Well here we are: Thanksgiving week. I had a grand post planned for you today but I’ve come down with my annual ‘could you come at a worse time?’ cold, so it’ll have to wait. Instead, we have something relatively short but sweet and perfect for those of you looking for a quick breakfast treat to whip up on Thanksgiving morning. These scones are from the Flour cookbook. You’ve heard me go on and on about Flour so I’ll spare you today. But the book is genius. Put it on your Christmas list. Pronto.
Now let’s talk scones. There are cream scone people and butter scone people. We can save ourselves a big debate at this very moment because I know you’ve got shopping to do, and I’ve got a suitcase to pack. And a camera to charge. And sunglasses to find. But let’s suffice it to say: cream scones tend to be softer and cakier (and usually a little flatter) while butter scones tread an interesting balance between hefty and flaky. They’re my absolute favorite, actually. Made with half butter and half buttermilk and creme fraiche, the cranberry orange scones I’m sharing with you today fall quietly and miraculously into both categories at the same time–the reason I’ve fallen so hard for them. They’re light and fluffy while still maintaining a nice exterior flakiness so characteristic of butter scones.
I’m off to New York tomorrow at the crack of dawn; I’m wishing you a most amazing, restful Thanksgiving with your family, significant other, pets, gaggle of friends, wailing toddlers, rowdy neighbors, or whomever and wherever you find yourself sharing the day. Thank you for joining me in my tiny corner of the Internet. I’m grateful for that. And for you. Happy Thanksgiving.
A Few Other Morning Recipes from the Archives:
Vanilla-Specked Scottish Scones
Yeasted Waffles with Pomegranate Syrup
Pumpkin Semolina Cake (while not a breakfast recipe, this is a stunner at any time of day)
Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins (experiment w/ fruit, adding apples or pears instead of berries)
Winter Morning Couscous
Mexican Hot Chocolate
While you may certainly use dried cranberries (or any other dried or fresh fruit of your choosing), use fresh cranberries here if you can; there’s more genuine flavor and a little tartness that compliments the zest of the orange and the slight hand of sugar really nicely. In her directions, Joanne bakes up the scones in one large circle and then cuts them after they’ve cooled. I prefer cutting and separating them straight away so the edges get crisp just like the top.
Adapted from: Flour
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar on low speed for 10 second until just combined. Add the orange zest and cranberries and mix another few seconds to combine.
Scatter the butter over the top of the mixed dry ingredients and beat on low for about 20-30 seconds, or until the butter is slightly broken down and nickel-sized pieces are still visible. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, creme fraiche, and whole egg until well mixed. On low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20-30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. It’s o.k. if there’s a little loose flour at the bottom of the bowl.
Gather and turn it over in the bowl so that it picks up all the loose flour. Dump dough onto a clean counter top and pat it into an 8-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Brush the egg yolk over the top of the circle and sprinkle sanding sugar across the top. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and lay each wedge out onto a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they’re golden brown on the top and around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. The scones taste best when eaten the same day, but are fine stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Winter Soups and Stews
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Last weekend it was so windy – apocalyptically stormy, you could say – that our tent at the farmers market was uprooted by gusts of wind that were not messing around. I wasn't there, but apparently despite being heavily weighted down and with four customers holding onto each corner, it quite literally blew down the block. Sam, from across town, was reporting trees falling on every block and traffic lights out across the city. The next morning on a walk with Oliver around Green Lake, we were met with that same biting wind and ended up retreating for a hot chocolate instead. 'Tis the season in Seattle: we all get a little giddy and ahead of ourselves when we spot the cherry blossoms and daffodils, and I always trick myself into thinking that with the start of daylight savings time, summer must be right around the corner. In truth, before we had Oliver, we'd often travel somewhere sunny for a little mood boost around this time of year. When I moved from California, many friends – other (empathetic) 'expats' now living in the Pacific Northwest – recommended this: if you know what's good for you, they'd all say, go find the sun in February or March, and we would follow that advice faaaaaithfully. But with a baby, this just isn't where our priorities are this year, and I've found myself relying on other antics like buying out of season strawberries, drinking white wine with dinner, buying a new pair of sandals that likely will not see the light of day for the next two months, and making big, colorful pots of feel good, springy soup. Let's not kid ourselves: Cherry blossoms or not, Seattle's no Palm Springs when it gets down to bathing in the sunlight. But if you step outside onto your little porch, smell the honeysuckle blooming, take notice of the longer, lighter days and think about how you simply can't wait to see your baby crawling around on the sand when it's warm enough to stroll down to the beach, it starts looking better in its own light.
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
One of the things I wanted to accomplish before really returning to work in earnest was to print some of our honeymoon photos and get them into an album. This project has taken far longer than expected as I find myself daydreaming about the craggy streets of Naples and meeting up with our friends Mataio and Jessica for a late night slice of pizza which we ate sitting on the sidewalk before embarking on an aimless but wonderful stroll of the city. There are photos of our balcony by the sea, most with tanned limbs, sandy sandals and a Campari and soda gracing the periphery of the frame. There was the little grocery store up the hill from our apartment on the Amalfi Coast that had the sweetest, tiniest strawberries and the best yogurt in little glass jars. Tomatoes drying in the sun, Aperol spritzes and salty peanuts before dinner at the bar across from the church square where all the neighborhood kids played kickball. As I sit here typing this now, photos remain scattered on my desk and it's likely they may not make it into the proper slots in the album anytime soon. Of course, they have me dreaming of sunshine and long days with little agenda, but they also have me thinking about the simplicity of our meals in Italy and how truly easy it was to eat well. Coincidentally, a few days ago Rachel Roddy's lusty new cookbook (can we call it lusty?!), My Kitchen in Rome, arrived at our doorstep. Clearly it was time to set the photos aside and get into the kitchen.
And suddenly, it's fall. I find that realization always comes not so much with the dates on the calendar as it does the leaves on the ground, the first crank of the heat in the morning, the dusky light on the way home from an evening run. Because we were gone on the train for nearly a week, I feel like fall happened here in Seattle during that very time. I left town eating tomatoes and corn and returned to find squashes and pumpkins in the market. It was that quick. And so, it only seemed fitting that I make this soup, one that has graced the fall table of each and every apartment (and now house) I've ever lived. In fact, I'm surprised that I hadn't yet made it for you here, and delighted to share it with you today.