Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Christmas Ham, #LetsLunch

Ham and Cheddar cheese scone.Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

One of the great privileges of mommyhood is sharing the books that I loved as a child with my girls. My  youngest, at seven, still allows me to read to her at night, so I have another Christmas sharing Barbara Robinson's "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," one of the best modern re-tellings of the Nativity that I can name. The six unruly Herdman children take over a church's Christmas pageant and learn the reason for the season. It's one of those books that entertains younger readers and gives parents an "a-ha" moment, too.

The opening sentence pretty much sums up the Herdmans:

"The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker's old broken-down toolhouse."

The Herdmans only show up at the church because they hear there are snacks and threaten their way into all the plum roles in the pageant. The Christmas story gets a fresh interpretation from the Herdmans - the Wise Men are spies, King Herod needs a good beating. But the best part, the very best part, is the ending, after the children are told about how the Wise Men gave the most precious gifts they had to the Baby Jesus, and the play is over and the Herdman kids leave their charity Christmas ham on the stage. I mean, really, I've never cried and laughed so much over a ham. 

"Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson ($5.99 Harper Collins). Read it aloud this Christmas. To a child, or even yourself.

Ham and cheese scones. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
 They say that eternity is two people and a Christmas ham. I don't like to think so ~ I love having a Christmas ham around. First we start with a ham dinner with sides of macaroni and cheese and green beans, then on to ham sandwiches. 
Later in the week, the ham is taken off the bone and we make bean soup. I may grind up some of the ham and mix it with boiled dressing and mayo for ham salad. To put a savory spin on my favorite buttermilk scones, I added ham and rat-trap Cheddar. These kid-pleasing biscuits would make a fine breakfast or brunch treat. Try them split with a dab of last summer's homemade strawberry preserves.

Merry Christmas! 

Ham and cheese scones. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Buttermilk Scones with Ham and Cheddar Cheese
If your ham is watery, dice it then heat it in a small pan
 over medium high heat until it crisps up and loses moisture.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped ham
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
half and half or milk or cream for glazing

1. In a batter bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Using a grater, shred the very cold butter and lightly mix the shavings into the dry ingredients. Using your hands and a gentle, quick touch, make sure the butter is evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture.

2. Stir in the cheese and ham. Pour in the buttermilk and stir gently with either a wooden spoon or my instrument of choice, a silicone spatula. If mixture seems dry, add additional buttermilk until a cohesive dough forms. The dough should be slightly wet and sticky, but not overly so.

3. On a floured countertop, press dough into a rough 12 X 6 inch rectangle and cut into 16 triangles. (A pictorial for my scone shaping method can be found here.) Place scones on a lined baking sheet. The scones can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully brush each wedge with buttermilk or cream. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. They may need a bit more time, depending on your oven, convection, etc. Scones are ready when they are golden brown on top and bounce back when touched lightly in the center.

This post is part of #LetsLunch, a monthly Twitter party featuring outstanding food stories
 told with bright, original prose. This month's topic is Celebrating Christmas around the world. Interested in joining the party?
 Follow #LetsLunch on Twitter and ask for an invitation to the Facebook page.
Thanks to this month's host, Rashda! See all of the fabulous blog posts on her pinboard.

Annabelle's Pecan Slices at Glass of Fancy

Linda's Sorrel Cocktail at Spicebox Travels

Grace's Persimmon Salad at Hapa Mama

Joe's Orange Honey Cake

Text and images copyright 2012, Lucy Mercer.


Annabelle said...

Looks delicious! We never get ham at Christmas but I think i might have to make a special trip for it; it does feel so seasonal.

Rashda Khan said...

Oh, these scones look so delicious...what's the texture like? Are they soft or crunchy?

Thanks for the book recommendation too!

Eleanor Hoh said...

I LOVE scones and your combo with ham & cheddar make them even more perfect!

HapaMama said...

Those scones look delicious! And I think leftover ham and ham bone is sort of an extra Christmas present. I freeze the leftovers in small portions because it is so good to have a little ham to add to soups, fried rice, etc.

The Teacher Cooks said...

These do look delicious. I am sad to say that I have never made scones, but I am trying these.

Emma said...

Wow, I just tried a savory scone recipe recently and this is the perfect reminder that I could use another batch in the freezer for quick breakfasts!! Now, just to convince my mom we need ham at xmas this year!

Unknown said...

Great looking scones! My kids love cheddar scallion scones-- this would be a sure winner.