Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ham and Cheddar Scones

I am on to you, Kim Rizk. I am all over your scheme like white on rice. You put a bunch of mouth-watering, down home recipes in your folksy little cookbook, and get everybody all charmed and relaxed. "Awww," they think. "This is just like being at the Hay Day Country Market! And now I can recreate those charming breads in my very own home. I won’t even have to go there anymore!"

But then, in the confines of the home kitchen, something goes horribly awry. Rizk – culinary evil genius – has left out a key detail, meaning that the recipe will, in some way, be screwed up.

The unsupsecting chef -- crestfallen -- is then forced to go to the Hay Day market and buy what s/he tried to make at home.

Evidence? A non-snappy lemon snap. Fantastic bread thrown off by a bit too much salt. And now, instructions to place scone dough -- filled with cheese -- on an ungreased baking sheet. Sticking ensues.

Brilliant, Rizk. But since the Hay Day has been long swallowed up by Balducci's, all your subterfuge is for naught. Crime doesn’t pay, baby.

About the scones: the flavor, as usual, is delicious. The texture is moister and more dense than a traditional scone, thanks to the ham and cheese. Its crumb is tender. As for taste, the ham and cheddar take center stage, complimenting each other nicely. Then, at the end of your bite, there’s a subtle cayenne kick. It’s good stuff.

I made these to accompany dinner, but they’d make a very nice breakfast as well. (In fact, were my breakfast.)

Sticking to the baking sheet, however, is unacceptable.

So damn you, Kim Rizk. Damn you to hell.

Ham and Cheddar Scones

2 cups flour
2 tsp. Sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. cayenne
6 Tbsp, unsalted butter, chilled
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. baked ham, diced
1 egg
Scant 2/3 c. milk plus 2 Tbsp. more for glaze

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cayenne together in a large bowl or food processor. Cut ht butter into several pieces and add them to the dry ingredient. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives or the food processor*, work in the butter until the bits are no larger than small grains of rice. Transfer to a large bowl*, add the cheese and ham and toss, separating any clumps of cheese that form.

Whisk the egg and 2/3 cup milk together in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until the dry ingredients are moistened and a soft dough forms (the dough should be slightly tacky and crumbly). With lightly floured hands, gather the dough together. Using the palm of you hand, press it out onto a parchment lined baking sheet** to form an 8 inch round.

For crisp edges, use a long, sharp knife to divine the round into 8 pieces and pull the edges apart. For tender edges, leave the round intact and simply score the division with the knife. Brush with 2 tbsp milk and bake until lightly browned and nearly doubled in size, 18-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp.

*I mixed everything in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. -– LR
**Make sure you don’t follow the cookbook directions – as I did – and just slap the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet or piece of aluminum foil. --LR

Grade: A


Lis said...

Ohhh this is twice today that you've made my stomach growl! Those look fanf*ckintastic! I would like one right now, dammit!! Question for you though.. how are you finding all this time for baking when you are moving soon? Are you wonder woman?? hehehe

Acme Instant Food said...

Not only does Miss L.R. find time to do baking, baking, baking, but she finds time to photograph, critique, and produce informative and entertaining posts. I'm beginning to suspect that she either A) is lying about her identity and is a sullen, frigid spinster who is friendless, jobless, and has nothing but time on her hands, or B) she is one of those people who takes her kids A.D.D. meds, or C) She really is Wonder Woman.

I suspect that the answer is "C" with perhaps a tiny, tiny sprinkling of "B" thrown in (kidding).

Thanks again for the amusing and appetizing post.

Laura Rebecca said...

Sadly, the answer is A and B, only I steal Ritalin from neighborhood kids.

Laura Rebecca said...

And packing? I'm sort of hoping it will magically happen on its own.

Anonymous said...

No ... damn you, Laura Rebecca!

For now you have made me crave ham and cheddar scones ... stickiness and all!

You are an evil temptress!

Laura Rebecca said...

Ivonne: Hello, pot. This is kettle. You are black.