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Apricot Orange Newtons

Do you recall the iconic Fig Newton? For some, fig newtons were the loser cookie – the one you would only eat out of pure desperation if there was nothing else resembling dessert in sight. What could be worse than mysterious, brown fruit ‘goo’ wrapped up in flavorless, dry ‘cake’? They felt that it was not a treat, it was a healthy breakfast disguised as a cookie.

I really don’t remember eating any amount of fig newton cookies myself, probably because my mother always baked. When I did finally taste them as an adult, I actually liked them. Maybe that had something to do with my love for figs or maybe I just like cookies…not sure!

The ‘fig newton’ was one of the earliest commercially baked products in North America. Introduced by the Kennedy Biscuit Company in 1891, fig newtons were named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts, which was near the factory that first produced the cookie commercially. Kennedy Biscuit eventually merged with several other bakeries to form the National Biscuit Company, now known as Nabisco.

The recipe for the fig filling was the brainchild of Charles M. Roser, a cookie maker born in Ohio, USA. Roser worked for a bakery in Philadelphia who sold his recipe to the Kennedy Biscuit company.

The manufacture of fig newtons was made possible by the creation of Florida inventor James Henry Mitchell, who revolutionized the packaged cookie business by building an apparatus that could make a hollow cookie crust and fill it with fruit preserves. His machine worked like funnel within a funnel; the inside funnel supplied jam, while the outside funnel pumped out the dough. This produced an endless length of filled cookie, which could then be cut into smaller pieces. 

Original fig newtons were the only variety available until the 1980s and as of 2012, Nabisco now makes several varieties of the ‘newton’, which, in addition to the original fig filling, include versions filled with apple cinnamon, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and mixed berry.

As Nabisco likes to remind us, ‘newtons aren’t just cookies’, they’re fruit and cake. Bringing me to the idea of apricot newtons. There seems to be numerous versions of them around so we shall see how these one turn out.

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Apricot Orange Newtons
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Dough
  1. Whisk the flours, baking powder, cardamom & salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the butter & brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer & add the egg & vanilla. Finely grate the zest of the orange into the bowl (save the zested orange for the filling). Beat on medium speed until incorporated. Stop the mixer & scrape down the sides of the bowl & the paddle with a rubber spatula.
  3. Return the mixer to low speed, gradually add the flour; mix until just combined (the dough will be very soft and sticky). Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap & press into a disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap the disk tightly in the plastic wrap & refrigerate until firm, but still pliable, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the filling.
Filling
  1. Place the apricots in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment & process until finely chopped, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan. (No need to wash out the food processor; you will use it again.)
  2. Juice the zested orange and add 2 tablespoons of the juice to the pan. Add the water & honey. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots plump up and all the liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture back to the food processor and process into a smooth paste, about 1 minute. Let the mixture cool completely.
Assembly
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside. Transfer the cooled apricot mixture to a piping bag or resealable plastic bag.
  2. Dust a work surface generously with flour. Unwrap the disk of dough and cut it into 3 equal pieces (about 6 1/2 oz (185 gm) each). Place one piece on the work surface, rewrap the other 2 pieces back in plastic wrap; refrigerate those 2 pieces.
  3. Reshape the remaining piece of dough into a log about 2 inches wide and 4 inches long. Place the log with the short side facing you, generously dust the top with flour, and roll into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle about 4 inches wide and 12 inches long.
  4. Using kitchen shears, snip off a bottom corner of the plastic bag or piping bag. Pipe enough filling down the center of the piece of dough so that it is 1-inch wide and 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Using a bench scraper, scrape up the right side of the dough & gently fold it over the center so it reaches the middle of the filling. Repeat with the left side of the dough. Gently pat the top of the dough down with your hands, pinching it together as needed, so that it completely covers the filling and flattens slightly. (It should now be in a Fig Newton shape.)
  6. Cut the filled dough in half crosswise. Using the bench scraper, carefully flip each piece over & transfer to the baking sheet so that it is seam-side down. Repeat with the rolling & filling of the remaining 2 pieces of dough, using flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. You will end up with 6 filled & shaped pieces of dough on the baking sheet, so space them in 2 rows of 3 each, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Chill the logs for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 F.
  8. Bake until just lightly browned around the edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Cut each bar crosswise into 5 pieces and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Creamy Roasted Red Onions

All onions are not created equal so using the best onion for the job can really add a depth of flavor to your meals.

Onions are the workhorses of the kitchen and the foundation of so many billions of dishes across the globe that we forget how lovely and delicious they are all by themselves.

For most of the year, you’ll find red storage onions at the supermarket, which are pungent and spicy. In the summer months, you’ll often find fresh red onions, which are much milder, and lack a bit of the ‘onion-y’ flavor you’ll find in their yellow and white cousins.

The main difference between red onion and white onion is that red onions are a little spicy in taste while the white are comparatively sweeter and less mild.

It is a well-known fact that almost all dishes feel and taste incomplete without the presence of onion in them. Stuffed onions are an impressive side dish and a perfect complement to any main dish. 

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Creamy Roasted Red Onions
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Onions
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Ingredients
Onions
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Instructions
Onions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Peel onions, trim the root ends so they will sit upright & cut about 1/2-inch from tops. Rub onions with olive oil & season with salt. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
  3. Gently remove the centers leaving a shell of about 2-3 layers. Return a slice of the center to form a bottom. Coarsely chop onion centers.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, salt, herbs de Provence, garlic powder, minced garlic & chopped onions. Spoon filling into onion shells.
Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine Panko, butter, cooked bacon & parsley. Spoon carefully over onions.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is heated through & bread crumbs start to brown. Serve immediately.

Potato, Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Perogies

As the days get shorter, darker and colder in the winter, many turn to food as a source of internal warmth and comfort. Besides being essential for life, food brings people together and generally just makes us feel good. This is especially true during the chilly winter months we get here in Canada, where tasty comfort food is more than welcome.

 In 1966 when the term ‘comfort food’  was first used, one would turn to foods that were prepared in a traditional way and reminds the person of their childhood, home, family and friends.

Commonly eaten in the Canadian prairie provinces, perogies, pierogi, perogy – (however you spell it) are a delicious filled dumpling with origins from Central and Eastern Europe. They can be stuffed with potato, cheese, bacon, and more, and they taste absolutely perfect with their typical sour cream topping. There’s also a giant perogy statue in Glendon, Alberta, showing you exactly how important the food is viewed in Canada.

The ultimate in comfort, peasant food or gourmet cuisine, as a main event or side, perogies can do no wrong.

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Potato, Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Perogies
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Instructions
Perogy Dough
  1. In a bowl, beat egg, soft butter & sour cream together. Add flour & salt, combining until smooth. Scrape dough out of bowl onto a lightly floured work surface & knead dough for 5 - 8 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap & refrigerate until ready to use.
Filling
  1. Chop onions. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet & sauté onions until caramelized. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, melt another 2 Tbsp butter & add the chopped mushrooms. Salt & pepper the mushrooms & sauté until they are tender & all the liquid excluded by the mushrooms has evaporated, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. While you are cooking the onions & mushrooms, peel & quarter the potatoes & place in a small pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, then lower heat & simmer until soft enough to mash, 15-20 minutes. Drain & place in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mash & whip potatoes with grated cheddar cheese until smooth & fluffy. Fold in the cooked mushrooms & caramelized onions until well blended. Salt & pepper to taste.
Assembly
  1. Remove perogy dough from refrigerator & cut into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into about a 3-inch round. Place a heaping Tbsp of filling in the middle of pierogi. Dip your finger in a bowl of water & run it along the edge of the dough. Fold perogy in half, carefully pinching together edges to seal it completely.
Cook & Serve
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully drop perogies in & boil until all the perogies float to the surface & dough becomes somewhat translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Remove perogies with a slotted spoon, making sure to let as much of the excess water drip off as possible. In a large skillet, heat a Tbsp of butter. Place drained pierogis in skillet. Do not over-crowd so that they can all lightly brown on both sides.
  2. If you wish , you can make a few extra onions & mushrooms for a garnish. Serve with either sour cream or Ranch dressing.
Recipe Notes
  • When making the pierogis, nothing wrong with rolling out all the dough at the same time & cutting your circles with a cookie cutter. I just personally like dividing the dough so I don't have to do any re-rolling with the scraps. Just personal preference.

Bacon Gorgonzola Breakfast Sandwich

This breakfast sandwich is so much more sophisticated than your standard Egg McMuffin. Applewood bacon, eggs, gorgonzola cheese, tomato, guacamole & baby arugula make this a morning meal like no other. 

This type of bread is a popular choice for breakfast and can be served with sweet or savory toppings. Nowadays, English muffins are available in a variety of flavors. Some are made with whole grains or multigrain flour. Others contain raisins, cinnamon, seeds and nuts. Traditionally, this popular breakfast staple is made with bread flour, water or milk, sugar, yeast, butter and a pinch of salt. 

Bagels, savory muffins, pancake tacos and avocado toast are delicious ways to start the day, but you’re overlooking an often-forgotten breakfast staple. English muffins are the perfect foundation for a filling meal, whether it’s as a replacement for brioche in a French toast recipe or in a tasty sandwich.

Nothing hits the spot on the weekend like a brunch sandwich. Quick, easy and so good!

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Bacon Gorgonzola Breakfast Sandwich
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Instructions
  1. Cook bacon until crisp in a large skillet set over medium heat, turning frequently. Blot on paper towel & set aside.
  2. Mix together gorgonzola & mayo, mashing gorgonzola to create a thick, smooth spread. Spoon 1 Tbsp gorgonzola spread onto each toasted muffin bottom. Top with 2 slices cooked bacon & a slice of tomato. Place 1 Tbsp pesto or guacamole on each muffin & set aside.
  3. Poach eggs in a pot of boiling water with a bit of vinegar. When cooked & yolks are still runny, remove from water with a slotted spoon & top place an egg on top of each muffin. If using arugula, top each with about a 1/4 cup loosely packed. Serve immediately.

Portobello & Potato Gratin

The classic, humble gratin with its thick, crispy bubbling crust, has been defined and redefined over the years. Whether its base is potatoes or eggplant, fish or shellfish, pasta or meat, whether it is a main course or a dessert, the gratin seems to find its way to our dinner tables.

The difference between au gratin and gratin is that potatoes au gratin are a side dish made with thinly-sliced layers of cheesy potatoes. ‘Gratin’ is the culinary technique of baking or broiling an ingredient topped with grated cheese and breadcrumbs to create a crispy crust.

The word gratin derives from the French word grater, meaning ‘to grate‘. You would think that gratin refers to grated cheese, but this is not what the word originally referred to. Instead, it meant something more like ‘scrapings’. This referred to the browned, crusty material that forms on the bottoms and perhaps to the act of scraping loose these crusty bits and stirring them back into the dish during cooking. It now tends to refer to the browned crust that forms on the top of a baked dish, whether this crust forms by itself or is speeded up by placing the dish under a broiler.

Since Brion & I are both mushroom lovers, portobello & potato gratin certainly works for us.

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Portobello & Potato Gratin
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Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes & mash, adding enough milk just to make creamy. In an oblong casserole dish, spread some potatoes on the bottom & up the sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Clean & slice Portobello mushrooms into about 3 slices each. Toss cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper. In the center of the casserole dish, layer the Portobello rounds & cheese mixture making 3 layers.
  4. Drizzle the mushrooms with 3 Tbsp water, cover with foil & bake 35 minutes. Uncover & bake 8 minutes more. Remove from oven & sprinkle with sliced green onions. Serve.

Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Cakes

Having frozen rhubarb to bake into a spiced rhubarb & orange cake in the middle of winter is a treat! Rhubarb is treasured by many simply for its sophisticated flavor. Those who love rhubarb, value its tart pungency, which more often than not is mellowed with sugar and made aromatic with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or orange rind.

Sweets are the staple at the end of a meal; the luring incentive for the kids to eat their vegetables, the weakness for many dieters, and the go-to fix for those with sugar addictions.

Hot or cold, a simple mini dessert can turn an average meal into a memorable event. Rhubarb and orange is a much-loved flavor combination, making this recipe a perfect winter dessert. 

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Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Pudding
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Instructions
  1. Place orange in a deep saucepan, cover with water. Place saucepan over high heat & bring to a boil. Place a lid on it & reduce heat to low. Simmer until the orange is very tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain, quarter & set aside to cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter six-1 cup ovenproof baking dishes.
  3. Place rhubarb, brown sugar, spices, vanilla & water in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer & cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until rhubarb thickens. Remove from heat & set aside.
  4. Place cooled orange quarters with the skin on into a food processor & puree until smooth. Add flour, butter, buttermilk, sugar & eggs & process until smooth.
  5. Divide batter among prepared baking dishes. Place on a baking tray & bake for 40 minutes or until tops are golden.
  6. Serve warm topped with spiced rhubarb & whip cream.

Orecchiette w/ Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

One thing Italians share with the rest of the world is their love for pasta. Pasta remains part of a rich tradition that impacts every corner of Italy, meshing with regional cultures and influencing local cuisine.

Orecchiette is a pasta specialty from the beautiful southeastern region of Puglia, down in Italy’s southern ‘heel’. It’s one of the country’s flattest and most fertile regions, with wheat and olive oil produced in abundance.

Orecchiette translates to ‘small ears’—a fitting name for a dome-shaped pasta that looks like tiny ears. This pasta has a thin, concave center, chewy edges, and a rough surface texture. Orecchiette require only three ingredients: hard wheat flour, water and salt.

Their particular shape, combined with the rough surface, makes it perfect for any kind of sauce, especially vegetable sauces.

With its deep-rooted history in the region, use of simple ingredients, and its convenient versatility, orecchiette has become a defining part not only of Puglia’s cuisine, but its culture, as well. And its popularity extends far beyond the region of Puglia.

I absolutely love orecchiette with its chewiness and nice ‘cupping’ ability. Pared with some cheesy meatballs, this meal is so good!

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Orecchiette w/ Cheesy Chicken Meatballs
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Pasta Sauce
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Instructions
Pasta
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta & cook until tender but still firm to the bite., stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a bowl & add the parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed to loosen pasta.
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil & rub with oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 30-40 meatballs, then place on prepared baking sheet & bake until browned & cooked through about 25 minutes.
Pasta Sauce
  1. In a large pot, add chicken broth & tomatoes & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer until tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat & add meatballs & pasta/cheese mixture. Combine grated mozzarella cheese with basil paste.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 9-inch baking dish.
  3. Place meatball/pasta mixture in baking dish & top with mozzarella cheese/basil mixture. Bake only until cheese is melted.

Potato Pie w/ Artichokes & Sausage

Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes and is noted for its regional diversity and abundance of difference in taste.

Tortiera di Patate Carciofi e Salsiccia or ‘potato pie with artichokes and sausage’, is classic, simple comfort food at its finest. A seasonal dish that can serve as a hearty vegetable side dish (omitting the sausage) to a meat or fish meal, but which can also be the main course by adding the sausage meat as I did here.

Being a vegetable lover, I think vegetables are all good, but put together they make for fantastic preparations. 

This is a very easy preparation, which does not require special techniques or even special skills. Potatoes go very well with artichokes and sausage, making it a dish with a harmonious and truly savory taste.

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Potatoes Layered w/Artichokes & Breadcrumbs
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Instructions
Béchamel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, add milk. Slowly whisk in flour until blended then add salt, pepper & smoked paprika. Bring to a boil over medium heat while whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low & simmer, stirring for about 5 minutes. remove from heat & stir in parmesan.
Veggies & Sausage
  1. Cook potatoes in microwave until soft but not overcooked. Peel (if you wish) & slice into 1/4-inch slices; set aside.
  2. Clean artichokes, remove the harder outer leaves, cut them into fairly thin slices & brown in a pan with oil, season with salt. Add water & cook only until soft. Drain any excess water & set aside.
  3. Scramble fry sausage meat, remove from heat & drain on paper towels. Grate cheese. Prepare some breadcrumbs for topping.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 8-inch round baking dish with foil & brush with oil. Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of pan then top with a layer of artichokes. Sprinkle half of the sausage meat on top then half of the grated cheese. Spread half of the béchamel sauce over all. Repeat the same procedure to form a second layer.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbling & hot. Remove from oven & allow to cool about 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Carefully remove foil & sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Serve.

Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes

Crepes come in many flavors and styles and can be eaten as appetizers, side dishes, main courses or desserts. Barley flour is nutty and nutritious and perfect to use in crepes. 

Barley has always been a grain I have enjoyed. Not only a good choice in soups and entrees, but perfect when ground into flour for baked goods. Barley has a weaker gluten than wheat flour, however, so it may not rise as well as recipes made with wheat flour. As a result, barley flour is usually mixed with wheat flour when baking yeast breads.

An underrated and underused grain, barley is actually Canada’s 3rd largest crop after wheat and canola. More barley is grown in Alberta than any other province.  

That lovely nutty flavor that works well with fruits like apples and pears, is amazing in a savory meal of chicken and mushrooms.

Most of us don’t think nutrition when we think of crepes. Generally, crepes use all-purpose flour, milk and butter with more butter added to the pan. These crepes use whole barley flour in both the crepes and the filling .. how good is that!

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Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes
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Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a bowl, combine flour & salt. Whisk in milk until mixture is smooth.
  2. Heat a small non-stick skillet or crepe pan (6-8-inches) over medium-high heat. Brush bottom of pan with oil. Using a 1/4 cup measure of batter, add to pan & quickly tilt pan to cover bottom with batter.
  3. Shake pan to loosen crepe & cook until edges of crepe begin to curl & it no longer sticks to the pan, about 30 seconds.
  4. Gently flip crepe over & cook for a few seconds. Remove from pan & set aside. Repeat with remaining batter.
Sauce
  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, sauté mushrooms & garlic until lightly browned. Add flour, stirring until completely mixed in. Gradually stir in milk, salt, pepper & dried herbs; cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  2. If you are using broccoli florets, cook in microwave for 1 or 2 minutes to precook slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  4. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce. Into remaining sauce add the chicken, broccoli & 1/2 of the grated cheese; gently combine.
  5. Spread a small amount of reserved sauce in bottom of baking pan. Divide filling between crepes. Gently fold each side of the crepe to the middle. Place crepes seam side down in baking dish & top with 1/2 of sliced green onion, remaining sauce & cheese.
  6. Since the sauce is fairly thick, I set the pan of crepes into another pan that had about 1/2-inch of water in it to create a 'water bath'. This helped them to cook without getting to crisp on the bottom.
  7. Cover the pan with a sheet of foil & bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven & sprinkle with remaining green onion. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you would prefer to make smaller crepes, use a 1/8 measuring cup or 2 Tbsp instead of the 1/4 cup measure. It should give you roughly 10 crepes.

Barley Flour Multigrain Scones

It’s a wonderful thing when you find ingredients that truly marry well together. Like a good relationship this melding of flavors is a partnership of sorts, where each player complements the other, bringing out the best in its partner without losing any of its own shine. Cooking is full of classic flavor pairings, caramel & sea salt, cinnamon & apple, cranberry & camembert, vine ripened tomatoes & creamy mozzarella cheese, and a springtime favorite – sweet strawberries and tangy rhubarb.

It’s this simultaneous transformation and showcasing of raw ingredients that inspires us, to experiment with flavors in the kitchen. The idea of partnering jam and scones by sandwiching a tangy or sweet layer of jam between two buttery rounds of barley based dough works perfect.

The scone itself has so little sugar that it is not too sweet– making it an excellent accompaniment for your choice of apricot, blueberry, raspberry, fig, plum or blackberry jam.

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Barley Flour Multigrain Scones
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine milk with apple cider vinegar. Add multigrain cereal & allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oatmeal, barley & white flour, brown sugar, cardamom, baking powder & salt. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles small peas.
  4. Add egg & vanilla to multigrain/ milk mixture; lightly beat. Using a fork, carefully combine wet & dry mixtures.
  5. On a work surface, sprinkle a bit of oatmeal & flour, place dough on it & with a spatula roll dough a few times until a rough ball forms. Divide the dough in half.
  6. On a sheet of parchment paper, pat out 1/2 of the dough into an 8-inch circle. Carefully spread jam over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Since the dough is quite soft, using a spoon, drop remaining dough in dollops over jam. With a fork, carefully spread the dollops out as evenly as you can to cover the whole scone. Sprinkle whole or ground flax seeds over scone.
  7. Place parchment with scone on a flat baking sheet & bake for about 25 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly. Cut into 10 wedges & serve.