Oysters with Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Mignonette

I keep trying to rack my brain, but I honestly can't remember the first time I consumed raw oysters. It's quite possible I had one as a teenager, but I'm pretty sure I was in my twenties (maybe after meeting Eric) that I had my first experience with these bivalves. Now, however, I'd list them as one of my favorite foods. Some of my favorite food memories revolve around oysters. Being served the Oysters and Pearls at The French Laundry (paired, of course, with a glass of Champagne) when we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and Eric's 30th birthday. Or the Kumamoto oyster with cucumber mignonette at O Ya (during my birthday dinner). But, mostly, I prefer my oysters treated with a little squeeze of lemon, maybe a small spoonful of mignonette. Ideally, a platter will be consumed outdoors, overlooking a body of water. However, that's not always possible (As I type, it's snowing. Hello winter!) and we've taken to shucking them at home, often slurping them down over the kitchen sink. It's not elegant, but it does feel intimate. Sometimes that's how romance is, right? :-)

While oysters are wonderful on their own, there are some simple ways to accentuate their robust ocean flavor. A little acid does a lot to make them pop. For this mignonette, I've combined two types of seasonal citrus, grapefruit and Meyer lemons, to make a simple dressing to spoon on top. 

Oysters with Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Mignonette

YIELD
12 oysters

INGREDIENTS
12 oysters, shucked
1 large red grapefruit, segmented
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chive
Coarsely ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Chop the segmented grapefruit sections into small pieces and transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Add the Meyer lemon juice, Champagne vinegar, salt, chive, and black pepper. Give it a quick whisk to combine.

Before eating, top an oyster with the grapefruit and Meyer lemon mignonette. 

Sweet Potato Scones + A Vanilla Bean Baking Book Giveaway

I'm struggling to find the words to express how I feel, so today I'm just going to share what's going on in our lives and some things that make me happy and have inspired me.

Friendsgiving. Menu planning, shopping, and cooking for 23 friends. I can't wait to have everyone gathered around the table this Saturday. 

Thanksgiving in New Jersey. Also, menu planning and cooking. Most of it's done... but I still need to figure out a cocktail.

Fires. We split a cord of wood with our neighbors. So, we're planning on having lots of fires this winter.

With everything that's been going on, I've been inspired to give a bit more than I have in the past (something I'm trying to be better about). A few organizations I like to support: Planned Parenthood, The Posse Foundation and The Trevor Project (I'm always looking for more suggestions)

This is the Album of the Year... maybe the Album of the Decade. (And here's a video for We the People...)

Went to see this movie and this movie. Both are moving, important pieces of cinema. 

If you missed SNL this weekend, check out the opening tribute to Leonard Cohen, Dave Chappelle's monologue, Kate McKinnon as RBG, and A Tribe Called Quest.

Two weeks until our trip to the Dominican Republic. A few days away spent on a beach, reading books, drinking cocktails. 

This (certified organic and fair-trade) cold brew coffee.  Besides being delicious, they're also giving back, with a percentage of the proceeds going to an organization that assists injured veterans.  It's sold in stores throughout New England and online.

My friend, the talented food-stylist Catrine Kelty, is currently displaying her work at the Bedford Public Library. There will be an opening reception on December 4th

And speaking of talented friends... I'm so excited for Sarah Kieffer and the release of her first book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Her passion for baking and her inventive creations have always been an inspiration. Her book does not disappoint.

Sarah explains in her book's introduction that cookies were her gateway to baking. For me, it's scones. I find most baking to be stressful (it shouldn't be... I'm just not big into measurements), but not scones. It doesn't require as much finesse as other pastries. You can do all the work by hand (no fancy appliances necessary), they can easily be altered to fit with whatever seasonal ingredients you're working with, and they're supposed to look rustic, so imperfections are welcome. I made my first batch of scones years ago and, ever since, I've been hooked. I've lost track of all the kinds I've prepared for myself and friends (like Sarah, I find "contentment in both baking to keep and baking to give away." 

I was thrilled to see a couple of scone recipes in Sarah's book. However, before I decided to make one of them, I asked her what recipes from her book were her favorite. When she listed the pumpkin scones, it was a done deal. Instead of the pumpkin puree, I included sweet potato (which I find is underused in fall baking).  They came out just how I wanted them, golden brown outside with a crumbly, moist interior. The scones aren't all that sweet on their own, so the maple glaze is a nice addition (also, I give her a big thumbs up for including some salt in the glaze... something I've never seen before).  

SWEET POTATO SCONES BLOG_NOVEMBER 2016-9431.jpg

AND NOW ONTO THE GIVEAWAY!!! SARAH AND THE PUBLISHERS OF HER BEAUTIFUL BOOK ARE GIVING AWAY ONE COPY TO A LUCKY READER!!! 

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Only one entry per person. Eligible to US residents only (sorry international friends)! Giveaway ends at 12PM EST on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. The winner will be notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another name will be drawn. (Note: Be sure to fill out the e-mail field in the comment form) 

Sweet Potato Scones

SOURCE
Adapted from the pumpkin scone recipe from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer

YIELD
12 scones

INGREDIENTS
For Sweet Potato Scones
2 ¼ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (66 g) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened sweet potato puree, recipe below
⅓ cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch pieces

For Maple Frosting
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup (113 g) confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt

DIRECTIONS
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stack two baking sheets on top of each other and line the top sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the sweet potato puree, heavy cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the mixture until the flour-coated pieces are the size of peas. Add the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead until it comes together, 4 to 6 times, adding flour as necessary if the dough is sticky. Flatten the dough out until it is about 1 1/2 inches thick and about 9 inches wide.

Cut dough into rounds with biscuit cutter that’s 2-3/4″ in diameter (if you don't have a biscuit cutter, you can use a water glass or just cut them into triangles). Transfer rounds to the baking pan. (This should result in approximately 12 biscuits.) 

Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little heavy cream, making sure it doesn’t drip down the sides.

Bake 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the scones cool slightly. Top with the Maple Frosting.

FOR THE MAPLE FROSTING: In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.

Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Sarah Kieffer, 2016.

 

Sweet Potato Puree

INGREDIENTS
1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons milk

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.  Using a fork, poke holes into the sweet potato.

Place pan in the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove from oven and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to remove the skin.

Place peeled sweet potato in a food processor and puree with 2 tablespoons whole milk (alternatively, place in a bowl and use an emersion blender to puree.)