt content by using salted butter. We keep ours in the fridge so they are always chewy but firm. They also cut cleanly and beautifully when chilled, which is a trick I use on my brownies too. All in all, if you make this one bowl recipe, you're in for salty, sweet and buttery bliss. I prefer them cut in small squares or skinny bars as they are quite rich. Their salted maple character gives me the urge to serve them as a sweet after a country-style brunch with lots of bacon, but that is a story for another day. In short, you should try 'em! 

Salted Maple Blondies
Adapted from the Ovenly Cookbook's Honey Blondies
Serves 8

Softened Salted Butter (for preparing the pan)
1 Stick + 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
1 Cup packed Dark Brown Sugar (or, preferably, a 50/50 mix of Light Brown and Dark Brown)
1/4 Cup Vermont or other Pure Maple Syrup
1 Egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract or, my favorite, Vanilla Bean Paste
1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Milk or Semisweet Dark Chocolate (bars cut into chunks or chips)
1/3 Chopped Raw Pecans or Walnuts (Optional)

Preheat your over to 350 and line a 8x8 Baking Pan with foil and then grease with salted butter.

In a small pan, melt the butter over a low flame until melted. Allow it to cool. In a big bowl, use a whisk to blend the melted butter, brown sugar(s), maple syrup, egg, salt, and vanilla extract until well blended and without lumps. Now add the flour and mix until incorporated, chocolate chunks, and blend again until they are well distributed, using a spatula.

Spread  the batter into a pan and smooth it out all the way to edges. Sprinkle nuts on top if you so choose. 

Bake for 28-30 minutes until the center has firmed up and the edges are golden brown. Cool and place in the fridge for 2 hours (don't skip this step). Even more preferably you can put it right into the freezer for a half hour before cutting. This will speed the process up and ensure they are the best possible texture.  

Use the foil to lift out of the pan and onto a cutting surface. Cut into bars or 2x2 inch squares. Store in the fridge and serve chilled as you enjoy. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Cake of Summer - Ricotta Berry Cake

Our family's official cake of Summer 2020 is all you might expect craving during this most tumultuous time in many of our lives - simple, comforting and, somehow, familiar. Because the pandemic has made shopping more challenging, you'll be happy to discover how customizable this fruit-driven Ricotta Cake is. No matter how I tinker with it, it comes out absolutely beautiful and delicious with whatever berries or stone fruits (such as peaches, nectarines, plums) are available and seasonal. 

Raspberry Ricotta Cake with Lemon Whipped Cream, Photo: NK

Needless to say, I have had some extra time on our hands lately, so I've been able to make this cake a few times now, tweaking the original recipe from Bon Appetit slightly and adding two different flavored Whipped Cream toppings that, at least for me, are a welcome vehicle both for complementary flavors and additional creaminess. The cake is perfectly fine on its own, but I've been known to be a little extra in the kitchen - but only in ways that don't add much labor, of course! One key ingredient sets my cake apart from the original: Vanilla Bean Paste. I use this in nearly everything I bake in place of Real Vanilla Extract (I prefer either Rodelle or Nielsen-Massey brand). The paste has actual Vanilla Bean specs in it and is really packed with flavor and just a bit of additional sweetness. It's a great investment if you bake a lot, but certainly not necessary to have. I feel the same about Vanilla Beans (which I used in one of the Whipped Cream variations below). They are a great thing to have in your pantry and take so many recipes over the top with barely any effort. 

I hope you enjoy giving this easy Ricotta Berry Cake a spin. At 10-15 minutes to prepare, you're sure to be making it all summer. Here's to less crazy times ahead, but until then, stay healthy and safe! xxxooo -Neurotic Kitchen. 

Raspberry Ricotta Cake, Photo: NK

Raspberry Ricotta Cake (+ Peach Strawberry Variation & Whipped Cream Toppings)

Parchment Paper
Round 9 inch cake pan
Nonstick Vegetable Oil Spray (I have also used Olive Oil applied with paper towel and it works just fine)
1 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
3 large Eggs 
1 1/2 cups full fat Ricotta Cheese (I use Galbani brand most often)
1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream (optional, but will make for a moister cake- I recommend doing this if especially if you feel the Ricotta is on the drier side)1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (or Real Vanilla Extract)
1/2 cup Salted Butter, melted (1 stick)
1.5  cups Fresh Raspberries  (*for Peach + Strawberry Variation add 1 3/4 -2 Cups chopped Strawberries and Peaches plus some for the topping once cake has been poured in the pan)

*See optional Whipped Cream Accompaniments below

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and take your 9 inch round cake pan and line it with Parchment Paper, leaving some overhang. Grease the Parchment with Nonstick Spray or a little oil. 

In a large bowl, whisk the Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, and Salt. 

Now, whisk the Eggs, Ricotta, Heavy Cream (if using) and Vanilla Bean Paste or extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold this mixture into dry ingredients just until blended. Now fold in melted Butter, followed by * 1 1/4 Cup Raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 Cup Raspberries over top. (*or 1 3/4- 2 cups fruit for the Strawberry Peach Variation)

Bake cake until it is golden brown in color and and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes in most ovens. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding. Serve with a dollop of the optional Whipped Cream Toppings below!! 

NOTE: The Cake itself can also be made two days ahead and stored tightly wrapped at room temperature. The Whipped Cream can also be made ahead and stored in the fridge several days. 
Strawberry Peach Variation with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, Photo: NK

Lemon Whipped Cream (Recommended for Raspberry Cake)
(From Bon Appetit Magazine)1 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 tablespoons sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

*Beat all ingredients in a bowl until stiff peaks form

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream (Recommended for Strawberry or Peach Strawberry Cake)
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste
1 Vanilla Bean, scraped out, bean set aside for another use (optional) 

*Beat all ingredients in a bowl until stiff peaks form
Strawberry Peach Variation, Photo: NK 

Monday, January 6, 2020

How To: Classic Italian American Cheese & Salumi Platter

Want to kick off a fabulous party? There's no better way to get the conversation going than by bringing your hungry guests together around a smashing cheese (and sometimes meat) platter. As the conventional wisdom goes, such a plate need not be complicated to create and there's no need to include more than just a few high quality components for it to be successful. While these are both absolutely TRUE statements, there is still something to be said for the buzz and mouthwatering visual you can create with a decadently abundant Cheese & Salumi plate that overflows with flavors, colors, and textures.

Classic Italian American Cheese & Salumi Board

Italian Americans, having forged what I will lovingly call a new branch of their ancestral brand built around culinary extravagance ("abbondanza,"as they would say), are the force behind what many of us think of when we picture an over the top cheese and meat board. With this in mind, I glossed over years of other delightful themed cheese plates I've created (from French, to Spanish, to those inspired by the American South), and tapped into my Brooklyn Italian roots to bring you this classic Italian (American) Cheese & Salumi Platter. The how to continues below. Do check out some of our other themed platters here: French Cheese and Charcuterie Plate / Southern Cheese Plate with the works! / Thanksgiving Cheese Board.

It's never too early to get ready for the next party or holiday. 
**For more great tips on how create a winning Antipasti for a crowd, CLICK HERE. **

Classic Italian American Cheese & Salumi Platter
Serves 8 Adults

3-4 Italian Cheeses (Clockwise from top of photo: sliced Ubriaco or similar (drunken goat cheese with purple rind), cubed Provolone (bold, salty and tangy- choose Provolone Dolce for a milder flavor), Marinated Mozzarella Balls (recipe follows - you'll need 10-12 small bite sized bocconcini balls), and Piave Vecchio (mild, snackable Italian Cheeese, a kid favorite too)

1 hard Italian Salami, sliced thin (we like many varieties from Olli Salumeria brand)

3/4 Lb to 1Lb Imported Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele (choose the best you can afford), there are also many good domestic Prosciuttos as well

Mixed Olives (suggested: Castelvetrano variety in green, Kalamata/Nicoise  or Oil Cured in black) 

Radicchio Leaves (pictured with Provolone cubes nestled in them)

Fresh Oregano Sprigs (pictured as garnish and used in Marinated Artichokes) 

Italian Parsley (pictured as garnish and used with Mozzarella balls)

Halved Breadsticks
Carr's Water Crackers
Good Italian or French Bread, sliced thinly

Orange Fig Preserve - we like Dalmatia Brand 
Satsuma Mandarin Orange (ideally with stem and leaf) 
Olive Oil About a 1/2 to 3/4 Cup
1-2 Lemons 
1/2 head Garlic 

10-12 Small Balls of Mozzarella (Bocconcini)
1 Jar Roasted Red Peppers
1 14 Ounce Can Artichoke Hearts -Marinated Artichoke recipe follows (or buy ready marinated) 

To Prepare & Serve:

Make the Marinated Artichokes (method follows) 8 hours ahead of the night before.
Use your imagination on this one but basically you add 1/3 cup of Olive Oil to a small pan. Warm over medium-low heat and add 3-4 crushed Garlic Cloves, cooking until they become slightly golden. Add about a half a lemon, sliced, then a few sprigs of herbs such as Oregano or Fresh Marjoram. Turn off the heat and squeeze the rest of the Lemon's juice into the Olive Oil. Season with Salt and Pepper (and Crushed Red Pepper if you like).  Pour oil and all its contents over artichokes in a non-reactive container (glass) and let marinate 8 hours or overnight, tossing a few times along the way. Remove the Lemons and Herb Sprigs before serving.

Slice the jarred Red Peppers into bit sized pieces. Toss them with one to two cloves of thinly sliced Garlic. 

Toss the Mozzarella balls with some Olive Oil and a few pinches finely chopped Italian Parsley. Season with a little Salt and Pepper.

Cube and slice the various Cheeses as described above. I nestled the Provolone cubes in bright red Radicchio leaves (use 1 or 2 to form a cup)

Arrange all the other components as pictured. I like to use an oval or round wood board and a series of small bowls to hold the composed items (Mozzarella, Peppers, Artichokes). Enjoy!!