Certain weeks, this week for example, I struggle to post even once. I’m typically not confounded by the culinary piece (although I can get frustrated when a day-long recipe results in an inedible flop), but by this part – the header, the “intro”, the story behind the recipe. Often, I’ve cooked (and eaten) my creation days, if not weeks, before I hit upon a header for the recipe, if ever. Many dishes never make it to publication.
Last night, “D” and I were batting around fictional “intro” ideas for these scones (baked last Sunday) that included a faux picnic featuring these scones at last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert (à la Sunset Magazine) and another story involving Jared Kushner, Russia meetings and his desire for sweet scones vs. savory.
Unfortunately, in my world, the truth behind the recipe is never that compelling.
I baked these savory scones for no other reason than I wanted kitchen time. The flavor combination idea (a classic) resulted from watching a rerun of The Great British Baking Show. Originally, I was imagining a yeasty swirl bread, loaded with a filling of bacon-cheesy goodness when I hit upon the idea of scones instead. Using my favorite sweet scone recipe as a base, I decreased the sugar, swapped sweet ingredients for savory and, voila – buttery, savory scones.
Granted, the Kushner-Russia connection would have been more interesting.
I’ve taken my favorite American scone recipe and turned it savory and loaded with flavor. With three sticks of butter in the dough, no additional butter is needed on these babies.
8 strips bacon, cubed
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 ¼ cup buttermilk, divided
1 whole egg
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add green onions to bacon grease in pan and sauté until softened. Add onions to bacon and cool both. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until butter is pea-sized.
In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup buttermilk. Beat in whole egg until well combined. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and gently combine with your hands until dough barely comes together. Add bacon, green onion, and cheddar and gently combine. The secret to flaky scones is not to overwork the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into two disks about 1 ½ inches high. Cut each disk into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheets. Brush scones with remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes until scone are golden brown. These scones are best served slightly warm.
You’d have to live under a rock (or a one-blink town in the Southwest) not to know its Pumpkin Spice Latte time again. Even I, who spend most days under said rock, know its #PSL season. I’m not a Starbucks fan; I have my reasons, but I AM a fan of pumpkin and spice. So, I’m jumping on the pumpkin spice bandwagon with these autumnal pancakes.
If you don’t have time to make the apples, these pancakes are just as good smothered with honey butter. You can substitute 1 ½ teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for the various spices.
2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
1 ¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon allspice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla
APPLES: In a pan, melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in water. Add apple slices and cook for 5 minutes covered until softened. Remove lid and continued cooking until sauce is reduced by half. Sauce should be the consistency of watered-down maple syrup. Remove from heat, cover again and set aside.
PANCAKES: In a measuring cup, add vinegar to milk and set aside (This makes a faux buttermilk). In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and allspice. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree, egg, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and milk mixture. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together. Don’t over-mix.
Use a 1/3 cup to pour batter onto a griddle over medium-low heat. Cook until each pancake is spotted with bubbles and edges appear dry. Flip over and continue cooking until bottom is lightly brown.
I didn’t buy an Inn. If you Google a town’s name and the only images that pop up are of the town’s one and only attraction, beware. Either the town is unapologetically un-photogenic or it doesn’t exist. In this case, it was the later. Mind you, the locationexists – I stayed there, but there’s no town – just a short stretch of houses lining a country road. I’m looking for a small-town rural Inn, not no-town rural.
I’m content with the outcome. This trip helped me clarify what I don’t want, I’ve also lost my Inn-assessing virginity, and I enjoyed a short mini-vacation in the beautiful southwest.
During this short trip, I stayed at two separate B&Bs and both places managed to serve a version of green chile egg casserole…the ubiquitous Southwest breakfast of champions. There’s a lot of recipes already out there – all very similar. This is my version using Hatch green chilies:
I cook my puff a little longer ensuring a crisp crust along the sides and bottom.
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
⅓ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
4 oz. can Hatch green chilies (I used the “Hot” version, but they also have a “Mild” version for those who don’t like spice)
1 cup full-fat cottage cheese
4 cups Jack/Colby cheese (grate yourself, do not use pre-shredded)
Salsa, sour cream, or guacamole (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush the inside of four large ramekins with some of the butter and set the ramekins on a sheet pan.
In a small bowl, combine flour baking powder, salt and white pepper.
In a larger bowl, beat the eggs well; add green chilies and juice, cottage cheese, and remaining butter. Stir well to combine. Add flour mixture and gently stir until flour is incorporated. Fold in most of the cheese, leaving a bit to sprinkle on top.
Pour mixture equally in ramekins and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes until well puffed and browned. Don’t be alarmed if the big, beautiful, highly-domed puff collapses slightly once removed from the oven. Serve with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
9:30 p.m.: I’m ravenous for a snack, but I really must eat healthy for a change. Damn, I need to grocery shop – there isn’t a healthy morsel in the house. Oh wait, is that canned tuna way back in the cupboard? Tuna is healthy – all those Omega 3’s. I could whip up an easy tuna salad. Yawn, plain tuna salad bores me. Perhaps a tuna salad sandwich instead? Ugh, I’ve run out of bread. No matter, I can bake a quick white loaf. Flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar…oh wait, here’s a bag of plump raisins. Forget the white loaf; I should make cinnamon raisin bread instead! Yum!
11:30 p.m.: Mmm…there’s nothing better than thickly-sliced toasted cinnamon raisin bread slathered in melted salted butter. Healthy what?!
1 cup very warm water (115⁰ – 120⁰ – this is warmer than normal yeast activation temperature)
3 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
1 cup raisins, soaked in hot water to soften and drained
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) or white sugar
In the bowl of the mixer, add two cups of bread flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, yeast, and salt (yeast and salt should not touch as salt can retard yeast activation). Add water and 2 Tablespoons melted butter and combine on low to medium speed. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour until the dough is moist by not sticky (you may not need to add the entire cup). Knead for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 450⁰. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Combine remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Punch the dough down. Place the dough between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-inch square. Brush the dough with the remaining Tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and drained raisins. Lightly press raisins into dough.
Roll up dough, jellyroll style, pinching the ends closed. Place the dough in the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
Brush beaten egg over top of loaf, sprinkle with salt and turbinado sugar. Bake in 450⁰ oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350⁰ and continue baking for about 30 minutes more. If the top of the loaf is brown, cover with foil until loaf is fully cooked. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a rack. Slice, toast, slather with butter, and push the guilt away until tomorrow.
The annual nectarine onslaught has begun again and, in fact, the prolific bounty has already managed to snap two branches with the weight. Harvest time is brief with pounds upon pounds of sweet fruit ready all at once. I want to rescue each juicy orb from Newton’s law, plucking them from the tree before they fall, but each morning I find a dozen plump globes bruised and broken upon the ground, their potential wasted. In my efforts to salvage the masses in the past, I’ve bubbled large caldrons of steamy nectarine jam, resulting in three dozen jars “put up.” One can only eat so much jam, however, and most of it remains languishing in the cupboard. I’ve also undertaken a raft of baked goods, but it’s a losing battle – a recipe requires a pound or two of fruit, while I’m picking a few pounds each DAY. I’ve tried freezing the fruit, but that resulted in mushy brown thawed blobs. I picked the first fat, ripe nectarines this week, preparing them with a drizzle of butter, sprinkle of sugar, and quick broil. I know I can’t save them all, but over the next few weeks, I’m willing to try.