There is almost no place I enjoy more than a library – there is something so enchanting about being surrounded by books and silence, an orderly cataloging system and so much available knowledge.
It was an honor to be asked to provide the refreshments for the dedication of the new library, at the local Elementary school my children attend. The PTA and the Starr Foundation had given so much of their time and resources, and I was very glad, and very excited to be able to contribute in some way.
BACON PARMESAN SCONES
4 slices of turkey bacon, chopped
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cream, plus 2 tablespoons
Heat oven to 400F.
In a medium skillet, cook the bacon, stirring until crisp, about 5 minutes.
Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter, cheese, green onions and pepper with a pastry blender or fork, and work just until it starts to form lumps and come together. Add the bacon and 1 cup of cream and work just until it becomes a sticky dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat until it comes tougher, Form into a large circle, about 3/4 inch thick, and cut out scones with a 2 inch round cookie cutter. Transfer to cookie sheet, paint the tops of the wedges lightly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet.
Best if served warm.
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse, 2002
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PIMIENTO CHEESE TARTS
2 cups grated extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped drained pimientos
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon celery salt
mini filo tart cases
Heat oven to 350F.
Mix cheese, pimientos, mayonnaise and celery salt together in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scoop a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the mini filo tart cases.
Bake in oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until filling is heated through and bubbly.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2008
LEMON CURD CAKES WITH POPPY SEEDS
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
LEMON SYRUP AND POPPY CREAM
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cream
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
MAKE THE CAKES
Heat the oven to 350F.
Place liners in a cupcake tin, then place tin in a roasting pan.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until pale, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the milk, lemon juice and flour.
In a large bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. Fold the whites into the batter and spoon among the prepared dishes. Add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cupcake tin. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the cakes are slightly puffed and just set. Transfer the cupcake tin to a rack and let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
MAKE THE LEMON SYRUP AND POPPY CREAM
In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest, juice, vanilla bean and seeds and 1/4 cup sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar has melted, about 3 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
In a bowl, beat the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks. Beat in the sour cream until firm. Stir in the 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds.
Place the cupcakes on a plate, spoon the lemon syrup onto cakes and top with the poppy cream. Garnish with poppy seeds, if desired, and serve.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, January 2010
CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BARS
FOR THE CRUST
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
FOR THE TOPPING
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces chocolate, chopped
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup toasted walnuts
TO PREPARE CRUST
Heat the oven to 350F. Line a baking pan, 13 by 9 inches, with aluminum foil, lightly butter the foil.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolk and beat well. Stir in the flour and salt until well mixed. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly.
To prepare the filling, stir the instant coffee and vanilla in a large microwavable bowl until well blended. Stir in the condensed milk and butter until well blended. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and smooth, stirring every minute. Spread evenly over the baked layer in the pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Sprinkle the surface evenly with the chopped chocolates. Bake for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted. Use a spatula to smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the walnuts.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm. Cut into bars to serve.
Recipe adapted from The Northwest Arkansas Times, December 1999