Spiced Pumpkin Scones

Spiced Pumpkin Scone Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
It’s pumpkin time! My favorite time of the year. Pumpkin is the perfect fall vegetable. Delicious and versatile it lends itself to many applications in anything from breakfast to dessert.
I love to sneak pumpkin into my dishes whenever I can, especially in the fall. Sunday morning I made a batch of pumpkin scones that I wanted to share with you. They are moist, light, with a touch of spice and sweetness. Serve them with a little butter and dark maple syrup.
When you make these, keep in mind that this particular recipe will yield a very wet dough that will likely stick to your hands. Don’t get frustrated, the results are worth the mess! If you are new to making scones, take a look at these scone baking tips.
Also, if you love pumpkin as much as I do, try these pumpkin muffins.
Spiced Pumpkin Scones
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, egg, vanilla extract, and spices. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture with a few swift strokes until a loose wet dough forms.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather the dough into a ball. Gently press the dough into a ¾ inch thick disk.
3. Sprinkle the disk with turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Using a knife, cut the disk into 8 wedges.
4. Arrange the wedges ½ inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Makes 8 scones.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe for Banana Cake or Carrot Cake
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
This cream cheese frosting goes wonderfully with banana cake or carrot cake. Unlike many cream cheese frostings, this one is on the lighter side and requires your cake to be kept cool for best results. The original recipe was adapted from RecipeZaar’s Best Ever Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I cut down the sugar in their cream cheese frosting from 3 1/2 cups to 2 1/2 cups. The frosting is still plenty sweet, but more subtle and soft.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add confectioners sugar and beat at low speed until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes 2 cups frosting.

Childhood Bran Muffins

Raisin Bran Muffin Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Waking up to the smell of fresh baked bran muffins right out of the oven at my grandparents’ home jelled my love of baked goods as a young child. My grandfather, Pito, would get up at five in the morning to meditate. He would sometimes follow his ritual by making bran muffins from scratch. The smell would wake me up with a smile and I would walk over to the kitchen where a basket of muffins was waiting for me.
The gesture of making bread from simple, healthy ingredients impresses me even today as a wholesome act of love and care amongst family. These are the things that stay with you as you grow older and I thank my grandfather for sharing them with us.
This bran muffin recipe is wonderfully versatile and easy to make. It makes a moist muffin that is not too sweet. What is great about this recipe is that it makes a rather large batch (24 muffins); you can make the batter ahead of time and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. So you can wake up, scoop the batter into muffin tins and bake for fresh baked muffins every morning.
The recipe was inspired by the Raisin Walnut Bran Muffins served in Bozeman’s best coffee bar.
Bran Muffins
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup hot water
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
handful of raisins (optional)
handful of toasted walnut (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 24 muffin tins with oil and set aside. Combine the hot water and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Whisk oats, bran, wheat flour, unbleached flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl to blend. In a separate large bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, buttermilk and eggs lightly. Add the hot water mixture and the flour mixture and stir to incorporate.
3. Divide muffins into 24 muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in a rack for five minutes. Serve hot with butter or at room temperature.
Makes 24 muffins.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Mexican Wedding Cake Walnut Cookie Recipe
Plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds
Very little in our wedding was what anyone would expect. We celebrated our wedding on a Thursday, there were hand-painted panels of canvas hanging around the room, rocks and branches decorated each table, and our parents were seated in the table farthest away from the area where the ceremony was to take place. Scott and I ate with each guest by having a few bites of food at each table and moving on to the next. I’m sure our guests were a little puzzled, but it was a perfect day for us.
Then, there was the cake. Our wedding cake was not cake at all, it was made out of cookies: Mexican Wedding Cakes.
On the morning of our wedding day, my father and stepmother, Carolina (who did not know we were serving cookies instead of cake) gave us a beautiful engraved wedding cake knife as a present. When it came time to cut the cake, we walked over to a tall tower of Mexican Wedding Cakes. I reached for the wedding cake knife and tried to lift one of the cakes from the tower. Well, the cookies were essentially glued together with thick wads of royal icing and we had to resort to more aggressive methods of cutting the cake. The cake knife came in handy to saw through the royal icing and pry the cookies away from our impenetrable tower.
Our wedding day was flavored by these walnut buttery mounds of melt in your mouth goodness. I would not change a thing. Mexican Wedding Cakes make me smile. This easy recipe comes from Food and Wine Magazine.
Mexican Wedding Cakes
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, pecans and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add 1/3 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Shape the dough into a log and wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the dough and roll each piece of dough into a 3/4 -inch ball. Arrange about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, gently toss the warm cookies in the remaining confectioners’ sugar and set aside to cool completely.
Makes 16 cookies.

Raspberry Almond Scones

Raspberry Almond Scone Recipe
Bowl by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds
Here’s what I’ve learned about scones so far:

  • Work quickly.
  • Keep the butter cold.
  • The less you touch the dough the better it will be.
  • It’s much easier to incorporate the butter into the flour with your hands (instead of using a pastry cutter or knifes) but the heat from your hands will melt the butter, so work quickly and freeze the mixture for a few minutes when you are done to keep the butter hard.
  • Pour the liquids into the flour mixture, not the other way around.
  • Stir the liquid into the flour mixture with a few swift strokes (about 6 – 10 strokes). The mixture will still have dry spots, that is okay.
  • Pat the dough gently into a disk, do not overpack.

Raspberry Almond Scones
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup quick oats
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup slivered almonds
handful of fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the whipping cream, egg, almond extract, almonds and raspberries with a few swift strokes until a crumbly dough forms.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather the dough into a ball. Gently press the dough into a ¾ inch thick disk.
3. Brush the disk with heavy cream and sprinkle the turbinado sugar. Using a knife, cut the disk into 8 wedges.
4. Arrange the wedges ½ inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Makes 8 scones.

Pizza Dough

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe
Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds. Plate by Jim Shack.
Ten years have passed since I first came across a recipe for herb and onion pizzettes in Food and Wine Magazine. Since then, I have been carrying a cut-out of this recipe in a folder where I keep all my favorite recipes. It’s a bright pink folder with an old rubber band holding all the papers together. Back when I started the folder, my good friend Marcie had sent me a gift in cardboard tube. On it, she scrolled this quote by Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli:
“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”
A piece of that tube still survives taped to the folder along with some old stickers of pheasants and squirrels that Angelica added. The folder has grown fatter, torn, and stained as time passes, so, slowly, I am working on transferring these recipes to the web.
I have been faithful to this recipe since it was first published back in 1998. This one is a simple, basic pizza dough recipe yielding a light crust to compliment any topping. Kneading by hand is the way to go, but if you are short on time, simply use the dough hook on your standing mixer at medium speed. I often like to substitute some of the flour with whole wheat flour for a nuttier, heartier crust. Also, you can prepare the dough through step 1, cover and refrigerate overnight for the next day.

Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds.
Pictured here are pizzettes topped with white truffle oil, thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes, onion, rosemary, parsley and a slice of white truffle pecorino. We served these last Saturday as an appetizer for dinner with Tausha, my sister in law, who was visiting us during her trip to New York City.
Pizza Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (105° to 115°)
olive oil
1. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the flour with the yeast and 1/4 cup of the water. Let stand in a warm place until foamy, about 30 minutes. Stir in 2 1/4 cups of the flour, the remaining 3/4 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to form a soft dough. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until silky and elastic, about 5 minutes; add just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
2. Punch down the dough, cover and let rise for 30 minutes longer. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and let the dough rest for 10 minutes before shaping it.
3. Meanwhile, set a pizza stone on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500°.
4. Roll out or stretch dough into desired shape. Set the dough on a lightly floured pizza peel or baking sheet and top with your favorite toppings. Slide the pizza onto a pizza stone in the oven and bake for about 7 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Makes 1 large pizza pie.

Corn Bread in a Skillet

Skillet Corn Bread Recipe
When I was fourteen years old, my mom flew out to Rochester, NY to visit me. She stayed in a hotel near Marketplace Mall, and I was going to stay with her for the weekend. My dad dropped me off after work that night. I still remember getting out of his 1980-something light blue Honda Civic. It was cold and wet and he was bundled up with his golfer’s cap and scarf. His work shoes had those rubber covers to protect them from the wet. He got out of the car with me. As I approached the door to the lobby, I could see my beautiful mother there in her gorgeous handmade woolen coat. My dad froze right before we got to the door and said goodbye to me. I was a little confused at the time, but I said goodbye right back and stepped through the glass doors and into the lobby. I looked back as the doors closed. My dad was still standing there. I kept walking and jumped into my mother’s arms.
That night, we had dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and we ordered some cornbread. It was fantastic. My mom and I were so enthusiastic about it that she bought a ‘cornbread’ skillet along with some cornbread mix. Since then, cornbread always reminds me of that awkward reunion and the tender but short moments spent with my mom that winter back in 1986.
The recipe I give you today is one I have enjoyed over many years. I scratched it into brown paper about twelve years ago. Every once in a while I adjust the recipe by adding things like blueberries or cut down on the sugar and add chipotle for a kick. Mostly, I like it just the way it is, served with a little butter and honey. This recipe makes a light and moist cornbread that is on the sweet side.
Corn Bread
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter over low heat in a 9″ cast iron skillet, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, stir the brown sugar into the buttermilk until any lumps of sugar dissolve. Add the egg and vanilla and lightly stir. Then, stir in the cooled melted butter.
2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and lightly mix until any lumps of flour disappear. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the buttered skillet and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
Makes 1 loaf.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread Recipe
Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds. Plate by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds.
Ripe banans that become spotted and dark often get neglected in our kitchen. These sweet and fully flavored bananas are the perfect base for banana bread.
There is nothing more comforting than curling up in the couch on a Sunday morning, reading the paper, drinking coffee and enjoying a warm slice of banana bread with just a little bit of butter.
This recipe makes a very moist bread that is sweet, but not too sweet. It’s very easy to prepare, but you must bake it for close to an hour, so you need to either plan ahead or be very patient.
Banana Bread
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with oil. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and oil and whisk until creamy. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients until well incorporated.
2. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool.
Makes 1 loaf.

Baked Beef Empanadillas

Puerto Rican Baked Beef Empanadilla Recipe
Empanadillas in Ponce. Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds. More at smatter.tv
The essential Puerto Rican street food, empanadillas, are served at roadside stands, street events, mom and pop cafeterias, and restaurants all over the island. You will find these savory pockets prominently displayed in glass cases with heating lamps. They are stuffed with ground beef, chicken, cheese, and even guava paste. Drive by coastal towns like Salinas and you will find grandmas with aprons wrapped around their big bellies, frying them in cast iron cauldrons filled with hot oil. There, you will find seafood empanadillas stuffed with crab, shrimp, lobster, conch, and chapín (a local fish). If you visit Puerto Rico, you must try freshly fried empanadillas.
You have some choices if you want to make empanadillas at home:
Time – The first choice is how much time do you want to invest in the empanadilla making process. For those of us who crave empanadillas but don’t have a whole afternoon to invest, try Goya’s “Discos” found in your supermarket’s freezer aisle. Making the homemade dough is a time consuming process, but worth the work as the results are great.
Filling – Select your choice of filling. The recipe I’ve included is for baked ground beef empanadillas, but you can easily substitute shredded chicken, seafood, or pork. Whenever my grandma made empanadillas and had leftover pastry, she would fill them with sliced cheddar cheese or guava paste – easy and delicious. My brother’s favorite empanadilla filling is pizza (the Puerto Rican version of a calzone). My point is, be creative with your filling.
Baking Method – “Baked or fried?” is the question. Traditional Puerto Rican empanadillas are fried, period. But if I make these at home, I often opt for the baked version as a healthier and easier alternative.
Once you’ve made these choices you are ready to make empanadillas. If you make a large batch, prepare them to step 5. Assemble them in a flat container with waxed paper in between each empanadilla, cover and freeze. When you are ready to bake or fry, simply take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven/fryer.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup of ketchup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1 hard boiled egg, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
12 empanadilla pastry disks, thawed (pre-made or homemade)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, pepper, garlic, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Drain the fat and add the ketchup, cumin, olives, raisins, and boiled egg. Cook for another 5 minutes until well incorporated. Remove pan from the stove. Add cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
4. Prepare your work surface to assemble the empanadillas by having the following handy: empanadilla pastry disks, baking sheet, fork, bowl of water, and the cooled filling.
5. Place a disk on your work surface and add 2 to 3 tablespoons filling. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle. Crimp the edge with a fork, turn over and crimp the edges with a fork again. Set the empanadilla in the cookie sheet and repeat.
6. Brush the empanadillas with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Makes 12 empanadillas.

Empanadilla Pastry

Plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
I grew nostalgic for this most common Puerto Rican food when I first moved to Montana. It was then that I began experimenting with different empanadilla pastry recipes. I’ve tried different versions with canola oil or butter, but I find that shortening works best. Carmen Aboy Valldejuli’s recipe in “Juntos en la Cocina” is the one I like best (sorry, i could not find the english translation of this book). It yields a dry but flaky dough. Below is my translation of that recipe. Note: this dough is best used fresh, not frozen.
Empanadilla Pastry
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 cups cold water
1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Cut the vegetable shortening into the flour mixture until it forms coarse grains the size of garbanzos. Work quickly to prevent melting the shortening.
2. Add the cold water slowly while using a fork to blend it into the four mixture. Mix well until there is no loose flour left in the bottom of the bowl.
3. Turn your dough into a work surface dusted with flour. Knead just until the dough is well incorporated, smooth and no longer sticks to your fingers. As you knead, add flour when needed to prevent sticking. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 30 minutes.
4. Roll the dough into a twelve inch log and cut into twelve 1 inch pieces.
5. Place one piece in a work surface dusted with flour. Work with a floured rolling pin to create a disk six inches in diameter. Set disk aside and dust with flour. Begin to roll the next disk.
6. Once all twelve disks have been rolled, proceed to fill the empanadillas with filling of choice. See the Baked Beef Empanadilla recipe for instructions on how to prepare the filling and assemble them. Cover the unused disks with a damp cloth until you are ready to use them.
Makes 12 disks.