17 June 2008

Like A Rolling Scone

Sure, New Zealand has the Fiordlands, and the Franz Josef Glacier, and well, the whole South Island, but really as far as cities go, I truly think Wellington is the best we have to offer. If any bands or singers are reading this, (I'm looking at you, Joan Wasser and Jack White) don't bother playing in Auckland. Sure it has a million inhabitants, but Wellington has genuine charm and a dense concentration of everything essential for a travelling roadshow - eateries, drunkeries, and self-conscious hipsters. As a pink-cheeked country gal, I still find living in the city rather thrilling. Though, I know I've become acclimatised because I have developed a special look of cold, steely hatred reserved solely for those miscreants who dare to walk on the wrong side of the footpath at 5pm. Yes, there is a wrong side.

But as well as charm in bucket-fountain-loads, Wellington also has wind. I felt like the sorry love child of Dorothy Gale and Nanook of the North yesterday as the wind literally manhandled me to work , my 12 coats flapping about and - I kid you not (though I was kidding about the 12 coats) - my iPod headphones flew out of my ears. Yes, it's windy here.

Where am I going with this? Frankly, nowhere. I just felt like complaining about the weather.




Our flat is close-ish to some local shops, one of which is a small but charming deli, where I bought a crumbly wedge of cloth-aged cheddar on Saturday. The deli boasts an enticing range of cheeses, meats, cakes, and other sundry items - gluten free pasta, quinoa, nifty olive oils, you know the sort of thing I mean. The girl behind the counter not only accepted my business cards graciously, she also suggested quince as a good pairing and gave me a small piece of the cheese to sample before I purchased it. If you ever find yourself meandering aimlessly on Upland Road, thinking "where on earth can I spend my money" may I suggest you stop in here? It's the only deli on the street, so you can't miss it.



As it happened I had some of Nigella's quince glaze still knocking about in the fridge, which would provide a sweet contrast to the sharp, tangy cheese. To provide a third contrasting flavour, I whipped up some oaty scones, based on Alison Holst's basic recipe, from her Dollars and Sense cookbook that my brother got me for Christmas. I added some extra bits - oats, bran, poppyseeds - and was hoping they wouldn't end up all lumpen and horrible but they turned out very fluffy and light.

Alison Holst's Scones...ish.

I got seven good sized scones out of this. I never roll the dough out, just scoop up a scone-sized lump with a spoon. Makes for the least amount of handling and has constantly given me light scones...Could be that I'm too lazy to break out the rolling pin though.

2 cups self-raising flour
2 t sugar (optional)
25-50g butter (guess which I went for?)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water


Heat oven to 200 C. Rub the butter, flour, and sugar (if using, and I used a squirt of golden syrup added with the milk instead) together in a bowl until there are no large lumps of butter. Here I added a handful of bran, a handful of quick-cook oats, and a tablespoon of poppyseeds. Pour in the liquid all at once, and carefully stir till everything is sticky. Careful not to overmix. Put good sized spoonfuls (which I pat into a uniform shape) onto a baking-paper lined tray and bake for about 20 minutes.




Above: The three components worked together fabulously. This particular cheese really is very intense, but there was almost something addictive about the salty astringent cheddar and sweet, sweet quince glaze together. The nutty solidness of the scones provided a calming background to this. Or something. It made for a delightful and elegant supper. I began thinking of other ways I could eat this cheddar- perhaps with maple syrup, a handful of walnuts, and a crisp apple...oatcakes, a smear of honey, and slices of pear...Tim really liked it too, which surprised but pleased me, as his tastes can be a little more conservative than mine. I'll never forget our terse, lengthy debate over the differences betweeen olive and canola oil....



Above: The scones were also terriff with slowly-melting butter pooling in their oaty crevices. Expense be damned, happiness is a warm scone.

By the way, we - Tim, Katie, Emma, Scott (our fabulous doctor friend) and I watched the first episode of Outrageous Fortune Season 4 on TV3 last night. Friends, it was sublime. Tip o' the old cap to TV3 for managing to hold on to this gem. Cheryl is as awe-inspiring as ever, and Wolf is back in a big way, which means that Katie and I are constantly having mad palpitations of the heart. Kudos on the producers' choice of child to play Loretta's baby - she really is a cutie. The episode started off solidly and then built to sheer gloriousness. The only thing that stings is the lack of Judd, for goodness' sake come back to Cheryl and don't get back with Glen or whatever your ex-wife's name is. That is one plot trajectory that we all roundly agreed would result in boycotting (okay not really, but definitely in fists being shook.) For those of you overseas, I offer a patronising, pitying smile, because you are missing out on TV GOLD. Did you know you can buy it on DVD through Fishpond? Ugh, I'm sorry. (But really, it's a fact.)

However, you don't have to live in New Zealand to see this interview with Van/Jethro actor and possibly the best looking famous man in New Zealand, Anthony Starr. (I can't pretend I've never found an All Black attractive - there was the short-lived Doug Howlett frenzy of 2003 - but really, look outside the square, people.) I've said it once before but it bears repeating; during scenes with Van and Jethro together, he has chemistry with himself.




Above: As you may have noticed I'm having a bit of a fling with poppy seeds at the moment, I just want to put them in everything for some reason. Luckily Tim and I are way past that "maintain a sense of mystery stage" so I don't have to worry about the dreaded poppy-seeds-in-the-teeth situation arising, with people delicately pretending to ignore it and then you find out three days later what's happened (inevitably meeting every possible person you don't want to see in the process.) It's the culinary equivalent of hoisting your skirt into your pantyhose (and I've so been there too...)

Erm, anyway I had this idea of incorporating poppy seeds and my Boyajian orange oil into a shortbread recipe. Then I thought that adding a spoonful of raspberry jam would be cool. But I also wasn't sure if it would be a socking great disaster, so in a surprisingly scientific move (from someone pathetically bad at science) I divided the dough into three, leaving a "control" group of plain shortbread so that if my dabbling in experimentation went wrong, I'd at least have a small pile of edible biscuits.

They were all delicious! I couldn't be bothered coming up with a base recipe of my own, since most shortbread recipes are much of a muchness anyway - hey, I have Scottish heritage, don't go getting up in arms - so I used Nigella's basic recipe - 200g butter and flour, half that of icing sugar and cornflour - and did nothing to the control group save a dusting of vanilla sugar. For the orange and poppyseed biscuits I added half a teaspoon orange oil (it's potent stuff!) and rolled the cylinder of dough in poppyseeds. For the raspberry orange poppyseed biscuits I added orange oil, a tablespoon of poppyseeds, and two tablespoons of Tim's diabetic-friendly raspberry jam (which is so much better than most commercial jams, because it's way fruitier.)

Fun and educational!




Above: Shortbread, three ways. There's probably an off-colour joke in there somewhere, but I'm too lazy, or perhaps not lazy enough, to think it up.

I'm not sure if it's good news or not but Tim managed to scrape together enough money through various loans to cover the costs of his dental work (appointment this afternoon!) but they will need to be paid off which is kind of worrying especially when we're trying to save. Seriously, these dentists better be giving him some diamond-plated grillz or something for what they're charging. Anyway, Tim and I got all righteous and "damn the man!" and wrote letters to both the Minister of Health (David Cunliffe) and the Minister of Tertiary Education (Pete Hodgson). We asked the hard questions - actually they're not that hard, seriously, how do these people get paid so well to make so many illogical decisions - and I hope we get a reply. A thought-out, not automated reply. But think nice, anethatised thoughts for Tim this afternoon as his teeth get prodded. Whatever we have for dinner tonight, I'm guessing it's going to have to come in puree form...
.
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Overheard in our kitchen:

Tim: These carrot sticks are really nice.
Me: Cool.
Tim: What'd you do to them?
Me: Put them in the bowl that the pork fat had been in.
Tim: Ohh...

20 comments:

  1. Those scones look good! Fresh scones with melting butter are so good! I have not had quince but serving it on cheese and a fresh scone sounds like a nice combo!

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  2. For some reason I love poppy seeds. I don't think I've ever eaten enough to fail a drug test (Seinfeld), but maybe close. Poppy seed shortbread are def a winner in my book.

    Just so you know, one of the interns brought Nigella's book into clinic... and I now know why you're obsessed. Chocolate infinity.

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  3. Great blog! I actually was at the mentioned deli this morning picking up a delightful danish and grabbed one of your cards at the same time - what are the chances!

    And yes, their cheese selection is second to none!

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  4. Laura, you're utterly wasted in social marketing. I LOVE your blog! Feel free to bring me anything poppy-seed-infused on Tuesdays.x

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  5. Love the scones. I can't make them too often b/c I eat the whole batch and regret it later. I may brreak down and try yours.

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  6. By the time Viv and I have visited all the culinary sites of Welly in July - as seen on your blog...(Chocolaterie/unnamed deli in Kelburn/Tim's Starbucks) there'll be little time left for Te Papa etc.

    Scones look yummy and sound yummy too.

    I bought Viv some quince paste to help her prepare for her Spanish exam (it was imported from Spain) but she'd come as close to over-dosing on it when she was in Argentina as there was not a wide range of alternatives where she was staying.... so I'm hoping it will keep for a while till I take some cheese around to accompany it.

    By the way, tried making beetroot chips last night and they were spectactularly.... uninspiring and the rest of them were charcoal edged by the time I took them out of the oven. Not sure what I did wrong.....

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  7. I agree that Wellington is the best city in NZ, but that wind! Brrrrr!!! Those scones look amazingly good.

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  8. Poke out my eyes with sharp objects re Outrageous Fortune!!!! Am a fetching shade of chartreuse green (with envy). I too am in the 'bring back Judd' camp - loved the byplay between Wolf and him in the past. If family are reading this (heh, heh) Season 4 would make a great Chrissie pres (all the iwi could chip in LOL). Hope you are impressed with my photographic effort in last night's blog - only took an hour this time - maybe practice makes perfect. Hope Tim survived the torture house - I have some interesting soup recipes if necessary - a free give away from the Oz Women's Weekly!!!

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  9. Kevin: Quince is very sweet when cooked, so it's perfect with sharp cheese :)

    Adam: lol we sort of mused over that as well. Decided there were far easier ways to get our kicks.

    Mr Shankly: hey, the business cards finally work! yeah, it's a great shop and it's fab to have another wellingtonian reading :)

    Amie: HI and thanks :) didn't realise you put all your cool drawings on a blog, loved looking through it :) have a good flight!

    eat!: It only makes a small batch, so no harm done really... ;)

    Mum: Sorry about the beetroot chips :( a culinary tour of Wellington would be time well spent though!

    Agnes: It is a great city, and thanks!

    Lynn: Bring back Judd! I'm sure your requests will not go unnoticed ;) heading over to your blog now!

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  10. I'm always after a good scone recipe and these look lovely!
    It's the Good Food show in Sydney tomorrow so I hope its as good as the one you went to. So excited!
    BTW, I've tagged you too!

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  11. I am still in enamoured with Wellington, even though I only lived there for 2 years (17 years ago!!!!!!)It totally rocks!My husband is born and bred Wellington though, so I kind of feel like it gives me more of an 'in' IYKWIM!
    Loving the photos in this post Laura,it is so cool that we are now seeing your food at its photogenic best!!!!

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  12. Love the melting butter shot, mmmm, butter. I'd eat the scones with plum jam - my favourite.

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  13. Gorgeous photos, gorgeous food...and the guy in the interview you linked? Also gorgeous.

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  14. Laura-Great blog. I really like your writing style and the fun you have experimenting with your recipes!

    Elana

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  15. JillyB: Have fun at the food show! Will get onto that tag in my next post.

    Linda: Thanks, and yeah, Wgtn is awesome!

    Christie: lol I think that's my favourite photo. Plum jam would be perfect.

    Elle: um, YES! lol.

    Elana: Thankyou, and thanks for stopping by :)

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  16. Mmmm your scones look feather light and so good. You were right to leave the rolling pin in it's house. My Mother always said handle little and lightly with scones and she was right. The quince glaze looks lovely. Which Nigella book is that in? Love all the shortbread. I love shortbread and trying different variations with it. It makes a great base.
    xxx

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  17. Hope the exam is going/went well. Mark has his exam today too. Julian has the senior ball tonight so way too much excitement for one day. (I'm meeting VIv for coffee shortly to cope with the stress of it all.)

    Undeterred by my tragic results with beetroot chips, I hacked the remaining one into chunks and baked/tossed/roasted it with pumpkin and potatoes. It was much nicer, although I noticed that Mark and Julan treated their share more as a decorative garnish and left them uneaten.

    Had the most amazing old-fashioned-just-like-Nana-used-to-make bread and butter puding (with nutmeg) at the community dinner last night. Definitely will forage through the old cookbooks to try and re-enact the experience. Have you ever tried making it?

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  18. "culinary equivalent of hoisting your skirt into your pantyhose"

    LOVE that! Oh, Laura - you just crack me up, girl.

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  19. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Alanna

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  20. Love the scones. Gorgeous photos, gorgeous food.

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