mike kostyo

I know food.

roasted pumpkin and cheddar scones

Really, it's a wonder people aren't constantly dying after eating in restaurants. Last week I took the ServSafe exam, which is the Massachusetts exam for safe food handling. It was 90 questions, 2 hours, covering all manner of kitchen safety and regulation.

Do you know how many ways there are to get sick from food? So many ways. How many bacteria, toxins, viruses, pathogens and parasites are there in the world? More than a couple. There are the classics, like E. coli and salmonella. But are you coughing up worms? Gross. You may have ascariasis (one of the symptoms is a tickle in the back of your throat, but I don't know if that's related to the worms or not). Been forgetting things? If you had shellfish recently, you may have amnesic shellfish poisonic. As in your scallop gave you amnesia. That's just a crazy thing to think about. And it would be even more sad because nobody would believe you that it is a real thing. "Didn't I tell you to take the garbage out?" "Possibly. I had an oyster last week and now I have amnesia." Just an example. Mostly for high school age people, I guess.

That's not all. A strong, oily smell in the kitchen? Maybe cooking oil. But probably cockroaches. One of the fun example scenarios they gave was something like, "Sally has a dry scalp. She's constantly scratching it, which causes dandruff to fall into the food. Is this acceptable?" Hahahaha. Absolutely. "Is it cool to bleed into the food?" And there are so many more ways for metal and glass to fall into food than I ever imagined.

Not to mention the terrorists. You really need to keep the perimeter of your restaurant secure, because of the terrorists. Too many terrorists spoil the soup. Very popular saying.

Anyways, so you probably just make all of your food at home from now on. Sometimes oysters are sitting in sewage water, you know, and then you slurp that up and boom, dead. That's how it works. You don't want to risk it. Although, if anything there is MORE of a chance because you haven't taken the ServSafe exam so you don't even know to watch out for terrorists and dandruff poisoning. 

So now that you are so hungry, you should make some roasted pumpkin and cheddar scones. It's definitely fall for the rest of everybody now (I've been celebrating fall since September), so it is an appropriate time to make these. And you are probably going to a pumpkin patch this weekend, because it's Halloween weekend, you know, so perfect. Pick up a nice sugar pumpkin and turn it into these scones.

These scones are based on a Cook's Illustrated recipe that was developed for fresh blueberry scones. You end up rolling the dough out, putting your filling on top, rolling the dough like a jelly roll, and then cutting them into scones. Because you don't have to knead the dough with the ingredients, they don't get all smashed up into the dough. So, for these, you get big chunks of roasted pumpkin scattered throughout each flaky scone. And also pieces of glass if a heat bulb spontaneously burst open and scattered glass all over your kitchen. That's why you should have a lightbulb guard.


roasted pumpkin and cheddar scones

adapted from cook's illustrated

+ 1 small cooking (sugar) pumpkin or squash (like a festival squash)
+ 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
+ 1 8-ounce package sharp cheddar cheese
+ 10 tablespoons frozen, unsalted butter
+ 1/2 cup skim milk
+ 1/2 cup sour cream
+ 2 cups all-purpose flour
+ 2 tablespoons sugar
+ 2 teaspoons baking powder
+ 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
+ 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus extra for dusting

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the pumpkin or squash in half. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and stringy guts. Oil each half with the 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the halves, cut side down, on a cookie sheet. Place them in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until the flesh is soft and easily pierced with a knife. When ready, remove from the oven and cool completely. Peel the skin from the halves and cut the pumpkin flesh into small pieces. Place in the refrigerator and chill completely.

Chop the cheddar into small cubes. Place in the refrigerator and keep chilled until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using the large-hole side of a box grater, grate 8 tablespoons of the frozen butter into a bowl (keep the bottom of the butter's wrapper on until the end, to have something to hold. If you are worried about your fingers, chop the last bit of butter with a knife.) Put the butter into the freezer. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.

Whisk the 1/2 cup of skim milk and 1/2 cup of sour cream together in a small bowl and also place in freezer. Mix together the 2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the frozen grated butter and mix together until well coated.

Add the milk and sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until combined. The dough will be very wet and sticky. Move the dough onto a very liberally floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and knead a few times, until it forms a ball, adding flour as needed.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch square. Fold the dough just like a business letter into thirds: the top folded down, the bottom folded up over that. Flip the dough 90 degrees, so the thin end is facing you. Fold the dough like a business letter again, ultimately forming a small square. Keep adding flour, if needed, and use a bench scraper or metal spatula to release any dough that sticks. Put the dough onto a plate and place into the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Take this time to clean up your area, take out an ungreased cookie sheet, and prepare the board for the final steps.

Take the dough, chopped pumpkin and chopped cheddar cheese out of the freezer. Move the dough onto the floured work surface again, and re-roll into a 12-inch square. Spread the pumpkin and cheese evenly over the dough, making sure to go right up to the top, right, and left edges. You can leave about an inch or so at the bottom edge, closest to you, as some of the filling will move into that space as you roll. Press the mixture lightly into the dough. Now, using your bench scraper or spatula, loosen the edge furthest from you from the board and start rolling the dough towards yourself. Keep loosening and rolling all of the dough into a tight log. Turn the dough so the seam faces down, and press the whole thing into a tight rectangle.

Cut the dough in half, then cut each section in half again, forming four squares. Cut each of these sections diagonally, to form eight rectangles. For smaller scones, cut each of these triangles in half again, from the center point to the middle of the long edge. Place the scones onto the large, ungreased cookie sheet and brush with the prepared melted butter. Sprinkle each one with a pinch of salt and place them into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they look golden around the edges and on top. Let them sit on a wire rack or large wooden cutting board to cool.

makes 8 large or 16 small scones