Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Savory Broccoli, Cheddar & Sausage Scones
One of my favourite things about cooking is taking a look in the fridge and using up what I have on hand to make a meal, snack or baked good. Others may find it challenging, but I get a thrill out of it. Some of the best things that come out of the little green kitchen are creative takes on leftovers or ingredients almost (but not quite) off. The whole mantra "waste not, want not" is key in my household, and also the smart title of Cinda Chavich's new cookbook. Cinda is an award-winning freelance journalist specializing in food, wine and travel writing. She's also penned 6 other cookbooks including my favourites High Plains and The Girl Can't Cook. I had the pleasure of cooking for her on this adventure three years ago, where we bonded over pecan pie and prairie sky. A wonderful lady. And she knows food. Her recipes are creative and inspiring, and her latest cookbook offering is that and much more.
Food waste is a global issue. In North America alone more than 40% of food is tossed in the garbage. Throwing away food is like throwing away a bunch of hard-earned cash. Money in the trash is pretty sucky, as is the environmental aspect of dealing with all of that rotting food. Cinda's new cookbook is a fantastic resource to look through when you have bits and pieces of ingredients or leftovers in your fridge and you don't know what to do with, but don't want to throw away. There is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables section, focusing on everything from apples to zucchini. I love it when things are alphabetized! There's loads of useful info here: buying, storing, tips and tricks, as well as a few inspiring recipes for each fresh fruit or veg. The Staples section is fun, too. Bacon, bread, cheese, nuts, yogurt. All these things we have on hand, that maybe we overstocked and need to use up in a timely fashion. Lastly there is the Weekly Feast section, which shows you how to cook once and use that leftover protein in new, creative ways so you don't get tired of eating the same thing a few days in a row. We've all been there, right? Waste Not, Want Not is a wonderfully written cookbook I'll no doubt use time and time again. The asparagus page alone has me excited. Spring Pasta with Asparagus and Prawns? Yes, please. Crispy Inside Out Grilled Cheese has my name on it, as does the recipe for Peach Kuchen. These are recipes you make make your own, interpret however you like with what you have on hand. No peaches, make plum or apple kuchen instead! With Cinda's book on your shelf, you'll save money, not shop as much and eat delicious meals all while being a little more gentle on our planet. I like the sounds of that.
Like I said earlier, I love using up bits and bobs in the fridge. As it turned out, I had almost everything on hand for Cinda's savory scone recipe: cooked broccoli, a little bit of cooked sausage leftover from breakfast, and a tub of sour cream I bought on sale and needed to use up soon. I always have aged white cheddar on hand, but I suspect any cheese would do. Me being without cheese in the house is like the planet being without oxygen. It just doesn't happen. These are light, flaky and substantial scones that would be great for mornings when you need a quick grab and go breakfast. They'd also be welcome on lazy weekend mornings too, with just a pot of coffee and the day ahead of you. Those are my favourite kind of mornings.
This scone recipe is one of the "mother recipes" in the book you can make your own. Substitute almost any cooked veg for the broccoli - grilled peppers, roasted squash, caramelized onions, cooked greens are just a few ideas. Bacon was in the original recipe but I used sausage; diced ham would also work. Right now the only usable thing in my garden is chives, so I snipped some of those and stirred them in along with thyme and shredded white cheddar. Cinda calls for buttermilk or half and half, but I mixed sour cream with half and half and I think it was a good call. It was also what I had on hand. Excellent!
You can roll the scone dough out and cut into circles or you can roll into a circle and cut about halfway through into triangles. I added about 10 minutes on to the baking time by doing this, but I like the rustic appeal they bring to the table.
Cheesy, buttery, and terribly tender they also made my house smell glorious thanks to the aromatics of the chives, thyme and sausage. The scone I nibbled on disappeared quickly, with just a few smatterings of crumbs left to tease the cats. From now on, I'm going to turn all my leftover veg into scones. Thanks Cinda, for another excellent cookbook full of inspiration and information. I have a feeling its pages will be stained and dog eared in no time. Well done.
Savory Broccoli, Cheddar & Sausage Scones
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes (if using salted butter, use only 1/2 tsp salt)
1/2 cup chopped, cooked broccoli
1/2 cup diced, cooked sausage (or bacon)
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme (basil, oregano, dill are other options), chopped
1 cup grated aged cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup half and half OR 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
poppy seeds for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl (or food processor) combine flours, baking powder, salt and butter. Cut in butter (or pulse) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl, if using food processor.
Stir in the broccoli, sausage, herbs and cheese. Add just enough liquid to make a soft dough, stirring with a spoon until mixture comes together. Don't work it too much. Less handling equals flakier scones. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter top and knead gently. Pat into a circle about 2 inches thick and cut out with 3 inch cookie cutter, or use a sharp knife and cut halfway through into triangles, and bake the circle whole, as in the photos above. Brush with a little cream and sprinkle with poppy seeds. If baking individually, bake for 20-25 minutes. If baking into triangles, bake for 30-35 minutes. Tops should be golden. Recipe adapted from The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook, by Cinda Chavich.