Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:40 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Scones

My grandmother made scones. Her maiden name was Janie Quinn so she came by that knowledge like her Scottish cousins did. Birthright!In Scotland scones are not somethingjust to go with tea. They are a national institution. When my grandmother, "Nana" mad e them she was serious to the point of severe. I picked up on it ... and she caused me to love them like I learned to love standing up in our grade school classroom reciting the 'Pledge of Allegiance'.

Scones.
Scones.
Credit Norman Van Aken

The smell of books, glue,soaped up girls and pencil lead were much less alluring to me than the smell of Nana 's scones emerging from the oven we had at our home on the shore of Diamond Lake.

For a while our son, Justin,decided to have a go at living in Key West again. He was born there and lived, by his own account, an idyllic early life. We all moved to Miami when he was about eight years of age due to my work but when he was about to become a father he and his wife went to Key West like he'd been given a spiritual 'call'.He went to work in a small restaurant that made a variety of foods.

My wife, Janet, and I went down to visit with him and the young family which includes his wife Lourdes as well as our angelic granddaughter Audrey Quinn Van Aken

As we were about to head back to Miami he phoned me and asked us to stop at his place of work for 'coffee'. He had a surprise. He'd baked us his own version of scones. His were "Coconut-Lime Scones".

Only relatively recently have genius and invention been closely coupled. In ancient times,genius was viewed as the gift of uncovering that which was previously known . Inventing and creating new things the very act of creation itself, was viewed as the exclusive province of God, and those who tried to create were dangerous usurpers. To create originally,without precedent, pattern, or model,was never the ideal of the ancient artist or sage, and indeed the ancients frequently denied the very prospect!

Many if not most modem chefs seek to create! Nana did not. Nor was she a chef. But the quandary we face at times is what is good as is and what could use a tweak.

Scones in Scotland are eaten like bagels are eaten in New York. Ubiquitously! The word may come from the Gaelic word 'sgonn'. In 1929 the prominent Scottish food writer Marian McNeill wrote in her landmark ''The Scots Kitchen" that scones were a 'shapeless mass'.

Nana 's were not and I'd pity anyone suggesting as such to her! Her's were cut-pie-shaped with that first bite of the triangle going into my happy mouth while just short of being hot enough to bum me. I loved the crumbly texture I would anoint with sweet creamery butter and our homemade strawberry jam we made each year.

 

JALAPEÑO CHEDDAR CHEESE SCONES

©2003 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: Approx. 10 Scones 2 Cups all-purpose flour

  • 1  Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2  teaspoons salt
  • 9 1/2 Tablespoons cold butter, diced
  • ½ cup heavy cream 2 eggs
  • ¼ lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, diced 2 jalapeños, minced
  • 1 ear of sweet corn, cut off the cob
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water)

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.

Sauté jalapeños and corn, over medium heat, until soft, about 5 minutes. Place in a small bowl with Cheddar cheese and coat with 1 tbs. of flour.

In another bowl, combine the rest of the flour with baking powder and salt. Cut in remaining butter with a fork until the butter is pea-size.

Lightly whip eggs and cream and add to the flour-and-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together.

Add the cheddar-and-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. Roll dough ¾- to 1-inch thick and cut into 8 triangles. (OR preferred shapes)

Brush with egg wash and place on well-oiled baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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