Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Scones

Today I thought it would be nice to try some savory scones for a change. Actually, I felt it was something I should do, not necessarily something I wanted to do. Can you sense a certain lack of enthusiasm? I do, after all, simply adore sweet or at least semi-sweet scones. But returning to the source of my inspiration, Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café, I decided to try my own adaptation of her savory variation, Chile-Cheese-Corn Scones. Everyone has things in their refrigerator that they consider staples. For us, those include feta cheese and Kalamata olives (much more affordable now that both come in nearly quart-sized containers at Costco, which must mean other people also include them in the things they can't live without). We also have a lot of rosemary growing in the back yard, and so, this morning, we had Greek Scones, a rather delightful cross-cultural collaboration, I think.
Greek Scones (makes 9)
Non-stick spray
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (fine-ground, not polenta)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 large egg
1 cup (packed) crumbled feta
1/3 cup rough-chopped pitted Kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it and a 1/3 cup measuring cup with non-stick spray.
     Place flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and rosemary in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; process briefly to combine.
     Cut butter into thin slices and distribute them over the top of the dry mixture. Pulse several times until butter is uniformly cut into dry mixture so it resembles a coarse meal.
     Pour the buttermilk into a 2-cup liquid measure and beat the egg into it. With the food processor running, pour buttermilk mixture through feed tube into the dough, then the olives and feta. Turn off the processor as soon as it all comes together (just a couple or few seconds - you don't want the olives and feta to lose all their identity).
     Remove the food processor blade and scrape any dough on it back into the bowl. Using the sprayed 1/3 cup measure, scoop out blobs of dough and drop onto prepared baking sheet, a few inches apart. I got 9; if you want bigger scones, you won't get so many and you'll need to bake them a little longer. I think these are the perfect size.
     Bake in the center or lower 1/3 of the oven for 20 - 22 minutes, or until little golden brown spots appear all over. Cool on a rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

I've found all these scones (including those I posted last week) keep quite well for a few days, so I'm looking forward to having one of these for lunch with a nice bowl of gazpacho when I go back to work. As you can guess, I've revised my opinion: savory scones can be absolutely delightful!

A few words about ingredients:

  • I don't always pay much attention to whether I use salted or unsalted butter, but in this case, because the feta and olives are so salty, I recommend making sure the butter isn't. 
  • And 3 tablespoons may seem like a lot of sugar - I was concerned about that myself - but it's actually just right; it seems to somehow balance and heighten the other flavors. 
  • Rosemary is one of my very favorite herbs, but it wasn't always. When I was growing up in Idaho, where it can get very cold, no one grows rosemary in the yard, so all we had available was dried rosemary, which in my opinion is worse than none at all. I suppose you could grind it in a coffee grinder, as we do some other spices and herbs, but if you just chop it or, worse, use the leaves whole, they never really soften up and are unpleasant in the mouth, no matter how much flavor they may add. They can even pose a choking hazard. I think 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. of dried dill would be an acceptable substitute (or 1 T. fresh) because although it won't taste the same, it is used a lot in Greek cooking and should be delicious with the feta and olives.

I hope if you try this recipe, you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Now if only I knew how to say "Bon appétit!" in Greek!

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