Mix and Match: Orange-Almond-Strawberry Scones

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Years ago, my mom sent me a word (remember, she does this) that I could never quite shake. Portmanteau: the combining of two or more words into something new.

I apply the portmanteau concept to many facets of my life. In school, I was am a chronic multi-tasker, constantly doing and combining as many things as possible; at last week’s brunch, I merged all my friend groups so that they could discover someone new over a good meal.

Mixing and matching some photos from an urban hike through Fort Mason last weekend! I know what you’re thinking – how fashionable is my leggings and hoodie soccer mom look?!

And then there are these scones – orange zest, almond flour, and fresh strawberries combine into a new and delicious breakfast item.

Citrus has the ability to zest up nearly anything savory or sweet. For brunch, I wanted something that packs a punch and wakes people up, so I used an entire orange to add as much flavor as possible. If you make these in winter, you can still add some orange zing, but strawberries won’t be in season, so swap them out for apples, pears, or frozen berries if you absolutely must.

Since I’m also about flour equality, or flour-power, as it were, I substituted some of the all-purpose in my recipe for almond meal, which adds a subtle nutty flavor to the dough. Since there is no gluten in almond meal, you can’t sub in too much or else your scones will fall apart into delicious nothingness. Fun to eat, not so fun to serve at a 20-person brunch.

I’m off to Las Vega$ this weekend for more birthday celliez with a portmanteau of people from all over the country. I’ll probably be having a hefty combination of drinks as well, but I’ll be back on Tuesday with some eats and treats. In the meanwhile, if you have any dessert hangover cures you want to throw my way, please do – I’ll need them.

Scone-dalous.

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Orange-Strawberry-Almond Scones (makes about 18 round scones)

1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup brown sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into chunks
1 cup strawberries, roughly chopped
Zest from 1 orange

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp milk (for egg wash)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or a Silpat. Whisk together the egg and cream in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter chunks and mix on medium speed until the butter is the size of large peas. Add the egg mixture, stirring until the dough is moist. Add in the strawberries and orange zest. Do not overmix it, as you’ll be working with the dough a lot.
  • Spread some almond meal on the counter you’ll be working on. Place the dough on top and pat into a large circle about 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place on Silpat. The dough is pretty sticky, so continue to LIGHTLY spread with flour or almond meal. Re-roll out the scraps until you have cut out all the rounds you can.

(At this point, you can freeze the rounds until you want to bake them off. They keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

  • Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for 23 minutes or until the tops are golden-brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spring, Settlers, and Strawberry Scones

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View from Bernal Heights – love this city.

Spring has sprung! That means the following:

  1. The rain’s about to pour like my third espresso on Monday mornings.
  2. Berries are making their way back into the season, calling for some real-life Fruit Ninja-ing.
  3. It’s warm It’s windy and cold. This is SF.
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Dinner at Wo Hing General Store (Clockwise from top left): Shrimp dumplings; fried mushroom egg rolls; vegetable noodles; yuba-cilantro salad.

The sun was still lively during the weekend, as was my appetite for enjoying the outdoors, eating good food, and creating the longest road in Settlers of Catan. Unfortunately, I was unable to hold on to that last victory, but I will be back to settle what is rightfully mine.

Weekend desserts (L to R): Black sesame mochi with tangerines; Cinnamon toast cake (this was ridiculously good. I could have eaten an entire one of these if we hadn’t shared it).

Schulzie’s Bread Pudding in Hayes Valley: There are warm and cold versions available, but honestly, I don’t know why you would ever want cold bread pudding. I had a scoop (it comes in scoops, like ice cream – great concept!) of the warm smores flavor and died of happiness…and a food coma. Pac-Man understands.

Speaking of settling, if there is one thing I’ve been taught from working in restaurants and retail (before Steve Jobs made it famous), it is never to settle. Not for bad customer service, not for bad food, not for anything. I take this pretty seriously, which is why whenever I go out to eat, I expect the waitstaff to be on top of their game or else get out of the kitchen. Forgetting someone’s order (which happened at this spot over the weekend, leaving me pretty annoyed) is unacceptable, as is putting out crappy food. And for all the (Michelin) stars in the world, sometimes the best meal is a three-dollar super taco from a random taqueria.

Super shrimp taco from somewhere in the Mission.

So it’s spring, which means yummy fruit, which means going to the farmer’s market for a Sunday morning juice to cure my Saturday night and to pick up a basket of strawberries – now that they’re in season, they are sweet and delicious.

Typical SF: reppin’ that CA pride, overpriced but delicious juice stall, and a gigantic croissant that shatters upon first bite (as it should).

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To make scones actually edible and not a heaping mess of flour and milk, make sure everything is cold, like cold as a yo’ mama joke. Refrigerate the berries before you use them, and only take out the butter when you’re ready to use it. You can use milk if you don’t have cream, but why settle for second-best? Eat these with a latte espresso cappuccino (no coffee, no creativity) and you are straight cruisin’.

Spring, come at me bro.

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Strawberry-Walnut Scones with Chocolate Drizzle (makes 8 large scones) 

1 cup strawberries
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, in cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Topping:

1 tablespoon course sugar (I used turbinado)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with a Silpat.
  • Cut the strawberries into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar; set aside.
  • Combine flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter and mix until it is in pea-sized pieces (if there are a few larger pieces, don’t worry about it). Stir in fruit and walnuts; then add cream all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.
  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don’t break up the berries and don’t overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.
  • Press (pat) the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Sprinkle with the course sugar and bake 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool completely before topping with drizzle.

Chocolate Drizzle

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

  • Combine chocolate chips and cream in a heatproof bowl and microwave at 10-second intervals, stirring after each round, until chocolate and cream are thoroughly mixed together. Use a spoon to drizzle over the cooled scones.