Sunday Scones

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Yes, yes, I know it’s WEDNESDAY. But I made these on a Sunday and I like my alliteration, okay? These are a great addition to a Sunday brunch (I know this because that’s what I made them for). I used turkey bacon in this recipe but feel free to use any bacon-like product you can think of.

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Start with 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and mix it in a bowl with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

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Grab 1/2 cup COLD butter and use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You can use a food processor for this if you really want, but we are going for a non-uniform texture here, so irregular chunks of butter are a plus in this situation.

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Normally I use buttermilk when I make scones because it makes them nice and fluffy. But I never have buttermilk on hand because in Canada you can only buy it in 1L cartons and seeing as I don’t drink it for its own sake that’s a lot of buttermilk to have to use up. So generally I just sour my own milk. 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk, give it a stir, and leave it for five minutes. Good enough. Here I only needed 2/3 cup soured milk so I adjusted accordingly. You can do the math. Anyway, mix the milk with 2 slightly beaten eggs.

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What you also need here is about 5 slices of cooked bacon, any kind.

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Slice and dice that into wee pieces. You need about 1/2 cup chopped bacon at this point. You should probably do this first before all the other stuff with the flour and butter so that the bacon has time to cool down before you cut it up. Otherwise, there might be bad things that happen.

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Harvest some green onions as well. Dice them up until you have about 1/4 cup chopped green onion.

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Then grate some cheese. Any kind you like, but you need about 2/3 cup grated cheese and then add to that about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese as well.

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Okay so now you’ve got all your bits and pieces. Add the buttermilk/eggs mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

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Add the cheese, onions, and bacon to the bowl as well and continue to stir until it’s all incorporated.

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Turn the mix out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently just until all the bits and pieces are together and it’s a cohesive mass. You just want things all barely sticking together. When in doubt, under-mix.

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Shape it into a disk about 1″ thick. Wrap the dough up tightly and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight.

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Scones cook really well from frozen, did you know that? So if you wanted to do that, cut the scones before chilling, wrap them up really well, and then chuck them in the freezer for scone-y goodness any time you want. Frozen scones make great gifts, you know.

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If you’re not freezing them, unwrap your chilled dough and slice it into wedges. I aimed for 10 wedges here. You can also flatten your dough into a rectangle and cut out squares or triangles or whatever you want. Wedges are easiest for me. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

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Plop the wedges on some baking sheets lined with parchment and brush them with about 2 tablespoons half and half or light cream.

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Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and shove them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they’re puffy and golden.

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Let cool only very slightly before serving warm with a dollop of butter!

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The Egg Monte Cristo

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When I saw this recipe on Design*Sponge a while back, I remember thinking, I don’t know what that is, but it sure looks good.  After finally getting around to making it, I know that it tastes as good as it looks.  I’ve never had a classic Monte Cristo, but this recipe has given me a new appreciation for fried sandwiches in general, so that *could* be next on my list.  In any case, this adaptation of an original is tops.  It’s fantastic as both breakfast AND lunch (and probably your evening meal, too, though I wouldn’t eat this more than once a day if I were you).

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This version of the recipe requires you to refrigerate the sandwich prior to frying it, so make sure you give yourself enough time.  If you’re planning it for breakfast, try making it up the night before and chilling it overnight — and be sure to make enough to share!

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Start with some nice bread.

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This is a rustic sourdough.  I like sourdough.

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For each sandwich, spread two slices of bread generously with apricot jam.  Apricot jam is my favourite, so this is one of the reasons I decided to try this recipe.

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Then, on one side of your sandwiches, spread some soft plain goat cheese (chèvre).  On the other, artistically drape a few slices prosciutto (the original calls for ham, so you could use that if you prefer, and for those of you who are kosher or halal, there is another variant with deli turkey, or forego the meat altogether).

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For each sandwich, you’re going to need 1 egg, fried over easy.  I’m not very good at frying eggs neatly but I did okay with these ones.  Feel free to season with salt and pepper.

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Carefully lay your fried egg on top of one side of your sandwich, then just as carefully lay the other side of the sandwich over top.

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I may have pressed too hard.  Oops.  Wrap the sandwich in Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.  I guess you do this so everything congeals together before frying.

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When you’re ready to eat, you need to make yourself some batter.  For each sandwich, you’ll need 1 egg, 2 tablespoons milk (I used cream to be extra luxurious and it was SO worth it), and a sprinkling of cinnamon (two sandwiches, two eggs, etc.).  Whisk that all together.

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Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a hot skillet (I used the same one I fried the eggs in).  If you think that’s a lot of butter, keep in mind that some versions of this sandwich are DEEP FRIED, so count your blessings.

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Carefully dip both sides of each sandwich into the batter.

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Set it in the skillet to fry in the butter.  It truly smells fantastic.

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Flip (carefully) and cook the other side as well.  You want the outside to cook enough that the inside gets all warm and gooey, but not so much that it burns.  This all depends on your skillet and stove and the thickness of your bread.  You’ll just have to experiment with timing and temperature.

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Eat it piping hot.  Fantastic with a cup of coffee and a glass of cranberry juice.  Very filling!

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Pollo in Chianti

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My mother and I used to make this for fancy dinner parties all the time when I was a kid.  I DO have the recipe written down somewhere, but that somewhere is likely in the bottom of a sealed box in my storage unit.  Fortunately for me, this recipe is pretty easy to remember, as it only has five ingredients (including the string).

As recipes go, it is a little time-consuming to make, but it’s totally worth it.  Think of it as sort of a fancy chicken tournedo — in reverse.

Start with some boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  As many as you want — I used 24 thighs for this.

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You’ll need a corresponding amount of prosciutto, which is a thinly sliced ham-like substance.  I usually use half a slice for each piece of chicken, though it’s so thinly sliced it tends to fall to pieces when I pull it apart so it’s hard to say how much I really use.

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Gren thinks he needs prosciutto.  Gren is wrong.

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And you’ll need a big bunch of fresh thyme.

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Then you’re going to need some butcher’s twine or kitchen string.  It’s helpful if you’ve already got it pre-cut into the number of pieces you need.  You’ll need about 8″-10″ pieces to wrap around each piece of chicken.

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First you’re going to need to strip all the wee leaves off your thyme.  This is annoying and takes a while.

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Then you’ll need to cut off all the excess fat on your chicken thighs.

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Open up the thigh so the cut side is up (this is where the bone used to be).  Line this side with a piece or two of prosciutto.

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Sprinkle on some of your thyme (yes, I know that I didn’t succeed in getting it all off the stem).  I like to also garnish it with some pepper.  These pink peppercorns make a nice contrast.

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Then roll the thigh back up and hold it closed.  Get your string ready.  The reason you want your string to be pre-cut is you don’t want to have chicken fingers all over your ball of twine.  That is gross.

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Wrap the string around the thigh two or three times and tie the ends into a simple but loose knot.

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I showed you the steps for one thigh but usually I approach this with a Fordist mentality and do it all in an assembly line.  Doing all of each step at once helps me to budget my use of thyme — otherwise I end up running out at the end.

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I actually prepped these the day before I cooked them and kept them in a sealed container in the fridge.  It saved me precious time during the day of the dinner party.

Your final ingredient will be a nice bottle of Chianti, an Italian red wine.  Any red wine will do, but Chianti is in the name of the recipe so it makes sense to use it.  I picked up the cheapest bottle I could find at the LCBO and I think it was about $13.  You’re going to be cooking with it, so it doesn’t have to be excellent or anything.  For 24 thighs I used the whole bottle, so you’ll probably only use half that if you’re making less.

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I also purchased especially for this day a new electric skillet.  We’d always used an electric skillet before to make this dish, simply because it was large and we could put it elsewhere and save room on the stovetop.  I got a good deal on this Hamilton Beach one from Home Outfitters.  You can easily make this in one or two skillets on your stove top.  Don’t feel you need to buy a new appliance if you’re not going to use it often. I am going to use this a bunch, which is why I bought it, and I made sure to read many reviews before I did!

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Anyway, heat your skillet to medium-high and plop in your chicken.  This skillet fits EXACTLY 24 rolled chicken thighs, which is an added bonus.

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Let those cook, rotating occasionally with a pair of tongs, until they are nicely browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes.

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Lower the heat to medium and pour in the Chianti.

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The liquid level should come to about 1/2 to 2/3 the height of the chicken.

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Cover and let that simmer for about 20 minutes, until the wine is reduced somewhat.  Rotate the thighs halfway through so that the colouring will be even (the wine will dye the chicken purple).

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I used an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thighs, which will be done when they read at 165°F.

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Use a pair of scissors to cut the string on all the thighs and serve them on rice or noodles.  So decadently simple!

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