Friday, April 29, 2011

Instead, I'm just making a batch of scones and watching it on TiVo

If Mom were around, she'd be all over this wedding.  Constantly reminding me of my British heritage and childhood connection to the lovebirds across the pond.   The dress, the cake, whether Oprah is going, the carriage, the Queen's hat:  all would be subjects for her in-depth analysis and running commentary.    Should they have children right away?  Is a normal home life possible in a castle?  What lessons could they learn from Al and Tipper?  Will she wind up like Diana, the victim of those awful media people?   Is a tiara appropriate when children are being hurled into tornadoes in Alabama?  She'd be tuned in while seeming to sleep, lying on the couch, enjoying the wall-to-wall coverage and waiting to share tidbits with my sister on the phone, and with me as I tried to get the kids out the door in the morning*.

Royal weddings apparently hurt worse than Mother's Day.  Note to self.

Buttermilk Scones with Spicy Roasted Strawberry Jam
I had these scones at a recent book group meeting, and I barely made it home before I was begging for the recipe via email.  They are, by a mile, the best I have ever had. And you know, since I'm British, I should know from scones.    Then, in a strangely fortuitous development, I discovered a new blog today, and right there, front and center, was this amazing recipe for roasted strawberries.  Honestly, Mom's working her tail off up there so I do wind up celebrating these occasions in style.  Thanks, Mom.

Buttermilk Scones
from The Foster's Market Cookbook, via Lisa, our gracious book club hostess.

4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 c. chocolate chips, dried fruit, candied ginger or nuts, optional
Zest of one lemon or one orange, optional, depending on what other stuff you may be adding
1 1/4 c., plus 2 Tbs. buttermilk
Egg wash:  1 large egg, beaten lightly with 2 Tbs. milk
Coarse sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400.  Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats and set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together in a large bowl, or pulse to combine in a food processor.   Add the butter, and cut in with a pastry blender or two forks, if using a bowl, or pulse about 10-12 times if using the food processor.  Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.   If using food processor, transfer to a large bowl for the next part.

Stir in any of your optional add ins at this point.

Add 1 1/4 c. of the buttermilk, and mix with a wooden spoon just until combine and the dough begins to stick together.  Add remaining buttermilk, a teaspoon at a time, if the dough seems too dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll or pat into two six inch rounds, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut each round in half with a sharp knife, then cut each half into three triangular wedges and place on the baking sheets. (Or, pat the whole thing out and cut with biscuit cutter, as I did)

Brush the tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with a little coarse sugar.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (if you made wedges) or 20-25 minutes (if you made smaller circles), until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Roasted Strawberry Jam
In perusing the blogs that were nominated as favorites this year by Saveur Magazine, I discovered Eat The Love, and stopped short when I saw this recipe.  Lo and behold, I had exactly two pounds of fresh strawberries just sitting in my fridge.   How does she do that?  The original recipe keeps the strawberries whole with their sauce, and suggests spooning over ice cream or right into your mouth.  I chose to puree mine into a delectable spread for the scones.  Either way, this is truly fit for a king.**

2 lbs. fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced into 1 inch (or smaller) pieces
1 vanilla bean
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar (can use lemon juice or another acid of your choice)
2 Tbs. red wine (use a big bold one...I used a glorious red dessert wine)
1/2 tsp. fresh, finely ground mixed peppercorns
1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick.

Preheat oven to 275.

Place strawberries into a medium mixing bowl.  Split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife, and carefully scrape the seeds into the bowl with the strawberries and stir.  Toss the bean into the bowl, too, along with the remaining ingredients.

Stir one more time, then turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet, scraping well to get all of those luscious juices, and making sure to spread the strawberries out into one even layer.

Roast in the oven for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so to keep the strawberries and juices from sticking.  The strawberries are done when they are softened, darkly colored, and a little dry on top, and juices have thickened.

You can cool, store and use as is, or, transfer the entire pan contents to a blender or food processor.   Process/blend for a minute or two, until smooth.  Taste it...the balsamic and the wine combined with the intense strawberry flavor and the spice from the cinnamon, vanilla and peppercorn are so rich and complex that you may find yourself wanting to have a steak dinner to go with it.  Scones will do in a pinch.

* We would have had a laugh about this photo.  And Mom would have LOVED the dress.

** God, I hate that I even wrote that down.  But I may never get another chance for that trite food descriptor to be so very apt!

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