Butter Pines (featuring Ginger Scones)

Butter Pines (featuring Ginger Scones)

A few years ago I started a poll on Facebook. I wanted to know what possessions make people feel wealthy that aren’t expensive or fancy. Like toilet paper. When I have ample rolls of toilet paper I feel strangely satisfied. And pens. When I have a lot of pens I feel very, very rich in a weird way. I just love to not have to go searching high and low for them. I like bundles of them in the office and kitchen and living room and a few in the bedroom even. I know it’s weird. I know.
The thing that always makes me feel rich in the kitchen is butter. When I have copious amounts of butter I feel that anything is possible.
A month ago Shannon and I took a short road trip down to North Carolina. He has two grand-aunts in Southern Pines that he hadn’t seen in years and felt like reconnecting with. I was a little reluctant because I would be addressing two of my biggest fears – elderly relatives of boyfriends and my belief that all relationships end on long road trips. I’m happy to report neither of my fears came to fruition. In actuality, Shannon’s grand-aunts are about as adorable a pair as I’ve ever met; little and feisty with high pitched drawls that made me chuckle every time they said anything. On our last morning before the long drive home, they took us out to breakfast at a cute southern diner about a block from our motel. I saw Shannon’s eyes widen when he saw “real southern biscuits and gravy” on the specials board.
We were taken to our table by a round teen who sighed as she plopped the menus down.
“Coffee?” Another sigh.
“Yes please!” we all responded and she loped off to fetch the round. The menu was pretty standard fare coffee shop items. This meal wasn’t about the food as much as saying goodbye to my new friends, but we had about 10 hours of driving in front of us and a decent breakfast would give us a nice push. Our waitress returned with our coffees and struggled to find enough spirit to whine through the specials. She looked at the ceiling the whole time to accentuate her boredom and then asked if we were ready to order. One of Shannon’s aunts said “OK, sweetie, I need to ask you a question before I place my order.” (Eye roll from the waitress) “Do you have any real butter available?” She pointed to the basket on the table filled with plastic tubs of margarine. “I just don’t want to order pancakes if I can’t have real butter on them.”
“Ma’am, we do not. This is what we have ma’am. This.” And she jiggled the basket of butter-subs.
“Well, can you just ask the kitchen if they can put some butter on a plate for us? Please?” I retorted with a fake smile. Big city chef girl gonna get this taken care of, I thought to myself.
Sigh. “Hold on.” And she walked, slower than anyone I’ve ever seen, back to the kitchen.

Accept no substitute
Accept no substitute

“This happened the last time too. They just don’t have butter I guess.” His aunt said managing to keep her cool better than myself and making me smile by doing so.
Our waitress returned. “No ma’am, no butter. Just this. You ready to order now?”

No butter.

IN THE WHOLE RESTAURANT.

I felt like we should run fast away from this place with only butter substitutes and we should never speak of it again. I had an image in my mind of some cheap bastard trying this in New York- only to be met with angry villagers rising up to burn the butterless palace to the ground. I think it would burn even faster with all that margarine in it.
The meal, of course, was terrible. Shannon’s biscuits were tasteless and dry and his gravy was gray and plasticized. It lay upon his chicken fried steak motionless and heavy- like a murky melted crayon. We walked out of there feeling poisoned and broken – slithering slowly out the door with the same gusto as our young rotund waitress.
When we got home from our trip I ran to the fridge. Sticks and sticks were stacked upon each other like Lincoln Logs in the butter compartment. I grinned ear to ear. “Wealthy in butter” is what my tombstone should say.
Here is an incredible way to start your day and something that would be impossible to create properly with any butter replacement. It is based on Nancy Silverton’s recipe with a few alterations. They are so scrumptious they never last long but they’re not that much work and are a genius addition to any breakfast, brunch or tea.

Ginger Scones

Ginger Scones
Ginger Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 11 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup diced crystallized ginger

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter baking sheet or cover in parchment.
  2. Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground ginger and lemon peel in processor. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Make well in center; add 3/4 cup cream. Using fork, stir until just moist. Mix in ginger.
  4. Transfer dough to floured surface and gently knead until smooth, about 8 turns.
  5. Divide dough in half; pat each portion into 3/4-inch-thick round. Cut each round into 6 wedges and transfer to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush tops with remaining 2 tablespoons cream.
  6. Bake scones until light brown, about 18 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven before serving.)


9 thoughts on “Butter Pines (featuring Ginger Scones)”

  • Oh my God, I live in Southern Pines and can’t imagine where you went. Old fashion southern food can be good, if done correctly, On a lighter note just found your blog……love it!

    • Grace,
      We did have a few great meals in Southern Pines, so I know this place was the exception. Southern food done right is the best! I did also get some peaches from a stand in Southern Pines that were some of the best peaches I’ve ever had. Welcome to the blog!

  • Everything you write about makes me hungry, but these scones make me long for a cold rainy day and a cup of tea. Keep you writing… it is as good as your cooking which is perfect! BTW butter and bacon makes everything better…
    JG

  • Lovin’ your posts… this one in particular. Apropos of nuthin’ – do you know if Trader Joe’s NYC carries their Chili Mango Popsicles? If they do, you best grab some.

    xo ra

    • Thanks Rene! And I’ll go to trader joe’s immediately and see if they have those popsicles. Then I’ll figure out how to make em from scratch. Can’t wait to see you guys in November!

  • Reminds me of a breakfast place in Florida I once – and only once – visited. My brother ordered scrambled eggs – probably thinking they’d go to all the time, trouble and expense of actually breaking a couple of fresh eggs into a frying pan and scrambling them. No, it was some powdered variety. Disgusting. Probably didn’t have real butter there either. We didn’t stick around to check. That’s it – gotta go out and buy a few more writing pads – never can get enough of them – and yet when I actually need one, they’re never there!

    • Powdered eggs! Only good for emergency spackle situations if you ask me. And YES! Writing pads are the next thing on my costs little but makes me feel wealthy list. And I can’t wait to try the pumpkin ravioli recipe from your blog. Perfect for this time of year. Thanks!

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