I have been out of town--Tucson, that is--because of a happy occasion. There was a wedding in my family, and because of that I got a nodding acquaintance with central Florida, from Jacksonville to Orlando. One thing that I particularly enjoyed was a ride on Amtrak from one to the other, and I must say that the Jacksonville station had the atmosphere of a party going on when I passed through.
Apparently there was a large group that was going to Miami or someplace, and they were so jolly and friendly that I made myself right at home with them. They knew a good deal more about going through an Amtrak terminal than I do, and they directed me with great bonhomie and made the station itself a fun experience.
While traveling on Southwest Airlines, I came across the following recipe, which I have adapted to gluten-free or dairy-free cooking. It is a continuing process to stay away from allergy triggers, but it can be done. I know that my doctor gets migraines from artificial ingredients and/or garlic, for instance, and with that gun to your head, you learn to adapt your cooking, I'm sure.
Bannock Bread comes from Great Britain; I associate it with Scotland. It is a form of biscuits, but this recipe includes a lovely addition of fresh rosemary and blueberries. It would be a big hit as an addition to a brunch menu.
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, Spelt flour or gluten-free baking mix
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda Bake
1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh rosemary
2-1/4 sticks cold butter, in pieces (lard or vegetable shortening could be substituted for the butter)
2-1/4 cups cream or non-dairy creamer
1 large egg at room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Place them in a food processor and toss in the butter. Process until the butter is the size of peas. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to relax the gluten if you have used all-purpose flour.
When you are ready, whisk the cream and egg together in a small mixing bowl and stir into the dry mixture using a wooden spoon. Stir in until they are just combined and finally fold in the blueberries.
Scoop in six mounds into an 8-inch cast-iron skillet. Brush with an egg wash if desired. Refrigerate for 20 minutes once more to chill the dough before baking.
Bake the bannocks for 15-20 minutes, or until they have turned golden but are not brown around the edges.
This is a good recipe, by the way, for an old-fashioned pastry blender if you have one and don’t feel like getting out an electric appliance. Using the pastry blender will produce exactly the kind of crumb that the recipe specifies; that is why this particular kitchen tool endures to this day. The pastry blender that I have is made of round wire-like blades rather than the flat blades that some of them have; I consider that easier to clean, just so you know if you find yourself deliberating between more than one pastry-blender style.
This is the kind of food that will be mentioned in English novels, and they are a staple in the British diet. I would imagine that anyone who can make really good bannocks will be a local celebrity, like your grandmother or other relative who makes superior biscuits. There is such a woman in Chef Alton Brown's Southern family, and she has appeared on Good Eats, demonstrating the art of biscuits. Catch it sometime.