St. Patrick's Day a chance to explore flavor of another country
Is it not enjoyable to take advantage of another culture's holiday to explore new recipes and treat yourself to something delicious? It is.
And is St. Patrick's Day not right around the corner? As the Irish might say, 'tis.
Moist, biscuit-y Irish scones, lashed with rich butter and a few slices of smoked salmon top my list of Irish culinary yearnings this March 17.
European-style butter makes a big difference in this dish; it has a slightly higher butterfat content than everyday supermarket butter. If you're sticking close to the theme, look for good Irish butter.
What does it mean to cut the butter into the flour mixture? The butter is added cold, in small pieces, and needs to be incorporated into the dry ingredients so that it is well distributed throughout but still maintains a pebbly texture. That way, when the scones bake, the butter melts into the dough, and creates flaky scones with tiny pockets of air to keep the texture light.
Blending the butter in with a pastry cutter, two butter knives, or quick rubbing movements with your fingers allows this to happen, without creaming the butter into the dough, which would create a denser scone.
As with biscuits or really any quick bread, the less you handle the dough the better. Over-mixing or kneading will activate proteins in the flour, making the resulting baked goods a bit tough. The dough might seem a little sticky; that's fine, just work quickly and nimbly, and make sure the work surface is well dusted with flour. Lightly dust the top of the dough too so that your fingers won't stick to it when you pat it out for cutting into circles.
These scones are not too sweet, as their intended filling is smoked, salty fish, but if you are wishing for scones to slather with butter and jam, you might add another tablespoon or two of sugar.
• Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/