Tuesday, January 23, 2007

~January Cooking With Washington Wines~

January is one of those cold winter months when I love to bake and cook comfort foods. One of my favorite things to do on a dreary Saturday afternoon is bake hot fresh scones. At the stroke of four o'clock, those who are in the house are forced to stop what they are doing and join me for tea. Never had an argument, yet.

Believe it or not, scones are not only a tradition from England but also in the state of Washington. Scones were first introduced in 1915 at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. I am told that this recipe I adopted is similar to the popular Fisher scones that were created by the Seattle-based Fisher Flour Mills in the early 1900's. It later became known as the Fisher Famous Fair Scones. I found my recipe in one of the early Tacoma-based Jeff Smith cookbooks and have been using it now for over 15 years.

If you want to make it a high tea, then by all means bring out the sandwiches (don't forget to trim the crusts) of cucumber, smoked salmon or even egg salad topped with caviar or sliced almonds. Great-Grandma's pretty china tea cups are always in order (I believe in dusting them off and enjoying them. Otherwise, the next time they will get used is by the person who bought them at your estate sale. Same with your crystal wine glasses and linen napkins. Use your pretty items!). And last but not least, after the last spot o' tea, serve small aperitif glasses of your favorite Washington state late harvest wines - Canoe Ridge, Forgeron Cellars, Isenhower Cellars, and Three Rivers to name a few.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder (Use fresh! When was the last time you bought new?)
2 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of milk

If you are a lover of raisins or currants, you may add about a 1/2 cup. I like to plump the raisins first with very warm water or for a kick, soak them in a bit of warm rum. Be sure to drain the raisins well and pat dry. Add the raisins immediately to the flour/shortening mixture, but omit the 2 Tablespoons of milk - very important!

Sift all dry ingredients together. Gently work shortening with fingers or gently with a pastry cutter until the flour/shortening mixture until it takes on a look of corn meal. Add milk to mixture and form. I find the success to flakey scones is to handle the dough gently and as little as possible. Don't knead! Turn the dough out on a floured board and divide the dough into two equal parts (easier on the dough). Pat or gently roll the dough into 1" thickness. I cut them out into round biscuit shapes or you may cut each equal part into wedge shaped pieces like a pie. Bake about 15 minutes at 450 degrees on an ungreased baking sheet.

Serve warm and split them gently half way. The only way to serve a scone is with butter and lots of berry jam. In the summer I make freezer jam out of Klicker strawberries. If available raspberries and blackberries make delicious freezer jams, too. If you want to keep with English tradition, clotted cream is wonderful on the scones, as well. However, clotted cream isn't something that we can just run to our grocery store and find, so I make my own. The clotted cream recipe I use isn't a traditional one where you would spend days separating whey, but one that you can whip up with simple ingredients.

Clotted Cream

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream - room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream - room temperature
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

One hour before serving, pour the heavy cream into a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sour cream and sugar; continuing to beat until the mixture is very thick. Place in refrigerator and chill until it is time to serve. You can make this ahead of time and it should last 4-6 hours in the refrigerator.


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