My last post was April 26. Twenty-something days ago. Sorry.
To be fair, I've been pretty busy. I haven't just been sitting around watching The Real Housewives of (insert city du jour here), eating Golden Spoon frozen yogurt, and cruising Facebook.....although Eric thinks that I'm on there "all the time".
Let's see. When we last spoke, I had just been robbed. Got that all taken care of: fixed car window, new credit cards, new driver's license and a photo that I can live with, new locks on the house, and new phone, all of which just happened to add up to meet my deductible amount. Exactly. Funny how that works. I now take my purse, keys, and phone with me everywhere, even if I just "pop in for a few seconds." I highly recommend that you do the same.
Other than that -- and a quick trip to see the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway Park -- I have been spending most of my time (and money) getting ready for the Fancy Food Show in N.Y.C., which occurs at the end of June. That's where I will debut my line of granola to the Specialty Food community: grocery chains, mom and pops, distributors, web retailers, health food stores. You name it, they are likely going to be at this show. All 25,000 of them. Hopefully, at least 24,999 of them will want to buy some of my stuff. That adds up to a lot of granola samples, a lot of ingredients with which one prepares said samples, and a whole heckuvalotta time in the kitchen.
In addition to having truckloads of samples to pass out, it is crucial that the Julie Anne's Granola booth, all 100 square feet of it, stands out. There are hundreds (thousands?) of booths crammed into two large rooms at the Javits center, so you really need to come up with a concept that sets your space apart. Here are the strategies to which we narrowed it down:
1. Tripping people as they walk by
2. Doing it up "Vegas Style", complete with strobe lights, an Elvis impersonator, and scantily clad pole dancers. We could probably even get Carrot Top to show up. I see that guy everywhere.
3. Showcasing the product with some great photos, bright colors, and a booth that really appeals to all of the senses and ties in with the brand. I know, this one is totally vague and corporate-sounding, but you know it's the one that we went with.
I was very fortunate to discover Brian Brown Photography through a friend. I was looking for a photographer who could do something unique and conceptual, not a posed Glamour Shot of me holding the bag of granola in one hand and giving the thumbs-up sign with the other. With the help of his phenomenal stylist Christie Moeller, he came up with the idea of "farmer's market campy", kind of a "Hee-Haw meets Oklahoma Barbie meets Ellie Mae" theme, which would showcase the use of whole ingredients and the four flavor profiles of the granola. I trusted them, so I just went with it.
The photo shoot itself was a completely new experience for me. Thank goodness that I wasn't alone. My good friend Melissa, who also used to work for me when I owned a store, recently joined me in my quest for conquering the world one bag of granola at a time. She has been a huge asset in helping me to get things done and coming up with new ideas. Fortunately, she always dresses like she is dressed in the referenced photos, so we just raided her closet for our wardrobe, which saved some cash. Kidding, I'm just kidding. She only dresses like that on the weekends.
Everyone was great on the team that Brian put together. Christie was oh-so-tolerant of my annoying "I don't like that outfit because my butt looks big so can we try something else?" tendencies. She picked out some perfect combinations for the theme, although Melissa and I drew some attention walking through the Wetlands Park on our way to the site of the shoot in the middle of a bunch of reeds. Well, maybe not. This is Vegas, after all. Anyhow, I will never look at gingham the same way again. Our hair and makeup was done by the talented Miss Zee Clemente, which was a real treat since I am a complete disaster if I ever attempt to do my own. In my next life, I want my name to be Zee. I think that you get an automatic "cool" social standing if you have a name as awesome as Zee.
And let's give it up for Brian and his retouching skills! I'm a big fan of retouching. Not that I needed much.... Stop laughing. O.K. I needed some.
Anyhow, the new photos, which you are getting a sneak preview of here, are tying in with our upcoming new website, new promotional materials, etc., etc., yadda, yadda, yadda. All of that stuff, and a bushel-and-a-peck full of other things, is the reason why I have been too busy to blog.
Today's recipe was inspired by two things: First, how could the bright and vibrant colors of the berries in the photo shoot NOT make you want to create something bursting with juicy berry goodness? Second, while shopping at my favorite restaurant supply store the other day, I happened upon pounds of Plugra butter for a mere $2.69. READ MY LIPS: Plugra. Butter. Two - Sixty - Nine. For those of you who are not butter snobs, your average 16-ounces of inimitable Plugra runs upwards of $6 at Whole Foods. So yes, I walked out of Restaurant Depot with 100 pounds of oats, 20 pounds of cranberries, and a case of honey (for the granola).......and about 12 pounds of Plugra (for me.)
Now, a recipe is only worthy of Plugra-esque butter if it truly showcases the quality, and flaky breakfast pastries are perfect for this sort of thing. Since I am (obviously) a bit short on time these days, I didn't want to deal with rising dough, excess kneading, braiding, blah, blah, blah. Scones are one of those things that, providing you have the right basic recipe, are minimally time consuming but maximally (is that a word?) rewarding. Here are my extra tips for making these berry-filled, buttery scones:
- As opposed to dividing the dough in half and preparing two separate batches of scones (strawberry and mixed-berry), you can simply do one batch of "triple-berry" scones.
- The unbaked scone dough can be refrigerated or frozen until ready to bake. Form the dough into the disk(s) and double-wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. The scone dough can be frozen for up to one week and refrigerated for one day. Thaw the frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before continuing.
- I do not recommend using frozen berries for this recipe, as they might add extra moisture to the dough and result in soggy scones.
- Feel free to substitute orange zest and orange juice for the lemon zest/juice in the dough and glaze recipes.
Mixed Berry Scones with Meyer Lemon Glaze
Makes 16 Scones
4 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 pound cold butter, cubed
1 cup mixed fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 cup hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
1 1/3 cups cold buttermilk
1 large egg mixed with 2 tablespoons milk (egg wash)
For the glaze
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Pulse the mixture several times to combine.
Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse the processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Divide this mixture in half and transfer each half to a medium bowl. Add the berries to one bowl and toss to coat. Add the strawberries to the other bowl and toss to coat.
And 2/3 cup of buttermilk to each bowl, mixing until just combined and the dough begins to stick together.
Turn the dough with the berries onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a round about 1-inch thick. Cut the round into 8 wedges and transfer the wedges to one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat the process with the dough containing the strawberries. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.
Bake the scones for 22-28 minutes, switching positions of the baking sheets halfway through, until they are golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Prepare the glaze: In a medium microwaveable bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and the lemon juice. Add the lemon zest and the butter. Microwave the mixture in thirty second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the butter has melted.
Spoon the glaze over the warm scones. Allow the glaze to set and serve immediately.