01 May 2011

Someone's in the kitchen

I've not written much about cooking lately, though I continue to do just that, multiple times per day, multiple days per week.

I've made countless macaroni cheeses, vanilla cheesecake bars (simple and pretty excellent), soups and stews of all varieties, glazed ham for Easter, roasted chicken, grilled fish, tandooris...you get the idea.

One of my neighbors had the lovely idea to do a mother-daughter tea, ostensibly to watch the Royal Wedding, but really, I think, to do a mother-daughter tea, with hats and china and nice things to eat. And it was a fun event for which a number of us contributed goodies.

I, of course, volunteered to make scones. I made two types, an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned cream scone, as well as a slightly healthier cranberry-orange scone.

("Healthy" is relative. Both recipes contain butter and cream, but the cranberry-orange scone at least nods to health with the addition of white whole wheat flour and some dried fruit.)

I always tell people that if you can make a biscuit, you can make a scone, and the cream scone recipe really is a keeper. It whips up in about a half-hour, inclusive of baking, and it has a really nice cakey texture, but it's light and tender, not like the heavy bombs that usually pass for scones in US coffee houses (you know who you are). Although such classic scones are generally embellished with lemon curd (love!) or clotted cream or jam, this one actually has such a good flavor on its own that you can eat it plain.

Of course, it's rare that I make a recipe exactly as written, and in this case, I've made a lot of scones in my time, so I've found ways that I like to do things. The recipe calls for an egg wash before baking the scones, but instead, I brushed the scones with additional cream and sprinkled them with coarse sugar prior to baking. I've found that an egg wash often imparts an eggy flavor that can overwhelm the rest of the recipe, which is why I prefer the cream. I also left out the currants this time around. Rather than greasing the baking sheet, which can burn the bottoms of the scones at high temperature, I opted to line my pan with parchment paper.

Our lovely hostess made pretty tea sandwiches with pastel colored bread that she'd ordered from a bakery, and they were quite good: cream cheese with cucumber and chicken salad and egg. There were fresh strawberries and cookies and tiny tarts embellished with fresh raspberries alongside prettily iced cupcakes.

All in all, it was a very civilized way to spend a pretty spring afternoon.

Go listen to some good music: "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is a well-known folk song. Although I couldn't find specific attribution, Wikipedia had an interesting story about the song here. Naturally, one should take Wikipedia with a good bit of salt.

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