Homemade Vanilla Wafers, Gluten Free

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I’m getting ready to make a new and improved take on Banana Cream Pudding but  first I had to bake my vanilla wafers. I made extra because I like a simple, plain cookie that I can nibble with my afternoon tea. My son likes cookies too, and these are something I can feel good about, without white sugar and loaded with nothing but goodness. Added bonus, they’re gluten free, made with oat flour. These would also make the perfect teething cookies for a younger child. My most recent obsession is Vanilla Rooibos tea from Le Palais Des Thes which recently opened down the street in Soho. As it turns out, Rooibos tea has many good properties, which is good because I have been drinking it like crazy. Continue reading “Homemade Vanilla Wafers, Gluten Free”

Banana Cream Pudding with Coconut Cream

I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to share one of my best kept secrets. Dairy free whipped cream! I was leafing through the new york times and I came across a new recipe for Banana Pudding which inspired me to make my own version using healthier ingredients. Years ago I had the very sugary version at Magnolia Bakery which was strangely addictive, layered with vanilla wafers and sliced banana rounds, but I didn’t feel so good after eating it. Later I realized it was made with a vanilla pudding mix, which explained a lot. I think you’ll find this riff on banana pudding even better-instead of heavy cream and milk, I’m using coconut milk and almond milk.

Whole Flounder with Fennel, Blood Orange and Olives

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The other night I was in search of another light, satisfying, simple but tasty dinner. I wandered around Citarella knowing full well I wanted fresh fish. It’s one of my go to supermarkets when I’m in the mood. (The Lobster Place or greenmarkets are also often part of my fish repertoire). My only criteria were for something wild, local and seasonal. For this, the fishmonger steered me toward whole flounder that came in just that day, something I rarely cook since I usually buy filets.

I’m now a convert to cooking the whole fish; it preserves the delicate flavor and is more economical too. To make it even easier, I have the fishmonger clean and slit the fish to create a book like flap into which I stuff aromatics and other ingredients. Continue reading “Whole Flounder with Fennel, Blood Orange and Olives”

Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono, a.k.a. egg lemon soup has become my all time comfort food over the years. I first had it years ago at the Artist’s Cafe in Chicago, a classic Greek diner in the Fine Arts Building. Growing up, this was a regular stop for me every Thursday after ballet class beginning when I was six. Years later I went back on a Thursday and they still had the same soup special on the same day! I was thrilled that some things never change.

This post is in honor of all of you that may have suffered from the flu this season.  When you’re digestion is at its weakest this recipe is a welcome home. It’s a nourishing chicken broth with rice, easy on your digestion but with a little more excitement from the dill and lemon. Continue reading “Avgolemono Soup”

Sour Cherry Tart

Since red fruits have always been her favorite, I made this Sour Cherry Tart for my mother’s birthday.  She’s the person who always picks out the red gummy bears leaving the other colors behind.  We do share this fondness for red fruits-cherries, strawberries, red currants, raspberries, pomegranites. When I think about how relentless the heat can be at this time of year in New York City, sour cherries make summer worthwhile..

For this tart, I decided to make a Pate Sucree instead of my standard pie shell which is usually savory. Ordinarily I prefer baking with natural sweeteners, like maple sugar and palm sugar, because they’re less refined and have better nutrients in them, but here I’ve made an exception. Cane sugar yields an important subtle undertone of crunchy texture in the tart that is impossible to achieve otherwise in this case. Continue reading “Sour Cherry Tart”

Handmade Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies are one of those cookies that no one ever seems to eat but you always open them to see your fortune, in case it’s a good one.   I always thought that if you like the fortune then you have a morsel at least, in order for it’s words of wisdom to ring true.  I recently made my own fortune cookies, because I wanted them to taste better, but also, it’s so much fun writing your own, customized fortunes. If you have writer’s block, you can always consult the I Ching or your favorite astrologer for some inspiration. I recently made this recipe for a home-made  fortune cookie segment on Better TV. Continue reading “Handmade Fortune Cookies”

Thai Style Chicken Wings

I must admit I am not much of a sports fan.  I was, however, inspired Sunday by “Super Bowl” fare with this recipe I made for Buffalo wings. It’s not a traditional take, instead I used Thai inspired flavors like green curry and fresh cilantro. It’s my take on a recipe I did for recipe.com awhile back. I served these spicy wings with coconut rice which I will surely make over and over again since it was so addictive. Easy as pie, I just replaced half of the rice cooking liquid with coconut milk. It came out sweet and silky and was just the right balance for the spicy Chicken Wings. They were crispy on the outside, from baking them at a high temperature and succulent on the inside. Continue reading “Thai Style Chicken Wings”

Rocambole Magical Garlic

Now that winter is officially here roast garlic is becoming a staple in our kitchen. Since garlic is nature’s antibiotic, it’s great for wintertime when fortifying your immune system is most important.I try to pop over to Keith’s Farm at the Union Square Farmer’s market whenever possible because they have my favorite garlic variety. Ever since I tried their Rocambole (pronounced like rock’ n roll, but rock’m’bowl) garlic it’s difficult to settle for any other kind for several reasons. You’re always guaranteed big cloves in each head. I’ve never been a fan of garlic that has tons of small cloves within one clove, it requires so much more work. Also, there is a  juiciness to Rocambole, it has a superior amount of oil which makes it the perfect choice for garlic paste. Continue reading “Rocambole Magical Garlic”

Morel Polenta Tartlets

A lot of great things have happened over the past few months and our new little guy Xander has kept me very busy.  Now that I am better adjusted to motherhood I am back and ready to write.

To my delight, I found myself in Portland Oregon (somewhat) recently for a work dinner. I had heard so much about the farmer’s market and how beautiful it was, so it was my first priority and our first stop for grocery shopping.  Mountains of mushrooms-morels, hen of the woods, shitakes and low and behold truffles! Yes, Oregon is now growing truffles- super affordable ones too. I went straight for the morels, selecting the smallest ones for the mini polenta cakes with a morel gravy that I was serving as an hors d’oeurves course.

There were so many other highlights-the rhubarb was piled high streaked with a deep magenta, and hazelnuts-my new favorite nut. We were in hazelnut heaven it turns out. Freddie Guy is at the market and I scored some hazelnut oil as well as bags of beautiful pre-blanched crunchy hazelnuts. (You can order them online, which I will be doing in the near future)

There were other Portland highlights beyond the farmer’s market. Continue reading “Morel Polenta Tartlets”

Red Currant Bread with Almond Streusel

I spent my end of summer vacation in Burgundy, and was lucky enough to catch the end of the wild currants growing in my mother’s yard. They flourish somehow, even though they’re left untouched for a good part of the year. It amazes me how well plants grow there. We harvested an enormous bundle of rhubarb and sorrel too! It was a fun trip filled with friends, the quiet French countryside, vide greniers (flea markets) and good food. When we’re in Burgundy I cook almost every day and night, usually for several people, so I always come home with new recipes and even more cooking inspiration. Here’s a keeper recipe I made with the harvest from the garden. Thanks to my dear friends, who put their high boots on to trample through the weeds and stinging nettles to delicately pluck these sweet and tart perfect crimson berries from the branches, I came up with this recipe. Continue reading “Red Currant Bread with Almond Streusel”

Oven Baked Fish Sticks with Salsa Verde Tartar Sauce

When we brought cod home the other day, I knew I had to make oven-baked fish sticks to satisfy a craving. I remember my mom used to pack fish sticks in my lunches in grade school, only when she was short on time.  I actually remember liking them, dipped in tartar sauce.  But they weren’t crispy like these- because I had to heat them up in the microwave at school. Last weekend when I was at the Tribeca Farmer’s market, buying milk for my homemade ricotta (stay tuned), I was gifted Ronnybrook Farm’s garlic butter to try, which makes a great seasoning shortcut here. I first coated the fish pieces with melted garlic butter, then bread crumbs, then egg whites, then another layer of breadcrumbs. Use Panko breadcrumbs (all natural) if possible, they’re lighter and crispier than ordinary ones.

I needed a spruced up tartar sauce to serve with my lovely crispy fish sticks for dipping. Continue reading “Oven Baked Fish Sticks with Salsa Verde Tartar Sauce”

Creamy Corn Soup with Coconut Milk

This month I’m doing cooking demos at the New York Botanical Gardens in a series sponsored by Growing Chefs. All of my recipes are seasonal, market and garden fresh. I’m keeping the dishes simple to create so that no matter what age or cooking expertise, you can enjoy the recipes. The kitchen is beautiful and well equipped at the Conservatory Kitchen and there’s a slew of other exciting culinary guests on the schedule to check out.

The first week I made Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame dressing, last week was a Basil Pesto Pasta Salad. Here is a preview for this week’s recipe, my personal favorite of the series. It’s a refreshing summer soup that I created without any dairy at all. The corn and coconut milk come together to create a creamy silky texture that you’ll never even miss cream or butter. I was only aiming to complement the sweetness of the corn with a few simple flavors. We’ve been hit with a heat wave in New york City, so the quicker the cook time the better. I skipped making a stock with the cobbs and went for any shortcuts I could find. Continue reading “Creamy Corn Soup with Coconut Milk”

Truffled Apples with Honey, Currants and Walnuts

I have always been a fan of truffled honey on a cheese plate. I think it’s the delicate play between savory and sweet that is so enjoyable. However, I had never  quite experienced the pairing of truffles, honey and apples until the night of my dinner at Terraza del Casino in Madrid. The restaurant is famed for the gastronomic delights of Chef Paco Rancero, disciple of the acclaimed Ferrnan Adria.  To experience a meal like this is decadent, much like being in a candy store; inspiring, indulgent and fun, but by no means a satisfying approach to everyday eating. Continue reading “Truffled Apples with Honey, Currants and Walnuts”

Ultimate Granola

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My favorite kind of granola is a crunchy, light as a feather cluster that pops in my mouth with the perfect balance of nutty and sweet. The real trick to achieve this consistency is the use of instant oats. They tend to stick together better. For an added crispness I include arrowroot flour. The result is more like a granola bar broken into pieces.  Granola now reminds me of my  New Years trip to Costa Rica. We went with Kula Yoga and stayed at Boca Sombrero in the Osa Peninsula.

Continue reading “Ultimate Granola”

Shrimp and Broccoli with Garlic and Chili

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I’m always searching for delicious weekday recipes that are also nourishing, and all in one dishes are my favorites. Whenever I can, I love saving clean-up time. This dish has so many appeals, but most important it takes seconds to whip up. The first time I made a version of this dish was with Sam Talbot on one of my Conscious Cooking webisodes I hosted for Foodnetwork.com. We made it with olive oil, but I’m loving this version with more of an Asian flair. Continue reading “Shrimp and Broccoli with Garlic and Chili”

Chili With Corn Muffins

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When the crisp air of fall comes there’s nothing better than something hearty, healthy and warm to eat. For me, Chili goes hand in hand with thick scarves, plaid, flannel, down comforters and crackling fires. Chili can be enjoyed equally without meat or tofu. Beans are high in protein and you can get bold flavor from other ingredients. You don’t even need to use unique peppers to achieve a boost of flavor. In fact these ingredients can be found at your local supermarket or farmers market without any trouble at all. I hope you’re a fan of garlic, because this too, is a key ingredient which imparts a nice kick without adding heat. Use the freshest, most seasonal vegetables – combined with a few spices and a touch of lime to achieve a delicious and perfectly rounded flavor. I used cinnamon for the first time in chili and I have to say it’s my new (not so secret anymore) favorite chili ingredient. Continue reading “Chili With Corn Muffins”

Strawberry-Rose Almond Milk Smoothie

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If I were a musician, this might be my farewell Ode to summer. A classic ode is in three parts: the strophe, antistrophe and epode. In other words soaking the almonds, composing everything (such as the blending the straining the sprinkling of rose petals), and finally the enjoyment. Pure flavors of  icy strawberries with sweet almonds and subtle undertones of rose. We’ve had warm weather the last couple of days, so no wonder I’ve had strawberries on my mind. I try to avoid freezing fruits and vegetables, but I will make a few exceptions. Fruits frozen at their peak of sweetness and starchier vegetables like peas and corn are some of them. Continue reading “Strawberry-Rose Almond Milk Smoothie”

Eggs with Browned Butter and Sage

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I don’t often eat sandwiches, but when I’ve been especially active and the weather gets colder I start to crave something heartier.  I do remember a time in high-school, stopping along the way at the local McDonald’s drive-thru for a quick breakfast on my way to school. I was feeling very independent having just started driving myself to school and I was probably rebelling against my mother’s “healthy food” upbringing. There was, and is, something utterly satisfying about a warm egg sandwich. I’ve come a long way since then with with this updated version. I think it’s about as quick to make, as it is going thru the drive thru. I have also become entirely spoiled by New York City’s offering’s, particularly in my neighborhood. Continue reading “Eggs with Browned Butter and Sage”

Healing Garlic Soup with Pasta Shells

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When summer is turning to fall, many of us are working on overdrive, with the “back to school” feeling in the air.  Everyone around us is starting to get sick. After a busy week of work last week, it ocurred to me that it’s time to take preventative measures to fortify my own immune system.

It used to be that when you started to feel run down, someone would ask you if they could get you anything, oh, make you some tea or  chicken soup. These days it’s not uncommon that your friends want to run for the hills, for fear of getting sick themselves. So why not start your own pot of soup on the stove? Continue reading “Healing Garlic Soup with Pasta Shells”

Leeks Vinaigrette

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I usually opt for leeks in many recipes where you may use onions. They’re sweeter and more delicate, and a great way to maximize flavor. Here’s a simple, no fuss-yet satisfying way to prepare them. The leeks should turn out very sweet and tender and practically melt in your mouth. I recommend using smaller leeks than the ones pictured here if they’re available at your market, they’ll be more tender and easier to cut.

I finally picked up some at the farmer’s market recently, with the singular intention of making leeks vinagrette. It’s such a simple dish but so flavorful, a nice accompaniment to a meal. I was craving them ever since I had them at Mama Shelter hotel in Paris this spring. I flipped through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to see what she would do with leeks. Continue reading “Leeks Vinaigrette”

Chocolate Zucchini Amaranth Muffins

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This is the time of year, when zucchini is very much on my mind.  I seem to be constantly brainstorming various uses for this ever present and abundant vegetable . Zucchini has a very subtle flavor so finding the perfect way to spruce it up can be challenging at times. How to get excited about zucchini, I ask?

Somehow, zucchini bread was a staple in my grandma’s kitchen, so naturally, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when conjuring up zucchini recipes. I wanted to dress it up a bit. My goal, to make it a suitable breakfast or afternoon snack option. So for an unpredictable, interesting and most importantly delicious twist, here’s what I came up with. First, I’m using a natural sweetener, maple sugar, and much less of it. I’m also using Amaranth, a nourishing whole grain flour. Continue reading “Chocolate Zucchini Amaranth Muffins”

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

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My Clafoutis fixation began when a thoughtful dinner guest brought dessert. It was several years ago on a warm summer night in Brianny, a small village in Burgundy France. Our friends live in a big farm house and barn they’ve converted into a cozy sprawling home, where they welcome us. In this village, it’s not unusual to bring a pail to your neighbor and come back a few hours later for your fresh milk, still warm from the cow’s teat. It’s an incredibly magical place. Continue reading “Sour Cherry Clafoutis”

Summer Garden Salad WhiteHouse-Style

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A few weeks ago I find myself at the Whitehouse – on the OTHER side of the fence!  I was strolling through Obama’s fantastic new Whitehouse Garden on a sunny Saturday afternoon, walking amongst the rhubarb,the honeybees, nibbling on sorrel!  How did I end up in this modern day Garden of Eden?  It’s a story that starts many years ago in Chicago, where I grew up.  I went to high school with Sam Kass, (at the same school the Obamas attended). He was a nice guy that I’d say hello to in the halls between classes.  Fast forward more than 10 years, and I’m eating dinner at Avec in Chicago (one of my favorite restaurants!).  Little do I know, but Sam is working in the kitchen, and he sends out a surprise bucatini dish to our table – and we’ve been in touch ever since.  Sam would go on to be a personal chef for the Obamas in Chicago, and later move with them to Washington and take a position on the Whitehouse cooking staff.  He’d also play a major role in planning and implementing the Whitehouse Garden.

Following a cousin’s wedding in Washington, D.C., Sam stopped by to have a drink with me in the lobby bar of the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, an old industrial site that was amazingly converted into a modern hotel.  He had only minutes to spare from his intense schedule, but next thing I know he offers a personal tour of the garden the next day (all i had to do was give him my social securtiy number and date of birth so the Secret Service could do a background check on me that night…) Continue reading “Summer Garden Salad WhiteHouse-Style”

Hibiscus Gelee, Whipped Cream and Pistachios

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One of my most favorite ways, to help cool off in the summer, is to have a glass of iced hibiscus tea. I make it in big batches so I always have a pitcher on hand, perfect during the hot summer days and nights when friends stop by unexpectedly. Hibiscus tea is known as Karkady in Egypt or Agua de Jamaica in Central and South America. Through the ages, it’s been used medicinally mostly to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. I’ve had Agua de Jamaica from street vendors in Queens and other places, but I’ve always found store bought versions overwhelmingly sweet. When you make it yourself you can adjust it to your own taste.  You will find hibiscus flowers Continue reading “Hibiscus Gelee, Whipped Cream and Pistachios”

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Fava Beans and Truffled Vinagrette

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I have been really digging spring, and all the produce it has to offer. While I was just away on a yoga and culinary adventure in Italy, I had the good fortune of fava beans fresh picked from the garden. This was my first experience of fresh fava beans right from the garden. I opened the pod, peeled away the outer covering of the bean inside and popped the bright green jewel underneath that layer, right in my mouth, raw. It was sweet and melted in my mouth. They’re a bit more labor intensive than edamame, but worth the effort if you’re not too hungry. I usually boil the beans for about 3 minutes, to use in salads or as a great bruschetta topping, but since these were so fresh they were perfect for snacking on raw. Fava beans are a labour of love to peel but a perfect task when there are a bunch of people around to enjoy each other’s company. Continue reading “Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Fava Beans and Truffled Vinagrette”

Artichoke Brebis Blanche Tart

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This recipe was inspired by my urgent need to use all of the perishable ingredients possible when my fridge suddenly decided to stop cooling. It hardly even deserves a formal recipe because of its simplicity. You can do a lovely quick tart by starting with a good quality puff pastry, a spreadable cheese and topping it with any of your favorite seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Artichokes are perhaps one of the most labor intensive of all vegetables, but I just so happened to have a few pre-steamed from the night before, which made them all the more convenient.The result is an effortlessly-buttery-wonderfully-crusty taste of spring. Continue reading “Artichoke Brebis Blanche Tart”

Flower Sushi

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Yuri and I met before our last Harvest Time in Harlem class to test the recipe we received from Slow Food In Schools #4 Suginami Tokyo. We figured we should give it a good test run and work out the perfect measurements and techniques before teaching the kids. I’ve made sushi before, but never sushi with a flower inside.

As a fun project, we organized for a recipe exchange with the kids at the Children’s Storefront and Suginami school in Tokyo. We made a top notch Macaroni and Cheese recipe and sent it along with holiday cards several months back. Our kids begged for sushi. In exchange we received this lovely recipe, accompanied by cards and beautiful illustrations.  We had so much fun-Carolina, the chef at the Children’s Storefront said the kids were talking about it for days. Continue reading “Flower Sushi”

Coconut Macaroons Dusted with Gold

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I think it’s about time I share with you one of my most favorite, no fuss-sweet recipes. This recipe is particularly timely for Passover, as there is no flour and the leavening agent is egg whites. If you use an ice cream scooper to create a dome like shape, my macaroons are like mini cakes. For an elegant decadence, dip them in your favorite melted dark chocolate and give them a dusting of edible gold.   Continue reading “Coconut Macaroons Dusted with Gold”

Moroccan Eggs

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I made this for my last two house-guests and they’ve been requesting the recipe ever since. This is by far one of the most popular dishes in my breakfast repertoire, although note that it makes for a great lunch or dinner also. It’s called Moroccan Eggs, and the inspiration comes from a favorite variation (of the same name…) from Cafe Mogodor in the east village.  I’ve also incorporated some parts from even more original versions of this dish that I’ve experienced while traveling; in Israel I had a relative of this dish called Shakshouka, which means “to shake” – it is typically made a bit spicier.   Continue reading “Moroccan Eggs”

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Fennel Apple and Pecans

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When you have an insatiable sweet tooth, I recommend a sweet potato dish. This is the dish I came up with recently for someone who always wants sweet flavors and  whose most favorite vegetable happens to be Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a balanced way to please a craving for sweets because they’re nutrient dense and you’re getting the naturally sweet flavor without the excess amounts of sugar. Continue reading “Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Fennel Apple and Pecans”

Green Goddess Dressing Revamped

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I recently had a request from a magazine to create some lighter versions of standard dressings. One of my favorite ways to lighten up dressings is to use pureed vegetables in the actual dressing to create a richer texture without the heaviness of cream or egg.

Here’s my lighter interpretation of a Green Goddess dressing. Typically you would use anchovies and eggs, instead I’ve used pureed artichokes (from the can). This gives a creamy texture without a mayonnaise base, suitable for vegans too! Invented at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco circa 1920 Continue reading “Green Goddess Dressing Revamped”

Rice Noodles with Chicken a la Vietnamese

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It’s all about reinventing the leftovers, creating new variations on the theme, so there are new flavors that make you look forward to the next meal.  Last week, Carolina (the fantastic new Chef at the Children’s Storefront School), told me how much the kids loved the Honey Ginger Chicken she made, a take on her mother’s recipe. I had a fine Eberly’s organic chicken in the fridge so I tried it for myself. I threw in some butter, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, honey and mustard and made a lovely glaze. These days, my most favorite way to roast a chicken is butterflied. You just cut the backbone out and press to flatten slightly, breast side up. Continue reading “Rice Noodles with Chicken a la Vietnamese”

Sul-sul

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I just discovered this new fruit variety on a horseback ride through the coconut jungles of Little Corn Island in Nicaragua. It’s a little, round and green fruit with a purplish inside called Sul-Sul. You pry it open and suck on the gooey pulp, discarding the seeds. The taste is uniquely tart and sweet all at once.

Lavender Scones

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It wasn’t until I went to England that I had my first “real scone”, more like a proper biscuit and less like a hockey puck. An afternoon tea party can be a refreshing diversion from your average holiday soiree. I made these for one recently, and everyone loved them.

I have been at work perfecting scones, trying for a recipe that achieves the same tender layers as the ones I’ve enjoyed in London. Farewell to the dense varieties you may have previously experienced. Here is my most favorite variation, with lavender flowers and lemon zest. Continue reading “Lavender Scones”