Sweet strawberry scones.

Someone’s all dressed in red for the big v-day tomorrow. And it’s not me. Pink is more of my color.I have been a big fan of making scones since my first batch earlier this summer. Like most of my favorite recipes, they are simple to make, have relatively few ingredients, and have just the slightest feel of “fancy.” Another thing I adore about them is that there are quite literally endless possibilities for adaptation.

When it come right down to it though, the cause of my love for scones is how much my husband enjoys them as well. I came from a family that loves breakfast- we had “breakfast for dinner” night several times a month and would gather ’round the table saturday mornings for good ol’ flapjacks and scrambled eggs. My husband does not share the same sentiment- most days he would rather get breakfast over with in the form of a smoothie than sit down and celebrate the morning meal.

Scones are the one breakfast item that he and I can enjoy together. For this day celebrating love and romance, I baked up something that would inspire him to say, “ah, be still my heart!” and that I would enjoy as well.

This is a basic recipe for scones, given to me by my lovely friend Julia, that I nearly have memorized at this point:

  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose works best)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/6 cup COLD butter
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Directions: Sift together the first four ingredients, and then cut in the butter using a pastry blender or a hand mixer on low speed. The butter should be combined into the dry ingredients only to the point where the texture still looks coarse and there are still pea-sized chunks of butter. Combine the remaining three wet ingredients, and mix into the butter mixture just until everything is wet. Do not over-mix: I usually do this step with a spoon rather than a hand mixer to ensure that the dough does not become too smooth. The beauty of the scone is the flaky, buttery texture that is a result of the butter not being fully incorporated. Fold in whatever mix-in you would like at this point, and then drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Makes six smallish scones- the perfect amount for two.

My substitutions to this recipe were to make it gluten-free by subbing out the regular flour for 1/2 quinoa flour and 1/2 white rice flour. I also substituted regular milk for almond milk, simply because that is what I had on hand. These substitutions made the scones taste slightly earthier/healthier than usual, but Chris and I still enjoyed them immensely. I also folded frozen strawberries into them, and cut them into a traditional triangular scone shape before I baked them.

Although these were delicious on their own, I got festive and made a strawberry syrup to top them with. I boiled 3 oz of frozen strawberries and 1/4 cup of real maple syrup for about 5 minutes, mashing the strawberries up slightly as they broke down into the syrup.

Certainly a sweet start to our day-before-valentine’s day!

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Leftover Pie Dough? Spinach and Asparagus Galette!

Who hates wasting perfectly good and well-labored over pie dough? Me!

Enter the galette. Have you ever made one? Heck, have you ever eaten one? I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the fancy-sounding french pastry when I started working in a bakery a few months ago. Fancy… fancy my left foot!

Lovers of pie (my husband, for one) will often say that the crust is the determining factor as to whether a pie is something worth writing home about or just a so-so dessert. And accordingly, the baker knows that the crust is the most difficult part of making the pie. A perfectly buttery, flaky texture and a gorgeously browned appearance are the attributes that I look for in a crust.

One of the more challenging aspects of a traditional pie crust is fitting it to the pie pan. The dough can be too sticky, too dry, or can fall apart when transferring it to the pan! It’s enough to make any poor baker who hasn’t yet practiced 500 pie crusts in her lifetime pull her hairs out. (Ever wonder why Grandmas are stereotyped to make the best homemade pies? Practice, folks!)

Let us return to the galette- or what I like to refer to as the “lazy man’s pie.” This un-fussy pie-esque pastry requires no special pan to make, only a cookie sheet. So your leftover pie dough isn’t going to stretch to the size of your pie pan? Galette. My dough was large enough to make lunch for two.

I began with a hungry tummy and my leftover ball of pie dough. I sandwiched the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper, and worked it into a flat circle with a rolling pin. When I had gotten it as thin as I wanted (maybe 1/4 inch?), I removed the top piece of parchment paper and transferred the bottom sheet with the dough circle still on top to a cookie sheet.

My filling was quiche-inspired: two egg whites (yolks reserved for later) whisked together with a handful of grated monterey jack cheese, some slightly steamed spinach, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Because my galette would not be sitting pretty in a dish like its fancier cousin the pie, I needed a way to contain my slightly gloppy ingredients. A ring of quickly steamed-in-the-microwave asparagus did the trick! I arranged them in a circle as seen above, leaving a little more than an inch of folding room, and then scooped my filling into the center. My filling had a lot of spinach and cheese in it and only two egg whites- a filling with too much liquid would not work well in this.

I had to work quickly at this stage to be doubly sure that no egg whites would escape from beneath their asparagus-ring barricade. I folded the edges up and pressed inward to contain the filling, used the reserved egg yolks (whisked) to do a quick wash on the outside of the pastry, and then threw it in the oven at 375 degrees.

Twenty-two minutes later, with our little apartment smelling of an intoxicating buttery pie smell, I pulled out a gorgeously browned and beautiful galette. I must admit to you: I was more than a little bit proud of myself after taking a first bite and proclaiming this as the “magnum opus” of my baking life (so far).

This was an extremely easy weekday lunch because I already had the pie dough ready in the refrigerator. The entire thing came together in fifteen minutes, plus baking time.

I loved this for the simplicity of the ingredients, the amount of veggies I was able to pack into it, and for the fancy feel it gave to a weekday lunch without really being fancy at all. And um… warm, just out of the oven pie crust?? There is nothing like it.

I hope that you make your first galette soon.