Tuesday, September 16, 2014

{ made } cranberry scones

"clotted cream & jam; 
would you like a cup of tea?
sweet, buttery scones"

*mimics the british accent*
"would you like a cup of tea with crumpets and scones?"

-- why, yes. thank you very much. 
preferably with clotted cream, the freshest jam and maybe softened butter on the side. 

but truth be told, i have never been to england...let alone, tasted the classic scones in the place where it is iconic accompaniment to the english tea tradition and it would be a shame to miss if i were ever in the region.

*scribbles into food bucket list*
*scones in england with a pot of english tea*

in the meantime, i'd just have to try making them, scones myself. in fact, i am in search for the perfect classic english scone recipe. to date, i have experimented with three recipes and nothing has even come close to the ones i had at ye olde smokehouse in cameron highlands, which boasts to bake one of the best scones in the country.  

what makes scones so distinct is its texture, which i find rather special. it's crumbly, almost like a dry pie crust with a biscuit-like texture but remains buttery in the most delicious way. it is the perfect base to slather clotted cream without guilt and the sweet fruity jam to compliment the mild sweetness of the scones. 

despite not having found that ye olde smokehouse magical recipe for scones, my third recipe trial awarded me with some pretty lovely ones to which i added some dried cranberries that i reconstituted in freshly squeezed orange juice as an addition that ol' beloved scone recipe. 

starting with the most basic ingredients of flour, baking powder, milk and butter, the execution of the whole baking process determines if these pastries would become a success stories of crumbly delicious scones or dreaded 'stones', which can somewhat be avoided with the [#protips] to bear mind ;)

o1. most importantly, it is vital to not overwork the dough. that usually is the reason behind stone hard scones.

o2.  cutting the butter into the flour needs to be done quickly and it helps when the flour and butter is cold when you start working with it.  use only tip of the fingers to rub the butter into flour (as so to avoid the butter from melting too quickly) until the flour + butter mixture creates into breadcrumb-like consistency.

o3. kick start the scones' rise with a hot baking tray

o4. buttermilk helps with the texture of the scones but if you can't always find buttermilk, it can be made by combining whole milk and lemon. 

you know the drill... the recipe can be found at the bottom of the entry.

{mise en place.}

{homemade buttermilk.}

{cranberries reconstituted.}

{cutting butter into flour}

{sugar + cranberries + milk.}

{doughing it out}




my mom and my niece is a huge fan of scones, and also the reason behind my making scones. so they would be my greatest critics, besides myself, of course. 

visually - could be a bit more golden. probably need to give it a couple minutes on the top shelf of the oven. 

i consider it a success especially when it doesn't turn out to be rock hard. ;) 

splitting it in half, my first bite was a a mild sweetness with the occasional burst of fruitiness chew from the cranberries. buttery, with an almost moist cake-like biscuit consistency, it wasn't quite as crumbly as i'd like. in fact, it didn't require any additional butter nor cream (which i didn't have in hand at that point anyway) but a generous spread of your favorite jam or marmalade would sweeten this tasting a whole lot more.

interestingly and it was slightly odd that my mom preferred the day old scones (we had some extras left) that were kept overnight because it was closer to the crumbly consistency with a drier disposition (in a good way). so, perhaps there is a choice to have it both ways - fresh from the oven or the morning after depending on your textural inclination ;)

a perfection as a quick breakfast/brunch treat to go with coffee and the tea, this tested recipe is worth giving it a shot to whip up a fresh pastry in no time at all with ingredients that you can pretty much find in your kitchen pantry almost at any time.

{recipe} classic scones with jam & clotted cream
adapted from bbc good food
serves 8 

ingredients |

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tbs caster sugar
  • 175ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 85g of dried cranberries
  • 1/2 orange, juice squeezed
  • beaten egg with a splash of milk, to glaze 
  • jam and clotted cream, to serve

directions |
  • heat oven to 220C. 
  • put the whole milk into a small sauce pan and heat until warm but not hot. remove from heat, add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment to cool.
  • reconstitute the dried cranberries in the freshly squeeze orange juice in a bowl. 
  • tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. 
  • add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. stir in the sugar and add in the drained, dried cranberries.
  • put a baking sheet in the oven.
  • make a well in the the dry mix, then add the liquid and  and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife - it will seem pretty wet at first. 
  • scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it's a little smoother. pat into a round about 4 cm deep.
  • take a 5 cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour (i used a glass). plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. by this point you'll probably need to press what's left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. 
  • brush the tops with the beaten egg-milk mixture, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray that was removed from the oven. 
  • bake for 10 minutes until risen and golden on the top. eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream. if freezing, freeze once cool. defrost, then put in a low oven (about 160C) for a few minutes to refresh. 

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

Monday, September 8, 2014

mikey's original new york pizza

"round discs of goodness
of cheese, crust, sauce and rainbows 
new yorkers rejoice"

all of my favorite foodie cities in the united states - chicago, nyc and san francisco - have their own renditions of pizza that they can call their own. chicago's pride comes in the form of a deep dish pie (& has not been replicated successfully elsewhere so far) while san francisco's pizza highlights the use of seasonal farm-to-table toppings upon thin crust. 

what about nyc?
well, their pizza is so well known that it is simply called by its namesake - new york-style pizza

have i tried it while i was there?
i've had my share of pizzas while i was in the states, this was one that i have NOT tried during my few visits to the big apple...

*scribbles into food bucket list*
"to try a new york style pizza in NYC"

so it was pretty weird but exciting when i had my first slice of new york-style pizza at mikey's original new york pizza that opened in telawi, bangsar a few months ago. the head pizza chef behind this initiative is chef andrew bellucci who is intensely passionate about the pie!

it was an unplanned visit - in fact, i haven't heard about it until { ds } and i headed to my favorite french bistro, yeast for a brunch when we saw this across the street. in the mood for pizza, our decision was straightforward after quickly scanning the menu, we seated ourselves in a classic diner-themed joint with a lot of nyc love.

enveloped by the exposed red brick walls, which were adorned by framed playbills and paraphernalia of the city that never sleeps, the decor was made complete by the chess floor tiles which were accentuated by the dark furniture including the high counter dining table that lined one of  the walls. 

the semi-open kitchen that was separated by the glass display of the many big round discs of pizzas, occasionally became the stage for the kitchen staff - he tossed the pie dough up high as it is spun into the right thickness before being slathered with sauce and finally garnished with familiar toppings of cheese and meat. nine different pizza pies make up the menu with a selection of waffle fries named after parts of new york city along side the popular boneless buffalo chicken wings and hot heroes (sandwiches). 

[#protip] order and payment is made at the counter and they offer several upgrades with the purchase of pizza slices/hot heroes. you will be given a number in the form of a street sign of famed streets of the city to receive your order at the table.

mine? it was astor pl. and it got me curious so here's what a quick internet search revealed: astor place is in lower manhattan that stretches two blocks where the alamo, the cube and the astor place theater are located. [#randomfacts]

pizzas :: classic new york pizza | this is the pizza that made new york famous. or is it the other way around? either way, our classic pie is the perfect blend of mozzarella cheese melted over our fresh tomato sauce, with a little bit of olive oil and finished at the end with a generous portion of grated grana padano cheese. fuggedaboutit! (rm8.88 per slice / rm59.88 for 18" pie)

a new york-style pizza virgin, my first had to be done the right way.

what better way than to start with the most famed - the classic new york pizza? it had all the essences that make a pizza - the pie crust, tomato sauce and abundance of cheese. the description pretty much says it all. it was also my first introduction to grana padano cheese and it donned similar sharp flavors as its counterpart, the parmigiano reggiano.

the details: fold-able and maleable thin crust - the way it should be with some chewiness. good sharpness from the grana padano and the basic tomato sauce which i wished had some herbs to elevate its flavors to compliment the sprinkle of julienned fresh basil leaves. one thing i was hoping for was more of a pulling of the melted mozzarella cheese as i took bites for that satisfying cheesiness. overall, it had the foundation of a good pizza, which thankfully wasn't too greasy but there was definitely room for improvement.

waffle fries :: staten island | our seasoned waffle fries served with mikey's four signature sauces : blue cheese, rich brown gravy, smoked chili mayo and traditional heinz ketchup (rm 10.88)

*step right up and pick your upgrade!*

- well, i did and picked what is behind door of upgrade #1: the waffle fries and a soft drink (it just gotta be coke) to make it all a complete pizza experience for an additional rm12. 

i love waffle fries - like a lot. as long as it is done right. 

this one was almost there. seasoned generously, the fries were slightly lacking in the crispy exterior department but was soft and fluffy inside - perfectly cooked through criss cross potato slices. if only the execution of the exterior matched the interior..

the fun part was picking out which sauce was the flavor of the minute ;) to rank them based on preference would churn out the list to be: hearty and savory thickened gravy, the suprisingly well-balanced but mildly pungent blue cheese sauce, the tangy heinz ketchup (classic pairing) and finally the chili mayo which jolted me with its spicy kick that overpowered the potatoes.

boneless buffalo chicken wings | breaded, boneless wings are deep-fried and then coated with mikey's signature buffalo sauce and served with our house-made blue cheese dipping sauce, celery and carrots (rm 12.88)

the authentic buffalo wing, which originated from a place called buffalo in new york are not breaded. [#source] and get this, boneless wings are kinda not wings - they are chicken breast [#source] it's wing madness, i tell you!

but i digress. { ds } opted for upgrade #2 that bought her to a drink and a basket of boneless wings for an extra rm13. breaded with panko breadcrumbs to seal in the moisture of the chicken when deep fried, they were then doused in the slightly spicy and tangy (the hot sauce vinegar-y kind - think tabasco) buffalo sauce. one of the tastier buffalo sauces i've had here in malaysia. 

the bite-sized chicken pieces were - well, some were hits and some were misses - one of the two pieces that i've tried were slightly overdone and borderline dry. it was greasy which became very filling after more than a few pieces. however, it was compensated by the blue cheese dipping sauce.

perhaps it is best that i explain myself - i am usually not a fan of blue cheese...anything, for that matter. probably because of the sharpness and pungent-ness of the cheese itself but somehow mikey's managed to get it just right.

the dipping sauce had bits of blue cheese running through it, which was delicious with the celery and carrot sticks and most certainly worked as the perfect pairing to the tangy buffalo sauce with its creamy, saltiness that ends with a subtle hint of bitterness. it even surprised me that i loved this blue cheese dipping sauce....

....i think it might be the start of something new ;)

mikey's original new york pizza offers a lot of heart in its food offerings. a tasty attempt from chef andrew bellucci in bringing a piece of american favorite to the local food scene but some tweaking to get it perfect, although it already won half the battle with the use of quality ingredients; that also explains the slightly hefty price tag. so, it's worth giving it a shot while you are in the neighborhood and perhaps fold a slice to taste a piece of that new york charming culture here at mikey's.

mikey's original new york pizza | location
17 jln telawi 2
59100 kuala lumpur

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

p.s. still working on my skills as a haiku-ist