You Butter Believe It: Butter, Scones, and Winter

I’m really bad at winter. Really bad.

I don’t like going outside, but don’t want to stay inside. Coats are stupid. Ice is stupid. My socks are in perpetual need of repair. Not to be inflammatory or anything, but I just don’t think winter is very good at all. It could be better. Maybe it needs some hobbies.

Mostly-real thought: “I should get some exercise! I don’t want to exercise in my apartment though , but if I go outside, I’ll slip on the ice and get a head injury and that will ruin my sparkling no-head-injury streak. I probably just shouldn’t exercise.”

I’m just not very good at winter. Logic breaks down, my spirit hot on its tails. The good news is the internet offers a lot of remedies to make winter not quite so stifling (Lamps! Lamps made of crystal! Other lamps!). Because I’m evidently not so good at winter, and subsequently, not so good at winter remedies, I mostly tried my own things.

And if there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s how not to battle seasonal affective disorder. The following methods do not work:

  • Pacing your apartment mumbling the words to “Let it Go” while weeping
  • Staring directly into the sun while scream-singing “Happy” by Pharrell
  • Crush three entire bottles of Nature’s Own Vitamin D pills and mix it into hot chocolate that you drink while reading a biography about Dick Van Dyke
  • Wear seven sweaters simultaneously, and yelling  Sweater weather! Sweater weather!”
  • High-fiving snowmen

Winter is hard, and when winter saps me of all motivation and energy, the 10 percent of my brain that I call “adult Meredith” has to play activity director for the other 90 percent, and those activities most often comes down to cooking.

And lucky me, between Christmas, Christmas money, and stealing cookbooks from my family’s home (they weren’t using them!), I came back to Wisconsin Winter armed with four new cookbooks.

I’ve had the cookbook Milk Bar Life for awhile, and it is very well-loved. It is a collection family recipes, both biological and work, and New York favorites recreated by author Christina Tosi.

The back cover of my Milk Bar Life. And yes. I cooked it. That’s a thing I did.

One of the new additions to my cookbook collection is Tosi’s original publication Milk Bar, the recipes from the Momofuku Milk Bar (a favorite of mine while at school). These recipes look amazing. She includes the classics for which the bar is best known, cereal milk ice cream, crack pie, cake truffles, etc., while also including some close cousins of those recipes so you can vary your menu at home.

They also look a little expensive for people who splurged on her Middle Eastern themed dinners last week. (I mostly just had to keep buying flour because I kept messing up the pita. I also ended up using an entire bottle of olive oil. I don’t think I was supposed to use that much olive oil.) They probably don’t look that expensive for normals.

Flipping through the cookbook today, I was looking for a recipe that 1) looked like I wouldn’t mess it up and 2) looked like I already had most of the ingredients, and sadly but also very appropriately given my southern heritage, I settled down on her recipe for mustard butter.

Stay with me! In the context of the cookbook, she uses this butter in her turkey, swiss & mustard croissants. She also has recipes for kimchi butter for her kimchi & blue cheese croissants, and black pepper butter for her black pepper brioche.

Given the aforementioned disaster-pita, I decided to just try the butter this week, and see how that goes.

I have a complicated relationship with making bread. The instructions are mysteriously subjective, but heaven forbid anything gets messed up! I want to start writing recipes for bread, so I can say things like, “mix it with a wooden hammer until it reaches the consistency of a sinister silly putty, but if it starts to look like old gum, you’ve gone too far.”

Anyway…butter. It’s a tale as old as time. You’re making specialty butter, but don’t have anything to naturally eat it with because you refuse to try and make bread for at least three weeks due to pita-trauma. That’s when I remembered my heisted cookbook (I promise they weren’t using it!)Alice’s Tea Cup, the companion cookbook to my very favorite tea shop. Spoiler-alert: the book is full of scone recipes.

Science has proven that scones are very delicious with butter, and it just so happens that mustard is very delicious with ham and cheese.

This data has not yet been peer reviewed, but combining Milk Bar’s mustard butter with Alice’s Tea Cup’s ham and cheese scones might be the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve crunched the numbers.

Ham & Cheese Scones

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup diced cheddar
  • 1/2 cup diced gruyere
  • 3/4 cup sliced black forest ham
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 stick melted butter

You know, just a lot of really healthy things!

Preheat the over to 425 degrees.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. This step is fine. I only had to yell, “FOCUS!” once when I got distracted belting the key change from “Man in the Mirror” and almost doubled the baking soda. And then I accidentally doubled the baking soda anyway.

Add the cheese, ham, and chives to the dry mixture. Mix with your hands. One hurtle I ran into was estimating how “1/2 cup” of cheese translates into my request at the deli counter at the grocery store. I did not have much faith that the moody teenager working behind the counter would be willing to entertain my question, “if you needed half a cup of cheese, how much would you get?” I can tell you, he is very very good at sighing.

I guessed half a pound for both the ham and the cheese, and that ended up being perfect for the ham, and about two times too much for the cheese. I ended up bagging my extra cheese to use in my scrambled eggs this week.

Don’t worry. In my culture, we use all parts of the cheese.

So yeah, you mix it with your hands, careful not to knead the dough, and if there’s any doubt, the author calls out do this with clean hands. Because evidently, that’s a thing that needs to be said.

Make a crater in the dry mixture, and add the buttermilk and butter and any New Year’s resolution you had that’s still standing. Mix the wet into the dry until it’s incorporated.

If you’re wondering in what state your hands should be, they should be clean.

Once the ingredients are mixed, transfer the dough to a flat surface and roll out to about 1/2″ thickness. Use a 3 inch biscuit cutter to shape the scones. Option B: dump the dough and mash it till it’s flat-ish.

If you have a biscuit-cutter like the recipe suggests, congratulations! You are better at this than I am!

I went with my Orla Kiely for Target mug from 2006.

Bake the scones at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Yeah. That about covers it.

You Butter Believe it!

  • One stick of butter
  • One tsp yellow mustard (I went with two. I like mustard.)
  • 2 tsps sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire (for the life of me, I can’t spell this word) sauce
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  •  2 tsps kosher salt

Mix the room temperature butter until light and fluffy. I can’t add much here

Add the mustard, vinegar, wordklcklasldkshire sauce, sugar, and salt, and mix for 2-3 minutes. Really, this recipe is stupid-easy.

Does this entice you?! I bag of discolored butter?

Turn the butter onto a sheet of parchment paper, and lay another sheet on top. Press until it reaches a 4×6″rectangle. I didn’t have parchment paper, so I added it to a ziploc bag, and flattened it from there.

The butter will keep fresh up to one month.

Scone review: It doesn’t quite look like it’s supposed to, but I think that’s mainly a chopping job. The taste is there, and I’d definitely make this again.

Butter review: It’s really good with the scone, but I mostly taste the worcestaksldjfshire sauce. Next time I make this, I’m going to try with a spicy mustard, and a little less worcestekljklsjlkaskljlkdiwoieieoshire sauce.

Now, I should probably go eat a salad.

2 thoughts on “You Butter Believe It: Butter, Scones, and Winter

  1. If it makes you feel any better, we spent the morning watching Julia Child (yeah, yeah I know she’s moved on) and Jacques Pepin cook. Suffice it to say it was all about butter, butter, and more butter……oh, and some wine – only 65 more days or Spring!

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