Sunday, July 1, 2012
Bon Voyage: Berry & Basil Cream Scones
As you read this, I am probably flying over Canada, wracking my brain to see if I forgot the essential contact lenses, bathing suit, passport, cell phone charger and volume-boosting shampoo. My destination is Windsor, Ontario where I'll visit one of my oldest friends in the whole world - Miss Stacylee. She and I met almost twenty years ago in a studio art classroom at Concordia University in Montréal. Bonding over 90210, Duran Duran, Woody Allen and Earl Grey tea (okay, we drank more than tea, but that's for another post, another time) we soon became kindred spirits and though we are separated by one massive country, I carry her heart with mine. Seeing the face of an old friend at the arrivals gate is one of the best things ever and on July 1 there will be lots of happy tears and hugs. Stacy has a pool, a well-stocked liquor cabinet, and two of the cutest little boys ever. The eldest is giving up his bed for me. I wonder if I'll be sleeping on Spider Man sheets?
I intentionally booked my flight for Canada Day, thinking it would be kinda cool and almost patriotic to fly across this country on its birthday. I'm full of shmaltz, in case you hadn't noticed. Given that the flight is going to take forever (I have to fly backwards to Calgary, then wait for a few hours, then get a direct flight to Windsor) and the snacks will be few and far between, I'm prepping to take a few nibbles with me, cuz I'm cheap like that. Scones are great to eat while running on a few hours sleep (I have to be up at 3:30 am!) and these are jam-packed with healthy berries so I just ignore the butter and cream and think of them purely as health food.
I recently picked up some Seabuckthorn berries from the Saskatoon farmer's market, and while they pack a lovely tropical punch they also are a perfect match with the sweet sweet strawberry. Basil? Basil in scones? I hear what you are thinking. Don't be scared, this whole combo is ahmazing grace. Tart and sweet and aromatic, you want these to nosh on while you wait for a flight, or host a summertime brunch, or need a bedtime snack. Yes, sometimes I bake at twilight, and this has always made my mom scratch her head in wonder and confusion. But today I baked these bright and early, just for you, as a little going away gift. I'll check in again, whilst on holiday, reporting of such adventures like crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit (my American friends I am coming to your country and I'm so excited!!!) and I'll give you the low-down on all of the ice cream we've made and margaritas we've imbibed. Oh! And there will be a stop in Toronto for a few days, seeing Chelsey and Josee and Sonia too. More old friends, more food and more good times for my heart to memorize. It's going to be grand.
Berry and Basil Cream Scones
Of course you an use any berry you like, not just the ones I used in this recipe. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, even cherries would be lovely. I love the sprinkling of coarse sugar; it gives a wonderful texture to the scone.
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup Seabuckthorn berries (or other berries you like)
1 cup of chopped strawberries or berries you like - frozen are fine too.
5 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
coarse sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 425*F.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse meal. Leave some butter pea-size. Stir in the berries and basil, then gently stir in the cream. Incorporate into a dough, but don't overwork it. Scoop out onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a circle, about 3/4 inch thick. You can now use a knife and cut into 12 wedges, or use a cookie cutter and cut into circles, reworking dough until it is used up. Place on parchment lined bake sheets and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes. Makes about 12 scones. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.