04 June 2011

Fresh local produce and Rhubarb Scones

I have really been enjoying Spring in the Okanagan this year...especially my first local, fresh asparagus and rhubarb in three years. I have really missed them.

I have been eating asparagus almost every day now for the past few weeks in omelets, stir fries, steamed and roasted (my favourite which is where most of my asparagus ends up). Rhubarb in muffins, pies, crisps and scones (and a new cake-like crumb bar I will be trying this afternoon).

Asparagus and rhubarb are two of my very favourite vegetables; possibly because they are so refreshing after a winter full of root vegetables and the occasional imported "luxury" like salad greens or a pepper or cucumber.

I have really been enjoying them but I am really excited because in about two weeks the strawberries will be ready...the beginning of berry and fruit season!!!

The Okanagan is known for it's orchards...I really can't wait. For so many years I took the fresh fruit for granted. When I first arrived in Nova Scotia I remember picking up a harrowsmith magazine that declared the only places in Canada where peaches were grown was in BC's Okanagan Valley and the Niagra region in Ontario! I almost cried...what?!!! No fresh peaches for almost three years! While I did find some great farmer's markets in Moncton, NB and in Halifax, NS...the fruit was not the same. They just don't get enough sun to really bring out the flavours (although I really liked the maple syrup...oh and the lobster). I am a little embarrassed to say, but honestly, what really made me want to move back to BC was the fresh fruit. I have decided I just don't want to live somewhere where I can't get fresh local fruit within a days drive. I know that sounds crazy to a lot of people and I am getting used to the strange looks I often get (and the more polite smile with the raised eyebrows and head nod)...but I know there are a few of you out there who will understand!

My favourite this season has been the rhubarb scones.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (I keep a canning jar with cane sugar and a couple left over vanilla pods) but you can use regular sugar as well
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

whisk the above together in a medium sized bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup of butter.

In a small bowl whisk together:
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or milk or half of each)
1 tsp vanilla

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb and work into the dough. Form into scones. I like to flatten into a sqare shape and cut squares or flatten into a circle and cut wedges.

Place on a lined baking sheet and brush tops with cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar if desired. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy the season!

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