Tuesday, April 21, 2015

savory little scones

Are savory little scones just biscuits?

I got my mitts on a spectacularly delicious cheddar and spinach scone that was somehow left unsold at the market a few weeks ago. When I warmed it up for breakfast the next morning, I was amazed at the transformation the heat brought out in it. I thought of nothing else for days whilst conjuring up my weekly cooking plan (which almost always involves cheese). I pondered the cheese counter at the market and decided on one of my favorite cheeses, Fontina Val d'Aosta.
I've used  Fontina in scones before and it was great in a frittata I made recently. I usually just smash a big hunk into a chunk of fresh baguette or melt it onto a slice of baguette with a big pinch of sweet Italian sausage smashed down on it and baked for 10 minutes for quick toasties. This is the real Italian Fontina, not that red wax coated, rubbery, bland, Danish doppelganger one finds at the supermarket.
Fontina Val d'Aosta is a classic Italian cheese made in Northern Italy. It's a raw, washed rind cow's milk cheese. It's a stinky cheese. I love stinky cheese.  It's texture and flavor depends on how long it has been aged. It can be semi-soft to firm and the flavor can be mild and rich or more robust and intense as it ages. Raw milk cheeses are lovely because the flavor enhancing bacteria hasn't been heated out of it. The washed rind adds even more complex flavors.
The Fontina we get at the market is just the right balance. It's got a great funk and a smooth buttery paste. It's pale cream in color and riddled with tiny eyes. The 45% fat content makes it super rich and creamy.
My first attempt, these crazy good scones, many, many moons ago set me on a course of savory scone nirvana. Yet, I google-thon'd, searching for a recipe for a basic savory scone dough using buttermilk ('cuz that's what I needed to use up) and I came upon this one at The Kitchn.
If there's anyone out there who actually reads this blog, you may be familiar with my Three Amigos, my go-to home made condiments: caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and slooowwww roasted tomatoes. These guys, added to my favorite food in the world~ cheese....well it's a battle for the  starring role in any of these killer savory scones: caramelized onions & blue cheese, chives & goat cheese, cheddar & jalepenos and these:

Roasted Tomato, Fontina, & Dill Scones
adapted from The Kitchn

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup frozen unsalted butter cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup Fontina Val d'Aosta, grated
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 egg lightly beaten

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients. Scatter the frozen butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. Add the cheese, buttermilk, tomatoes and herbs. Pulse until everything is just combined. The dough will be pretty shaggy but hold together when pinched between your fingers.
Spread a large sheet of parchment paper over a work surface and turn the dough onto it. Using a bench scraper and working the dough as little as possible, shape, press and flatten the dough into either a 1 1/2 inch thick round, if you want larger scones or a 1 1/2 inch thick rectangle, if you will be making mini scones.
Slide the parchment onto a sheet pan and chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Slice the round into 8 wedges, or the rectangle into 2 inch strips then 2 inch squares then slice each square diagonally across to form little wedges.
Return the wedges to the parchment/sheet pan with some space in between each piece. Cover the pan with a sheet of plastic wrap and return to the freezer for at least another 30 minutes or until you're ready to bake them. If you're planning to freeze any of the unbaked scones, continue to freeze for a minimum of 1 hour total. Remove the frozen scones from the sheet pan and transfer into a freezer bag removing as much air as possible. Place the bag inside a second freezer bag and remove air.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Place the scones on a parchment lined sheet pan. In a small bowl,  beat the egg with a fork. Brush each scone with egg. Sprinkle with pinches of maldon sea salt (I added fresh za'atar-a Middle Eastern herb blend- to finish these off) and bake for 15 minutes until golden, rotating the sheet pan half way through. Let the sheet pan rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and transfer the scones directly onto the rack to continue cooling. Serve them while they're still a little warm. Uneaten scones can be left to cool completely and then stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. I'm laughing because what is peeking out of your bookshelf is pretty much in mine! We had to build cabinets in the garage for my cookbooks! This is so up my alley! Now I just need to source that cheese. We live in a suburb built on what was recently a carrot farm, so you can imagine we don't have many high end food shops. Thanks for this!