Sunday, June 17, 2012

He’s-A-Peach Pie

This year marks the first Father’s Day on which I don’t have a father to whom I can send a card, which makes it a sad occasion.  But rather than dwell in the Land of Lost Fathers–a place where I have spent far too much time in the past year–this post is going to focus on the other father in my life:  The Hubs.  When I asked him what he wanted me to make him for Father’s Day this year, he thought about it for awhile before saying “A peach pie.”  And when I offered up some options (peach crumble pie, peach cream pie, peach custard pie, etc.) he said, “No, nothing fancy.  Just the old-fashioned kind with peaches and crust.”

This in itself tells you much of what you need to know about The Hubs.  He’s a no-fuss kind of guy.

The Hubs and I always knew we wanted to have a family–one of our very first serious conversations included a discussion of how many children we wanted to have.  Still, we were married for almost six years before we were ready to take that step, mostly because we enjoyed the life we’d made with just the two of us.  (What did we do with ourselves all day?  Why didn’t I write six novels with all that free time on my hands?)

Now, of course, it’s hard to remember a time when the Foodie children weren’t around.  And it’s impossible for me to think of The Hubs without thinking of him as a dad, because that piece of his identity is so integral to the person I love.  A short list of things The Hubs has done to earn his Great Dad cred:

1.  He sat through six years of summer swim meets, in the Texas heat, to watch The Girl swim for approximately five minutes total at each one.  (In case you’ve never been to a swim meet, I’ll just mention that they’re long. Very long.  Like, four or five hours long.)

2.  He drove The Boy to Dallas–about a five hour drive from our home in San Antonio–so he could participate in a Pokemon tournament.  He did this as an incentive to get The Boy to bring up his grades in school, and when The Boy followed through, so did his dad.

3.  The Hubs later drove The Boy to Dallas again, after he’d earned a chance to audition for Kids’ Jeopardy.  They made a vacation weekend of it and saw the traveling King Tut museum exhibit while they were in the city.  The Boy still talks about this.

4.  He taught The Girl to drive.  Enough said.

The list could go on, but you get the idea:  The Hubs is a really terrific dad.  So when he asked for a peach pie, I made him one.

As with any pie, whether you make your own crust or buy something prepared is completely up to you.  I’m not above taking a shortcut once in awhile myself.  And I’m not a big fan of using flour to thicken fruit pies, so I used tapioca as a thickener in this one.  Most fruit pie recipes call for using a little butter in the filling, and you could certainly dot the peaches with a couple tablespoons of butter before you add the top crust; I forgot the butter when I was making this one, and I actually prefer the clean taste of the sweetened peaches, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  I sprinkled the top crust with a little turbinado sugar, for extra color and crunch, but white sugar will give you a similar (if somewhat lighter) result.

After church this morning, we came home and had pie for brunch.  And before you can question the logic of that decision, consider this:  is there really much difference between a stack of IHOP pancakes with peaches and whipped cream and a peach pie topped with ice cream?  I think not.  Except for the the fact that this peach pie was made with lots of love.

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He's-A-Peach Pie

Ingredients:

Pie crust (prepared or home made)
7 cups sliced peaches (about 8 medium peaches)
1 cup sugar
2 T. tapioca pearls
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Before you start assembling the pie, blanch the peaches by dipping them into boiling water for about one minute, then submerging them in a bowl of ice water. The peach skin should slide off easily. If it doesn't, repeat the process until the skin is loose. Then slice the peeled peaches into a large mixing bowl.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Gently stir together the peach slices, sugar, tapioca, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Line the bottom of a 1-inch deep pie place with a layer of pie crust. Trim the overhang so it's even with edge of the plate. Pile in the peaches, making sure they're evenly distributed across the crust. Center the top crust over the fruit. Fold the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust and pinch tightly to seal. Crimp the edges of the crust all the way around.

Cut two or three one-inch vents into the top of the pie crust, to allow steam to escape while the pie is baking. Sprinkle the top crust with sugar, if you like.

Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil, to prevent over-browning, and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top of the pie has browned and some juice is bubbling up through the vents.

Allow the pie to cool for at least an hour before serving. Otherwise, your filling will be runny.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

BlogHer Food ’12 Recap: Snacks in the City

I got home from BlogHer Food in Seattle a couple of days ago, and I think I’ve finally caught up on enough sleep to tell you all about it.  I was excited about going to Seattle, since it’s one of my favorite cities, but I have to confess that I wasn’t completely excited about the conference.  Last time around, I remembered feeling kind of marginalized and overwhelmed–and while there are people who will claim that conferences like this are what you make of them, I think there is something to be said for making newcomers feel welcome.   Last year’s BlogHer didn’t do such a good job of that.  But this year’s conference experience  was miles above last year’s–because of the location, the people, and of course the food.  That photo to the left?  That’s the breakfast spread provided by the Fairmont Olympic Hotel on the first day of the conference.  This pretty much set the bar for everything else we’d enjoy while we were in town.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I arrived in Seattle last Thursday afternoon and took a shuttle from SeaTac to the hotel.  Right from the start, I was very impressed with the Fairmont.  It’s a gorgeous old building, filled with ornate woodwork, staircases, and chandeliers.  It’s the kind of hotel you see in old movies, but not so often in the modern world of sleek and efficient business hotels.  My room was equally beautiful–spacious, clean, and luxurious in a tasteful way.  In fact, if  I had to use just one word to describe the Fairmont, tasteful is the one I’d choose.   The hotel staff was attentive without being obsequious, and every room I set foot in was spotlessly clean.  That in itself goes a long way with me.  (Add to this the fact of actual hand towels in the public restrooms–along with nail care kits and mouthwash–and you’ll understand why the Fairmont franchise has a customer for life here.)

I hadn’t had a chance to eat between San Antonio and Seattle, so I was starving by the time I arrived.  (I should mention ahead of time that I’d decided to skirt gluten on this trip, but to give myself some flexibility in enjoying the occasional gluteny treat, especially when it was hard to find alternatives.  Basically, I followed my gut and turned away from the gluten when it was practical to do that.)  The Fairmont Olympic is right downtown in Seattle, so I had a lot of options nearby–but it was a rainy afternoon, and I was exhausted from the trip.  That combination of factors led me to Belle Epicurean, a lovely little bakery connected to the hotel on the ground level.  I had the Warm Peppered Turkey Sandwich, featuring a delicious herbed chevre and served with a pickle.  I was so hungry that I basically inhaled the sandwich before I could photograph it, which should tell you how tasty it was.

This would be the last time I felt actual hunger for the next two days.

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around downtown and reacquainting myself with Seattle.  I hadn’t been there in 20 years, but I have fond memories of the place–and the landscape, of course, reminds me of my hometown in the state next door.  Seeing the Pike Place Market sign lifted me up on a little wave of nostalgia, and seeing the wooded islands across Puget Sound broke my heart, but in a good way.

After that little excursion, I went back to the hotel and settled in for the evening.  I wound up ordering room service (grilled salmon and the best french fries on earth, which should have prepared me for the terrific food that would follow) and snuggling underneath the thick comforter while I watched TV and caught up on the sleep I’d missed by getting to the airport at 5:30 that morning.

Day 1 of BlogHer Food dawned not-so-bright (we were in Seattle, after all) but plenty early.  Bloggers wandered through the breakfast spread I mentioned above, then found their way into the ballroom where the opening keynote was scheduled to happen.  We were lucky enough to hear from Diane Cu and Todd Porter (also known as White on Rice Couple) about their work and philosophy.  Before the end of their presentation, we were all weeping over a video of their beautiful dog, Dante, who died shortly after that film was shot.  Diane shared the video because she hadn’t liked it at first, but after Dante’s death couldn’t imagine anything doing a better job of capturing his personality.  “Your eyes are the lens.  Your heart is the shutter.” Those are the words I took away from the presentation, and I’m sure they’ll stick with me for a long while.

From there I moved on to presentations about finding  your photographic style and using various social networking platforms to drive traffic to your blog.  At the latter session, I realized that I need to be doing much more work with Pinterest, which has become a huge source of readers for many people who write food blogs.  (I love Pinterest, but it honestly hadn’t occurred to me to do much in the way of connecting it to this blog.  That will be changing in the next few weeks, so I hope you’ll follow me on Pinterest and keep up with the Foodie that way.)  I ducked out of the conference after that, to freshen up before the evening reception and, afterward, one of the highlights of my conference experience:  a dinner hosted by Chobani at Canlis Restaurant.

I met with a lively group of bloggers and Chobani Yogurt representatives in the lobby of the hotel, then took a short van ride to the restaurant.  We were shown to a private dining room that had a gorgeous view of Lake Union and a fireplace to keep us cozy.  Drinks and hors d’oeuvres followed, including miniature forest mushroom quiche and spicy bites of lamb tenderloin with a cool yogurt sauce (an item that quickly answered my mental question as to whether or not I liked lamb.)  All the food at Canlis was so beautiful that I almost couldn’t bring myself to eat it.  Almost.

(Not included in these photos:  my main course, filet mignon with carrot puree.  Unfortunately, large chunks of unbelievably tender and delicious beef aren’t particularly photogenic.)  We also sampled a different wine with each course.  By the time we were set to head back to the hotel in our van, I was sleepy and–well, full doesn’t even begin to describe it. The evening also included wonderful conversation with Karlynn of The Kitchen Magpie, Kathy of Panini Happy, and many, many other people. My thanks to Lindsay, Emily, Jackie, and everyone else at Chobani for making that dinner possible.  (And hey!  Chobani is just about to open a new production facility in Twin Falls, Idaho–which means I’ll have yet another connection to the company.  Aside from my daily cup of yogurt, I mean.)

The conference didn’t start up again until 9:oo on Saturday, although that still felt plenty early.  The opening session focused on some general guidelines for working with brands, with one blogger welcoming the opportunity and another turning away from it completely.  Cassidy Stockton from Bob’s Red Mill  (with whom I’ve exchanged an email or two over the last year) suggested thinking about working with brands as developing a relationship, not receiving a one-time gift.  Alicia McGlamory from Masterbuilt echoed that sentiment.  I found it interesting that bloggers are so deeply divided on the question of whether or not to work directly with brands, but as I thought about it, I realized that it makes sense for some people to want more control over their content and for others to welcome suggestions.

I attended two photography sessions on Saturday,the first one offered by Taylor Mathis and focused on photographing food outdoors. I found this session really helpful–Taylor has a knack for explaining photography to newbies in a way that doesn’t insult the listener.  (That’s less common than you might think, in my experience.)   This session was intended as a prelude to our field trip to Pike Place Market, which I’d visited on my first afternoon in town.  I wandered back down to the marketplace, though, this time with my camera in hand–only to discover that it was absolutely swarming with people.  Between a cruise ship that was in port, our conference, and the fact that it was Saturday, there was very little room to manuever.  I did, though, manage to get a few pictures of gorgeous produce–my favorite photography subject.

After I’d taken some photos and wriggled my way through part of the crowd, I decided to eat something portable–a gyro sandwich, to celebrate my newfound appreciation of lamb–and topped off my lunch with a Mexican chocolate truffle from The Confectional.  After browsing through a jewelry shop (where I picked out a very cool bracelet for The Girl) and a sports apparel shop (where I found a Mariners cap for The Boy), I was ready to get out of the crowd and head back to the relative quiet of the hotel.

The second session of the day focused on various post-processing programs for making your photographs all they can be.  I’d heard a lot of people talking about Lightroom, but this session convinced me that there are free programs out there–specifically, Gimp–that can help me do what I need to do.  I’m not a professional photographer, and I don’t aspire to be, but of course I’d like the photos on my blog to represent my food in the best possible light.  So I’ll be downloading Gimp this week and teaching myself how to use it.

Saturday evening, the conference wound down with a gathering at Sodo Park, a repurposed factory with gorgeous exposed beams and high windows.  (I didn’t take along my big camera, and phone pictures just didn’t do it justice–click through to the webpage to see Sodo in all its glory.)  The featured guest at the party was Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman, who was being really good-natured about the fact that dozens of people actually lined up to have a picture taken with her.  I enjoyed a final glass of wine and a chat with Susie Kauck, who I’d met at BlogHer in Atlanta last year–she’d brought her daughter Dana along with her to Seattle, since Dana contributes to the blog once in awhile.  (I know I’ve become a woman of a certain age because the first thing that came to mind as I spoke to Dana was “What a lovely young lady.  Her mom must be so proud.”)   I also had a chance to re-connect with some people I’d met earlier, including Amanda of Maroc Mama and Kim of Camping for Foodies.  Kim is just getting started on her blogging adventure, and I encouraged her to set aside her misgivings and go for it.  What’s the worst that can happen?  No one reads your blog.  And then you’re no worse off than you were before starting it.  In fact, you’re better off, because you can actually claim to be the author of a blog.  Whether or not anyone reads it is a secondary question.

After the party, I caught a shuttle back to the hotel, packed up the ten pounds of swag I’d received during the conference–I’m not exaggerating, my suitcase was ten pounds heavier for the return trip–and set my alarm for 5 a.m..  I was ready to get back home to the Foodie family, but full of new ideas and great food.  (I’m sure my suitcase wasn’t the only thing that gained weight over the weekend.)

All in all, I had a great time at BlogHer Food.  I had my first experience of being recognized from my blog–and my second, and my third–which was an unexpected treat.  I also had the experience of thinking “Well, even I know that much” a few times during various sessions, and this is definitely not something that happened last year.  I guess that means I’m learning.  My feet are most decidedly wet.  I might even be knee-deep in this blogging thing.

And the best news is:  BlogHer Food will be coming to Austin in 2013!  It’s so exciting to think of all my foodie friends converging in my own backyard.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Lemon Lavender Muffins

A few weeks ago, my friend Yvette–who is also one of The Hubs’ colleagues–sent me a basket of beautiful eggs from the chickens she and her family are raising.  The eggs themselves are long gone, of course, but I needed to return her basket and wanted to fill it with something light and summery.   It turns out that both The Hubs and Yvette had to be at an early meeting today, so I sent him to campus with a batch of these delicious Lemon Lavender Muffins–a few in the egg basket, just for Yvette and her family, and the rest for the committee members (who would, I was certain, be feeling disgruntled about having to be at work early on a summer morning.  There are very few perks to being a professor, but leisurely summer mornings are one of them.)

I love the flavor of lavender, especially paired with lemon.  Even so, it’s important to remember that lavender is an aromatic herb and very little goes a long way.  Too much lavender will give a bitter taste to whatever you’re making.  I used a tablespoon in this recipe, which is about half of what many other recipes will suggest; it gives the muffins a very light lavender flavor, but that’s what I wanted.  Just know that you’d be safe in doubling the amount of lavender and adjust accordingly.

You can find dried culinary lavender in specialty grocers or on the spice aisle at World Market.  The lavender buds will need to be ground, either in a food professor (grinding the buds with the sugar will help to distribute the lavender oil and give you a stronger lavender flavor), in a spice/coffee grinder, or with a mortar and pestle.  I ground lavender, sprinkled it into the sugar, then sprinkled the lavender sugar through a fine mesh sieve as I added it to the flour, just to catch any remaining large pieces of lavender.  If you use a food processor, that last step probably won’t be necessary.  (I have a food processor, but it’s an older model and very heavy, so I rarely drag it out of the cabinet.)

This recipe calls for Greek yogurt, but any variety of yogurt will suffice–even light sour cream would work.  Plain or lemon yogurt would be fine, if you can’t find honey-flavored yogurt at your local grocery store.  Honey-flavored Chobani Greek yogurt is my favorite, and I thought the touch of honey would add a little something to these muffins.  It most certainly did.  Next time I make a batch, though, I’m thinking I might use plain yogurt and lavender honey, just to see how that tastes by comparison.  I might also try topping them with a lemon-lavender glaze, rather than using a sprinkle of turbinado sugar–I didn’t do that this time around because The Hubs was taking them to a meeting, and I didn’t want them to be sticky or messy to eat.

The Girl ate two of these last night and pronounced them “super yummy.”  I’m hoping for a similarly positive report from The Hubs when he comes home this afternoon.

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Lemon Lavender Muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. dried lavender, ground
1 T. lemon zest, packed
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 6-oz. container honey-flavored Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 T. butter or margarine, melted
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Measure the flour into a large bowl. Stir together the sugar and ground lavender, then sprinkle this mixture through a fine mesh sieve to catch any remaining large chunks of lavender. Add the lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir all the dry ingredients to combine. (If you want, you can use your fingers to rub the lemon zest into the other ingredients. This will give you a stronger lemon flavor and ensure there are no big clumps of lemon zest in the muffins. I almost always do this when I'm baking with lemon zest.) Make a well at the center of the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, lemon juice, and melted butter. Pour the wet mixture into the well in the dry mixture. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir only until the dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Fill 12 muffin liners 2/3 full of the batter. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins have browned and the centers are firm to the touch.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Basics: The Boy’s Grilled Cheese

I’ve always been proud of the fact that the Foodie children know how to function in the kitchen. The Girl knew how to crack an egg by the time she was three years old.  The Boy has long been adept at making a batch of cookies, when the craving strikes.  But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, we’ve just recently started sharing responsibility for making dinner.  I talked The Boy through making a batch of French toast last weekend, and then on Monday evening he asked his sister to explain how she’d made the spaghetti we were eating.  I love that he’s taking an interest in learning to make his favorite meals, since that means he’ll be able to make them for himself whenever he wants them.

Tonight–which was Do-Your-Own-Thing Night–The Boy asked me to talk him through making a grilled cheese sandwich.  I was taken aback by the fact that, in all the years of making these for him, I’d never thought to explain the process–and he’d never thought to ask.  It’s a pretty basic skill, to be sure, but between learning the recipe for French toast and the skills for grilled cheese,  The Boy is basically ready to make lots of fancier things (like a patty melt or a Monte Cristo sandwich, for example), should he ever want to do that.  Also, grilled cheese doesn’t mean one thing.  I’ve made sandwiches with various kinds of bread and cheese, sandwiches with onions or a slice of fresh tomato.  Once you have the grilling skills in place, the experimentation can begin.

And the skills, I must say, aren’t self-evident, because I’ve eaten a lot of disgusting, soggy, greasy grilled cheese sandwiches.  I’ve also heard a lot of people say “I love grilled cheese, but I can never make it like they do at a restaurant.”  So, in the interest of saving The Boy (and all other beginning chefs) from that fate, this evening we went through the basics–starting with two slices of plain white bread.

Butter both slices of bread thinly but completely, getting all the way out to the edges.  If you’re OCD, like me, you’ll want to make sure that one piece of bread is the mirror reflection of the other–that way, they’ll match up when you make your sandwich.  Also, you don’t absolutely have to use butter.  We normally use Brummel and Brown spread, which contains yogurt and tastes as delicious as butter with slightly less fat.

Now’s the time to add your cheese.  The Boy likes basic American cheese, and though I think it lacks something in flavor, it does melt nicely and help to heat up the ingredients of your sandwich.  I’ll sometimes use one slice of American cheese combined with another type (usually cheddar) for flavor.  You don’t have to use American cheese, though.  Just be sure that whatever you use, it’s grated or very thinly sliced.  A big hunk of solid cheddar cheese isn’t going to melt by the time your bread is toasted.

Now plop the two halves of your sandwich together and butter the top, thinly and evenly.  Too much butter and you’ll end up with a soggy sandwich that collapses in the center.  (Sorry about the blurry knife.  I tried to catch The Boy in a pause, but that’s no easy task.)

Once you’ve buttered the top, let your sandwich sit for a moment and turn your attention to heating your skillet.   I turn the heat to high and let it sit on the burner until I can feel the heat from the pan with my flat hand about two inches from the surface.  This isn’t an exact science, but you’ll know you got it right if, when you place the buttered side of your sandwich in the pan, it gives you a nice sizzle.  If it does, turn the heat down to medium-low (on my electric cooktop, that’s setting 4.)  If it doesn’t, leave the heat on high for a couple more minutes, then turn it down.  Starting with high heat will give your sandwich a nice crust, and turning down the heat will melt the cheese without burning the bread.

While the underside of your sandwich is grilling, butter the top.  Then wait three or four minutes–from here on out, you’ll be working accord to preference.  Use a spatula to lift the sandwich and check the color of your sandwich.  If it looks brown enough for your taste, slip the sandwich over and let the other side toast.  If not, give it another minute.  This is how we like it:

Once the bottom matches the top, transfer the sandwich to a plate.  Let it sit for two or three minutes, so the cheese can stabilize a bit.  This is a great time to slice up an apple (The Boy’s favorite accompaniment to this sandwich), dish up a bowl of soup, or just anticipate the bliss that only a truly great grilled cheese can provide.

There’s no end to the variations on this staple:  add ham or turkey along with the cheese.  Use grated mozzarella instead of American cheese, then add fresh basil leaves or a drizzle of pesto sauce.  A friend once made me a version on sourdough bread, with sharp cheddar and thinly sliced green apple, that was pretty close to divine.   If you have a favorite version of the grilled cheese sandwich, feel free to describe it in the comments and give the new chefs among us new options to add to their repertoire.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shortcake Scones

One of the things I’ve really missed since going gluten-free last year is the texture of scones: crunchy, crumbly, biscuit-like scones.  Which is funny, because most gluten-free cookies are closer to crunchy than tender–you wouldn’t think a gluten-free scone would be such a difficult thing to create.  Every recipe I consulted, however, warned me that the scones would be more cake-like than crumbly.  I wasn’t interested in cake-like.  I wanted biscuit-like.  Or, more precisely, scone-like.

After lots and lots of lots of searching, I came across this recipe from Gluten-Free Canteen.  It promised the kind of scones I was looking for–but, I confess, I wasn’t entirely convinced that they would work.  At this point, I’m pretty used to gluten-free recipes creating a product that’s not exactly what I expected, even if it’s pretty good.  Perhaps the greatest surprised I encountered in this recipe was the instruction to “bake until the top and edges look golden brown.”  One thing I thought I had definitely learned about baking gluten-free products is that they don’t brown during the baking process.  In fact, they remain downright pasty.   (Also, just as a point of interest, they don’t change shape.   If you put a blob of gluten-free cookie dough into the over, you’ll end up with a blob-shaped cookie.  You have to create the desired cookie shape prior to baking.)  All in all, I was intrigued by the original recipe and ready to give scones a chance.

Well.  You can see what happened.

Crunchy, crumbly, biscuit-like scones.  And they browned.  I was beside myself with glee.

I ate one of these scones almost immediately, and gave one to The Hubs, who said “Wow, these don’t taste weird at all.“  In spite of the fact that gluten-free baked goods can be gummy when they’re warm, these were not.  The lemon zest gave them a light citrus flavor, not overpowering but definitely noticeable.  I plan to make a batch of these with orange zest, and maybe some dried cranberries as well, before too long.

The original recipe gave me a chance to put to use my new kitchen scale, though  I’ve translated the amounts I used into  the measurements that you’re probably more familiar with.  Instead of using the flour blend this recipe specifies, I used Namaste Foods’ Gluten-Free Perfect Flour Blend; I’ve been using this blend pretty regularly for the last month and, so far,  I’m pleased with the results.  (This flour blend includes xanthan gum, which the original recipe didn’t call for, so you might want to add some if you use a different blend.  And if you aren’t eating gluten-free, of course, just use regular wheat flour.)  I also used a little more sugar than the original recipe calls for, and I left out the Penzy’s lemon peel powder because I’ve never seen it available locally.  Finally, I used turbinado sugar in place of Demerara sugar for topping the scones, simply because that’s what I had on hand.  You might be unfamiliar with the buttermilk powder called for in this recipe, but it’s more than likely available on the baking aisle of your local grocery store.

These scones also did double-duty as shortcakes for dessert on Friday evening, split in half and filled with strawberries and whipped cream.

So delicious!  While I was zesting lemons for the scones, it occurred to me that a lemon shortcake (made with lemon curd in place of the macerated strawberries) would also be really, really delightful.  That may be on our dessert agenda before too long, but not this time around.  The leftover scones made it to Saturday morning breakfast.  After sitting overnight in a covered container, they’d moved from biscuit-like toward cake-like, losing their essential sconeness.  Still tasty, but definitely better on their first day.

This recipe gives me hope that I actually can find a way to make the things I enjoyed before giving up gluten.  Up until now, I’d made my peace with the fact that a gluten-free version of anything was going to be different–not better or worse, necessarily, but different.  And now I’m not so sure.  With the right combination of ingredients, maybe it’s possible to make exactly what I want, with or without wheat.

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Gluten-Free Shortcake Scones

Ingredients:

3 cups gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk powder
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Zest of two lemons
10 T. butter (1 stick + 2 T.), cut into cubes and refrigerated until use
1 large egg white
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 T. butter, melted
2 T. turbinado sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, buttermilk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the lemon zest to the dry ingredients and, using your fingers, rub it into the mixture to distribute the lemon oil throughout. Drop the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients and, using a fork or pastry cutter, work them through until the chunks of butter are pea-sized. Make a well at the center of this mixture and set the bowl aside.

Whisk together the egg white and buttermilk, then add to the well in the dry ingredients. Stir just until the wet and dry ingredients are combined--the less you work the dough, the better. Turn the dough onto a cutting board and shape it into a rectangle about an inch thick. Cut the rectangle into nine squares. (If you'd prefer your scones to be a different shape, now's the time to create that shape.)

Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheets. Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, until the scones are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. These scones are best right after baking, but can be stored overnight in a covered container.

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