This is a favorite recipe from our archives. Enjoy!
There are few baked treats I love more than a scone hot from the oven. They’re light, fluffy, flaky, and completely irresistible. Unfortunately, I’m too often faced with the generic, coffeehouse variety: stale, heavy, and hard as a brick. But I don’t blame them – the truth is that even the best scone is only good the same day. Day-old scones can be rescued with a brief stint in a toaster oven, but it’s still not the same…and after that, it’s best to use them for doorstops instead of breakfast.
So, I’ve found a solution: baking my own. Don’t panic — this is easily one of the simplest, never-fail recipes in my file. My go-to recipe is from the queen of all things baked, the Barefoot Contessa. The whole process (including rolling and cutting) takes about 10 minutes, and the dividends are utterly delicious. If you’re hosting an Easter brunch this weekend, I can promise these are a favorite your guests will adore. Best of all, they freeze brilliantly, so you can either make them ahead for a party (as I often do) or bake one to go with your coffee and newspaper every Sunday morning.
Weekend Scones – (barely) adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
What You Need:
4 c. flour
2T baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
3 sticks (3/4 lb.) unsalted butter, diced
1 c. (1/2 pint) heavy cream
3/4 c. dried fruit, mixed with 1T flour – I love raisins, currants or dried cherries, but anything is great. Just chop larger dried fruits into raisin-sized chunks before coating in flour.
1T lemon zest (optional, but delicious).
1 egg blended with 1T water (egg wash) and sanding sugar or raw sugar, to top
How To Make:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 deg. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest (if using) in the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix lightly to blend. Add diced butter, and turn mixer on low, letting it work until the butter has broken down to about the size of peas, and the mixture starts to look sandy (2-3 mins). Meanwhile, combine eggs and cream in a bowl, whisk to combine. When the flour/butter mixture is ready, add egg/cream mixture all at once – the mixture will come together almost instantly. Add in dried fruit and mix just until incorporated. Do. Not. Overmix.
2. This is a very sticky dough, so be sure your counter is well-floured before dumping the mixture out. Pull the mixture together on the counter, then roll (or really, you can just pat) to about 3/4 to 1 inch thickness (though I sometimes go as thin as 1/2 inch to get more scones from the recipe). Cut using a square cutter (my favorite is a 4-inch fluted square I bought in Paris(!), but any will work) or a round biscuit cutter. If you use a square, cut each square into triangles before baking, so that they’re pretty. Re-roll scraps, but no more than once, to preserve tenderness.
3. For the scones you want to bake immediately, place on a parchment-covered baking sheet, top with egg wash and sanding sugar (you can use table sugar, but I love the crunch from the sanding sugar). For the rest, place onto a cutting board or cookie sheet and put in freezer until hard, then transfer to storage bag until you’re ready to use. Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes (15-18 minutes if you roll thinner, or aren’t baking a full batch at once), until scones are a deep golden brown on top – underdone scones are not good eats.
Serve with your favorite jam, some lemon curd, or a bit of unsweetened heavy cream, whipped just past stiff peaks, but just short of butter.
Depending on the size cutter and the thickness of the scones, you’ll get anywhere from 15 to 25 scones from this recipe. Enjoy!
We love our round dining room table. It’s warm and friendly and lends itself to easy conversation. One thing dilemma it causes us though: what kind of placemat to use. Square ones just don’t work — they leave too much space and look sloppy. Circles are better, but not perfect. In the past, we’ve customized placemats ourselves cutting out odd shapes that fit exactly. Now we have found the perfect solution: Chilewich’s oval placements, bright egg-shaped backdrops for your dishes. And, they’re new spring colors are especially vibrant. It’s nice to see one of our favorite brands pushing away from their safety zone of neutrals. Don’t these turquoise ones look gorgeous against the bright orange Eames chair? Perfect for the modern chic dining room –with every day ease and cleanup! For more info and to see other colors, visit Chilewich.com
More Chilewich on Shelterrific:
Hello fellow movie lovers! We have one week to go until our big night of the year. Sadly, this year I have to work on Oscar night — though I can assure you that tracking stylish arrivals and covering the night’s fun is not exactly “work.” But it means I won’t be able to host my own party. Perhaps some of you will pick up my torch and throw your own. Remember, your DVR is your secret weapon to fun, fun, fun! Let me know how you will be celebrating on the 24th.
There are few things I look forward to more than the Academy Awards. I’ve been celebrating them for years in both high and low ways. I’ve rented hotel suites and made customized cocktails (I recall a “Babe” martini with a pink grapefruit rind tail). I’ve been to viewing parties where no one paid attention, and I’ve been to viewing parties hosted by Elton John. Yes, I’ve even been to the Academy Awards themselves, albeit in the nose-bleeds, the last year they were held at the gorgeous Dorthy Chandler Pavilion. My current mode for Oscar night is what I like to call “cozy red carpet.” Comfort food, good friends, and fuzzy slippers. Best of all, I have discovered the secret tool needed to having a truly fun Oscar night party: a DVR. Here’s how it works:
Forget the ballots, go for live betting. Rather than have all your invitees fill out ballots before the show begins, engage in live betting throughout the night. We give out ballots for reference only, so people can keep their own score on what’s been unveiled and what’s to come.
Record the show and start watching it late. Nothing brings down an Oscar party more than too many commercial breaks. Record the Oscars but don’t watch them live — at least not a first. Don’t worry, you’ll catch up as the night goes on. This way you can dive right in and fast forward through the dull parts.
No cell phones allowed. Because you’re not watching the show exactly live, don’t let cheaters check twitter or text messages that may be revealing the winners before you’ve seen them. Make reasonable exceptions for moms worried about babysitters.
Pause the show right before the envelopes are opened. This is the fun part. Just as Natalie Portman is fumbling to get that envelope for best actor open, hit pause. At that moment, instruct everyone to write down who they think is going to win that award only. Hit play.
Reward everyone who got it right. We like to give out little toys as tokens. Your guests can take them home, so everyone is a winner.
Winner takes all! At the end of the night, the person with the most tokens, wins the pool! (We got zoo animals and gnomes from orientaltrading.com.)
The day after the awards last year, everyone was grumbling about how long the show was, and how dull it was — that is, everyone but us. We all had a such a blast placing live bets throughout the night that the three plus hours fly by.
Of course the other important component to a good academy awards night is the menu. My menu for Sunday is still being debated, but right now I’m eying spiced popcorn, mini quiches, bite-sized pulled pork sandwiches, some kind of chocolate pots. I also am on the hunt for the perfect cocktail to make by the pitcher.
What about you? Are you planning anything special for Oscar night this Sunday?
A few weeks ago, we hosted a Halloween-themed party at our place. I was determined to do something inventive with a pumpkin and when I spotted this recipe in Food Network magazine, I had to give it a try. It looked so cheesy and delicious, I knew that if I could pull it off, it’d be a party hit. To make this dip, you have to first make the queso in a pan on the stove, then pour it into a scooped out pumpkin to bake for about an hour. Advance planning is needed. The hardest thing, I realized, was finding the right sized pumpkins. After I made my dip, I poured it into a pumpkin that was much too large. Luckily, I had two smaller ones handy and was able to make a quick switcheroo. The nice thing about having two small pumpkins is that I served one at a time, and reheating number two mid-way through the party was a breeze. It was great to have some cheesy hotness halfway through the night. I also made my recipe slightly less meaty, by using a vegan-based chorizo substitute that we get at Whole Foods. To make it truly vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable stock.
Here’s my take on Pumpkin Queso Fundido
What you need:
2 1-to-2-pound sugar pumpkins
8 ounces chorizo (or veggie) sausage
1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds for less heat), chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 cups shredded mozzarella or Oaxaca cheese
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
Tortilla chips, for serving
How to make:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice off the tops 1 1/2 of the pumpkins and discard. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.
2. Heat the chorizo or veggie version in a medium pot over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until browning begins. Add the jalapeno, green chiles, cumin and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the jalapeno softens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the flour is slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken or veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cheeses. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and the mixture is creamy, about 3 more minutes.
Place the pumpkin in a small baking dish and fill the pumpkin with the cheese mixture. Add 1 inch of boiling water to the baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 more minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips and watch it disappear.
Note: The best part is when you get near the end, and scoop up the baked pumpkin flesh along with the dip. Extra yum!
If you’re just getting around to planning a party on Halloween, don’t fret. You can send one of these gorgeous e-vitations by John Derian on Paperless Post. With a beautiful turn-of-the-century vibe, they feature antique inspired drawings of skeletons, owls, bats, vultures, ravens and other creatures that look like they stepped right out of a Poe short story. Because these are so lush — complete with envelope, themed liner and personalized invitation — they are not free. At about .50 cents an invite, they are worth it to make an impact. Plus, Paperless Post makes it easy to keep track of who’s coming and who’s not. The only pressure is to create a party that’s spooky cool as your invite!