This week’s Indy has a piece I wrote, all about the life-changing scones Ali Rudel and staff make at East Durham Bake Shop.
So Thanksgiving dinner has been served, eaten, and cleaned up. Most of the relatives have gone home, and you’re reclining, semi-comatose, on the sofa. Then Aunt Minnie from Altoona begins talking about Christmas shopping, and she Wants.To.Start.Tonight.
You’ve got a few options.
#1-Get up and toss her, Uncle Jasper, Cousin Viola, their luggage, and their 3 yappy, incontinent dogs outside, lock the door and turn off the lights.
#2-Get up, put on your shoes and jacket, and take them for 4 or 5 hours of bruising, shoulder-to-shoulder turkey night shopping.
#3-Get up, program their GPS for the best local retail Mecca, put some good music on in the kitchen, and while they’re gone get some relaxing, solitary prep done for tomorrow’s breakfast.
If you pick #3, I’ll guide you through the almost Zen-like process. It’s simple and low-key, kind of a cool-down exercise from the earlier frenzy.
My breakfast menu consists of scrambled eggs, easy homemade hash browns, fall porridge, and awesome, delicious brown sugar pecan scones.
I made up this first recipe just this morning, for my own breakfast. It was hella good and kept me full for hours.
Start with the hot cereal. Any type will work, from instant oatmeal to slow-cooked grits (I used Special K Nourish). What makes it special is this topping. You can make fruit and cereal tonight, and heat them up in the microwave before service.
4 unpeeled pears, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped almonds
½ cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat non-stick skillet and melt butter. Put in everything except raisins and vanilla. Cook on medium. When the pears and almonds are browned, add raisins and vanilla, and stir ‘til hot. Spoon onto hot cereal. Serves four.
My dad loves them, but I never understood scones. They’re not quite muffins, not quite biscuits. They just seemed dry and weird. That was before I tasted Chef Jason Cunningham’s brown sugar pecan scones at the Washington Duke (3001 Cameron Blvd, Durham). They’re neither dry nor weird. Flaky and tasty, these are what scones are supposed to be. Thanks to Chef Jason for the recipe.
Make these the night before up to the refrigeration stage, and bake them off in the morning.
Brown Sugar Pecan Scones
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup Butter
1 Tbl baking powder
1 large egg
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 Tbl vanilla extract
Combine all-purpose flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly. Reserve.
Cream butter in a stand mixer until soft. Add brown sugar, salt and vanilla and cream until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until fully incorporated.
Add cake flour and combine and then add the orange juice. Add half of the all-purpose flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the cream, incorporate and then the remainder of the flour mixture along with the pecans.
Do not over-mix! Once all ingredients are incorporated, wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate.
Once dough is thoroughly chilled, place on a floured work surface and roll to approximately ½ inch thickness. Cut into triangles.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake approximately 12-20 minutes until golden brown.
These hash browns are so simple you can quickly make them in the morning. It’s the only way I make them anymore.
Homo habilis hash browns
In a non-stick skillet melt 2-3 tablespoons butter. Grate 1 unpeeled potato per diner directly onto melting butter. Grate in about 2 teaspoons yellow onion per potato. Salt and toss to mix. With spatula, flatten in pan and cook on medium until golden-amber around edges (8-10 minutes). Put plate on top of pan and carefully flip onto plate, cooked side up. Slide back into pan and cook other side, 6-8 minutes. Slice into wedges, and serve.
You can go through all this, or do what I do. Go to someone else’s house for dinner, go home and do most of your holiday shopping online in your pajamas, then sleep in on Friday.
Good luck, and happy Thanksgiving.
Thanks for your time.