Part XXXIV: Clay Courts
America sucks at spreads.
Now, there’s a few related things we’re pretty good at, so don’t get it twisted. Condiments? Totally on point. We came up with chow chow and hot sauce, and those two alone put us in the running for medalling in the worldwide flavor olympics. Granted, chow chow’s basically a souled-up version of chutney but it holds true all the same.
We’re also good at stuffing things with other food things, which isn’t really a point to be proud of so much as a testament to our need to shove as much food as possible down our throats at once. Clearly, having to wait to eat your remoulade-slathered crab cake while you eat your double-bacon ranch cheeseburger completely goes against everything the founding fathers stood for. We should have the freedom to eat both at once, damnit! That’s what the Boston Tea Party was all about! Or, y’know, taxation with representation. It was one of those two, I think.
(Fun fact! Before we started calling it the Boston Tea Party, it was called the Destruction of the Tea. That’s right, we didn’t just dump the stuff…we obliterated it. Way more awesome.)
But we suck at spreads. All we really have that’s truly American-invented is peanut butter, which is damn delicious, but pales in comparison to Nutella or the holiest of holy spreads: Speculoos spread. And even when we use other stuff, we’re uncreative as hell. Watch someone make some toast in the morning, and check out what they’re spreading on their toast. Jam? It’s good, but our mass-produced Smuckers version hardly counts. Butter? That’s what you use to make more delicious things, you skipped a step. Take the butter, make the Speculoos cookies with it, spread it. That’s what it’s for.
And then there’s curd, in all its many flavors and forms. Curd’s basically what happens when you take sugar, butter (see?), some kind of fruit, and an egg, and heat it up until magic happens. Sounds disgusting, until you realize lime curd is basically key lime pie spread. Yeah. I bet you’ll hop on that train now, won’t you? I’m hopping on with some Scones with Strawberry Curd, so do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. You won’t regret it.
Here’s what you need:
-1 cup hulled strawberries (that means cut off the stem and the leafy part)
– zest + juice of a small lemon
– zest + juice of a small orange
– 2 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 stick of butter
– 2 eggs
– 2 egg yolks
– pinch of salt
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 cup half and half
-4 ounces butter
Here’s how you do it:
So before I start, take a look at my curd. See how it’s all runny and not solid at all? That’s bad. That’s because of two things I did.
1. I didn’t cook it long enough. Make sure you keep cooking until it’s nice and thick and glossy. If it takes longer than 10 minutes, do it anyway.
2. I got too big of an orange. When I say small, I mean it; get an orange that’s about the size of your lemon, or use half of a regular-size orange.
Ok, recipe time.
First you’re gonna make the curd, because otherwise you’re gonna have some cold-ass scones. Throw all those strawberries in a blender or a food processor and puree the crap outta them. It’s not a big deal if a couple of seeds survive the blending, but if you’re super antsy about that stuff you can always just puree it longer.
Add the strawberry goo to a bowl (make sure it’s a bowl you can use on a double boiler) along with the lemon, orange, sugar, butter, and salt.
Whisk up the eggs and add those too.
Make yourself a double boiler, put the bowl on top, and bring the water to a boil.
Keep stirring for about 10 minutes, or until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Again, you might need to cook it longer, so just keep it going until it’s nice and thick. If you can run a finger along the back of the spoon, and it leaves a clear and obvious trail, then you’re good to go.
Take the curd off the stove and let it cool, then throw it in some jars and refrigerate it.
Now for the scones. I’m gonna re-use the scone recipe I used a while back (this one), because, well…the scones are the same. Why would I change them, they’re delicious.
Preheat your oven to 400, then whisk together all your dry stuff together in a bowl.
Cut your butter into little pieces like this, then use your hands or a pastry blender (or what normal people call them: butter claws) to mix it in with the dry stuff. You want the butter to form clumps the size of little peas, don’t do it more than that. Just don’t.
Next, pour the half-and-half in, and mix it up with a fork until it forms a solid dough (don’t use your hands unless you like wasting pretty much all your dough). It should be a little sticky; if it’s not just add a little more half-and-half. Scones aren’t rocket science, people.
Throw some flour on a cutting board or some kind of big, flat…thing, put your dough on that, and roll it out so it’s about 1/2 an inch thick.
It doesn’t really matter what shape you cut the scones in, as long as they’re not huge or anything. But I grew up with them being triangle-shaped, so that’s what we’re gonna do.
Brush the tops with more half and half, and sprinkle some sugar on top. If you can find it, get some of this fancy crystal sparkling sugar or whatever the hell it’s called. It’ll melt into the scones a bit in the oven and get everything all nice and delicious. Plus it comes in fun colors. I’m color-blind, and I still dig on some crazy orange scones. If you can’t find it, regular sugar’ll work, but…try and find the good stuff.
After that, just stick em in the oven for 20 minutes, and take them out when they’re golden brown. Then take some of that curd, spread it on, and enjoy.
And enjoy these beats along with them. This week we’ve got some guest beats on deck, courtesy of recordplaystop.com. She’s got some cool music over there; you should give it a look-see after you’re done digesting.
Any of my friends will tell you, even Katie [who borrowed my Drake CD and hasn’t given it back it yet], I’m a certifiably insane scone connoisseur. Truthfully, I’ve paid as much as six bucks for one once. No one tells you until you live here but Brooklyn hipsters have officially cornered the market on pastries of all shapes, sizes, and creeds, and the price for quality is disgusting. So this scone recipe is a highlight of my day as far as I’m concerned. It makes me think of the the instrumental song “New Day” by indie hip hop duo The Other Guys. For about two weeks straight I listened to this song every morning before work while, coincidentally, buying a chocolate chip scone. So for what it’s worth, “New Day” is my scone song and I’ve started many a “new day” [cheesy pun I know] with it. Enjoy!!!
You know what? It’s ok that we suck at spreads, because we’re the great importers. As much as I don’t like buying into the American dream and all that nonsense, it is pretty cool that we can just pick and choose parts of other cuisines, bring them over here, and make them appear in our restaurants and supermarkets. Of course, usually we butcher the hell out of them, and that’s a damn shame. But we’re trying, damnit. Some trace remnants of those flavors are making it here, in some way or another. I’ll give them points for effort, for now. See you next time.
The strawberry curd recipe came from these lovely people right here: