Having less choice is a good thing.
When we have friends or family spend the night, I don't deliberate about what to make for breakfast. If we don't send someone on a doughnut run (if you lived near Lafeen's, you would too), I am predictable. Broiled eggs and some kind of scone, biscuit, or muffin. And more predictably than that, some version of these scones.
Isn't there so much pressure to be novel all the time? Pinterest, Rachel Ray's infinite hamburger combinations, piles and piles of new cookbooks being published every day. Do you want to know my little secret? I don't buy cookbooks! I love to browse at the bookstore and ones with beautiful photos certainly inspire me. And I will happily receive them as gifts. But I only own about 30 cookbooks. More than being frugal or trying to save space, the main reason I don't add to my collection is because all those possibilities overwhelm me. When it comes to making family dinners or something tried and true when we have company, those beautiful cookbooks don't seem to help me much.
I love to quote Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen who says that most of us don't need more recipes. We just need to perfect a handful of things that we're good at. After that, it's easier to get inspired by novel things. For me, this repertoire is a few soups I can make in my sleep (minestrone, potato leek, lentil, mulligatawny), anything that can be baked all together on a big sheet pan (sausages with peppers, salmon with bok choy, chicken thighs with practically anything), a few pasta basics (puttanesca, tomato cream sauce with lots of sauteed veggies melting into the sauce), frittatas, and some sweets – galettes, pies, scones, biscuits. Sometimes (or most the time?), much as I love food, I don't really have the energy to THINK about being novel, let alone actually doing it.
I love these scones, based on a recipe from Nick Malgieri's "How to Bake," for many reasons. They can be made in the food processor. They're full of oats. The dough is soft but still easy to work with, and they emerge moist and sturdy at the same time. Three cheers for predictability!
Ginger cranberry scones
So many things can be subbed out for the ginger and dried cranberry. Add raisins. Or no dried fruit. Or take the sugar out and add shredded cheddar and dried dill instead. I often serve them that way with soup. Or make your own chai spice mixture and use dried apricots and figs.
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cube unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces [Editor's note: 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup]
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon sugar mixture
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a food processor, combine first 8 dry ingredients and pulse a couple times to mix.
3. Add butter and pulse about 10 times until butter is in pea-sized lumps. Add buttermilk, cranberries, and ginger, and pulse just until dough holds together, about 5 or 6 times.
4. Turn dough onto a floured surface, knead a couple times, then divide the dough into two equal balls. Using your hands, flatten each round until it's about 1-inch thick and cut each round into 6 equal wedges for a total of 12 triangular scones. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with buttermilk and sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon sugar over each. Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching carefully after 10 minutes so they don't get too crunchy on the outside. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving plain or with butter.