cinnamon-bun scones

as i’ve said before, i’m not exactly a morning person. the few times i’ve found myself springing out of bed, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, i usually a) have just returned from another time zone and my body has been tricked into resetting its internal clock, b) have something really really exciting that is happening that day, or c) know for a fact that a delicious breakfast awaits me.

…sometimes b) and c) are the same thing.

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these scones are definitely a fantastic morning treat. (and with a carafe of hot coffee and the right company, you could easily have the makings of one of those really really exciting things…) they do take a bit of handiwork – it’s a tender dough you pat together and cut into wedges, unlike the scoop-and-bake kind i usually make – but luckily for you and me and all involved, they can be baked in advance: store them un-iced in an airtight container (giant ziploc bags are my go-to kitchen tool here) until you’re ready to serve them. then just before breakfast time, give them a quick run through the toaster oven to warm them through and re-crisp their corners before slathering on the smooth cream cheese icing.

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there are few things better than the scent of cinnamon and butter coming at you bright and early in the morning. for a day you want to keep things simple-dimple, you could just dribble melted butter over crisp toast and sprinkle with cinammon sugar – one of my favorite things to eat as a kid; or keep it classic and slice off a piece of cinnamon-crumbed coffee cake. but on the days when you want a little something special, an upgrade on the usual but comforting and delicious all the same, these are good: close-your-eyes-and-sigh good.

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Cinnamon-Bun Scones

Makes 16 scones
adapted slightly from Food & Wine, March 2003
original recipe by Marcy Goldman

2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice, plus 2 Tablespoons, softened
2 tablespoons softened
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line two large, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pastry blender and then your fingers, combine brown sugar with the 2 tablespoons of softened butter and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon until soft crumbs form. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the 3 cups of flour with the granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Add the diced butter and – using a pastry blender or crisscrossing two knives – cut into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the center.
  3. Add the cream, egg and vanilla to the well and stir to combine. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the flour mixture until a firm dough forms. Crumble the brown sugar mixture over the dough and knead it into the dough, leaving some streaks.
  4. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and knead 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise to make 8 squares.  Cut each square on the diagonal to make 16 triangles. Transfer the scones to baking sheets and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until browned. Let cool slightly on the sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with the lemon juice. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread the icing over the warm scones and serve immediately.
  6. Scones can be baked ahead 1 or 2 days: store un-iced scones in a resealable bag or other airtight container. Before serving, toast them briefly in a toaster or regular oven; then spread with icing.

linguine & company

i think there should be a cuisine called “classy comfort.” is there already? [update: google that, and you’ll be led to a frightening website for adult diapers.] i don’t mean the kind of thing where you take a comfort food staple like mac ’n’ cheese and upgrade it with truffle oil and whatnot. i mean the opposite, where a seemingly elegant dish somehow tastes like home. kind of like this one that i had posted about earlier.

well, in any case, i’ve found another contender: linguine with gorgonzola, potatoes, green beans, and sage. what makes it seem fancy? it has a long name, for one. and also the fact that it’s meatless (except that i made it with some diced pancetta thrown in, oops) and that it calls for “gorgonzola dolce.” i couldn’t find any at trader joe’s, by the way, which to me basically means it must be nonexistent. so i responded accordingly: tossed some regular blue cheese into my basket and adjusted the amount of butter when i got home to cook, as recommended by the recipe. still tasted damn fantastic.

you know what else is neat about this recipe? it has linguine and potatoes. maybe you think the pairing would be strange, but when i read that in the recipe title i got starry-eyed. two starches, together at last. double-carb time. and it’s a lovely thing, really. the pasta is al dente and forktwirl-worthy, and the soft chunks of potato absorb and exude beautiful flavors from the sage and butter and blue cheese.

it was so satisfying to cook, too: you lift the noodles and potatoes steaming out of the pot, and then let them settle down with the cheese, butter, and sage. stir, stir, stir, and a sauce comes together as everything melts. it reminds me a lot of this recipe for spaghetti with spinach, goat cheese, and sweet little tomatoes. they’re both good weeknight quickie meals: a summery version and this cold-weather one, which was just about perfect this week, as our season’s first storm set in.


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Linguine with Gorgonzola, Potatoes, Green Beans, and Sage
adapted from Sunset, October 2007
Serves 6

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (I couldn’t find any at the store that weren’t green, so I just used three white potatoes, each about palm-sized)
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound linguine
6 fresh sage leaves
6 ounces blue cheese
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bag (10 oz.) frozen cut green beans

Peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-in. pieces. Put in a large pot, add 2 qt. water, cover, and bring to a boil. Add salt and linguine. Stir, cover, and return to a vigorous boil. Uncover and cook until linguine is tender to the bite, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop sage leaves. In a large serving bowl, mash cheese, butter, sage, and pepper together. Set aside.

Add green beans to pot, and bring back to a boil. Cook briefly, just until green beans are crisp-tender. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and vegetables, shaking off as much water as possible. Pour pasta and vegetables on top of cheese-butter mixture. Toss to combine until cheese melts and coats pasta. If resulting sauce is too thick, add reserved pasta water, 1 tbsp. at a time. Serve hot, garnished with additional sage or pepper if you like.