Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ginger Lemon Scones

I have been making these scones for about ten years.  When I was in my last two years of college I lived with my Aunt Lisa and Uncle Tilman, and in addition to recipes for parmesan broiled fennel, spicy tomato-stewed cod, and the phenomona of eggy-brekky (on Uncle Tilman's mother Hanna's fine china on Sundays and birthdays), one of the best recipes I acquired was my Aunt Lisa's variation on a Gourmet magazine recipe for scones.  I have since added my own variations, making everything from tropical fruit scones to cranberry almond and so on.  If you've lived with me or near me, worked with me, or otherwise endeared yourself to me before mid-morning, you've likely had these scones.

Today we're having a broker open house to help sell our condo, and I thought I'd make these scones to help make the place smell yummy and otherwise charm potential buyer-agents.  I got up earlier than expected, so I had time to jot this down while the scones cool. I once set about to make these and didn't have a lemon, but did have a lime, and those turned out quite nicely as well.  You can use any sort of candied ginger, but the best is freshly candied slices of ginger you can dice up yourself.  But that can sometimes be hard to find (checking an Asian grocery is usually helpful), but I have had acceptable results with supermarket pre-diced candied ginger.  Just buy only what you need and if it feels like rock candy, don't use it.  The key to the tenderness in these scones is minimal handling.  This is a pastry, not bread.  Be careful to not overknead.  
The scones are moist and tender enough to serve on their own, but if you want to gild the lily, serve with jam or butter (I put out some cherry preserves with these).

For scones:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup finely diced candied ginger
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk (don't use skim, but 1% works just great, but whole milk makes a decadent scone, and if you have it, use it)
For glaze:
  • juice of lemon
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • Mix together flour, baking powder and salt with a fork in a big bowl
  • Using fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture, making the mixture crumbly
  • Toss in candied ginger, lemon zest and sugar
  • Pour in milk and mix gently with fork/hands until just incorporated into a single ball
  • Turn out onto a board
  • Cut dough into two and gently pat each section into a six-inch diameter circle
  • Cut each circle into 8 wedges
  • Place wedges about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet
  • Dissolve the 2 TBS sugar into the lemon juice, and brush atop scones
  • Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes, until golden, but not brown.
  • Remove from pan immediately and place on a cooling rack under a tea towel for 15 minutes before serving

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saucy Lady Barbecue Sauce

For a while I have been wanting to make a house barbecue sauce with one of Matt's beers, and we are very pleased with this sauce. It's debut will be at a friend's barbecue this weekend. Now unless you are able to procure some of Matt's Lady in Red Irish Red, you won't be able to completely recreate this sauce. However, if you select a red ale that is malty, caramelly, a little nutty and not hoppy, you can get a close approximation. I also used honey from my Aunt Lisa and Uncle Tilman's bees, so you probably can't get that either, so just pick a good quality wildflower honey. If you don't make chicken stock at home, then use store bought, but make absolutely sure that it is as low sodium as possible.

This sauce is tangy, sweet, smoky, with a hint of mole flavor and just the right amount of spicy heat. If you don't want the spicy part, omit the ancho chile, and halve the amount of cayenne, but don't omit cayenne entirely. Also, I prefer a thick barbecue sauce, but if you prefer a thinner sauce, simply simmer for a shorter time.

The ingredient list is lengthy, and I suggest that before starting to cook, excepting the first 8 ingredients, measure all of the wet ingredients into one container and all of the dry ingredients into another.

Since there is sugar and honey in the sauce, don't marinate anything in this sauce, for once you put it on a grill, it will burn before your meat is cooked. It is for brushing on in the last minute of grilling, or as a condiment on cooked meats and vegetables. You can also heat a little in a saucepan, add shredded cooked chicken, then pile it onto a toasted bun for a quick, tasty dinner. The sauce will keep about a month in the fridge, tightly sealed, and you can also freeze it.

Makes about 1 quart.

  • 12 ounces Lady in Red Irish Red beer
  • 3 TBS chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • 1 Ancho Chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 tsp liquid smoke
  • 3 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 TBS Lukas honey
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 TBS dry mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 ½ tsp mexican oregano
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp ground chipotle
  • 3 TBS cocoa
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Put oil into 4 qt. pot, heat over medium-low heat.
  • Add onion, salt and black pepper, cook stirring regularly until onion softens.
  • Stir in garlic, cook for about a minute.
  • Pour in the beer, bring to a boil and boil for one minute.
  • Add the ancho chile, ketchup and all remaining wet ingredients, dry ingredients and bay leaf.
  • Stir until smooth (excepting for the chile and bay leaf)
  • Bring sauce to a low simmer.
  • After simmering for 5 minutes, remove ancho chile.
  • Continue to simmer sauce, stirring from time to time for an hour or hour and a half, until thickened to desired consistency.
  • Strain sauce through fine mesh strainer