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.
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.
Thwarted again! The plan was to wrap up the scone bake-off this weekend with a final ginger scone recipe that, if I remember correctly, made a flavorful, but cake-like scone. Five zucchinis in my CSA basket pushed me in another unexpected direction. This is my “go to” zucchini bread recipe – either with or without the blueberries.
Zucchini Bread with Blueberries
Makes 2 loaves
½ t. plus ½ t.
3 c. plus 1 T.
2 ¼ c.
Chopped walnuts (optional)
Sugar or brown sugar
Place grated zucchini in colander, sprinkle with ½ t. salt and toss. Grease and flour two 8×4 loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make streusel topping by combining strudel ingredients and blending with fingers until pea-sized crumbs form.
Sift 3 c. flour, ½ t. salt, baking, soda, baking powder and spices in a bowl. Using mixer, beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla together. Add sifted ingredients to egg mixture and gently combine until flour is fully incorporated. Dust blueberries with 1 T. flour (helps blueberries from sinking to bottom). Wring as much liquid from zucchini as possible using a dry kitchen towel. Add zucchini, blueberries and walnuts to batter and stir until combined. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle with streusel.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
Each new school year, I was greeted with the inescapable “what I did over summer vacation” essay assignment. I often struggled with mine; the short answer being “nothing.” Writing a nihilist “NOTHING!” across a page may be arty, but my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Allison, would not approve. Perhaps that was part of the writing exercise – forcing students to uncover little nuggets of adventure within three months of doing almost nothing. Each year, the (anti)climax of my family’s summer was a road trip to Cedar City, UT – seven of us piled in the apple green, wood paneled station wagon. We stayed with an older couple, longtime family friends, and most days, dad and siblings would venture forth for a day of spelunking, hiking, and exploring. A susceptibility to car sickness relegated me to days with mom and Mrs. Heinz in the kitchen, eavesdropping as they chatted and cooked.
As an adult, I’ve found that this year’s summer vacation hasn’t changed much. I’ve spent the last 11 days pottering around the house spending a good deal of time in the kitchen, playing with a few different recipes. For example – this is my second attempt at a white-girl version of Pani Popo, Samoan coconut glazed pull-apart rolls. I could have made my own rolls, as I did the first time, but I decided on a shortcut – using frozen, pre-made rolls. The golden raisins are my addition and not traditional, making the finished bread taste like coconut bread pudding when warm. A friend had the brilliant idea of finely chopped macadamia nuts instead, similar to a not-so-sweet pecan roll. The nuts will most make an appearance on the next batch.
Makes 8 rolls
Golden raisins or finely chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
Frozen dinner rolls (soft, yeasty variety)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9” cake pan with butter and scatter with raisins or nuts, if using. Mix coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small bowl until combined. Place dinner rolls in the pan and let proof per package instructions. Pour coconut milk mixture over fully proofed rolls. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until rolls are fully cooked and a light golden brown. If tops are browning too quickly, cover with foil. Remove pan from oven and cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls out onto a serving platter so the coconut side is on top.
My-oh-my, I can’t believe it’s the end of week 11! I’m almost halfway through school already. Yes, I do believe I will survive – a much different outlook than I had just 11 short weeks ago. It’s been another good week – bread week.
We had a great time menu-tasting last weekend for the mock restaurant. I’ve come to realize what an undertaking this will be. Six different meatball flavors, three different dips and six b’stilla recipes – and we STILL didn’t come to a conclusion. The meatballs were best with mint, but I think I need to add egg for structure. I decided to combine preserved lemon and a green chili in the b’stilla, but now I want to try it with duck instead of chicken. Meatball and dip appetizer needs a flatbread as well. I’ve proposed a second tasting for this Sunday – soups. There aren’t many choices when it comes to Moroccan soups – it appears that lentils or chickpeas are the standard staple. Yawn! I’m considering bringing in a bit more of the Spanish influence with a white gazpacho made with almonds. I’ve got nine weeks to come up with the final choices.