Scottish oat scones and more…

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One spring day in Montana’s Big Sky country changed my creative life forever.  An imaginative oil painting of mine was drying in the living room; my tiny, efficient kitchen brimmed with Spanish tapas; I was entertaining the arts and entertainment editor of the Billings Gazette, whom I knew from my acting world.  She was going to review my article on the historical buildings of this largest city in Montana, for my hopes were she would publish it. She spoke prophetically over me, as we indulged in our lavish repast:  “Leave these other artistic quests; seek your true strength of creating quaint, delectable foods; start catering!”

Thus, I launched my business in 1982, with all the passion of my former poetic attempts.  My first catering assignment was that June, when this editor published her article on one of my French dinners, thus giving the needed exposure to my new dream.  It was a marvelous meal of bouillabaisse (fine fish stew) with all the trimmings; a memorable evening that marked the beginning of my knowing the joy of my life’s calling.

This fire in my soul originated in southern Montana, but in a very short time my eager endeavors spread north, for I catered elegant historical feasts on trips to my home town, of East Glacier Park, and the surrounding area. Here groups would have me return each summer to present my “latest creation”.

One such group had me cater my delicacies to them yearly, for several decades.  How they blessed me: they treated me like fine gold as a guest in their home; they paid for luxurious, needed massages during my intense labors; there was a memorable night sleeping on their sailboat on Flathead Lake; and so much more…

An old-time friend invited me over for this scone recipe during one of these trips north; hence, I fell in love with this slightly sweet, nutty breakfast delight from Scotland.  I have been making these scones ever since, for they held me spell-bound on that morning in the early 1980’s.  I am convinced you’ll be sold on them, too.

Scottish Oat Scones  Yields: 12 servings.  Total prep time: 40 min/  active prep time: 20 min/  baking time: 20 min.

1 egg

2/3 c butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/3 c milk or cream

1/4 c sugar  (Coconut or cane sugar is best.)

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour  (Optional: may grind 1 c organic soft, winter wheat berries to make a total of 11/2 c flour.)

1/2 c unbleached white flour  (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill.)

1 1/4 c old fashioned rolled oats  (Organic is best, available in bulk at most supermarkets.)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp cream of tartar (Much cheaper when you buy this in the bulk food section; be sure to save empty spice jars for storage; date the jars and replace with fresh spices yearly.)

1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1/2 c currants, raisins, or cranberries

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best for flavor and quality.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Beat egg in a large bowl; mix in butter and milk.  Add sugar and beat well.
  3. Place all other dry ingredients except fruit in a sealed storage bag.  Shake well.  Add this to above liquid mixture, beating just until mixed thoroughly, as over-beating toughens pastries.
  4. Stir in fruit.  IF using freshly ground flour, let dough sit for 45 minutes, as this is a courser grind and absorbs the liquid more slowly than store bought flour.
  5. Shape dough to form a ball; pat out on a cookie sheet, sprayed with oil, to form an 8-inch circle. Mark 12 wedges in dough with a sharp knife. (Note: You may bake this on an ungreased stone, which will require a longer baking time.)
  6. Bake until golden brown in center of oven for about 12-17 minutes.  (Time will vary with cookie sheet vs. stone; stone will take up to 30 minutes.)  Center should be slightly moist; do not over bake.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes; transfer to serving plate.  May serve warm, or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Curried Pineapple Ahi Tuna

Curried pineapple ahi tuna

Curried pineapple ahi tuna

I had a fresh pineapple crying out to be used and a dinner guest about to arrive. This easy, outstanding dish resulted that tantalized my company. The sauce may be prepared ahead of time; you may cook the tuna just prior to serving it.

Nearly every person in my family (parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews) possesses this gift of developing imaginative, delicious recipes. Many are (or have been) professional chefs.  My brother and sister were the backbone of inspiration behind my family’s restaurant high in the Rocky Mountains, at the east entrance to Glacier National Park in Montana.  This establishment belonged to my family for just over 50 years; it was famous in its day for its cherished food.

My brother Paul was trained at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York. He brought his polished innovations to our eatery.  On the other hand, my sister Maureen just knows food intuitively.  Her exciting supply sang with nutrition and tastes that blessed the public!

My sister has taught me so much about cooking with optimum health benefits.   She is a master at creating beautiful foods that nourish body and soul.  I am so indebted to her for her nutritive excellence in my skills.

Intuitive wisdom about the preparation of ailments is in my family’s genes. It’s my fundamental inheritance:  I just know how to cook. My “formal” training in this endeavor is limited to one day, as a visitor, at Cordon Blue Cooking School in Paris, France.  The lesson was taught in French, of which I understood very little, but the dishes looked, smelled, and tasted glorious!

Note: I am the only one in my clan that applied higher education in food history to our joy of cooking.

Curried Pineapple Ahi Tuna Simple and superb!  (Yields: 4 servings.)

3 tbsp. oil (coconut or avocado oil is best)

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 pinches of sugar

3 large carrots, thinly sliced at a diagonal

10 oz. frozen broccoli florettes (organic at Trader Joe’s is best,) partially thawed

2 tbsp. butter

4 tbsp. flour

1-15 oz can of chicken, vegetable, or fish broth/stock

2 cups of fresh pineapple, cut in small pieces (or well-drained, canned crushed pineapple)

4 ahi tuna steaks

salt and pepper to taste (Real Salt is best-available in natural foods at local supermarket)

brown rice (I prefer basmati,) cooked according to directions

  1. Melt 1½ tbsp. of coconut oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat. Add onion and sugar when sizzling; stir and carmelize (cook until well browned.) Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Heat remaining coconut oil; add carrots and broccoli. Cook until tender. Add onions.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour. Whisk and cook over a medium heat for 30 seconds. Slowly add broth, whisking well with each addition. Cook until thickened, stirring with whisk. Add pineapple (sauce will get runny with fruit.) Cook, whisking, until thickened again (won’t be quite as thick.) Add to vegetables in the large frying pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. May set aside at this point and finish just before serving.
  5. Wash tuna steaks and pat dry. Salt and pepper generously.
  6. Place steaks in hot sauce mixture and poach. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  7. Serve with rice.

1960s French Dinner

Cotes de porc braises a la moutarde

cotes de porc braises a la moutarde

I have a repertoire of what I call my childhood recipes, of which the following is one of my favorites.  It stretches my imagination every time I eat it: I can hardly believe that food tastes this good!

My mother taught me so much about cooking; she was excellent at this endeavor in her day.  My mentor exercised her expertise with hospitality in our home, rather than in our family restaurant, inspiring me to follow in her footsteps with her extensive gourmet preparations.

The passing on of tradition from generation to generation is so important.  I’ve never married, but I have a vast quiver full of spiritual children-more than I can count!  Thus, I have a desire to give them what was so freely given to me-wisdom.  I gaze at this precise diamond through the perspective of food, with all its joys and health-providing benefits.  I am so grateful to God, my parents, and my entire family for this knowledge that was birthed in me.

We all identify with comfort foods, especially those from our youth.  I will offer numerous ones, with which my mother nurtured our family’s souls.  Cotes de porc braises a la moutarde is my first choice in this marvelous journey into the past.

Time-Life Books put out a series of cook books entitled Foods of the World, showcasing the cuisines of numerous countries in the mid-twentieth century.  Mom subscribed to these superb sequel; my family and our guests experienced incredible pleasure as a result.  Hence I grew to appreciate the world, through its food in the confines of my home at a very young age.  This instilled an appetite in me, which was gratified in my twenties and thirties, when I went to the nations to study their eating habits.

I have greatly simplified this recipe for pork loin chops from its original complex detail.  My version is uncomplicated and literally explodes with unforgettable flavor!  Enjoy…

Cotes de Porc Braisees a la Moutarde  Yields: 4 servings.  This recipe is adapted from Foods of the World: The Cooking of Provincial France, M.F.K. Fisher and the Editors (New York: Time-Life Books, 1968).

4 center-cut, boneless pork loin chops, about 1 1/4″ thick

salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

flour for dusting meat

2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 lg yellow onion sliced, about 2 c of 1/8″ slices

3 tbsp wine vinegar

3/4 c heavy cream

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp lemon juice

Serve with brown rice  (My favorite is brown basmati rice; available at Trader Joe’s.)

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large, heavy skillet, over medium heat.  Wash pork chops and lightly pat dry; salt and pepper generously.  Dredge in flour, shaking off all excess.  Sautee in hot oil for 2 minutes on each side; do not overcook. Remove from pan; set aside.
  2. Add onions to pan, stirring in pan drippings well.  Sweat onions (cook until translucent).  Add vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan; cook until most of moisture is gone.
  3. Add cream.  Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Place pork chops in onion mixture, coating well with onions/sauce.
  4. Cook until pork chops are hot; do not overcook.
  5. Take off heat; stir in mustard and lemon juice, mixing into the onions by moving around the chops with a spatula or spoon.  Adjust seasonings.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed rice and be wowed!