Culture

The Hipster’s Cookbook: When Disaster Strikes

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Every Tuesday in The Hipster’s Cookbook, Meghan Bongartz teaches you how to make delicious food on a small budget.

I have a tendency to overdo things when I’m cooking. This is partially because I’m a food purist, which results in a lot of occasions where I try to cook things from scratch that I don’t need to. Vanilla extract, for example. Just because the grocery store is out of the real stuff doesn’t mean I need to buy bulk vanilla beans and make it myself. Real vanilla extract is definitely better than the imitation kind, but I am probably not actually going to die from using fake vanilla one time. It’s just really hard to remember this when I’m out shopping and looking at all of the chemicals I can’t pronounce on the nutrition label, and much easier to remember once I’m home and have exponentially increased my cook time.

I’m also kind of a show-off when it comes to cooking for other people. I’m pretty simplistic with my own meals, but if I’m feeding someone else, I feel like I have to outdo whatever I served the last time I saw them. This escalates quickly. It’s not always a bad thing, because it challenges me to try out new dishes and different techniques and flavors, and many of these experiments have become staples in my kitchen repertoire. There was a first time for everything from eggplant to soufflé.

Occasionally, though, I experiment with something that’s wildly disastrous. Most recently, I hosted my family’s Mother’s Day gathering and got it into my head that I needed to make macarons. I don’t really know what to say about it except that it was a mistake. I found myself at no less than five different grocery stores the afternoon before because I needed some fairly specialized ingredients (for other food, too–not just the macarons–but still), which meant that I ran out of time to bake that night before my mom and sister showed up at my apartment. In retrospect it wouldn’t have mattered if I had started baking that night because it had been pouring rain, and macarons have a meringue base, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve talked here about how humidity is the death of meringue. At the time, though, I was left rushing to make cookies in the morning after drinking wine with my mom until 1:30 a.m. instead of sleeping. With a recipe as a starting point that measured everything in grams. Without a scale. The end result was a tray of tray of pistachio-flavored somethings that would not pass as macarons and a lot of tears on my part. I don’t deal well with failure.

But I had several more family members scheduled to show up within the next hour and had also gotten it into my head that I was going to make scones. Thankfully, those turned out to be a million times easier and far prettier than the macaron disasters (which my family says were still amazing, but I don’t know how much I trust them), so that’s what you get to see here. The leftover pistachio flour from the macaron attempt worked wonderfully in them, and the prep time was less than 10 minutes. I’m going to go ahead and recommend them for any time you need a quick fix to a kitchen disaster. And as an added bonus, you get to use the food processor I told you to go buy. So really all’s well that ends well – but I’m still upset that my macarons didn’t work.

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Pistachio & Cinnamon Scones

2 cups flour

1/4 sugar

2 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

½ cup (4 oz) cold unsalted butter roughly cut into small pieces (I recommend placing the cut butter in the freezer until ready to use)

½ cup pistachio flour, made with unsalted pistachios (requires just over ½ cup of whole pistachios)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbs turbinado sugar

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a sheet baking pan. Set aside.

2) If what you have is pistachios instead of pistachio flour, this is the time to break out the food processor. If you can find pistachio nutmeats that have already been shelled at the grocery store, this will save you a lot of time. Place just over half a cup of pistachios in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the standard steel blade. Process until the nuts are finely ground and have a mealy consistency. Measure out ½ cup of ground nuts, setting the remainder aside for another use.

3) In the bowl of the food processor, still fitted with the steel blade, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Process for about 10 seconds, until combined.

4) Add the chilled butter, pistachio flour, and cinnamon. Pulse 7 times for 1-2 seconds each, until the butter has a gravelly or pea-like appearance.

5) Add the cream and pulse about 20 times, or until a cohesive dough forms. It’s fine if there are still some visible pieces of butter–this will make the scones flakey.

6) Remove dough from food processor and form into a ball with your hands. On a lightly floured surface, pat it out into a disc approximately 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Cut it into 8 equal wedges, and place them on the prepared baking pan with at least an inch between them.

7) Use a pastry brush to coat the scones with the beaten egg. You will not use the entire egg. Sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over the tops.

8 ) Place in center rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.