Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Biscuits are a long on-going thing with me. I never can seem to nail down exactly the one I want despite the fact that I make them regularly and have no less than 6 biscuit recipes posted here. Don’t get me wrong; I make delicious biscuits but I have this image in my head of what they should be, and I’ve only just realized that these ideals are formed by commercial biscuits – fast food or refrigerated tube kinds. Not sure that’s a good thing but it is what it is. It’s got to be the salt; the constant factor is these types of biscuits always tip the to the edge of saltiness. They might be tender or they might be flaky but they are always salty. As for the type of biscuit, I’m undecided. Should they be flaky, tender and buttery/salty, like a Popeye’s or McDonald’s biscuit? Or should they be layers piled upon layers, that you can pull apart in sheets like those Grands biscuits you get in the tubes? I’m not too sure how natural either are but the truth is I like both. While I don’t exactly want to recreate a mass produced biscuit, there are some elements I’d like to borrow. 

For years, I’ve adhered to the flaky type of biscuit where the dough is treated more so like a laminated dough – butter is rubbed in but left in pea size bits and the dough is folded, rolled and chilled a few times. It makes for a spectacularly flaky biscuit that is really nice but lacks the tenderness I sometimes crave. It’s also not a quick process. There are times when you just want warm biscuits without a whole lot of effort (um, this may be where the whack-a-tube types come in to play). I’d been reading about cream biscuits lately, where heavy cream is simply stirred into dry ingredients. Seemed easy enough, maybe too easy, so I tried it this weekend to learn more.

I’m lucky to have dear friends with a lake house and being a good guest, I usually bake a lot while there – quiche, brownies, pies, tarts. I decided to give these biscuits a try so at home, I measured all the dry ingredients into a Ziploc and threw it into my travel bag along with some heavy cream and a jar of homemade raspberry jam. A really easy breakfast, I thought. No mushing butter, no rounds of folding and rolling and chilling. Just dump and stir, and really, who doesn’t love a hot biscuit with butter and jam in the morning? Much to my delight, they were incredibly easy – I had hot biscuits on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Not expecting much from such a simple recipe I was thrilled at how tender and even a little flaky these were. But what really surprised me was how, even a few hours later, they remained tender. That is one of my biggest peeves with fresh biscuits – they’re really great right out of the oven but stale quickly. We had a few leftovers around lunch time, and they made a fantastic sandwich. That doesn’t always happen with biscuit leftovers.

Because I wanted them a bit butterier and yes, a tad saltier, I opted to brush the cut biscuits both before and after baking with a bit of melted butter and salt. I also gave the dough a few folds to increase the layers and flakiness. It’s very easy; once the dough comes together roll it about ½” thick and fold in half and do the same once more. This simple step made for a noticeable difference, a higher rise and took maybe an extra 2 minutes so I think it’s worth it. For a few, I sprinkled on some everything bagel spice in homage to a biscuit I had in Savannah last year from Back in the Day Bakery that I still dream about. That was one amazing biscuit. This wasn’t quite it, but it was certainly close. 

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: EXHALE. Fresh, hot biscuits in less than 30 minutes? You bet. This is one of those recipes that you can easily bake on a whim without much thought, given that you have heavy cream on hand of course. An absolute delight. Make these often and dazzle your friends and family. They’re great with butter and jam obviously but think bigger … they would be outstanding with a sausage gravy, would make a great topper on a chicken pot pie and split and stuffed with whipped cream and strawberries, you have a deceptively easy dessert. So there you go.

Other biscuit recipes: Dooky Chase’s Sweet Potato BiscuitsCacio e Pepe BiscuitsGuinness Cheddar BiscuitsFlaky Buttermilk BiscuitsSour Cherry Cobbler with Biscuit ToppingPeach Blackberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Drop Biscuit Topping

eleven years agoLattice Love, Lessons in Pie CrustSquash & Onion Tart

ten years agoRadish ButterRoasted Beets w/Whipped Goat Cheese

nine years agoConcord Grape Pie & Purple Cow Pie Shakes

eight years agoKale & Squash Salad

seven years agoMuhammara – the best sauce you’ve never heard of

six years agoSeeded Crackers

five years agoSimple Pear Tart

four years agoFinnish Pulla (Finnish Cardamom Braid)

three years agoConfetti Pork Stew

two years agoSausage & Cheddar Breakfast Scones

last yearMinestrone

CREAM BISCUITS

Makes about 12 2 ½” biscuits

An important thing with biscuits is to minimize the scraps – the first roll will produce the prettiest biscuits with the best rise and straightest sides. While I use a round cutter here, I will often make square biscuits to keep scraps to a minimum.

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 ½ cups heavy cream

  1. In a small pan (or in the microwave) melt the butter and add the salt for brushing later. Set aside until needed.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. Add heavy cream and stir gently with a rubber spatula until dry ingredients are just moistened.
  4. Gently squeeze and press the dough in the bowl, picking up all the loose, dry bits.
  5. Turn out dough onto a lighted floured work surface and lightly flour the top. 
  6. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to a ½” thickness, fold in half and roll again to a ½” thickness.
  7. Fold once more and roll to a ½” thickness. If the dough sticks to the work surface or the rolling pin at any time, lightly flour. 
  8. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits as closely together as possible to minimize scraps and place about 1” apart on a parchment lined sheet pan. 
  9. Gather together scraps, pat down, give them a fold or two as above, roll to ½” thickness and cut out more biscuits. 
  10. You can roll the scraps maybe one more time but this biscuit will not be as pretty as previous ones. It’s a good one for the cook to snack on.
  11. Brush the tops with the melted butter (and sprinkle with everything spice, if you like).
  12. Bake the biscuits in a 400°F oven until risen and golden, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. 
  13. Brush immediately with the remaining melted butter.
  14. Let cool slightly and serve warm or room temperature. Keep any leftovers tightly wrapped but biscuits are best consumed not long after baking.

I have a thing about squash this time of year. I see big gorgeous piles at the farmers markets or pass picturesque farm stands on country roads and it’s hard to resist the urge to pull over and throw a bunch in the car. I actually did this very thing a few weeks ago. A farmer down the street from some Wisconsin dwelling friends had quite the selection in the front yard of his farm. My wheels skidded a bit in the gravel as I pulled over with the intention of picking out a nice Halloween pumpkin. He had hundreds, sorted into various groupings of sizes and shapes as well as all the multicolored heirloom varieties. It was a fantastic selection. I settled on an absolutely gorgeous pumpkin with a long tapered stem for 5 bucks. I had a 10 or a 20 in my wallet and it wasn’t the kind of situation that bodes well for change so I picked up a few additional things to round it up. This is how I ended up with two small pie pumpkins and two acorn like squashes in the trunk next to my big orange beauty. It was a good day.

The two squashes I grabbed were lovely; acorn-like but yellow with dark green and orange splotches. Some image googling determined they were carnival squash, a cross between acorn and dumpling squash. Well, alrighty. I’d never had that variety but I read they’re similar in flavor to acorn but a bit sweeter so I treated them accordingly. (If you pick up an interesting squash on a whim and are not too sure what it is, this guide is very helpful.) I enjoy roasted squash of all kinds but there’s something you have to take into consideration: they can be rather bland. This is why it’s important to use a flavorful glaze or stuffing to amp up that flavor. Today, I used both.

It started with a jar of spicy harissa sauce, leftover from some past project. Harissa is a spicy aromatic chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking and this jar had been sitting in my refrigerator for a while. It needed a purpose. For years I’d bought my harissa as a paste in a tube so this jarred “sauce” was new to me. From what I can tell, this was just a looser version than the tubed paste and with a bit less concentrated heat. I saw one particular brand of this sauce in every grocery store – from Whole Foods to WalMart – so it’s readily available and though I looked, I never did find the tube type so I just went with what I had. As I said, it needed a purpose. Harissa – both tubes and sauces – vary wildly in terms of spice so use your best judgement as to the heat levels you desire. Mixed with some honey and roasted at a high temperature, it works quite nicely. (psssst – here’s a tip. I often use Mike’s Hot Honey to drizzle on the squash before roasting. It’s wonderful stuff.)

I filled the cavities with a stuffing to make it heartier and a bit more interesting, following a basic formula: grains for the bulk, nuts for crunch, dried fruit for sweetness, herbs for freshness and cheese for a little salty/savory punch. Anything goes and this is the perfect recipe for using whatever is in your pantry. I give several suggestions in the recipe header; switch it up as you wish. Todays mix took the lead of the harissa for a Middle Eastern twist: red quinoa, dates, dried apricots, walnuts, parsley and feta. The combination of salty/sweet with crunchy bites is irresistible and rather pretty too. It is a terrific fall dish and something to think about with Thanksgiving coming up if you have any vegetarian guests. It would be just perfect.

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE. Pumpkins, gourds, squash. I can’t help myself, I buy more than I can possibly eat this time of year. Sometimes they just sit on the table and look pretty, to be honest. But I do eat my fair share and I learned long ago to doctor those suckers up so they actually taste like something. Sweetness works well, spicy is delicious and a little salt never hurt anything. This one works particularly well because it’s a mix and match situation; you can be very intentional or you can use what you got.

other squash recipes: Baked Squash Bread Pudding,Kale & Squash SaladPumpkin HummusEasy Squash Carrot SoupSquash & Onion TartRoasted Delicata Squash – 4 WaysCrispy Squash SandwichThanksgiving Stuffing Stuffed Squash

eleven years ago: ChocoflanSour Cream CoffeecakeApple Pear Crisp,  Peach CrostadaRatatouilleClassic Apple Pie

ten years ago: Peach Frozen CustardChocolate Raspberry Cream Cheese TurnoversChicken Sour Cream EnchiladasBangkok World Gourmet Festival

nine years ago: Blueberry Raspberry CobblerPlum KuchenPB&J Bars

eight years ago: Kale & Squash Salad

seven years ago: Roasted Ratatouille with Sweet Corn PolentaSpiced Honey Maple Roasted PearsMuhammara – the best sauce you’ve never heard of

six years ago: Aunt Patti’s CornbreadPumpkin HummusWhole Wheat English Muffins

five years ago: Machaca – Mexican Shredded BeefMachaca EnchiladasSmall Batch Spiced Plum ButterCotija Cumin ShortbreadSimple Pear Tart

four years ago: German Apple Cheese TorteChicken Wing Friday – Miso Honey Butter Chicken Wings

three years ago: Miso Butterscotch BlondiesRosemary White Beans with Toasted BreadcrumbsTabbouleh SaladOttolenghi and Buttermilk Garlic SauceYemen Schug (chili herb sauce)Easy Squash Carrot Soup

two years ago: Asian Flavored Pickled Watermelon Rind

last year: Minestrone

ROASTED STUFFED SQUASHserves 4

Keep in mind, you can vary the stuffing an infinite number of ways. Rather than quinoa, use any grain or rice – wild or brown rice, wheat berries, millet, farro, kamut, etc. – and alter cooking times accordingly. You have to have a crunchy element so use any nuts or seeds you like or have on hand – pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts, almonds. A few flax or chia seeds wouldn’t hurt. For the dried fruit, anything works – raisins, currants, cherries, cranberries, figs, blueberries, what have you. Fresh apple would be nice too. Fresh parsley is easy but dill, tarragon or a bit of rosemary would be nice. Don’t rule out leftover chicken or beef, diced or shredded fine, or a handful of cooked chickpeas, lentils or whatnot to make it a bit heartier. And while I call for acorn squash, any smaller variety will work – delicata, dumpling, small pumpkins, spaghetti, etc. Use the base recipe as a guide and take it any direction you wish. 

for the squash:

2 medium acorn squash

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons harissa sauce (use a bit less if using harissa paste)

4 teaspoons honey

kosher salt

for the quinoa stuffing:

½ cup quinoa, rinsed (any color is fine)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ¼ cups water

3-4 dates, pitted & chopped, about 2 Tablespoons

6-8 dried apricots, chopped, about 2 Tablespoons

2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

¼ cup chopped scallion

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ teaspoon harissa sauce, optional

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. for the squash: use a sharp chef’s knife to slice cut in half from the tip to the stem. It’s easiest to work along the depressions, easing the knife carefully around the perimeter. With a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, harissa sauce and honey.
  4. Drizzle half of this mixture on the cut side of each squash, rubbing into the cut sides and reserving the rest for later.
  5. Season each squash with a good pinch of salt.
  6. Place cut side down on the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. 
  7. Turn the squash cut side up, spread the remaining harissa/honey mixure all over the cut surfaces.
  8. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until tender. Leave the oven on. There may be a pool of liquid in the squash centers; this is fine.
  9. While the squash is roasting, place the nuts on a small sheet pan and toast for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this in a small pan on the stovetop over medium.
  10. For the stuffing: in a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa, salt and water. 
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. 
  12. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 12-18 minutes. You may have to add a few additional Tablespoons of water if the quinoa isn’t fully cooked. Just keep an eye on it.
  13. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the dates, apricots, garlic and lemon juice. 
  14. Cover, and let the mixture steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  15. Pour the quinoa mixture into a medium bowl; add the toasted nuts, scallion, parsley, pepper, olive oil and additional harissa sauce if using. 
  16. Let cool before adding the feta, so it doesn’t overly melt. Gently stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.
  17. Evenly divide the stuffing between the squash cavities. 
  18. Return to the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the stuffing is golden brown and dry on top.
  19. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or scallion and serve warm or room temperature.
  20. To do ahead: you can roast the squash and make the stuffing up to 1 day ahead. Let both come to room temperature, then stuff and roast as directed.

.

We are at that amazing time of the year, well at least in the Midwest, when all that beautiful local summer produce is having its final hurrah. With not much happening due to Covid restrictions, cooking has been one of the only things that has brought me some joy. Grocery and farmers market shopping is the only thing getting me out of the house and as such, things are starting to pile up. Add to that the goods from my little community garden plot and the massive haul I brought home from a friends robust garden and I was drowning in produce. The clock was ticking; it was time to form a plan of attack. Here’s what I did with those key summer treats – Tomatoes, Peppers and Zucchini –  and some other ideas too.

Continue Reading »

In the great wide recipe universe, there are probably more for brownies than any other. So many versions, so many methods. For me, it comes down to fudgy versus cakey and I am firmly in the fudgy camp. For years I’ve used an Alice Medrich recipe made with two kinds of chocolate and a very small amount of flour that is intensely fudgy, chocolatey and wonderful. Sometimes I add nuts or peanut butter swirls or coffee powder, sometimes fruit like port soaked cherries or fresh raspberries and sometimes I just leave them plain. They’re fabulous. Then last week, after an hour call in which chocolate was discussed at length, I had a craving for brownies but not a speck of chocolate in the house. This is highly unusual. Highly. Not wanting to run to the store, I shifted through my pantry and noticed I had a lot of cocoa powder. Not my usual but that could work. I looked for a cocoa based recipe and came upon one I’ve crossed paths with for years but never made: Katherine Hepburn Brownies.

Continue Reading »

I have a remarkable cadre of friends in Southwest France, mostly retired, who are truly living their best lives. They are constantly posting beautiful, luscious, envy inducing photos of meals they’re enjoying through this pandemic and it’s been enough to make me tear up a few times. Maybe one day we’ll be able to enter the country again. Maybe one day, I’ll see them again and share a lovely meal.

Continue Reading »

Have you discovered chili crisp yet? That crunchy, spicy, umami bomb of a Sichuan condiment everyone has been talking about for the last year or so? Oh my friends, let me tell you. Whoa. Get on it. It started with Laoganma’s brand, found in Asian markets, and branched out into homemade recipes and variations. I even posted a recipe in early 2019 and have made it numerous times since. Its dried chili based and spicy, but not overly so, and packed with crunchy shallots, garlic and peanuts, a ton of ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and umami rich mushroom powder and yes, msg. Let me tell you, that msg is key. I’ve tried versions without, and they are not nearly as good. They just aren’t. Embrace the msg.

Continue Reading »

About a week ago, author Emily Nunn (@emilyreesnunn) posted a very simple frozen treat on her Instagram feed that she called “peach soft serve” – just frozen peaches and buttermilk whirled up in a blender. I swooned a little. Not only do I love peaches and buttermilk, together and separately, I loved the simplicity of it all. While I had no frozen peaches, I did have a big bag I’d just picked up at the farmers market that smelled so good it made me a bit dizzy. I had buttermilk hiding in the back of my fridge (that stuff lasts forever.) I had a blender. More pressing, I had an ice cream canister hogging up all kinds of space in my freezer and a need for that space. I was inspired.

Continue Reading »

At the start of the pandemic, I was baking up a storm. Big loaves of bread, foccacia, cinnamon rolls; the whole thing. I had no problem cranking the oven up to 500°F for a crusty sourdough or a blistered pizza. Then April moved into June and July and the heat came. There was no way I was going to turn the oven that high for that long. Not happening. So I struck upon a nice alternative: pita cooked on the stove top.

Continue Reading »

Let’s be frank. Things suck right now in the US. It’s really bad. A pandemic with no end in sight, a dumpster fire political situation, this energy sucking heat … its turned me upside down. On top of all that I’m eating crap. From a cooking perspective, I make plans and buy the ingredients, only to decide the next day to hit a drive thru and nap on my couch instead. To say my motivation and optimism right now is low, is a gross understatement. But sometimes you get lucky and a persistent bright light shines through. Recently, it was my friend Heather who, in addition to being a complete delight, has a magical backyard with a pool. As Chicago temperatures surged toward 90 degrees with 5000% humidity, she told me to come on over and socially distant float. It was just what I needed, mentally and physically.

Continue Reading »

Even before this pandemic began, I was a bean hoarder. You see, I’ve got a real thing for Rancho Gordo, those utterly delicious heirloom beans. They are fantastic and live up to all the hype. I’ve bought them in stores, I’ve ordered them online, I’ve received them as gifts. I even went to the home base in Napa, CA … and bought more beans. Back in October, I received an email that their Bean Club was open to new subscribers. This rarely happens. There’s a 5,000 person waiting list and somehow, I had the golden ticket. I’d passed on it once, years ago, and wasn’t going to let it happen again. On a whim, I quickly joined and a month later, a box with 6lbs of beautiful beans arrived in the mail. It was glorious. A few months later in the midst of a nationwide lockdown when everyone was clamoring for beans, and these beans in particular, my little whim seemed pretty damn smart.

Continue Reading »