Tasty Recipes Through Trial and Error

Experimenting with cooking and baking is a great way to get creative and personal. Some recipes are perfect the way that they are, and it’s best not to mess with them too much. But sometimes I have an idea—a feeling that adding some more flour, or a certain spice will make something taste better. On other occasions, I need to cater to certain lifestyle choices such as veganism, or certain allergies which require me to toss aside my instincts and research new ways to make the dishes I love to serve.

 

Though I always try my best, these experiments don’t always go well. I have admittedly set food on fire, or created concoctions that looked and tasted more like witch’s brew rather than a savory sauce. Sometimes I need to try five or six times before I get something right. It’s worth the time and effort because I end up with something new to impress my friends, family, or coworkers.

 

Here are two altered recipes that I am proud of, including orange scones, and vegan hot wings.

 

My Famous Scones

 

One of my best friends and I have played with the idea of opening a bakery, with scones as the main attraction. “They’re so underrated,” we agree together as we eat the scones from one of my recent batches. I love a traditional scone, with its crumbled texture and dried fruit accents, but I wanted to try something new. I began with a basic scone recipe, and tried to find ways that I could improve it.

 

That’s when I started getting creative to make the kind of scone I knew my family and friends would love. To make the texture less dry I reduced the flour by a half a cup, and added a little bit more milk. I also made sure to use my hands to mix the dough, melting the butter just enough so the scones would be cakier.

 

Once I got the batter just right I started adding my own ingredients, such as blueberries or white chocolate chips, and began using seasonal fruits like oranges in the winter.

 

Every variation I have tried has ended up being tasty and adored.

 

These changes and additives work with almost any scone recipe, and can be used with any current recipes you might have. Below is my orange scone recipe, I hope you enjoy it, and experiment with it yourself!

 

Makes about 10-12 Large Scones

Ingredients

3-3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup of cold butter

10-11 tablespoons of milk

1 ½ teaspoons vinegar

3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

Glaze

1/3 milk

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.

 

  1. Grab two bowls. In the first bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Next cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or two butter knives, (either works, but I prefer the butter knives for precision). The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.

 

  1. In the second bowl whisk the lemon juice, milk, lemon zest, and vinegar together. Then pour into the dry mixture. Use your hands to mix the dough (if the dough appears too soft or sticky add the remaining ½ cup of flour, ¼ of a cup at a time, using your hands to knead).

 

  1. Pat the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and smooth out until it is about an inch thick. Then cut into 10 large scones, or about 20 mini scones.

 

  1. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until edges of the scones are slightly brown.

 

  1. While they bake, you can make the glaze. Mix together milk, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and orange juice, and set aside. When scones are completely cool either dip the tops of the scones in the glaze, or drizzle it over top. Let the glaze dry, and they are ready to eat!

 

The Vegan Wing Experiment

 

I was successful with my scone variations, but sometimes I don’t get it right the first, second, or even fifth time around. That was the case when I tried making vegan wings for the first time.

 

When my former roommate began her second year of college she decided to try Veganism. Though giving up dairy and other animal products was easy for her, she still had cravings. She kept thinking about spicy chicken wings, with the classic buffalo style sauce, so we decided to use an easy vegan cauliflower wing recipe. It didn’t go well.

 

I didn’t have a good feeling about the recipe. It seemed too simple. For example, it didn’t call for breading on the cauliflower, just a quick toss in flour and hot sauce. We then put the lightly coated wings on an ungreased cookie sheet as directed, and let them bake for 20 minutes. Excited to try our latest venture in vegan cooking, we let them cool for a minute, and tried to lift them gently off the tray. They didn’t budge. My friend and I looked each other, and laughed as we used two metal spatulas to scrape our disaster straight into the trash can.

 

We didn’t dare to taste them either, afraid of the pungent smell that stung our noses—a mix between rotten eggs and burned vegetation.

 

Though the first trial ended in a trip to the dumpster, I decided to try again on my own. I had some ideas of how to make them taste better. They needed breading, and I used plain bread crumbs, and decided to have some fun and create a unique flavor profile with my own concoction of spices including salt, pepper, cinnamon, smoked paprika, chili powder, and others.

 

I then melted vegan butter and mixed it with hot sauce. and rolled the breaded cauliflower florets in the mixture. I placed them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (to avoid another sticking disaster) and put them in the oven. When they were done, the sauce fused with the breadcrumbs to make an undesirable red paste.

 

During the next round, I decided to only bread the cauliflower with flour and the breadcrumb mixture. I put them in the oven and with fingers crossed, made the buffalo sauce to put aside for dipping. They tasted better, but the breading was falling off. I knew I needed an egg substitute to keep the breading on the cauliflower. Determined to get this recipe right, (at this point it was more about pride and less about making something tasty and vegan) I took to the internet and began researching egg substitutes.

 

I found a solution in ground flax mixed with a bit of water. The substance looked gray and uninviting, but it had the same slimy texture of egg that would make the breadcrumb stick perfectly onto the cauliflower. With the vegan butter and hot sauce mixture as a side, I finally got the recipe right. They were crisp and tender, almost like chicken, and I was proud of myself for figuring it out. After this challenge, I became much more confident in my abilities and knowledge of cooking, while giving my friend just the right snack to satisfy her craving.

 

Below is the current version of my cauliflower wing recipe. Feel free to experiment with it, I know I still am.

 

Vegan Cauliflower Wings
Serves 2-4

 

Ingredients

 

1/2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour

 

2 tablespoons ground flax

 

3/4 cup warm water

 

3-4 cups plain breadcrumbs (use panko style crumbs for crunchier texture)

 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

 

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

 

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets

 

Sauce

1/2 cup hot sauce (any that you prefer)

 

3 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

  1. Grab three medium to large bowls. In the first bowl, add the flour. In the second bowl, mix together the flax and water. The consistence should feel a bit slimy like thin egg whites (Make sure to mix from time to time as you add the cauliflower because the flax floats to the bottom) For the third bowl, add bread crumbs and all your spices.

 

  1. Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets, and wet them. Take about three to four at a time and toss them in flour to coat. Then place them in the chia mixture and toss to coat. Finally, toss them in the corn flake mixture. Spread them out on the parchment paper lined baking sheet so that they aren’t touching. Repeat until you have used up your cauliflower.

 

  1. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and crusty, and the cauliflower is tender all the way through. To test if they are done, pierce a floret with a fork or knife—it should go all the way through if it is tender.

 

 

  1. To make the buffalo sauce, mix the melted vegan butter with the hot sauce. You can pour it over the finished wings, but to keep them crispy, use the mixture as a dipping sauce.

 

I hope you enjoy these, please let me know how they tasted to you!!

 

Rachel C.

Rachel Cavotta is a recent graduate of West Chester University with a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in fine art. She is a writer and artist passionate about women’s rights, oil painting, and tea. In addition, she is currently working on a variety of short stories in multiple genres including memoir and fiction. Her work is heavily influenced by the incredible women in her life, and is excited to share some of their stories and wisdom with others. To connect with Rachel, visit her website https://rachelcavotta.wixsite.com/myportfolio or Twitter @r_cavotta.