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.
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.
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.
Every morning at the cabin around 7 a.m., the landlords would hang a breakfast basket on a hook just outside the front door. The contents would change daily, but there was an overall theme – orange juice, fruit, some combination of granola or cereal with yogurt or milk, a homemade sweet pastry, and a homemade savory pastry.
I’d wake up and grab my basket from the hook, make myself a cup of coffee, rewarm the pastries in the oven, and then carry my repast to the flagstone patio. I’d spend the remainder of the morning watching the sun peek its head above the mountaintop while munching on my breakfast.
I made this granola upon my return to help ease me back into workday life and remind me of breakfast at the cabin.
Kougelhopf is a classic yeasted dessert bread from the Alsace Lorraine region of France.
Today, a friend’s granddaughter was born. This morning, someone drove his baby boy to the hospital to remove a brain tumor. This afternoon, a friend’s faithful companion died. Today, someone celebrated being alive. I knew I’d spend the day entrenched in my kitchen bomb shelter, under the pretext of baking, but truly hiding from life’s bittersweet highs and lows. I reserved this weekend to unclutter my brain – sorting and classifying – following a week of heady realizations. However, by 10:00 a.m., I opted to linger with my messy meditations and concentrate instead on distraction through less-weighty things. So, rather than tackle life’s complexities, I delight in the simple phenomenon of dry yeast: inert-looking sand that vigorously bounds to life with the coaxing of a sprinkling of sugar and warm milk, transforming flour and water into bread. Yeast bread can’t be rushed; its requirement for patient tending diverts my brain’s workings for a while.
This specialty from Alsace can be served for breakfast or tea, and is not very sweet.
½ cup raisins
¼ cup kirsch or brandy
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon
1 pkg. dry yeast
½ cup butter, softened + more for pan
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup almond flour
20 to 30 whole almonds
¼ cup candied orange peel, finely chopped**
Heat raisins in kirsch for 1 minute in microwave. Set aside.
Heat milk for 1 minute until milk is between 107 and 110 degrees. Stir in 1 T. of sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes.
In stand mixer, cream butter and remaining sugar. Add eggs, remaining milk, almond extract, and salt and mix well. Incorporate yeast mixture. Combine flour and almond flour and incorporate. Switch to a dough hook and mix for 5-7 minutes.
Cover dough with a dishcloth and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt pan. Place almonds at the bottom of the pan in a decorative pattern. I use a bit of butter to help them stay in place. Drain raisins and combine with orange peel. Work the raisins and peel into dough.
Spoon dough evenly into pan. Smooth dough, cover with dishcloth, and let rise again in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until dough is about an inch below the rim.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Invert, remove pan and dust with powdered sugar before serving.