Posts Tagged ‘Favorites’
The past couple years, I’ve tried to usher a new tradition in with my family’s usual habits around the holidays. Now that the rest of my three siblings and I don’t wake up before 7 am on Christmas morning anymore, I’ve taken to waking up about twenty minutes earlier than everyone else to make a quick batch of cream biscuits. Once they are freshly baked, we spread the biscuits out on the coffee table along with butter and some jam, and spend a happy Christmas moment in front of the tree and presents and stuffed stockings. Only after we feel we’ve had our fill of breakfast indulgence do we then proceed to calmly exchange gifts with one another. It’s funny how as we’ve grown older it’s not really about the presents anymore.
I don’t feel any longing to go back to the days where all I anticipated were the mounds of presents on Christmas morning, but I do have a sort of nostalgia for the days during Christmas break back in that era of elementary and middle school where I would wake up early in the cold morning and find my sisters and brother already playing Zelda (ocarina of time, of course) of Sims or some such other video game of my generation. Feeling a little disappointed that they beat me to the game, I would cry that they would have to let me play in approximately one hour—that was the time limit my mom forced us to abide by when we all wanted to play the same game.
Luckily enough, I came out into the kitchen a couple of days before Christmas this year to find my now 24-year-old brother (who is an engineer) installing and playing SimCoaster on an old laptop. (I guess now would be an okay time to admit that just last night I spent a good hour or two on that SimCoaster thing. What? I’m graduating college in a semester?) Maybe the good things about family and being together never change—we’re all kids when we’re home, whether we’re not crazy about presents anymore or not. Still kids, with more mature tastes and an appetite for cream biscuits and jam over hungerly grabbing for our weighty stockings. I’ll take it.
Anyway, these biscuits are pretty perfect. They are as simple as can be: you add cream to a flour mixture, roll it out, cut out little biscuit shapes, brush a little butter on them, and bake them. They are most definitely simple enough to make Christmas morning, or really any morning at all. My poor brother has a birthday only three days after Christmas, and that morning I woke up just before him and, at the urging of my mother, made an impromptu batch of them to serve as his birthday breakfast (he really, really likes these biscuits). If you’ve got cream in the fridge, you’re good to go.
It’s important to draw a distinction about these biscuits, though. As Deb clearly states, these are not the sturdy buttermilk kind that you slather with pork sausage gravy or use to eat alongside some hearty stew or chili, but rather the kind you delicately eat with butter and jam. If I were being honest with you, this is my favorite type of biscuit, but I can so confidently assert that only because my sweet tooth tends to have more influence over my will than, say, my … savory tooth. (Really, why do we get a sweet tooth but not a savory one?) But I am that sure anyone would love to wake up to these, any morning of the year, but especially during the holidays.
I’ve made these using cutter-rounds ranging from a little less than 2 inches to almost 3 1/2. I like the smaller size, but I think that’s a personal preference. Whatever size you use, trust your instincts on taking them out rather than relying on a set time. If they’re about 2 inches, they might need no more than 9 or 10 minutes. If larger than 3 inches, they might take as long as 14 minutes.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium-large bowl to combine. Add the cream and gently fold it in until it’s a cohesive mass. Do not over-stir; if the mixture is looking dry or unmanageable add a tablespoon or two more of cream.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and, using your hands, begin pressing it together and out to form a thick rectangle. Gently fold over one half of the dough onto itself—this will create the layer in the middle of the biscuits. Re-pat it down to the thickness of about 3/4 of an inch. Using about a 2 1/2-inch diameter cutter, cut out the dough into rounds. Gently gather up remaining scraps to make more rounds. Brush the tops of the biscuits liberally with the melted butter, and before putting them on the prepared baking sheet, brush a bit of butter directly on the parchment where the biscuits will be set down.
Bake until the tops of the biscuits are just golden, about 10 to 13 minutes. Serve warm, with butter and jam.
Don’t tell me you don’t like biscuits and gravy, because I wouldn’t believe you. After all, I used to think I was like you. It all started one morning after a sleepover at a friend’s house in elementary school, when my friend’s mom made biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Biscuits, as in the kind from the can that you have to bang against a counter to open up, and gravy, as in that powdery stuff from a little aluminum packet that you add to water. Now, I wasn’t actively judging the quality of food at that age, but I just didn’t like that breakfast. Not one bit. And ever since then, the words “biscuits and gravy” have repulsed me a bit.
(I hope this doesn’t mean that I was already a food-snob in the making at the age of 8. Sigh, I guess some things are a long time coming.)
Anyway, I have stubbornly clung to that repulsion and have managed to successfully live out the last 13 years of my life avoiding a bite of any and all versions of biscuits and gravy. Everything changed last weekend, though, when I decided to make Waylon this recipe.
Waylon, so very unlike me, is not new to biscuits and gravy. He grew up on them, and he almost always orders them when we go out to a diner-like place for breakfast (which honestly is pretty much the only type of place we go to for breakfast). He loves biscuits and gravy. Yet when I told him I was going to make them for him, he responded by saying, “Okay, but I have to tell you, if I don’t like them it’s not one of those times that I’m going to keep eating and pretend that I do. Really, I can’t eat bad biscuits and gravy.”
Moving on from the fact that he said he wouldn’t “pretend” to like it (but seriously, pretend?), this made me get some doubts about how much I could succeed with this dish. Maybe it’s just one of those things best left to the professionals—or, in this case, the greasy line cooks. But he loved them. Loved them! And here’s the really surprising thing: I did too. It is salty and fatty and carby and everything good. We ate the biscuits smothered in the gravy alongside some homemade hashbrowns that Waylon made. Everything was so good, so much so that all I can say is please, make these—whether you think you like biscuits and gravy or not.
I should note, though, that I don’t think these are the type of biscuits to make if you just want some flaky, tender biscuits to spread some butter and jam on. These are pure wonder when paired with the gravy, especially because by cooking the biscuits in a buttered cake pan, the bottoms and tops get a salty edge to them (see aforementioned salt + fat praise). They give a waft of buttery-goodness when you pull them out of the oven, and are pillowy-soft when you break them apart for the gravy. But they would not be my pick for butter and jam (although they are of course not bad with it because c’mon, they’re biscuits). In that case I prefer a softer more delicate cream biscuit like these.
Oh! And one more thing! Just to try and convince you a little bit more, I think I need to point out how easy this all was to make. The biscuits come together in no time and with just one bowl, and the gravy cooks up in the time the biscuits are in the oven. Whole thing took no longer than 40 minutes. So no excuses.
One Year Ago: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
Buttermilk Biscuits with Pork Sausage Gravy
Adapted from Saveur
Some important notes: First, I used salted butter here and I think you should, too. The melted butter that coats the pan the biscuits are cooked in leaves a salty, crusty taste on the bottom of the biscuits that is just too delicious to pass up. I’ve adjusted the salt content in the recipe to account for this–if you’re using unsalted butter, add about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon more in the biscuit dough. Also, I used 2% milk in the gravy, and it was great. Whole milk would be fine too though, I’m sure. I’m guessing nonfat might be okay, but you know, why would you have nonfat milk in your fridge anyway?
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, chilled and cubed, plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 ounces pork breakfast sausage
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
First, make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch cake pan with some of the salted melted butter and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using your fingers, rub the chilled and cubed butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the butter is in mostly pea-sized pieces. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir together until just combined. Transfer to a floured work surface, and gently pat dough into a rectangle. Fold one side of the rectangle over on top of the other side, and pat back down so the dough is a little higher than 1-inch thick. Dip a 3″ round cutter into a bowl of flour, and cut out rounds of dough. Press scraps together, and repeat with remaining dough until you have about 6 or 7 rounds. Arrange the biscuits in the already-greased pan, and brush the tops with the remaining melted butter. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
While the biscuits are baking, make the gravy. Over medium-high heat, cook the chopped bacon in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally, until its fat renders, about 3 minutes. Add the pork sausage and cook, breaking it into the smallest pieces you can with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to stir for about another 2 minutes, or until the flour starts to smell toasted. Add the milk and cream, and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached reduce heat to medium to bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste–you’ll need to add about at least teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir to combine.
To serve, split warm biscuits in half, and cover (liberally) with gravy.
The steady drizzle of rain that has been going on without end here today has ushered in the Season of Rain (which happens to be one of only two seasons the Northwest offers, in case you didn’t know). But, surprisingly, I was kind of happy when I saw the rain from outside my kitchen window early this morning. All of a sudden, I welcomed the idea of walking to school in my boots, scarves, and sweaters, clinging to my umbrella.
Speaking of which, I have to confess: I have finally completely converted from a rain jacket-person to an umbrella-person. This is a big deal in the Northwest. As in, people in Seattle will scorn at you if you’re carrying around an umbrella, and even more so if that umbrella is one of those giant kinds. The people there and in the Northwest in general like their windbreakers, and they take pride in wearing them wherever they walk (or, more realistically, bike). And believe me, I have tried to make it work. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Anyway, when it’s chilly and pouring outside, the only thing I really want is a big bowl of soup with toast or croutons. You’d think the wetness outside would prompt me to crave something more dry, like I don’t know, chicken served over rice or a loaf of fresh bread, warm from the oven. Actually, now that I’m writing it out, that bread sounds pretty perfect right about now. But, perfect with soup, of course! Right? Whatever, this post is already unraveling right before my fingertips so I should just get a move on. Point is: rain outside, soup inside. Good things happen. Particularly with this kind of soup.
The recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook. I was drawn to the recipe not only because the photo displayed in the cookbook may have been the first one ever to make cauliflower soup look drop-dead, amazingly good-looking, but because the flavors profiled in the soup are some of my favorites: dijon and aged white sharp cheddar cheese.
It’s a homely and light-looking little meal, pale and smooth, but don’t be misled by the heft of these croutons. Crunchy, salty, and deceivingly flavorful, they are nothing short of addicting. While I stored leftover soup in the fridge to eat for lunches throughout the week, I had no croutons to put away. Because I ate the entire batch of them in one night. All of them! Heidi suggests that if you want to make a meal of this, serve the soup over cubes of fried paneer cheese or poached eggs. But really, if you want to make a meal of this (the Amy way), serve yourself up a bowl, top with a big handful of croutons, make sure every spoonful of soup contains one, and replenish croutons as needed. Trust me, you will be full—and happy.
One Year Ago: Asado’s Sweet and Spiced Lentils
Cauliflower Soup with Aged White Cheddar and Dijon Croutons
Adapted slightly from Super Natural Every Day
Serves 4 to 6
6 ounces (170 g) bread, torn and chunked into little pieces
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 big yellow onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
14 ounces cauliflower, cut into small florets
2.5 ounces (75 g) aged white sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
To prepare the croutons, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack centered in the middle of the oven. Scatter the torn bread over a baking sheet. In a small bowl (I just used the one I melted the butter with), whisk the melted butter, olive oil, mustard and salt. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread pieces, and toss well to coat. Bake, tossing the croutons once or twice along the way, for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown all around and crunchy. Set aside.
To make the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and a big pinch of salt. Saute until the onions soften and are starting to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the potato, cover, and cook for about another 4 minutes, just long enough for the potato pieces to soften up a bit. Stir in the garlic, and after about 30 seconds or when it becomes fragrant, add in the broth. Bring to a boil, while allowing the potatoes to become tender. Once they are, add in the cauliflower pieces. Cook, covered, for an additional 4 or 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.
Remove the pan from heat and puree the soups, in batches, in the blender, making sure to never fill the blender over half full. If you have one of those fancy immersion blenders, this would be the time to use it. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in about half the cheese, and the two teaspoons mustard. Add more broth if you want to thin the soup at all. Serve, sprinkling each bowl with more grated cheddar and a small handful (or more, if you’re me) of the croutons
Tired of my fascination with Lebanese cuisine yet? No? Oh good! Because I would hate for you to get bored, especially right now. Pictured above (and below) is fattoush, a classic lebanese salad that has the flavors of sumac—an awesome fruity-lemony spice that’s derived from some sort of fruit off of some sort of shrub—parsley, mint, scallions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, and toasted pita bread. And in case you haven’t realized it yet, that combination of ingredients also happens to make for a salad that is my favorite yet in texture. Crunchy, juicy, crispy, toasty. All good things.
I ate this with Waylon alongside some grilled ribeye over last weekend. Waylon says it’s one of his favorite things I’ve ever made (!), and I have to say, it was pretty, pretty good. Our judgment was probably influence though, just a little bit, by eating outside on the deck, with the view of the water, on a beautiful warm night. I’m sure you know how those things go—I think I’m especially susceptible to my surrounding environment when I have meals.
But what also made this especially good was how it seemed to fit so well with that night. This salad, with the small yet delicious exception of toasted pita pieces, is literally a bunch of chopped vegetables and herbs thrown together with a simple vinaigrette. Which yes, sounds like almost every other salad in the world. But somehow this one really feels different. (And this is coming from someone who eats salads as a meal at least a few times a week. Not that you’d be able to tell from the content of this blog.) Maybe it has something to do with the vibrancy of the herbs, or the contrast of the fresh lettuces and vegetables. All I know is I’ve never tasted anything that tasted so fresh. Bon Appetit featured it as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Food World,” and calls it the “original chopped salad.” It’s the original, and I’m pretty sure nothing has ever come along that can parallel it.
One Year Ago: Rosemary Focaccia
I understand that there is a lot of flexibility in terms of what composes this salad. But, in my opinion, you cannot substitute or go without the sumac, pita bread, parsley, and mint. You can find sumac in spice stores and middle eastern markets. Also, like most salads, this one should be served immediately to prevent any wilting of the herbs and lettuce and to preserve the texture of the pita.
4 teaspoons ground sumac, soaked in 4 teaspoons warm water for 15 minutes
juice of one lemon, at least three tablespoons
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 8-inch-diameter pita breads, toasted until golden brown
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped, or 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
6 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced
1 small head romaine lettuce, trimmed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch strips
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
1 cup fresh mint, stems removed
ground sumac, for garnish
First, prepare the dressing. Combine the sumac in the water it soaked in, lemon juice, minced garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually add the oil in a small stream, whisking constantly, until it’s all blended and emulsified. Season with few good pinches of salt, and taste for salt, lemon, and vinegar.
Using your hands, roughly break up the toasted pita bread to be in bite-sized pieces. Place the pieces in a medium bowl and drizzle the 1/4 cup of olive oil over and toss to coat. Season the pita well with a good pinch or two of kosher salt. In a separate large bowl (largest one you can get your hands on), mix
Place pita pieces in a medium bowl; pour oil over and toss to coat. Season pita to taste with salt.
Mix tomatoes and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add 3/4 of dressing; toss to coat, adding more dressing by tablespoonfuls as needed. Season with salt. Add pita; toss once. Sprinkle sumac over, if desired.