Friday, February 20, 2015

Some simple scones

I planned on heating up some of the cauliflower soup (it either got better after sitting in the fridge overnight, or the tiny, judicious dose of Cholula chipotle sauce I added at the table improved it). Along with that and the orange and the club-soda-with-blackcurrant-squash I was having for dinner, I wanted something breadlike.

Not toast, I had that for breakfast. Not noodles.

So I decided to quick make something. And I hit upon drop scones. I had seen recipes for these various places and filed the idea away for some future time. I decided to do them tonight.

The first recipe I checked called for buttermilk and I didn't have any (and didn't feel like trying to sub yogurt and get the texture right, or acidulate milk with vinegar - I don't even have any "uncommited" lemons* at the moment)

(*I bought lemons this afternoon but need them for the dressing on the salad for Sunday)

But then I found one that just uses plain milk. It's in a book called "A World of Good Cooking" and is by Ethel Hulbert Renwick. This is a late-50s book I found at an antique shop. It's a pretty interesting book and is fun to look at - each section goes through a "main ingredient" (a meat, like lamb, in the meat chapter, or something like cabbage in the vegetable chapter) and then lists several simple recipes from different cultures - the usual ones like the European countries or China or Japan, but there are also a few recipes from various Caribbean islands and African nations.

It seems to me, from looking at my cookbook collection, that there was maybe a minor flowering of cooking in the US in the 50s and 60s. I know my mom talks about how, as a relatively new-married, she and my dad would do cooking together, and they did fun stuff like learn how to do some Indian cooking from a couple they knew from India, and Japanese food from my mom's Japanese labmate. And they had people over for dinner as a way of having fun - it was relatively inexpensive (at least, compared to going out to dinner) and I think it's actually easier to talk when you are in someone's house than at a restaurant, where the servers and people may be wanting you to finish up and leave so they can seat another party.

Anyway, here are the scones:

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch salt (I omitted this, figuring the soda had enough sodium)
1 teaspoon sugar

Beat the egg and milk together. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Heat a heavy skillet, frypan, or griddle to medium heat (or slightly less; you need these too cook through before the outside gets too done). Butter the griddle or pan well. Drop the scones from a large spoon (the quantity of batter should make about six). They should be kind of flattish, but not like pancakes. Cook about 4 minutes (maybe a little less) on each side - flip when the side is well-browned.  Split and butter.

These are quite good. They remind me of a cross between an English muffin and a biscuit, but the texture is definitely more like a biscuit (because English muffins are typically yeasted and these are not). But I think the texture is even softer and more tender than the typical baking-powder biscuit. I don't know if that's because of the way they are leavened, or the manner of cooking.

This would also be a good recipe for the summer because you don't have to heat up the oven to cook them.

Most drop scone recipes say they aren't that great leftover. We'll have to see, I had four left and am going to try one with breakfast tomorrow heated up.

I guess these are sort of a high-tea* or farmhouse-tea sort of thing: simple, filling food, quickly made.

(*A lot of Americans assume high tea means "the fancy kind" with all the little sandwiches and the fairy cakes. But high tea is actually a supper substitute and, from what I've read, is more common in Northern or rural Britain, and is sort of a working-man's meal - not elegant but filling. Often my suppers could probably be described as a sort of high tea, except I don't generally drink tea because the caffeine keeps me up)

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