The weather has finally snapped here in Los Angeles, and by snapped, I mean nights and mornings now dip into the 50s even if the days still go up into the high 70s. I know, I know, but those chilly nights and mornings are so crucial. They are also exactly what I needed to get back in the kitchen after my tortilla nightmare.
Well, that and my new cookbook, Tender by Nigel Slater, which I am absolutely and completely in love with. So much so that I would like to take you on a mini book tour. I’m ready whenever you are. Shall we?
Since purchasing the book on Thursday, I've bookmarked five recipes, bought ingredients for two, and attempted the savory pumpkin scones—a recipe that seemed absolutely fated for me. Not only is it high-pumpkin season, but the recipe called for beginning the baking process in a frying pan, flipping the partially baked disc onto a dinner plate and then sliding it back onto the pan to cook the other side. Ring a bell? And if so, do you believe in second chances?
This time, however, I would not be fooled. I chose a small cast iron pan I could lift with ease and, as it turned out, this made all the difference. Sure, it was messy and sure, we left some batter on the dinner plate, but all in all, we flipped that sucker!onto a plate, the cheese became the (pretty cool) bottom layer.
I’m not lying when I say that this scone made my Sunday. Though its texture hardly reminded me of any scone I’ve ever eaten before. It’s so moist from all that pumpkin that the center is more like that of mashed potatoes. The delicate flavors, however, are where its scone-ness really reveals itself. It’s slightly pumpkiny, a bit buttery and a bit “floury”—a word Slater uses to describe it, which I didn’t think much of when I first read it, but now realize is completely accurate. Oh, and then there are these occasional bursts of thyme. It tasted like autumn. And in this season-less city, that’s worth its weight in gold.
A warm pumpkin scone for a winter's afternoon via Tender by Nigel Slater
peeled and seeded pumpkin - 10 1/2 ounces [We don't have a scale and guesstimated 1 cup of steamed and puréed pumpkin. As you can see, this worked out really, really well for us!]
all-purpose flour - 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
baking soda - half a teaspoon
salt - half a teaspoon
butter - 5 tablespoons
an egg, beaten
warm milk (All we had was almond milk and it worked fine!) - 6 tablespoons
thyme leaves - 2 teaspoons
a little oil or butter
Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and steam until tender enough to mash. Preheat the oven to 400.
Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and rub it in with your fingertips. You could do this in a food processor, but it hardly seems worth the washing up. [I would agree, Nigel!]
Crush the pumpkin with a potato masher, then beat in the egg, followed by the milk and thyme leaves. Scoop this into the flour mixture and mix well. Season with black pepper.
Warm a heavy, nonstick frying pan with a metal handle over low to medium heat. [Should be noted that I used a small (8-inch) cast iron pan as this doesn't make a massive amount of dough.] Melt a little oil or butter in it, then pile in the dough, and smooth it flat. Cook over low heat until the underside is pale gold.
Lightly oil a dinner plate. Loosen the underside of the scone with the help of a spatula. Put the plate over the top of the pan, then, holding the plate in place, tip the pan so that the scone falls onto the plate. Slide the scone back into the frying pan and cook the other side for four or five minutes. Put the pan in the oven for seven minutes, or until the scone is lightly set in the middle.
Turn the scone out of the pan and slice into thick wedges. Serve warm, with cheese or some grilled bacon.