Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sweet Corn Scottish Scones: "I don't even know who you are any more"

I burned my mouth on Thursday night.

I didn't realize it until last night when I took my first bite of my restorative quinoa supper. The delicate kernels -- normally an unobtrusive intruder on my palate -- grated against the scorched roof of my mouth like unsanded pebbles.

"What the..." I thought, initially perplexed by how I'd possibly managed to burn myself. Dark chocolate, wine and quinoa salads (my default diet) are usually not hot commodities.

As I reached for a second contemplative bite, it all started to compute. Scenes from the previous evening began replaying in my mind in that slow-motiony, foggy flashbacky way.

The lamb burger
. The beer.

The second beer.

The proposition from well-meaning friends: "We're going to Beer Belly after."

The decision to join.

The third beer.

And then the order of fried artichoke chips with rosemary aioli.

"So good," we had said as we stampeded through the steaming thins of artichoke.

I'd spotted a large chunk of fried heart and went for it, greedily plunging it into the subtly herbaceous mayonnaise before lunging it into my mouth.

"Hot!" I'd half-shouted, waving my hands up and down as if the motion would somehow cool down the freshly fried vegetable that was searing my gums.

"Drink beer!" She'd half-shouted back, and I'd nodded, clasping my hands around my glass of Lady Face Blind Ambition like it was a fire extinguisher.

A couple desperate gulps later, I'd wiped my lips and exhaled with relief. The pain had passed. Feeling had once again been restored to my tongue. I'd taken another sip of beer and turned to my friend.

"I want to order the fried Oreos next," I'd announced.

She, the girl I've known since sophomore year of college, had stared at me in shock.

"I don't even know who you are any more," She'd said. "But, I like it!"

And in the moment, I did too.

Until I woke up yesterday morning.

As I lamely ran through the streets of West Hollywood, my eyes blurry with exhaustion, I cursed the three beers, lamb burger, fried artichoke chips, fried cornbread stuffed with okra, and fried Oreos with nutella and vanilla ice cream. I felt moderately better after the cleansing run, a large pot of Jasmine tea and a light breakfast of Greek yogurt and blueberries, but by mid-day I could barely keep my head up. The five hours of sleep, the rich food and the heavy beers were delivering a swift blow to my system.

I stumbled around Whole Foods, nearly collapsing when I bent down to scoop up a week's supply of quinoa (code #5887) from the bulk bins. I lugged the bag with me to the register, scarcely cognizant that I was leaving the mothership without stocking up on extra firm tofu, chickpeas and Greek yogurt.

I'd gone too far. Indulged too much. Taken too many strides outside my cozy comfort zone of crisp Sauvignon blancs, braised kale and whole grains.

And I had the burnt mouth and blood shot eyes to prove it.

These sweet corn scones, Molly Wizenberg's scones retinkered a little bit, don't take things too far. They push the boundaries without dissolving them. They keep things interesting without keeping things too interesting.

In other words, eating them does not lead to delirious stumbling through Whole Foods. Nor does it cause one to cement themselves to the couch for the next 24 waking hours.

I don't think.

Smeared with honey, the scones take on a biscuit-like personality and flavor, but still maintain the integrity of their sconeness courtesy of the lighter, less-leaden crumb. Even with the flare from the corn, they are, at their essence, still scones.

Completely recognizable.

And completely delicious.

Sweet Corn Scottish Scones
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life
Makes 8 scones

For Corn Filling
1-2 ears of yellow sweet corn, shucked from the cob (approximately 1 cup)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons butter

½ cup half and half (plus additional for glazing)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ stick unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Honey, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and let it melt across the the pan just until it stops bubbling. Toss in the corn, brown sugar and a good shake of salt, and saute until corn is tender (approximately 2-3 minutes). Remove corn from the pan and let come to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. Put the bowl in the fridge for a good ten minutes while you let the corn cool and prepare the rest of the ingredients. (Like with a good pie crust, the key to a tender, delicate scone is keeping the butter as cold as possible.)

Pour ½ cup half-and-half into a small bowl or measuring cup and add the egg. Beat with a fork to mix well. Set aside.

Remove the bowl from the fridge, and add the sugar, corn and lemon zest. Whisk to incorporate.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and stir gently to just combine. The dough will look dry and shaggy, and there may be some incorporated flour at the bottom of the bowl. Using your hands, squeeze and press the dough into a rough mass and return it to the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up again.

Turn the dough, and any excess flour, out onto a lightly floured board or countertop, and press and gather and knead it until it just comes together. Do not knead the dough more than 12 times…you don’t want to overwork it. As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a rough circle about 1 inch thick. Cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Pour a splash of half-and-half into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the scones with a thin coat to glaze.

Bake 12-16 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer them to wire rack to cool slightly, and serve warm with honey.


the actor's diet said...

i've been feeling a little food-ed out lately too. luckily there's so much delicious produce to help with the hangovers...

Ashley said...

I'm sorry but I'm not sorry about your burned mouth. Because it resulted in this story that I treasure. Overboard? Nope. My friend drinks beer now. YES.

Gastronomer said...

(code #5887) ---> LOL!!

You're the same 'ol crazy Diana that I've always known.

Apex Maize said...

Thanks for your Sweet Corn Scottish Scones - Recipe. It is a really health food.

Monet said...

You are such a talented writer. I was smiling from start to finish. After a long day at work, it was refreshing to come and visit your blog. I hope you are having a good start to your week. Much love and many hugs from Austin! Thank you for sharing your creative concoctions with me.

The Book Florist said...

You have a very jaunty and loveable story-telling style. It was a pleasure to read, and very cute.

I must admit that I'm not entirely happy with what I ate about a week ago, either, and I assure you, it wasn't at all as exotic and wonderful sounding as fried artichoke chips and rosemary aioli. That actually sounds like it would be delicious. I've not been hugely intrepid in my tastes. Mushrooms, asparageous and tuna are probably the extent of the foods my friends label "weird", and they're pretty normal, too.

Anyway, your scones sound fantastic, and I am very tempted to give them a go, even after just seeing the picture. Take care.

bagnatic said...

that looks really good diana. i love corn...and in scones?! wowzers!

Diana said...

Lynn - For real! I've been gorging on summer produce lately - stone fruits, squash, corn... can't get enough! And it always makes me feel better post-splurge.

Ashley - Hahaha. AND watches the Kardashians! I may be turning into you.

Cathy - And don't you forget it!

Monet - Thank you so much for your kind words! They always brighten my day! :) Hope everything is well with you!

The Book Florist - Tuna and mushrooms and asparagus would have been wildly adventurous for me a few years ago! All three of those items are actually new favorites for me -- I was horribly picky up until basically I graduated college. I didn't even eat eggs before I was 21! Completely absurd, no? Anyway, thank you so much for your sweet note and for stopping by! Please let me know if you try the scones!

Amy - Thanks! I was excited about them! And also excited that I still have a few stashed away in my freezer for sconemergencies! ;)