MOVE OVER SUPER BOWL IT’S RUGBY SIX NATIONS TOURNAMENT!
Frustrating is the only word I can find to best describe all of the hours spent wandering, hopping, surfing from American food blog to American food blog in the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. All of a sudden, everybody is interested in the Super Bowl. Hah! I’ll betcha one American dollar (as my old friend Lewis used to say) that if it wasn’t for the food, half the people out there claiming sudden allegiance to or interest in this sport wouldn’t be! And anyway, American football is only a twisted, bastardized version of Rugby, the most noble of gentleman’s sport! And what babies! All of that padding and the helmets! Real men tackle and get tackled in only skin-tight jerseys and shorts (which also are always perilously close to being yanked down!).
And as a friend of mine said, you just pray that all the players return to the locker room post-match with the same number of ears that they started the match with!
All kidding aside, all this talk back and forth between food blogs about cooking for Super Bowl Sunday, the snacks, the finger foods, the dips and the meals, (I am sure someone, somewhere even decorated cupcakes with the teams’ emblems, but I refused to even go there!) had me thinking…..
I organized a Skype on-line brainstorming session with two friends and rugby fans: Helen in Ireland and Rosie in Wales. I had decided to dedicate every weekend of the Tournament through the end of March, to foods strictly from the six countries participating in the games: France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Finger food and meals, traditional and less so. After a lengthy and hilarious brainstorming sessions with the girls, after throwing out the Cock-a-Leekee and the Welsh Faggots and the Spotted Dick (always funny for us Americans!), they finally admitted that in Ireland and Great Britain, rugby means drinks and chips: Scottish Whiskey, Irish Guiness, English ale and Brains beer from Wales. Well, we know how they drink on the other side of the Channel….
We did finally come up with some Welsh Rarebit, braised leeks, Welsh cakes from Wales, Irish Stew and potato and cheddar croquettes from Ireland, Haggis from Scotland…. Oh no, wait, never Haggis! and a few other yummy dishes to make over the next month. France and Italy I can do with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.
So this weekend, in honor of the first match : England vs Italy, I am making scones (after all, the match is at tea-time, spot on!) for England and Coniglio con Peperoni Gialli (Rabbit with Yellow Peppers).
Six Nations SCONES
From The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
3 cups (12 ¾ oz, 380 g) all-purpose flour or 3 ¼ cups (13 oz, 390 g) pastry/cake flour
1/3 cup ( 2 5/8 oz, 80 g) sugar
¼ cup (1 ½ oz, 45 g) non-fat dry milk powder or buttermilk powder
¾ tsp salt
1 Tbs (15 g) baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
½ cup (4 oz, 150 ml) milk, buttermilk or water *
8 Tbs (1 stick, 4 oz, 120 g) cold butter
¾ cup ( 4 oz, 120 g) dried fruit such as currents, raisins or apricots (optional)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp cold water for egg wash
Cinnamon-sugar for topping
* Milk gives slightly richer scone, buttermilk a slightly more tender, higher-rising scone with a touch of tang.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Line one or two baking sheets with parchment.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, including the dried fruit if using.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended. Cut the butter into cubes.
Now rub or cut the butter into the dry ingredients – this fat between the thin layers of flour is what gives the light, tender, flaky texture to the scone. Put the cold butter into the bowl with the dry ingredients and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives or rub the flour and butter together using the tips of your index and middle fingers against the tips of your thumbs. Work quickly and rub until the mixture resembles course sand, but making sure you stop before the butter is completely rubbed in (there should still be tiny pieces of butter).
Add the wet ingredients (eggs, milk and vanilla) and blend into the flour/butter mixture gently, avoiding over mixing or kneading. Stir just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Over working this dough will give you tough scones.
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold and gather it together just until it is a cohesive dough.
Cut the dough into two pieces and push each into a roundish shape. Place each piece of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and gently and lightly press or roll into a disk about 7” (about 18 cm) and ½” (1 cm) thick.
With a sharp knife, slice each disk into 8 wedges, gently pushing the wedges apart to separate.
Brush each scone with the egg wash, then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 7 minutes. At the end of the 7 minutes, turn the oven off and, without opening the oven door, leave the scones in the oven for an additional 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven. These scones are best eaten hot or, at the most, warm. Serve with jelly, honey, whipped or clotted cream (whatever that is!) or butter.
These 6 Nations Scones are fantastic! So delicate, light and flakey.
Cheers and cheerio, mate! et Allez les Bleus!