Archive for June, 2010

You go, grill

It’s way too hot outside (112 degrees F/44 degrees C — Can you believe it?), but we’re grilling anyway.

It’s typical, unsurprising fare. No pizzas on the grill or fish on Himalayan salt blocks, no paella or stuffed poblanos — nothing as adventurous as all that. We’ll get there, later.

For now it’s back to basics. And who can blame us when we’ve found the season’s first sweet, white corn? And when it’s been way too long since we’ve had a decent (salmon or beef) burger, fixed up a bit sloppy with layers of avocado and tomato and cheese? (See here for a little cheeseburger-in-Paris inspiration.)

Now, what are you grilling?


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Blueberry maple scones

I hadn’t wanted to go to too much trouble. What good is asking for trouble when all you really want to do is sleep?

But somehow I wound up here, with buttery dough crammed beneath my fingernails and pressed into my palms, a small stain of blueberry at the corner of my lip, not to mention the downright stickiness of maple camouflaged on the edge of my countertop and that insidious flurry of flour in places where flour shouldn’t go.

It’s sort of a blur, the kind of haze that’s more typical of a Saturday night than a bright Sunday morning.

I’d woken at 6 a.m. — far too early for a Sunday. I’d planned on a ritual sleeping in, because Sunday is pretty much the only morning I’m not up at 5. And as Saturday had involved the usual Saturday things — 60 miles of riding my bike + 3 loads of laundry + 1 birthday party — I was ready to sleep. And sleep.

Or not.

If I was up anyway, I figured I might as well do the domestic Sunday thing and prepare a solid Sunday breakfast. Something slightly more adventurous than the usual weekday oatmeal. Pancakes crossed my mind. And French toast. But I was tired, and, like I said, hardly in the mood for a mess.

I browsed a few cookbooks until my fingers fell upon a recipe for blueberry-maple scones. There I was in the dense quiet of the morning, no hustle of garbage trucks or landscaping crews, no rush of cars, just a couple of rowdy birds and the crackle of my sack of flour.

I weighed the flour and measured the copious baking powder and flaxmeal, then diced a cube of chilled butter. I tried mixing it all with the pastry blender, because even though the recipe said to use my hands, my heart wasn’t in it. And if your heart’s not in it, you definitely don’t want to get your hands dirty.

But the pastry blender wasn’t up to the task of achieving the necessary crumbly state, so I dug in with bare hands after all. I gave myself over to it, sifting with my fingers, the cold butter giving way under gentle pressure from my fingertips.

These things we do in our kitchens are hypnotic and enchanting, rightfully and necessarily. They work magic in more ways than the simple transformation of separate ingredients into cohesive dish.

Maybe I didn’t need sleep, after all. Maybe all I really needed was to make scones.

Blueberry Maple Scones (adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea)

3 1/2 C white whole-wheat flour

1 handful cornmeal

2 heaping tbsp baking powder

1 heaping tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange

1/2 C unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny dice

1 C blueberries, fresh or frozen

2 eggs

3 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar

1 1/4 C low-fat or whole milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with butter or cooking spray.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs. Mix in the zest and blueberries.

In a separate bowl, beat one of the eggs, then add the milk and the maple syrup. Make a well in the center of your flour mixture, then pour in the liquid and use a fork to work in the dry ingredients. Use your hands to complete the mixing, just until the the dry ingredients are incorporated — don’t overwork the dough. If it’s too dry, add more milk. Add more flour if the dough is too wet. It shouldn’t be sticky.

Prepare a lightly floured surface, then pat or roll the dough until it’s about 1 1/4 inches thick. Cut the dough into rounds using a 2-inch cutter or an inverted glass, then place the dough rounds onto the baking sheet so that they almost touch. Beat the remaining egg and use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of the scones.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden.


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