Favorite

Recipes Part II 

click to enlarge Motif Chocolate Lava Cake - with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Brienne Boortz
  • Motif: Motif Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Motif


2432 W. Cucharras St., 635-5635, motifwest.com

Motif Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I use Valrhona Abinao 85 percent chocolate noir)

1½ sticks butter, plus a little extra for buttering your molds (I use Vermont Creamery's European-style cultured butter)

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

c. sugar

3 tsp. flour, plus more for dusting

vanilla bean ice cream

Gently melt chocolate over a double boiler. Heat butter and chocolate together until melted. While that is heating, beat together eggs, yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until light and thick. Pour the melted chocolate mixture in the thickened egg mixture and stir until just combined. Butter your ramekins. Divide the batter among the molds, then refrigerate until you are ready to eat. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake molds on a baking sheet for 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy hot with ice cream. Serves 4.

Aftertaste

Everyone knows chocolate's aphrodisiac quality — it's nature's way of making of you horny. Forget warm and cuddly, that's what I think of as comforting. This is my number one dessert seller at Motif.

— Submitted by chef Andrew T. Darrigan

click to enlarge Pork Adobo

Nanay Betty's Filipino Restaurant
1861 S. Academy Blvd., 596-4019

Pork Adobo

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 lbs. pork cubes

½ c. vinegar

1 c. soy sauce

1 c. water

1 tbsp. ground black pepper

1 tbsp. sugar

Brown the garlic in the oil, then add the onion. Cook until the onion is tender, then add the remaining ingredients.

Simmer for 45 minutes over medium heat and serve. Serves between 5 and 8.

Aftertaste

This is one of the most common Filipino dishes, and it's pretty much recognized worldwide. Trying to find someone who doesn't eat, or know about, adobo can be very difficult, because once someone has tried it, they are pretty much converted. It is comforting because it is so familiar and just about everyone can identify with it. In a sense, once you say "adobo," people generally make an immediate connection with Filipino food.

— Submitted by owner Plenty Groover

click to enlarge Two-Faced Apple Curry Soup

Nosh
121 S. Tejon St., 635-6674, nosh121.com

Two-Faced Apple Curry Soup

2 lbs. small-diced, peeled Fuji or Gala apples

5 whole cloves

6 c. water

1½ tbsp. unsalted butter

1 lemon, juiced

2 tbsp. standard curry powder

3 tbsp. sugar

¹/³ c. all-purpose flour

1 c. heavy cream

salt to taste

if needed: cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with ½ c. water)

For the broth:

Wash and peel apples, saving the skins. Simmer skins along with cloves in water on low heat for 30 minutes, or until reduced by ¹/³. Strain, discard skins/cloves and save liquid. (This will become the broth for the soup.)

For the base:

While the broth is working, you can begin small-dicing your fruit. In another saucepot, melt butter over medium heat and add apples. Lightly brown them, turn heat down, and cook until tender, stirring frequently. This make take a while, depending on the type and ripeness of your apples.

Add lemon juice, curry powder and sugar. Dust with flour and stir, thoroughly coating fruit. Add heavy cream and apple broth. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, then salt to taste. Strain, and reserve apples if serving as a dessert soup. Thicken with cornstarch slurry if desired — be careful not to use too much, and to allow the soup to continue cooking for at least 5 minutes after adding.

If it's a savory meal, serve as-is. If it's a dessert, serve with a small dollop of whipped cream and toss the soft, cooked apples with cinnamon and sugar to use as a sweet topping.

Aftertaste

What's comforting to you? A savory first course — or a dessert? This soup can be either, depending on what the cook decides, and that's what I love about this dish. It invites play, and it's comforting in its versatility. This recipe is only one way of approaching the key ingredients — apples and curry powder — because changing them can literally make this soup whatever you want it to be. For example, use green apples and a spicier Madras curry instead, and watch how the flavors intensify. Experiment. Play.

— Submitted by sous chef Adam "Red" Woloszyn and executive chef Shane Lyons

click to enlarge Carla’s Cheesecake Delight

R & R Coffee Café
11425 Black Forest Road, 494-8300, rnrcoffeecafe.com

Carla's Cheesecake Delight

Crust:

8 graham crackers, finely crushed

½ c. finely chopped pecans

c. sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted

Ganache:

1½ c. heavy whipping cream

20 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

c. Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

Filling:

2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature

1²/³ c. sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

1 c. Irish cream

1½ tbsp. instant espresso powder or coffee crystals

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Topping:

1½ c. sour cream

¹/³ c. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

For crust:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Finely grind crackers, pecans and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and blend until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally. This should take about a minute. Put the crumbs into a 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch-high sides, lightly coated in a non-stick spray. Use gloves or plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within a half-inch of the top edge, then over the bottom of the pan. Bake crust for 7 to 10 minutes.

For ganache:

While crust is baking, bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Hang on to the remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use for decorating later.

For filling:

Position rack in the middle of oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees. In a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, and gradually beat in sugar. Then add 1 egg at a time. Scrape down bowl and make sure you get to the bottom. Blend in Irish Cream, espresso and vanilla. Scrape the bowl again, then fold in chocolate chips. Pour filling into springform pan. The filling may go close to the top of pan, but don't worry.

Place springform pan onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until puffed and springy in center and golden brown. Edges may crack, but this is normal. Cool for 15 minutes while making the topping. The top of the cheesecake will fall slightly, which makes room for the topping. Maintain oven temp.

For topping:

Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl and blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover the filling completely. Bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until topping is set. Transfer to wire rack and refrigerate until cool, about 3 hours.

Plating:

Run a small, sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Spoon reserved ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe 6 diagonal lines atop cheesecake, spacing 1 inch apart. Repeat in opposite direction, making lattice.

Want to dress it up? Place a chocolate-covered coffee bean at each cross on the lattice.

This cheesecake is great right away, but for the best flavor, let it rest overnight. Makes 16 servings, but this is so rich, you may want to cut smaller portions. You can also make this cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust by substituting 2 cups of Oreo cookie crumbs in place of the graham crackers.

Aftertaste

I've always been a sucker for a good cheesecake, and about 15 years ago, I stumbled across this recipe for an Irish Cream Cheesecake. Using family members as guinea pigs, I've tweaked and perfected it, and they've never complained. Once I had access to fresh espresso from our coffee shop, this recipe took on a whole new meaning. Again, nobody at the coffee shop was complaining when I "forced" this new recipe onto them. The only response I get from this is, "When are you making it again?"

To me, rich, decadent and flavorful are must-have qualities for a comfort food, and this cheesecake definitely fits that description.

— Submitted by executive chef Carla Erick

click to enlarge Tortellini Jamaica Mon


Rasta Pasta
405 N. Tejon St., 481-6888, rastapastacs.com

Tortellini Jamaica Mon

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 tbsp. canola oil

c. pineapple tidbits

1 tbsp. butter (divided)

1 tsp. dried basil

2 tbsp. white wine

1 tbsp. light soy sauce

1½ tbsp. pineapple juice

1½ c. frozen cheese tortellini (thawed)

½ c. cooked garden rotini

c. red seedless grapes (halved)

½ large banana, sliced thick

2 tbsp. green onion, chopped

Briefly sauté canola oil, garlic, pineapple tidbits and half the butter in a sauté pan over high flame. Add basil, white wine, soy sauce and pineapple juice and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and rotini and sauté about 2 minutes, until tortellini is cooked and sauce crackles.

Stir in grapes, banana, green onion and the other half of the butter. Turn off heat and stir. When butter is melted, it is ready to serve. Yields a big dinner for one or a light lunch for two.

Aftertaste

This recipe was created by original Rasta Pasta Breckenridge owner Dan Gnos, a Cordon Bleu chef. His gift for creating one-of-a-kind recipes using inexpensive and readily available ingredients has resulted in a large and loyal following of Pastafarians!

Rasta Pasta is known for unexpected flavor combinations, and this dish is a perfect example of that. Sweet fruit with tangy ricotta pasta may sound unfamiliar, but you will find it delightful, pleasant and comforting.

— Submitted by owners Gregory Harris, Matt Taraborelli and Rebecca Taraborelli

click to enlarge Qabeli Pallau


Rumi's Kabab
36 E. Bijou St., 635-7749

Qabeli Pallau

4 c. Royal Basmati rice

c. vegetable oil

2 large onions

2 lbs. lamb

1 tsp. salt

1 lb. carrots

¹/³ c. black raisins

2 tsp. cardamom

1 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. cumin seeds

½ tsp. sugar

Wet the rice in cold water for 2 hours, with the water covering the top of the rice by at least 2 inches.

Heat oil in a large pot slowly and put the onions in until browned. Cut meat into medium-sized cubes, stirring for 5 minutes on low heat, then put into a pressure cooker. Pour in 3 cups of water and salt, and steam for 20 minutes.

Cut carrots into very thin, matchstick-style, 3-inch slices and fry them for 4 minutes. Add black raisins and fry for 2 minutes.

Drain the rice water through a colander and pour some rice into a pot, covering the entire bottom of the pot. Put the lamb inside and cover it with the rest of the rice. Pour the oil, cardamom, black pepper, cumin seeds, sugar and 1 cup of water in, and cover the pot with a tight lid. Put into a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn down to low for half an hour, then serve.

Aftertaste

Qabeli is a common dish in Northern Afghanistan and for the people of Kabul and Uzbeks and Tajiks of Afghanistan. It's not found in any neighboring countries such as Iran, Pakistan or India. It's a warming and comforting dish, whose colorfulness reminds me of the good old days of Kabul: In the '70s, when I was going to school there, its steaming rice and aroma was the face of Kabul restaurants. Those were the only good days I remember from Kabul, when it was heaven for the hippies and people lived carefree.

— Submitted by owner Shams Forough

click to enlarge Homemade Chile Rellenos


Salsa Latina
28 E. Rio Grande St., 328-1513

Homemade Chile Rellenos

1 dozen Anaheim chiles

1 dozen Monterey Jack cheese sticks

7 eggs

oil or lard, enough to fry rellenos

1 c. all-purpose flour

Roast Anaheim chiles on the grill until they begin to blister. Once blistering, place in a Ziploc bag to steam. When chiles are soft and easy to peel, remove from bag, peel, and remove the seeds and stem.

Take one cheese stick and one chile, and place the stick of cheese in the middle of the chile, and wrap the chile around the cheese.

Separate eggs. Place the egg whites in a large chilled bowl and the yolks in a smaller bowl. Use a hand mixer and whisk egg whites until they are fluffy and peaked. (After beaters are lifted from the egg-white mixture, stiff peaks should remain on top, and the mixture should not slide around when bowl is tilted.)

Once the egg whites are fluffy, add the yolks to the egg-white mixture, and mix well until they are blended together.

Heat the oil or lard in a large pan to 375 degrees. (Be sure to use a frying thermometer when checking the temperature of the hot oil or lard.)

While oil or lard is heating, take a rolled chile and cheese and place in the flour until completely covered. Take the chile covered in flour and dip in the egg mixture to cover the chile. Place in hot oil or lard and fry until a golden brown, or until cheese is melted through.

Let cool and serve with green chile, rice and beans. Serves 6 to 8.

Aftertaste

This recipe has been in our family for generations. Chile rellenos have always been a Friday night tradition at our home, a tradition that has been passed on to the restaurant, where this dish has become a comfort-food favorite of many customers. It is custom in our culture to pair the rellenos with our delicious green chile.

— Submitted by owners Danny and Carolina Aguilar

click to enlarge Applesauce Cake


Shuga's
702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412, shugas.com

Applesauce Cake

Cake:

1 c. pecans

2 c. sugar (divided)

2 tsp. cinnamon (divided)

1 tbsp. nutmeg (divided)

16 oz. applesauce

1 c. butter

2 large eggs

2 c. flour

pinch ground cloves

pinch salt

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. brandy

1 large apple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

Streusel topping:

3 tbsp. butter, soft

3 tbsp. flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

tsp. nutmeg

c. brown sugar

tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecans on baking sheet and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Chop the pecans. Coat a springform pan with butter and sprinkle with cup sugar. Tap out excess.

Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg to applesauce. In a mixer, combine butter and eggs, beating on medium speed. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula until mixture is light and fluffy. Add sugar and fold in applesauce mix. Careful not to overmix.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, cloves, salt, baking powder and remaining cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold the flour mixture and chopped pecans into the applesauce mixture. Add vanilla, brandy and apple slices. Mix until just combined.

Mix streusel ingredients with baby whisk until just combined, and sprinkle lightly over the batter. Bake on bottom shelf at 350 for 55 minutes. Rotate pan and switch to top shelf, and bake for 55 minutes more. Check occasionally for doneness. Transfer to wire rack to cool for 30 minutes and remove sides of springform. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce. Yields 12 slices.

Aftertaste

My Grandpa Eddie, who originally started calling me Shuga, would make this for me when I would visit him on the eastern shore of Virginia as a little girl. The aroma reminds me of those long afternoons with him while it would bake in the oven.

Made with Colorado seasonal apples whenever possible, the recipe might take a bit of patience, but it's certainly well worth it. (Or just come on down to Shuga's to enjoy a slice whenever you'd like; whole cakes are available for sale, pre-order required.) Made fresh at Shuga's every day for the last 8½ years, this cake will bring feelings of warmth and home and comfort.

— Submitted by owner Alexius Weston

click to enlarge Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Smiley's Bakery and Cafe
323 N. Tejon St., 328-9447

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

2 c. fresh strawberries, quartered

2 c. fresh, sliced rhubarb stalks, ½-inch slices

1½ c. granulated sugar

6 tbsp. all-purpose flour

pinch salt

1 9-inch double pie crust

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place strawberries and rhubarb in large mixing bowl. Mix together sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl, then stir into the rhubarb and strawberries to coat them.

Spoon and pour the rhubarb and strawberries into the pastry-lined plate. Dot top with slivers of butter. Top this with the remaining crust. Fold bottom edge of crust over top edge and seal. Flute edges. Make cuts in top of pie crust and add a sprinkle of sugar on top.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until top crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling hot. Serve chilled or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.

Aftertaste

Rhubarb grows well in Colorado, and during the season it can be found in all the grocery stores and local markets, as well as in some people's front yards. When I owned my bakery/café in Old Colorado City, a neighborhood lady kept asking for rhubarb pie. Finally, one day this lady walked into the bakery with an armload of rhubarb, handed it to me and said, "Now, will you bake me a rhubarb pie?" I made the pie for her, but added some fresh strawberries to cut the tartness of the rhubarb. It's been a favorite of mine ever since, and it's a natural comfort-food item. It's also the No. 1 seller at Smiley's Bakery & Cafe.

— Submitted by owner Amy Graham

click to enlarge Beer Cheese Soup


SouthSide Johnny's
528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487, southsidejohnnys.biz

Beer Cheese Soup

40 oz. old-style beer

3 qts. heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp. chicken base

2 lbs. smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

2 tsp. granulated garlic

2 tsp. white pepper

Reduce beer by half over medium heat. In a separate pot, start reducing heavy cream. Incorporate beer and cream, bringing to a slow simmer over low heat. Add chicken base. Whisking continually, slowly add shredded cheese and melt. Add garlic and white pepper to taste. Cool in shallow pans. Yields roughly 1 gallon.

Aftertaste

Years back I was on a trip in Oregon, and this neat pub we stopped in served this amazing beer cheese soup. It was really good comfort food, and when we were putting our menu together, I had to include this. It's been our signature soup since we've opened; we serve it daily.

— Submitted by owner Johnny Nolan

click to enlarge Espresso Cheesecake


Sweet Daphne Confections
2825 Dublin Blvd., 599-7178, sweetdaphneconfections.com

Espresso Cheesecake

Crust:

1½ c. of your favorite nuts (I do pecans, almonds, walnuts ... yum), chopped finely

c. sugar

c. butter, melted

Filling:

4 oz. heavy cream

2-3 tbsp. espresso beans, ground (we use the best from locally roasted Colorado Coffee Merchants, the Ümpire Estate brand)

3 lbs. cream cheese

1 lb. sugar

12 oz. eggs

For crust:

You can put as many nuts in as you want, in order to make as thick of a crust as you'd like. You just need enough sugar and butter to hold it together when you make a tight fist. Please, a little more butter in your life won't hurt anything! Press into a 10-inch, parchment-lined cake pan. Toast at 350 degrees until you have a golden brown crust.

For filling:

Scald the cream and espresso together. Again, the amount you use is based on the concentration you'd like. (But if it's looking a little like a paste, add more cream.) Let sit while you start the batter.

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Even though it may not look like it, this will fit into your 6-quart KitchenAid mixer — trust me. Before you add the eggs, the cream cheese should be smooth and lump-free. It takes a while. Then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down after each addition, and incorporating completely. Now, you may want to let a couple eggs jump in together — but don't, or you'll undo all of that smoothing out you just worked on and end up with lumpy, inconsistent batter. Once all of the eggs are in, you should have a nice smooth batter. Do not worry if you end up with a few small lumps — they are still tasty.

Strain the espresso grounds out of the heavy cream into a small bowl and mix the flavored cream together with about 10 percent of the cheesecake batter. Place the remaining 90 percent of the batter into the pan. Then plop spoonfuls of the espresso batter on top and swirl in with a spoon.

Place in a water bath (this can be a 9-by-13-inch pan or even a 12-inch round cake pan). Bake at 300 degrees for about one hour, until the batter moves with Jell-O-like consistency when you tap the side. The top should be golden brown.

Once cooled, I put it in the freezer overnight, then warm the bottom on the stove, and with a few light love taps, it should slide right out. If not, loosen the edge with a knife. Serves 4 to 16, depending on how it's cut.

Aftertaste

Once you discover how good this nut crust is, you'll understand why I love this recipe. Then the cheesecake itself is so rich and creamy — it screams comfort food. The coffee flavor brings me back to the days when we made coffee ice cream with Mom.

— Submitted by pastry chef/proprietor Megan Walter

click to enlarge Creole Crawfish Mac and Cheese
  • Brienne Boortz
  • Taste of New Orleans Cafe: Creole Crawfish Mac and Cheese


Taste of New Orleans Cafe
333 N. Tejon St., 667-7286, tasteofneworleanscafe.com

Creole Crawfish Mac and Cheese

1 lb. elbow macaroni

2 sticks butter

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. crawfish

Creole seasoning of choice to taste

1 can evaporated milk

1 c. milk

½ lb. three-cheese mix

Cook macaroni al dente, drain, toss with butter, and put in a deep casserole dish. Sauté chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic in butter, adding crawfish last and seasoning to taste.

Add to macaroni, both milks and cheese, and bake at 275 degrees until cheese is melted.

Aftertaste

This a perfect comfort food that children will eat as well. The richness of the cheeses and the heavy milk, blended with the spices and crawfish, give a true Southern zing to mac and cheese.

— Submitted by owner Beth Mell

click to enlarge Grilled Turkey Reuben Sandwich


Tony's
311 N. Tejon St., 228-6566, tonysdowntownbar.com

Grilled Turkey Reuben Sandwich

2 slices rye bread

1½ oz. Thousand Island dressing

2 tbsp. butter

1 slice Swiss cheese

4 oz. sliced turkey breast meat

¹/³ c. prepared coleslaw

Preheat a griddle or non-stick skillet as if preparing a grilled cheese sandwich. Apply the Thousand Island dressing to the slices of rye bread. Place butter on the griddle and place the bread down in the griddle with the dressing side up.

Place a slice of Swiss on one of the pieces of bread. Next to the slices of bread, place the turkey on the griddle. Grill until golden brown. Take all the ingredients off the heat. Place the grilled turkey on the slice of bread with the Swiss cheese. Add the coleslaw on top of the turkey followed by the other slice of bread. Cut in half and serve with your favorite garnishments and sides.

Aftertaste

Among our vast expertise in cooking at Tony's, home of burgers, fried cheese curds and a walleye fish fry, we decided to make something a little bit healthier with a twist. We ran this sandwich as a special, and people were immediately hooked on it. The coleslaw gives it a crunch, and the cold-hot combination is a pleasure in one's mouth. Other variations could use spicy mustard or horseradish mayo instead of Thousand Island dressing. If you have any questions, please visit us at Tony's and see what comfort food is all about!

— Submitted by owner Eel Anderson

click to enlarge Tofu Sauté Tomato


Vietnamese Garden
3043 W. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-9299, vietnamesegarden.net

Tofu Sauté Tomato

Olive or vegetable oil

½ tsp. fresh minced garlic

c. tomato sauce or 1 c. fresh diced tomato

1 piece fresh tofu, cut square and fried

½ tsp. gluten-free soy sauce

1 tsp. brown sugar

c. rice wine

1 tbsp. diced yellow onions

1 tbsp. chopped green onions

1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

1 bowl cooked steamed rice

1 small fresh cucumber, cut thick, or steamed broccoli

Place a small skillet on the stove. Pour in a little olive or vegetable oil, and roast garlic for a few seconds. Pour tomato sauce (or tomato) in, then the fried tofu, soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine together. Cook slowly for about 7 minutes.

Add diced yellow onions and stir. Pour the tofu tomato sauté onto a small plate and top with the chopped green onions and cilantro. Serve with steamed rice and fresh cucumber or broccoli.

Aftertaste

This is great for all seasons. It was created for our vegetarian friends and those who need a gluten-free diet. However, it is a comforting taste loved by all our customers.

— Submitted by owner and chef Hibiscus Tram

click to enlarge Currant Buttermilk Scones


Wisdom Tea House
65 Second St., Monument, 481-8822, wisdomteahouse.com

Currant Buttermilk Scones

1¹/³ c. dried currants (soaked overnight in 2 tbsp. apricot brandy)

4 c. flour

²/³ c. sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

12 tbsp. unsalted chilled butter (cut into small pieces)

1 c. buttermilk (room temperature)

2 eggs (room temperature)

1 tbsp. vanilla

sparkling sugar for scone tops

One day before baking, place dried currants in glass canning jar. Add apricot brandy, seal jar, and allow to steep overnight at room temperature, turning the jar occasionally to distribute the brandy.

When ready to bake, spray 2 scone pans with baking spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees. (A scone pan has 8 wells arranged in a circle and is available at kitchen stores such as Sparrow Hawk or Williams-Sonoma.)

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until small crumbs form and there are pea-sized bits of butter. Remove mix from food processor and place in a large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl and add all at once to dry ingredients. Mix together, but before dry ingredients are fully moistened, add currants and any brandy liquid. Mix lightly. One or two tablespoons of additional buttermilk may be added if dough is too crumbly and doesn't stick together. Be careful not to over-mix dough.

Divide dough into scone pans. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown. Remove scones from pan after 10 minutes. Serve with strawberry jam and our version of house cream — whip equal parts heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until thick. Makes 16 scones.

Aftertaste

I've always enjoyed the comfort provided by sharing afternoon tea with a friend: Delicious hot-from-the-oven scones, a reviving pot of tea and good conversation brighten any day. Warm scones with thick cream and sweet jam are among my favorite tea treats, especially when accompanied by my favorite tea, Da Hong Pao Oolong or Royal Golden Yunnan from China. This recipe's unusual step of soaking the dried fruit in liqueur softens the fruit and adds a unique flavor; substitute dried cranberries soaked in Triple Sec, or dried cherries in cherry brandy for other enjoyable variations.

— Submitted by owner Diane Wisdom

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