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One of life’s greatest pleasures is the smell of fresh baking in a kitchen on a weekend morning. So today, in celebration of the time change and the start of Spring break, we’re giving you one of our most popular recipes. These scones are always a huge hit – sweet and spicy all at the same time! Get the kids to help you whip up a batch really quickly and serve alongside some sweet honey butter*…and another cup of well deserved coffee for that lost hour of sleep!

Makes 18 to 20 scones

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour 
  • 2 1/4 tsp (11 mL) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) sea salt
  • 6 tbsp (90 mL) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
  • 1/4 lb (125 g) candied ginger, chopped to medium dice
  • 1/4 lb (125 g) dried apricots, chopped to medium dice
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly butter a cookie sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using fingers, work in the butter until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand. Toss in the ginger and dried apricots. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness. Cut out 2-inch (5 cm) rounds. Place scones on the prepared cookie sheet; brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle sliced almonds. Bake until slightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

*Honey Butter: whip a tablespoon of good honey into 2 tablespoons of unsalted softened butter. Enjoy!

Just because the weather is turning warmer, doesn’t mean I am prepared to give up comfort foods quite yet. These days I am balancing out entree style salads with light and Spring-y pastas. Leeks are everywhere right now: fresh, delicious and gorgeously fragrant, these allium transform any dish they grace from the ordinary to the extraordinary. As such, they are a staple in French and other mediterranean cooking, forming the core of a bouquet garni to flavour sauces and stocks. Here I’ve pureed them with lemon zest and parsley along with their cooking water to form the body of the pasta sauce – keeping it light but tasty at the same time. Serve this along side a crisp, dry white wine and your winter blues will be far, far behind you.

Serves 4

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  • 6 leeks trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 16 oz penne
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt.

Split the leeks 3/4 of the way down and rinse thoroughly. Cooke the leeks for 6 – 8 mins in the water or until tender. Remove the leeks with a slotted spoon, and plunge into cold water to refresh – squeeze to remove excess water. Retain the leek cooking water.

Roughly chop leeks and then puree in a food processor with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil and 1/2 cup of the leek cooking water.

Transfer the puree to a 3 qt. pot; add another cup of the leek cooking water and simmer all to thicken to a sauce.

In another large pot bring 4 – 6 quarts of water to a boil: add penne and cook until al dente (5-7 mins). Drain the pasta and add to the leek sauce – cook another 2-4 minutes in the sauce adding more leek cooking water if it gets dry. Stir in the parmesan and season with more salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Along with St. Patrick’s Day comes a host of foods identified with the Emerald Isle – all of which bring up fond memories of cozy comfort and family dining. Colcannon, Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and of course, the infamous Steak & Guinness Pie. This is our version that classic all dressed up with balsamic mushrooms. Make the pie filling up the day ahead for a quick holiday crowd pleaser this Sunday – just reheat the filling and then follow pie instructions. Serve alongside a pint of your favourite porter or a Black &Tan, and may the luck o’ the Irish be with you and yours for years to come.

Irish Blessing 

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

sdfa

Makes 8 individual or 1 large pie

  • 2 kg chuck steak cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 cups quartered mushrooms
  • 3 sliced onions
  • 1 cups frozen peas, blanched
  • 4 crushed cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400 mL Guinness or other dark porter
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg

Toss the beef in flour, shake off excess. Heat oil in a medium sized pot to medium heat. Brown the beef cubes on all sides in the oil being sure not to crowd them in the pot – do in shifts if necessary. Turn off heat, add Guinness and beef stock, stir and set aside.

Sauté onions until soft and caramel coloured, add to beef pot. Sauté mushrooms in butter until browned, add balsamic and garlic, sauté 2 more minutes and then add to beef as well. Add peas, sugar, and bay leaf to the pot and return to heat. Simmer on low approx. 2 hours until beef is tender and liquids are reduced.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Remove bay leaf and spoon beef mixture into eight 250 mL ovenproof ramekins. Cut out eight circles of ready-rolled puff pastry to cover. Press firmly onto dishes and seal. Brush with 1 beaten egg, place on a tray and bake for 25 minutes until golden. Freeze uncooked pies, wrapped in plastic then foil. Defrost before cooking.

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