Saturday, February 9, 2013

Buttermilk Scones with Currants

These scones remind me of when I was a little girl and we would visit my grandparents in San Francisco.  They lived in a beautiful house in Cole Valley and we would get these wonderful scones from the bakery just down the street and eat them back at the house in their kitchen, or on my grandparents bed if it was a breakfast in bed morning, with jam and butter.  They were amazing.  

Here I am one of those mornings enjoying one...

Or maybe that is a croissant but, hey, those are awesome too (and something I plan to tackle soon!)

This recipe for buttermilk scones with currants is from the Tartine cookbook:

Tartine is a fabulous bakery in San Francisco, on the corner of 18th Street and Valencia, near Valencia park.  They have one of the best almond croissants I have ever tasted and the recipe is in this cookbook... It is on my agenda to make it before the Spring... I will need to invite a lot of willing participants for a brunch!

These scones are handsdown amazing. Sooo buttery and flaky.  We enjoyed some fresh out of the oven, with some jam this morning.  

It was over too quickly and there are 10 of them left in our kitchen, calling out to be eaten! Anyone want to come over and help us out?

here's how to make these buttery babies.


3/4 cup Zante currants (also called "black currants" or "dried currants")
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 1 T butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
1 tsp. lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a baking sheet.  

Combine currants with warm water to cover in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes until they are plumped.  Drain well.

While currants are plumping, sift flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

Add sugar and salt and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.  Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and scatter over dry ingredients.  If using a mixer, fit with a paddle attachment and pulse on and off so you don't break  down butter too much.  I started this way (as you can see below) but decided immediately to cut in the butter by had instead.  I do not have a pastry blender (if you do, use that) so I used two table knives to cut the butter in.

Like so (but using two hands of course.. one of mine is holding a camera..)

Cut up (or pulse mixer) until you have a coarse mixture and butter is in pea-sized lumps.

Note on buttermilk: I made buttermilk because I didn't have any on hand.  To do this, just measure out your milk, here 1 1/2 cups, and then add 1 T lemon juice per cup of milk (so 1 1/2 T for 1 1/2 cups of milk.  Let sit 5 minutes before using.

Add the buttermilk, currants and zest all at once and combine with a wooden spoon (or mix on low speed with mixer), just until you have a dough that holds together.  If mixture is dry, add a bit more buttermilk.  Don't overmix the dough! The butter should still be in pieces.

Dust work surface with flour and turn dough out.  Using your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches thick. 

Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Using a chef's knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles.

Transfer triangles to the prepared baking sheet. 

Bake the scones until the tops are lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes.  

Remove from the oven and serve warm.  

Mmmm so buttery and flaky...


-- Anya

Lentil Soup with Spinach and Sausage

Hi! Well we are snowed in here!  The wind is blowing the snow about in huge sheets but the sun is out and the world is a beautiful, if uninviting, white.  We have a fire going and the animals are all happily sleeping...

Aww! They look miserable, huh?

Anyways, it is a good day to share this wonderful lentil soup I made last week.

So, I have never thought of myself liking lentils.  I'm not sure why exactly, they are kinda ugly and seem sorta boring.  Boy, I was wrong.  This soup is absolutely wonderful and satisfying and hearty.  The base recipe comes from and it is a wonderful starting point.  It can be vegetarian, but I added some kielbasa...

which was smoky and wonderful.  I also added potatoes and extra carrots, garlic, spices...

and extra crushed tomatoes...

and stock instead of water...

And finished with spinach and some balsamic vinegar which added a wonderful deep flavor.

Serve this soup with crusty bread for a filling and satisfying winter meal.

Lentil Soup with Spinach and Sausage


2 Tbs. grapeseed (or olive) oil
1/2 lb. kielbasa, sliced (or other sausage)
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 cups potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried basil
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or combination of stock and water)
4 cups spinach, chopped
2 Tbs of balsamic vinegar (to taste)
salt and ground black pepper to taste


1.  In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat grapeseed oil over medium heat.  Brown sausage and  remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

2.  Add onions, carrots and celery to pot and cook until onion is tender, about 10 minutes.

3.  Stir in garlic, bay leaves, oregano, basil and cook for two minutes.

4.  Add potatoes, cook for 2 minutes.

5.  Stir in lentils, tomatoes, stock and/or water, and reserved sausage.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.  Just before serving, stir in spinach, cook until it wilts, and then add vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and more vinegar if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

-- Anya