“I said a bite, not half.” Sometimes my husband can be a pig.
“I, um, uh,” Brian kept chewing. “I actually like this.”
“So did I.” I turned, walked back into Amy’s Bread at Chelsea Markets at 15th Street. Before the Meat District became upscale, I worked just across the street in my family’s printing business. My family sold the building, and I went into food. Now I was happily back enjoying one of the great food districts in New York City.
In line at Amy’s, I decide that this time I would buy my own private damn scone, and I would not share it. I still can’t believe it: outside the man was eating cranberries and walnuts and rolled outs.
Scone in hand, my anger had subsided. I went back to him and checked for fever. He would not eat a healthy thing unless there was something wrong. Mild fever. I didn’t even bother with an aspirin.
There is nothing, nothing wrong with these absolutely wonderful sweet scones from Amy. I’m presenting the recipe as written in The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread. At home, I’ve baked my own and allowed my imagination to flow: instead of cranberries and walnuts I have used raisins and slivered almonds.
Amy emphasizes toasting the nuts before adding to the mix. That’s very important here. You need a strong nut flavor to compete with inherent taste of the oats.
Oat Scones with Cranberries and Walnuts
Yield: 12 large scones
- 1 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher slat
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, cold, in ½-inch dice
- 2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ⅞ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top
Position one rack in the top third of the oven, one rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400⁰F. Line the two 12 x 17 inch sheet pan with baking parchment.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the 2 flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and process them for 5 seconds, until they are just combined. Add the butter and process again for 10 top 15 seconds, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of tiny peas (if you don’t have a food processor, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl with wire whisk and cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives). The butter should be suspended in tiny granules throughout the flour, not rubbed into it to make a doubly mass. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the oats, cranberries, and walnuts until they are evenly distributed.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Remove ½ cup of this mixture and set it aside. Pour the remaining liquid over the dry ingredients and lightly and briefly stir them together, just until everything is barely moistened. It’s fine if there is a still a little bit of unmoistened flour in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t’ over mix or your scones will be heavy and doughy. This dough won’t be a single cohesive mass. It should look more like moistened clumps of flour and fruit.
Using your hands, drop free-form portions of dough about 3 ½ inches in diameter on the prepared baking sheets. Evenly space 6 scones on each sheet. Don’t try to press them down or squeeze them together — they should look like irregular mounds or clumps. Using a pastry brush, dab the reserved buttermilk/egg mixture generously all over the tops the scones and sprinkle them lightly with Turbinado sugar.
Place on pan on each oven rack and bake for 1 5minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375⁰F and rotate the pans from top to bottom. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the scones area deep golden brown on both the top and bottom. A toothpick inserted in the center of a scone should come out clean. Remove the scones from the pans to cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They’re best if eaten within 2 days. [That will not be a problem.]
Source: The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree<
Salt is one of the most potent, essential ingredients in cooking. Its ability to draw out and intensify flavor is unmatched. The book Salted: A manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral with Recipes provides a wealth of facts and ideas for all of us salt lovers.
Author Mark Bitterman is the “selmelier” of The Meadow, a salt store created by his wife Jennifer with branches in Portland and New York City. The store is a hoot, because you can go in and taste test their world-wide array of salts. There is amazing diversity in their salt collection and you are almost sure to leave with a few bags, all filled with sodium chloride, but all having bright and different flavors.
How those flavors are created, where they come from, what it all means — those are the topics of the book Salted. History, craft and science are all presented in a beautiful laid out book that will surely make you want to sample and experiment. Dozens of salt varieties from around the world are described and compared. The descriptions here are simply unparalleled.
Upscale gourmet stores now offer multiple varieties of salt but they really pale to the world view presented in Salted and available at The Meadow. Bitterman calls salt the “crown jewels of great food.” His passion is evident on every page.
And, there’s a bonus to Salted. Those recipes. This salmon is a perfect example. We’ve all had salmon. We know how it tastes. Even how it feels. So this recipe really surprised me with its very different taste and the feel to the mouth. The use of sesame and peppercorns, in abundance, creates a salmon flavor that I had never experienced before. And, cooking the salmon with that seedy layer on top of sesame oil results in a definite crust that you have to snap through before reaching the tender salmon body. The effect is very noticeable and a taste treat.
If you enjoy salmon, but seek a truly different spin, then grab your sesame seeds and some smoked salt.
Grilled Sesame Salmon with Cyprus Hardwood Smoked Flake Salt
Yield: serves 4 people
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns, green or pink or mixed
- ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 ¾ pounds wild salmon fillet (about 1 ¼ inches thick), pin bones and skin removed
- 7 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, preferably black sesame oil
- 4 two-finger pinches Cyprus hardwood smoked flake salt
- 2 sesame leaves, coarsely chopped, or 1 scallion, trimmed and finely sliced
Preheat a covered grill to medium heat (about 375°F).
Combine the black and white sesame seeds in a small bowl. Crush the peppercorns with the flat side of a broad knife, like a cleaver or a chef’s knife. Add the pepper and the ginger to the sesame seeds and stir to combine. Set aside.
Coat both sides of the salmon with 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil. Scatter the sesame seed mixture all over both sides of the salmon and press lightly into the flesh.
Brush the grill grate thoroughly with a wire brush to clean it, and coat it lightly with oil. Grill the fish for10 minutes with the lid down, turning halfway through, until the surface is crisp and browned and the flesh feels slightly spongy when pressed at its thickest spot. Gently pull apart the flesh at the thickest part; the centers should still be a translucent, darker pink. Transfer to a platter using a wide spatula.
Drizzle the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil over the fish and sprinkle with the salt. Scatter the chopped sesame leaves [or scallion] over the top and serve.
Source: Salted by Mark Bitterman