Friday, March 23, 2018

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Kefir Whole Wheat Scones - The Kefir Cookbook

The last few weeks has been a flurry of food events here in NYC. I know, boo hoo #firstworldproblems. Last week I marched across town to The Butcher's Daughter to meet Julie Smolyansky, the CEO of Lifeway and the author of The Kefir Cookbook.

To be honest, I didn't know that much about kefir, only that it was a probiotic and that it was a healthy food. I was curious to learn more which is why I trudged crosstown.

First of all, the book is gorgeously photographed and packed with wonderful recipes like Pumpkin Beignets, Truffle Porcini and Pecorino Cheese Kefi Polenta and Farmer Cheese Arugula Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce. Some are her family's favorites and some are inspired by her travels and childhood memories. Many come with an anecdote. 

You will be surprised how you can cook with kefir, a healthy secret ingredient you can add to many dishes. 

Kefir is packed with 12 probiotic cultures. Its history and health benefits are fascinating. The story of Kefir reads like an international cloak and dagger historical thriller and the health benefits are fascinating and wide reaching. Not just for GI problems, research is being done on how probiotics can possibly help lots of other illnesses and conditions from autism to depression. 

What's also compelling is Julie's family story. Guts are in her DNA. From her Mechanical Engineer father risking jail to buy Beatles albums in the Soviet Union, to being one of the first 48 Soviet Jewish families to emigrate to the USA with only $116 in their pockets, to scrapping their way up working menial jobs to opening a chain of Russian delis, to her dad creating a kefir laboratory in the basement of their Chicago home using kefir grain smuggled in by relatives from Kiev which would eventually turn into Lifeway, the first company ever to be taken public by a Soviet immigrant. 

Guts would not make a very attractive family crest but it is surely her family's legacy. 

I need to mention Julie's beautiful mom who was at the event sitting quietly while Julie spoke. Arriving in the USA speaking no English, she was the one with the vision to open the delis and was the first person to import Nutella into the USA. She deserves a medal alone for that!

When I spoke to Julie at the book launch, she mentioned this scone recipe and I knew I was going to add it to my Easter Parade of dishes. Plus, after scanning the recipe at the party, I realized I already had all the ingredients except for the fresh raspberries and the kefir. The only change I made was to (attempt) to cut the scones into a cute bunny shape which required a bit of extra whole wheat flour for the cutter and the board. 

Whatever shape you decide to make out of them, the scones have a lovely flavor worthy of your holiday table. The tang of the raspberries and sweet deep flavor of bittersweet chocolate chips wrapped in whole wheat kefir goodness is the perfect not too sweet addition to your dessert table or to accompany holiday tea or coffee. They are also not dry at all, as most scone recipes can be. Julie confessed she makes a batch and keeps them with her for a power on the go snack.  

I was tempted to make a kefir/powdered sugar glaze for these scones but I held back. Unusual for over the top me, I know. Next time I will try it.  

Most mornings I mix up a power anti-oxidant packed smoothie for breakfast. My creation consists of frozen organic fruit, spring or filtered water, a pinch of stevia and a home mixed combination of the following powders, rose hip, moringa, chlorella, spirulina, maca, Indian ginseng, cacao, plus ground flax and chia seeds. 

I had leftover organic Lifeway Kefir from making this recipe. After more fully understanding the health benefits of kefir, I replaced the water in the smoothies with kefir and love the added flavor. Ima kefir convert! By the way, there are lots of recipes in the book for kefir smoothies and bowls. 

In addition to recipes, the book also offers tips on stocking your kitchen with superfoods and how to make a variety of flavored kefir cultured butter, labneh and ghee and many others. 

I highly recommend this book. It was educational, inspirational and packed with wonderful recipes. 

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Kefir 
Whole Wheat Scones 
Prep time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 12 minutes
Yield: 1 dozen

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar or 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup organic plain whole-milk kefir
  • 1/2 pint raspberries

  • Cut the butter into pea-sized pieces into a small bowl and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, and sugar in a separate bowl.
  • Add the cold butter pieces and use a wooden spoon to incorporate into the ingredients. 
  • Mix in the chocolate chips and then the kefir. 
  • When everything is combined, gently mix in the raspberries, crushing them gently. 
  • Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Use a tablespoon to measure out two scoops and form them into a ball in your hands. Flatten and place on the baking sheet. 
  • Alternately, you can sprinkle extra flour on the cutting board and use a cutter to create shapes. Make sure you dip the cutter into flour before cutting the dough. 
  • Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. 
  • Remove, transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before plating and serving. 

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