Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Scones

Another great breakfast, brunch or snack recipe to share...  This was my very first scone baking experience and I must say they are surprisingly simple, fast, and delicious.  Scones are essentially lightly sweetened biscuits as far as how they are made.  You can jazz them up with your favorite flavors or mix-ins.  I particularly loved the tangy-sweet lemon glaze on these.  This is a Tyler Florence Recipe courtesy of 
Makes somewhere between 10 and 24 scones depending on your shape/size preference


2 cups flour (I used white-wheat)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, COLD, cut into small chunks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the cubed butter and work into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or two forks.  A pastry cutter makes this super easy- I highly reccomend you pick one up at Walmart for $3 if you don't have one.

Once the butter has been cut up into tiny pieces and incorporated- you're done.  The mixture should resemble course sand.  Next gently fold in the blueberries with a spoon- taking care not to mash them up much or you'll have purple scones. 

Lastly- make a well in the center and add the heavy cream.  Stir gently to combine.  Turn the dough out onto a clean countertop or cutting board dusted with flour and form the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick x 2-3 inches wide. 

At this point you can use a dough scraper or large knife to cut the scone into any shape you like.  I made 3 x 3 inch squares and then cut them in half at a diagonal to make mini triangles.  This is a bit tricky and I found I ended up slicing through the blueberries but as long as you use a large, sharp knife, its not too messy.

Note: You want to work fairly quickly- don't overhandle the dough. The key to super flaky scones is making sure the butter is still cold when they hit the oven.

Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with more heavy cream.  If you want to forego the glaze- a healthy dusting of raw or turninado sugar over the top would be a great alternative.

Bake the scones for 15-20 minues until lightly golden brown.  Meanwhile, you can prepare the glaze.

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon, zest finely grated

I did the glaze in the microwave but a double boiler works too.. Combine the all ingredients in a glass bowl and stir to combine.  Microwave for 30 seconds- then whisk again until smooth.  The glaze will thicken as it sits.  I have found that the thicker it is when you coat the scones- the better.  It should almost be difficult to spread over the top so it barely slides over the edges to coat the scone.  If its too thin- you'll lose most of it as it drains right off the sides.
Let the scones cool completely - at least 20-30 minutes - before glazing.  I set them on a cooling rack over a foil lined baking sheet to catch the run off glaze.  Yon can either dunk the tops right into the glaze or spoon the glaze over the scones- whichever you prefer. 

Let the scones set for 45 minutes or so for the glaze to harden.  I think these are best served the day of while the edges are still crisp and the insides light and fluffy.  Placing them in an airtight container caused them to soften a bit under the glaze.
These would be delicous with any fresh summer berry or substitute dried fruit year round.  Spice them up with cinnamon, nuts or even chocolate chips.

Spinach, Chicken Sausage and Cheese Strata

Brunch is one of my favorite ways to entertain.   It scales easily to feed any number of people, you can make it casual or fancy, you can prepare most items in advance and... its a great excuse to drink champagne early in the day.  I recently hosted a casual baby shower brunch for a group of ladies and the menu was as follows:

Spinach, Chicken Sausage and Gruyere Strata
Mini Brie, Almond, Apricot Tarts
Fresh Fruit
Lemon Blueberry Scones
Carrot Cake

I'll share some of the other recipes in subsequent posts however the main event was the strata which turned out great.  I love this strata recipe because you can make about a 100 different variations once you have the basic idea down and it can be assembled the night before.  You simply toss it in the oven an hour before your guests arrive.  This was inspired by  a recipe I found on a favorite food blog,

Ingredients:   serves 8

3  Chicken Italian Sausage links (I used sweet versus hot)
10-20 ounces of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I used closer to 20 I think)
3-4 cups of shredded cheese, I used a mix of Gruyere, Fontina and a bit of Parmesan
8 cups of cubed day old soft french bread
9  eggs
2 3/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon of dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon pf nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper

Remove the sausage from the casings and brown in a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat until golden and cooked through.  I break it up as best I can while its cooking but I find its easier to crumble it up even more once its fully cooked and cooled.

Butter/spray a 3 quart baking dish.  I like mine a bit thicker so I use a smaller/deeper dish.  Layer the bread, sausage, spinach and cheese in that order.  You'll have two layers of each and you'll end with a layer of toasty bubbly cheese on the top.

Next, whisk the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and pour evenly over the layers into the baking dish.  You can cover and refrigerate overnight at this point.  Its best to let it set for at least one hour before baking to ensure the bread soaks up all of the custard.

When ready to bake- leave the strata at room temperature for 30 minutes and then bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until puffy and golden brown on top.  Stick a knife in the center to ensure there is no liquid- this means its cooked all the way through.

Serve hot.  Can be reheated if need be but its best served immediately.

A few other flavor combinations:

- Andouille sausage, bell peppers and goat cheese
- Leeks, asparagus and wild mushrooms
- Bacon/lardons and gruyere
- Chorizo, roasted poblano peppers and cherry tomatoes and monterey jack
- Sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and basil (could add pancetta as well)
Consider adding your favorite fresh herbs to kick things up as well...

You can also make mini versions of this in larger ramekins/mini souffle dishes for a different spin on the presentation or if you have a need to bake them off at different times.