28 February 2012

Ugly Scones with Brie and Caramelized Onions

Well, they’re ugly little things, perhaps the ugliest food I’ve ever made in my entire life. But it’s not like I’m going to be decorating my walls with them…

Do you like my new scones?

When I first read the technique for stuffing the scones with caramelized onion and Brie, I was skeptical that the Brie would stay inside the scones and not melt out. But I was so enamored with the concept that I followed the recipe anyway, and as you can see, there was a significant amount of leakage. But perhaps the leakage was the author’s intention, because it was delightful. The melting Brie, avalanching from the scones and taking the caramelized onions with it, formed ugly little brown puddles all around the scones, and then crisped up quite marvelously and became my favorite part.

This crunchy spill-off was so fantastic that I used the surplus filling to make a batch of ugly little brown puddles without the scone dough.

Delicious? Yes. Pretty? No. But there certainly is an advantage to serving ugly food. Think about how much more attractive you, as a host, will seem to your guests, if you set down a plate of unsightly fare. If you serve a good-looking meal, you run the risk of your guests gazing adoringly at their plate of beautiful food, immediately casting their eyes upon you to praise you, but then noticing flaws of which they were previously unaware. Then, disappointed in your face, they might get up and leave during the middle of dinner, and then you will cry, and then you will be even less attractive than before.

An option with a happier ending: consider serving these only to your ugly friends.

That was mean. Sorry. How cruel of me to exclude beautiful people from the pleasures of these ugly little puddles. I should try to be a nicer person. Perhaps a more inclusive alternative would be to garnish a salad with them, allowing the beauty of the salad to overwhelm the ugly little crunchers, and then even your pretty friends will eat them. A no-tears solution!

Ugly Little Delicious Little Crisp Little Puddles of Caramelized Onion and Brie (Scroll down for the scone recipe if you would like that instead.)


Caramelize some onions, season with salt and pepper. Mix with Brie. Dollop little puddles of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with a silicone sheet (or parchment paper). Bake at 400 degrees. I'm not going to give you a time amount because you just have to keep your eye on them. The Brie will melt, bubble, and then start crisping up, and that's when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool completely for maximum crunchiness. Eat as is, or use them as garnishes for salad, soup, or fancy toasts.

Scones Stuffed With Caramelized Red Onions and Brie

~from Savory Baking: Warm and Inspiring Recipes for Crisp, Crumbly, Flaky Pastries

Onion Filling

2 medium red onions, peeled, cut in half, and cut into ¼ - inch slices

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar

salt and pepper


3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream

8 ounces Brie, cut into ½-inch pieces


To prepare filling, sauté onions in the oil in a large, wide-bottomed skillet over high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook onions for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice for even cooking; they will start to turn translucent and soften. Decrease heat to medium, add sherry wine vinegar and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and very soft, 20-25 minutes. Transfer caramelized onions to plate to cool.

To prepare scones, preheat oven to 375°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl. Pour 2 cups of heavy cream over flour mixture. Mix flour and cream with your fingers, forming a soft, slightly sticky dough. Mix dough gently and briefly. Don’t worry if you see a few dry flour patches.

Turn moist dough out onto a floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Gently knead each piece several times, then flatten each into a ½-inch thick disc, about 9 inches in diameter. Dot one disc of dough with the Brie and spread the caramelized onions evenly over the top. Place the other disc of dough on top of the onions and gently press down the edges, sealing the two discs together. Lift the sandwiched disc onto a cutting board. With a long sharp knife, cut the round disc into 12 pie-shaped wedges (see note below).

Evenly space scones on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each one to allow for slight spreading. Brush tops with remaining 3 tablespoons of cream. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and place on cooling rack. Serve scones warm. Makes 12.

Delicious with soup!

04 February 2012

Deadly Roasted Garlic

Roast some garlic and put it on a hamburger. But don’t store it in your fridge and THEN put it on a hamburger, or you might die.

One day I thought about how super it would be to store roasted garlic in my fridge, always and forever available at a moment’s notice. So I roasted 14 heads of garlic, tenderly squeezed out each succulent clove, and submerged them all in oil. Immediately afterward, I learned that garlic stored in oil is a haven for botulism. Who knew?

So beautiful and innocent, yet if left in your fridge for more than three weeks, it can make you violently ill. Or worse, not even alive. Or even worse, your guests not alive.

so pretty, yet so possibly lethal

Usually I ignore health warnings from the FDA (I eat sushi and non-pasteurized cheeses when I’m pregnant, I pull a roasted chicken when it reaches a pinky 150 degrees instead of 180 degrees, etc.), but this seemed serious. So I asked a friend who has mastered the art of canning, and she reluctantly agreed that botulism warnings are not to be taken lightly.

Woe was me. How would I ever find enough ways to consume 14 heads of roasted garlic within three weeks?

Here’s the list I came up with.

1: Re-create Stilton burgers from the Goose Island Brewpub. A hamburger on pumpernickel with roasted garlic, Düsseldorf mustard, and Stilton cheese. It’s supposed to be pepper-crusted but we forgot. Oops. Oh well, we'll have to try again. Life could be worse.

2: Garlic-Lemon Butter. Botulism isn’t a concern at freezing temperatures, so this is the part where I demonstrate that I am more intelligent than fatal microbes.

3: Garlicky Cheesy Mashed Potatoes. Make mashed potatoes your normal way. Add enough roasted garlic and cream cheese to make it taste like mashed potatoes with garlic and cream cheese.

4. Dollop on a pizza.

5. Purée with herbs and sour cream and swirl into soup. Actually I didn’t do this one but it sounds AWESOME and I’m totally doing it next time don't copy me.

What else, besides popping them like candy?