Power Packed Oat Scones: One healthy, the other healthier

As I have been packing up all my various china (and mind you, there is a quite a bit of it) I am reminded of my days when I would have friends over for High Tea. This was back in the early 90’s when Victoriana was the rage. For those parties I made teeny cucumber sandwiches, bitty raspberry tartlets and, of course, cream scones. We would gather all lady like and I would set out a spread, all served on pretty little plates, with delicate cups and saucers, silver trays and lace linen napkins. Mind you, this was in my funky railroad East Village apartment.
Those were the days…
I’m a big fan of the scone. Not too sweet, not too buttery and a mouthful that requires huge slugs of tea or coffee to wash it down. When I first moved to NYC I lived off of them. I was a darkroom hack in those days just out of art school, with student loans and no money. From the Korean deli on the corner I could buy a huge boulder of a scone for a buck, and for another 75 cents get a giant cup of coffee. There was always a lump of scone sitting at my bench slowly getting nibbled away, keeping me company in the dark.
Yesterday I had a hankering for a healthier oat version. Something that I could grab on the way to the gym and not feel guilty for it. Something that would nourish me mid afternoon after a few hours of packing.
I started out with a recipe that I found in Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Bakery– but that was only a guideline. I added in wheat germ, flax seed oil and protein powder. The recipe calls for whole wheat flour and a smattering of rolled oats and I exchanged the butter for vegetable oil. I tossed in some cranberries at the last second.
The result was a hearty scone that in my opinion could have used a bit more milk. Lovely though. These will not win any culinary awards for scone of the year, but considering the power packed ingredients, these are wonderful.

The second batch was a recipe I took from my old cookbook Simply Scones, originally printed in ’88. I made their Oat Currant Scones, using raisins in lieu of currants, oil instead of butter, and milk instead of heavy cream.

The consistency was more right on and they baked up the way a scone should. Honestly, I think there were both pretty close. You can see from the photo below the crumb was pretty much the same. Using oil made them a little denser than they would have been had I used butter, but again, a healthier version was the goal here and with that in mind, these were great.

Whole Wheat Oat Power Scone
adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea
makes 12 2″ scones
1.75 c AP flour
.5c whole wheat flour
.5c rolled oats
.25c wheat germ
1 scoop protein powder
1 heaped T bp
.5t salt
.25c sugar
2T flax seed oil
.75c vegetable oil
6T milk
2c fresh cranberries
Oven set to 400˚
Mix flours, wheat germ, protein powder, BP, salt and sugar into a bowl and toss to combine. Toss in Cranberries
Stir in oils and mix with hands to incorporate into flour. This will be mealy and lumpy.
Add the milk and swiftly, carefully pull the dough together. Turn out onto work table dusted with flour, and give a turn or three kneading the scone.
Pat into 1.5″ thick mass and cut out 2″ scones and place on paper lined baking sheet.
Glaze with a little milk or beaten egg if desired and bake for 20-25 mins.
Raisin Oat Scones
adapted from Simply Scones
makes 8 wedges
2c AP flour
1c rolled oats
.25c sugar
1T bp
.5t salt
.25t cream of tartar
.5c milk
.5c vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large handfuls of raisins
Oven set to 400˚
In large bowl combine dry ingredients.
Add in oil and work in with fingers to get a lumpy mealy texture.
Add in milk and eggs, give a turn or two then toss in raisins. Pull dough together, turn out onto floured worktable.
Pat into an 8″ diameter circle. But into 8 wedges and place onto baking sheet.
Bake 15-20 mins

Warm Mushrooms Over Smoked Gouda Polenta

On the chillier days I prefer to serve a warm snack when friends come for a drink. As coats and hats and gloves are doffed and tucked away, the smell of sauteed onions and mushrooms greets them to let them know that as they settle into cushions and chairs that the belly will be rewarded for making the trek out in the cold.

Grilled polenta is a wonderful comfort food that is easily prepared ahead of time and and warmed when guests arrive. I stuffed mine this time with a smokey Gouda to give it some depth and richness. This made a perfect pairing to the earthy topping.

The portion is tapas size- about 3 inches square- which is a lovely snack when sipping on a soft round white such as Chardonnay or a robust Sauvignon Blanc. Not a meal but a hearty small plate of warm comforting goodness.

Smoked Gouda Polenta Squares with Shiitake Mushrooms
serves 6-8
8oz polenta
2 oz Smoked Gouda, grated
2 medium brown onions, sliced thin
1# Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
2 cloves garlic
.5 c white wine
2T butter
1T Thyme 
Prepare polenta by heating 4.5 c of water to boiling. Add 2t salt to water and then with a whisk slowly pour in the cornmeal while stirring the water to prevent lumps. On low cook until all water is evaporated, about 5 mins.
My trick is I make my polenta in my rice cooker. It warms and cooks the polenta nice and slowly, reduces splatters around the stove, doesn’t scorch and is easy to clean up.
Prepare a 9″ square pan with either cooking spray or line with plastic wrap.
Spread half the polenta evenly into the bottom of the pan, disperse cheese evenly, and then layer the rest of the polenta on top. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and smooth out the top by pressing with fingers to get it as level and even as possible.
The polenta can be made well in advance (the night before?) or it should at least be left to cool and set for an hour or so.
In medium frying pan over medium low heat, melt the butter and add the onions. Slowly cook the onions until they are golden, taking care not to scorch them. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and sautee for 2 mins. 
Toss in the thyme and white wine and cook until the wine is evaporated. S&P to taste.
To serve cut the polenta into neat squares and grill. Spoon warm mushrooms over the top

Coconutty: Grilled Tofu on Coconut Cauliflower and Spinach with Spicy Coconut Sauce

Grilled Tofu with Spicy Coconut Sauce

The beginnings of my move are underway. Each day is a task of clearing out another section of the loft, separating things from my past and deciding which I will carry with me into the future. This is a cathartic and exciting time. I’ve been great places and I am now on my way to something altogether new. All the things that used to weigh me down and crammed my corners are now an ever lightening load.
Finding time to cook, let alone eat, has been trickier, but when I get to the stove it’s far more satisfying. It’s the constant touchstone and keeps me grounded.
A snowy head of cauliflower has been haunting me every time I open the fridge. Can’t say this healthy cruciferous veg is my fave but it’s growing on me. The bigger challenge is there is SO MUCH of it. What to do… what to do…
Mashing steamed cauliflower is a recipe I came across about 3 years ago. It’s remarkable how tasty it is. The mellowness of the coconut counterbalances the sulphur tang in the cauliflower. I wouldn’t call this mock mashed potatoes, though some do, rather it’s a winner for what it is. There is enough flavor here to pair with some roasted chicken or pork chop, without overpowering the meal with coconut.
Before grilling the tofu I gave the slices a good juicing of lime juice. Not only does this add flavor to what otherwise is bland, but the vitamin C in the juice will aid the absorption of the iron in the spinach.
A quick reduction of the remaining coconut milk after the mashing makes a creamy decadent sauce with healthy fats. This meal may be way too healthy, but more importantly it’s really delicious.
Coconut Tofu with Cauliflower and Spinach
serves 4
1 head cauliflower
1 can light coconut milk
1 large bag of spinach chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lime, zest reserved
generous pinch of red pepper flakes
.5t fish sauce or salt
pinch of sugar
1 block of firm or extra firm tofu
Break cauliflower into smaller pieces and steam until just tender, not to mush. Add enough coconut milk to make a rustic mash. Add salt to taste.
Drain tofu. Slice into .25″ slices and sprinkle generously with lime juice.
Place remaining coconut milk, approximately half a can, into a small saucepan and stir in half of reserved lime zest, pepper flakes, fish sauce and sugar. Simmer on medium low until reduced. Adjust seasoning to taste.
In large frying pan warm 2T olive oil and sautee garlic gently over medium heat until just cooked. Add rinsed but still damp chopped spinach and sautee. The water from the spinach with add steam and keep the spinach green and bright. Err cooking spinach on the under side to retain as much of the vitamins as possible as well as flavor.
Heat a grill pan on medium high. Generously oil pan and grill tofu.
Build the dish by laying down the cauliflower down first. Pile on the bright beautiful spinach and then lay down the tofu. Add the remaining zest into the sauce and spoon over the tofu.