Blueberry Scones

What do I miss when I’m away from home? Lately, this question hasn’t been so easy to answer. At first when I was adjusting to life in England, year-round avocados, reliably fantastic Chinese or Japanese food, and unsweetened almond milk might have been my immediate answers. But since then, I’ve temporarily relocated to Beijing. From here, there are plenty of things I now see that I intensely miss about England, which I didn’t realize had become my home away from home. I’m thinking of Cornish clotted cream with the right amount of dense, textural inertia, fish ‘n’ chips with barely-there batter and zingy tartar sauce, and finally, the warm, rustic light inside my favorite pub in Oxford, a cozy glow that belonging to the color spectrums of worn wood and cracked leather.

In contrast to the whole pub culture though, is the afternoon tea ritual. I have previously written about afternoon tea on KbK and my followers on Instagram know that I love it and love it often. But what to do when I’m at home, but away from my home away from home? Make scones. Even if you don’t follow my logic, I don’t know anyone that can’t follow scones, and these blueberry ones are the kind that help life make sense even when it doesn’t really at all.

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Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jam Thumbprints

Some of the younger kids in my extended family started school earlier this week, and though I’m used to later starts to the school year than usual, starting school before mid-August seems especially early this year considering my upcoming school year does not officially begun until the first week of October. Thanks, University of Oxford!

Nonetheless, for those heading back to the world of No. 2 pencils, spiral notebooks, and scientific calculators, I made these cookies in celebration of you. PB&J is such a expected back-to-school flavor that it needed to be upgraded with the ideal essence of summer. Readers of the blog know my affinity towards anything with blackberries, so blackberry jam with creamy peanut butter felt like a natural choice.

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Lemon Ricotta Poppyseed Muffins

Happy Fourth! The best way to start a day filled with lots of quality family time and kitchen prep is to eat a solid breakfast. These lemon ricotta poppyseed muffins give you a little sweetness and tangy, zesty freshness on the go; just one muffin is substantial enough to get you going in the morning or to stave off your pangs of hunger before the grill’s ready in the afternoon. The ricotta is essential to its crumbly, scone-like texture and the light lemon flavor of each bite is bright and refreshing.

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Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Lately I’ve been thinking about bright, pretty things that remind me of being a girl, daintiness in general, and looking at life through rose-colored glasses. My senior year has been more grueling that expected and I didn’t really get the chance to catch up on all the fall and holiday baking I had wanted to do.

Pink grapefruit sandwich cookies from one of Martha Stewart’s recipes is a nice girly cookie to counteract the rather blah constants in my life right now, like my androgynous, de facto school outfit of black workout pants and a hoodie. Admittedly, the recipe is not 100% perfect, but baking for me is as much about the process as it is about the product.

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Bouchon, Beverly Hills

The original Bouchon in beautiful Yountville, CA is a sort of pilgrimage site. When I was there, I had the most wonderful almond croissant, fruity macaroons, and chocolate éclair. As a part of a more balanced meal, however, my parents insisted that we also get sandwiches, which thankfully consist of more than just fat and carbs. Though the sweets at Bouchon usually get all the attention, the sandwiches are also wonderful. Thomas Keller updates the classics with carefully selected ingredients that are just a little different, ultimately creating a flavors that are memorable and completely craveable.

This particular craving compelled me to seek out Bouchon’s Beverly Hills location. I went in the middle of the week before my homework started piling up and before my extra-curricular obligations began to have time commitments more substantial than my classes. It was very sunny and and just humid enough to make dining en plein air a bit uncomfortable. But once the food started coming, the troubles disappeared as quickly as my appetizer, my sandwich, and my dessert.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

A few weeks ago, Bakerella posted about all of her travels to various cupcakeries and bakeries around the country. Of course, L. A. is all about Sprinkles Cupcakes, arguably the cupcakery that started the craze. With the demands of my internship and my part-time job, I haven’t been to Sprinkles in a long while. When the opportunity to bake for a collegue’s last couple of days in the department came up, I was glad to have Candace Nelson’s strawberry cupcake recipe on hand.

Though the cupcakes lack the signature strawberry frosting, I think chocolate ganache is a more refined, bold topping. Since I was transporting my creations via public transportation, I also did not want to risk any frosting mishaps.

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Summer Plum Tart

Some of my sweetest childhood memories at my grandmother’s old house involve consuming endless amounts of dark purple plums. The satisfying tearing of the firm, dusky skin to reveal vibrant, vermilion flesh is a unique fruit-eating experience. My fingers and palms would be stained red from the juices, yet still I reached out for another perfect little plum in the fruit basket. Every summer, this would be a little tradition, until the house became too much for my grandmother to maintain and it was sold to new owners.

As much as I would love to have the plum tree again, my parents’ lack of success with gardening points to the impossibility of that aspiration. Instead, more than ever, I realize how much the past is so crucial to the present and future development of someone’s appreciations and tastes for food. This irregular, unfinished-looking (aka rustic) summer plum tart is a delicious homage to foodie childhoods. The crisp, all-butter crust and richly gooey plum filling make this dessert perfect for warm evenings with someone special. Served with a healthy portion of nostalgia.

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