Easy Spring Recipes

On Sunday I invited my friend Steph, who just returned from getting her visa sorted out, over for dinner. She's one of the few who did the same cycle of the pâtisserie program at LCB with me, and thus I suppose my oldest friend here in Paris. But I think of her more as the big sister I never had growing up. She's taken care of me - quite literally on several occasions - over the past months so I thought I'd attempt to return the favor. The problem was I don't really know how to cook.

I often joke that in college, where we had access to dining halls and private chefs, the most cooking I ever did was making sandwiches when the kitchen was closed. There's actually a lot more truth in there than I let on. And before that? I was spoiled by my parents' home cooking.

In retrospect Sunday was probably also the first time I've ever had anyone over for dinner. Even though I'm sure Steph would have been a gracious enough guest if the food were terrible, I decided that entertaining is not the time to be ambitious. And so, I present my simple, tasty, and reasonably healthy menu:

- Salad with red wine vinaigrette

- Penne with basil and mozzarella

- Sangria

- Strawberry shortcake (recipe below)

My mom often makes these scones at home, using a recipe that I believe originated from my grandmother. Fun fact: this is also one of the first recipes I remember my mom teaching me from a tattered index card in her old-school recipe box. My job was usually the kneading at the end, although I can't remember whether that's because she put me up to it or I just liked licking the sweet dough off my fingers afterward.

English Scones:

  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C milk

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter using two knives or a pastry cutter until it achieves the texture of coarse sand. Gradually add milk, mixing gently until soft, sticky dough forms.

Flour hands and lightly knead dough so that it holds together. Gently pat into a circle, and cut into wedges.

Place scones on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Best enjoyed with strawberries and sugar (mixed ahead of time to bring out the fruit juices), and topped with whipped cream.