Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scottish Scones

My good friend Barbara recently praised my cooking. I lapped it up, but the truth is, there’s many a slip twixt the (measuring) cup and the lip! I am, shall we say, accident prone. Many of you already know about the Baked Alaska Débacle. Baked Alaska is an interesting dessert made with a lump of meringued, cake-covered ice cream, frozen before broiling the meringue. It’s hot! It’s cold! It’s magic! There was nothing magical about my Baked Alaska. 
My Baked Alaska exploded in flames under the broiler because I'd forgotten to remove the piece of cardboard to which I’d frozen it. As I yanked the meteoric mass from the oven, the cardboard disintegrated and my Alaska (like Sarah Palin’s) crashed to the kitchen floor, sliding like a curling rock toward my horrified guests. 
With half a bottle of warm brandy ready to set my pièce de résistance on fire (even though the thing was already on fire), there was nothing to do but act nonchalant and pretend everything had gone exactly as planned. Spooning the alcohol over what remained of the Baked Alaska on the floor, I lit a match. Blue flames danced over the chunks that had escaped the cardboard's conflagration. Still pretending that everything was “normal,” I asked our stunned guests “Who wants the first piece of Baked Alaska?” The surprising answer was “Everyone!” 
They attacked that sucker like seagulls on a sandwich! Another culinary triumph! (Household tip for my female friends: Tired of asking for a new kitchen floor? Set your Baked Alaska on fire on the old one! It’s an excellent way to get the floor for which you’ve waited so long and so patiently!)
Speaking of flames, some of my guests will remember the Infamous Scottish Dinner Incident, when I was a divorcée (I promised you culinary French lessons last week; you're getting culinary French lessons! The culinary definition of “divorcée” is a woman who tries to access a man's stomach to find the path to his heart. All of which takes us back to the Infamous Scottish Dinner, when all of us dressed in kilts, most of us had a wee dram, and one of us (namely the Scottish professor who was my dinner date) tipsily crashed down on one knee, hand on heart, crooning Scottish love ballads to his mortified hostess, who hadn't the least intention of accessing his heart or any other appendage. 
Out came the grog, in the form of a Flaming Whiskey Punch that had been warming on the stove. As I struck a match to light it - you know where this is going! - a column of blue flame whooshed straight to the ceiling, where it began licking the plaster and paint. I screamed in wide-eyed panic. My guests froze in terror. Only one (who, being Scottish, knows the perils of hootch) raced to the kitchen for a lid large enough to extinguish the fire. 
With that crisis past, we relaxed in hungry anticipation as the haggis happily simmered on the stove. Unaware that I’d forgotten to lower the heat under the haggis, we heard a small, curious squeak, then a groan, and then a forceful BLAM! as the haggis exploded like a cannonball (I feared it was the Scottish professor). Bits of meat that looked like shrapnel peppered the kitchen cupboards and ceiling. It was, of course, the haggis.
So, my dear Barbara, the ugly truth lies bare. I am a culinary con artist - a charlatan who has fun, but who needs to keep it simple. When I recently made pumpkin loaves, I accidentally omitted one ingredient - the pumpkin. Ron now does most of the cooking. Works for me! And so to this week’s recipe for Scottish Scones. A child could make them, they’re that simple! I hope you’ll give them a try! I know Ron most certainly will!
Scottish Scones:
1-½ c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
¼ c. sugar
3 tbsp. skim milk powder
¾ c. oatmeal, uncooked
¼ c. raisins
⅓ c. vegetable shortening
⅔ c. cold water
Preheat the oven to 425 deg. F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and skim milk powder. Mix in the oats and raisins. Sift and package. Cut in shortening until the mixture has a mealy appearance. Add water all at once, stirring just until dough is moist. Do not over-mix. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, kneading briefly. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet and pat to form an 8-in. circle that is ¼-in. thick. Score into 8 wedges. Bake 18 to 20 min. or until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 8. 

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