Woodwind Gourmet: Orange-Almond Scones

IMG_8143“I always knew it helped to be both fruity and nutty if you wanted to be an oboist, but it never occurred to me to take those two elements outside of the practice room and bring them into the kitchen (another of my favorite places to spend time). I decided to put together a small series of recipes to highlight the musical union of oboes, oranges, and almonds.”

The third and final recipe in our series about oboes, oranges, and almonds will be a welcome addition to your next breakfast, brunch, or even tea time. These scones are crisp on the outside, full of almond-y goodness on the inside, and covered with a sweet orange glaze to tie it all together. You can bake them all at once, or store them in the freezer (keeping the glaze separate) to bake as many or as few as you’d like at a time.

Orange-Almond Scones
Makes 12 scones

1 large navel orangeIMG_8192
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 ounces almond paste, grated
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon amaretto (almond liqueur)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Finely grate the orange zest then juice the orange, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, leavenings, salt, cinnamon, almond paste, and half of the orange zest; pulse 5-10 times until combined. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal and a few small lumps of butter remain. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Combine the buttermilk and amaretto in a measuring cup; stir into dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until evenly moistened and dough holds together. Dough should be fairly dry but hold together when pressed against side of bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Pat into a rectangle 6 x 8 inches and approximately 1 inch thick. Using a bench scraper or large IMG_8196knife dusted with flour, cut the dough into twelve squares (or any shape desired) and place on prepared pan. At this point, if you don’t want to bake all of the scones, you can freeze the unbaked scones on a parchment-lined sheetpan, then transfer to a freezer bag and bake within 3-4 months.

Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until firm to the touch and golden brown. Remove from oven; cool for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack. Meanwhile, combine the reserved orange zest and juice in a small bowl with the confectioner’s sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir until a glaze is formed, adding a bit more confectioner’s sugar if necessary. Glaze should crystalize slightly when left standing for a few minutes. Glaze tops of warm scones; serve warm or at room temperature.

Oboes, oranges, and almonds… the perfect brunch soundtrack.

The other recipes in the oboes, oranges, and almonds series:

Spicy Orange-Glazed Chicken with Almond Rice
Orange-Almond Rice Pudding

Woodwind Gourmet: Spicy Orange-Glazed Chicken with Almond Rice

IMG_8139“I always knew it helped to be both fruity and nutty if you wanted to be an oboist, but it never occurred to me to take those two elements outside of the practice room and bring them into the kitchen (another of my favorite places to spend time). I decided to put together a small series of recipes to highlight the musical union of oboes, oranges, and almonds.”

The second recipe in our series about oboes, oranges, and almonds is sure to be a dinnertime hit on those weeknights when that everyday chicken could use a lilt. A spritz of fresh citrus, some herbs and spices from the pantry, an easy, nutty rice… all you need to add is a salad or a veggie side and then put on your favorite zesty oboe music!

Spicy Orange-Glazed Chicken with Almond Rice
Serves 4

    Spice Rub:
    3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon dried sage
    1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
    1 large navel orange
    1 tablespoon olive oil IMG_8170
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    3 tablespoons orange marmalade

    Almond Rice:
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 medium onion, minced
    1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup long-grain white rice
    2 cups chicken stock
    Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

    Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Rub chicken all over with spice mixture; let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the zest of the orange and then juice the orange, reserving juice; set aside.

    Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Add reserved orange juice, zest and wine to skillet; cover, reduce heat, and lightly simmer 6 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken to a plate tented with foil; keep warm. Bring juices in pan to a boil; cook until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Remove from heat and stir in the marmalade until incorporated. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan. Cover and keep warm.

    While chicken is cooking, prepare the almond rice: in a 2-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, almonds, and salt; cook, stirring frequently 5-7 minutes or until the onion is softened and the almonds are golden-brown. Add the rice; and continue to cook and stir for 1 minute. Slowly add the stock; and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Allow to sit 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and garnish with parsley.

    Serve the chicken and sauce atop the almond rice and garnish with additional chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Dinner’s done… now let’s tango!

The other recipes in the oboes, oranges, and almonds series:

Orange-Almond Rice Pudding
Orange-Almond Scones

Woodwind Gourmet: Orange-Almond Rice Pudding

IMG_8143I was putting away my oboe after a practice session, the other day, when it occurred to me that I put a lot more in my oboe case than just my oboe. Inside my case is my oboe, a polishing cloth, the obligatory cork grease, a tiny humidifier, and orange peels. Why orange peels? The fresh, citrusy scent is merely a bonus. Actually, the orange peels keep the wood of the oboe from drying out during our long northern Michigan winters.

After thinking further, I realized my oboe has another meaningful encounter with food: a monthly rubdown with almond oil during the winter months. It’s just another way to help the oboe’s wood deal with humidity fluctuations that can lead to cracks and leaks if left unchecked.

So oranges and almonds… interesting! I always knew it helped to be both fruity and nutty if you wanted to be an oboist, but it never occurred to me to take those two elements outside of the practice room and bring them into the kitchen (another of my favorite places to spend time). I decided to put together a small series of recipes to highlight the musical union of oboes, oranges, and almonds.

Today’s offering puts a spin on an old favorite…

Orange-Almond Rice Pudding
Serves 8

    1 large navel orange or other sweet orange
    2 1/2 cups cooked white rice (basmati is great!)
    4 cups milk (2% or whole)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 cinnamon sticks (3-4″ each)
    3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
    1 tablespoon amaretto (almond liqueur) or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
    ground cinnamon, as desired

    Using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler, remove zest from the orange in large pieces (be sure to avoid the bitter white pith). Juice the orange into a small measuring cup, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Set aside.

    Combine the orange zest, cooked rice, milk, salt, and cinnamon sticks in a two-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until IMG_8150mixture is thick and creamy (about 25 minutes). Remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon sticks and zest pieces; discard.

    Return to the heat and stir in the condensed milk, amaretto or almond extract, vanilla, and reserved orange juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until desired consistency is reached (about 5-8 minutes). The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

    Divide pudding into 8 serving bowls or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least two hours. To serve, top with toasted almonds and a dash of ground cinnamon.

The other recipes in the oboes, oranges, and almonds series:

Spicy Orange-Glazed Chicken with Almond Rice
Orange-Almond Scones