Peaches & Cream Scones

Biting into a juicy peach inevitably brings me right back to memories of driving up to Lake Tahoe in hot summer months. If we could spare the time for the scenic route, we would stop at this iconic roadside farm stand on our way up through the Sacramento valley. Hopping out into the dusty parking lot, we’d find refuge from the heat under the shady eaves spraying mist overhead, and under which were featured impressive piles of white and yellow peaches, nectarines, and apricots, boxes of deep red cherries, and candy-sweet strawberries. We’d always buy a big flat of peaches to bring with us, for future pie-baking during barbeques overlooking the lake. None of us could resist, however, devouring one right then and there, our hands sticky no matter how careful we tried to be.

What I love about peaches is that they are deceptively versatile. Obviously there are the classics like peach pie, cobbler, and crisp, but they also make great additions to salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, and salsa. As I mentioned in my last post, the spring has been drizzly, which always inspires visions of hot tea and curling-up to watch British procedurals or bake-off. And so today brings us to peaches & cream scones, named after the fresh peaches and yogurt used to make these beautifully soft on the inside and golden-brown on the outside. Peach chunks are worked into the dough along with peach puree. Today I used white peaches, which tend to be even more sweet than their yellow counterparts, but you could use any variety of stone fruit you wished in this recipe (peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, plums, even mango!).

The key to successful scones is to keep the dough cold so that when they bake, they do not get too melty or out of shape. The secret to this is frozen, grated butter, and using your fridge to keep things cold as you move through the recipe. If you remember to put the butter in the freezer at least the day before, this whole recipe comes together very quickly and could be made the morning of a brunch or Midsommer Murder marathon.

PEACHES & CREAM SCONES

Makes 8 large scones

Ingredients:

1 cube of butter (1/2 cup) frozen overnight

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar (may reduce for a less sweet scone – especially if your fruit is already very sweet)

2 1/2 tsps of baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 very ripe peach, removed from pit and pureed in a blender

3 ripe, but firm peaches cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1/2 cup greek yogurt (plain)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2-3 Tbps of milk as needed

1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

2 tsps milk or lemon juice (optional)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together with a whisk. Set aside.

Using a box grater, grate frozen butter. Add grated butter into dry ingredient and work into a fine crumb mixture using your hands, pastry cutter, or two forks. The mixture will still be very dry, resembling course sand. Place bowl in refrigerator while mixing wet ingredients.

In a small bowl, mix the peach puree, yogurt, and zest together using a fork or whisk. Add these ingredients to the dry and begin to just bring together.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Add the peach chunks to the dough. Bring dough together using your hands. Depending on how juicy your peaches are, you may need to add milk a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be sticky, but not wet. Do not overwork the dough, work it just as much as it needs to come together in a disc without any dry flour spots. Form into a disk about 12 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 equal slices (like a pizza). Transfer onto a baking sheet and put into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat the over to 400 degrees. After the scones have chilled, bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown and crust has formed on the bottom. Allow to cool 5 minutes before adding topping.

Optional: Mix the powdered sugar and milk (or lemon juice) together in a small bowl and use a spoon or whisk to drizzle over the scones. Serve warm or room temperature, and with tea of course!

Enjoy!

Cast-Iron-Grilled Grape Tomatoes and Brussels Sprout CousCous Salad with Lemon Thyme Dressing

Here in the PNW, the transition from spring to summer can be a wild-ride of quick weather changes. Sometimes you have cozy, drizzly days like the one I’m having today, which inspires you to drink tea and build fires. The next day might be a scorcher requiring shorts and a trip down to the local ice cream shop. Never-the-less, I began my porch garden at the end of May and have been looking for excuses to begin cooking up summery flavors like basil and tomato. This recipe was inspired by the herbs in my modest little garden including a lemon thyme dressing and basil tossed into a couscous salad studded with grape tomatoes and brussels sprouts grilled in a cast-iron (still don’t have a mini grill to go with my mini garden).

The lemon dressing makes this salad bright, while the brussels sprouts and couscous help this dish feel hearty and satisfying enough to eat as a stand-alone meal. When choosing couscous, I went with the larger pearl variety, but finer couscous varieties would work just as well here.

COUSCOUS SALAD with GRAPE TOMATOES, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, and LEMON THYME DRESSING

serves 2 people as a main course

Dressing:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

5 Sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 tsp honey

Pinch of salt (or to taste)

Pinch of black pepper (or to taste)

COUSCOUS SALAD:

1/2 cup pearl couscous

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise

5 basil leaves chiffonade

3-4 cups spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Prepare the couscous. Add olive oil to a saucepan and sauté the pearls until they turn a light golden-brown. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and couscous is al dente.

Add all dressing ingredients to a small jar, screw lid on tightly, and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a cast iron pan and heat to medium heat. Add tomatoes face down onto pan and add brussels sprouts on top, spreading everything out as evenly as possible. Leave the veggies to grill, not moving them too much in the pan. Once the tomatoes and brussels turn deep golden brown, shake pan and flip some of the brussels to brown on their other sides. Once the veggies have a grilled appearance, remove pan from the heat and set aside. The tomatoes should still hold their form, and shouldn’t break down into a mush.

Toss together the couscous, grilled veggies, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, add pile of spinach to plate. Top with a generous portion of the couscous salad. Complete by drizzling with the lemon-thyme dressing. This dish can be served warm or cold.

Enjoy!