Biscuit Nostalgia

Way, way back in the middle ages, when I was a teenager working at Hardees, I was the biscuit girl.  I would wake up at 3:30 am in the morning and go in and make biscuits.  Getting up so hellishly early may have seemed like a crap job, but from my perspective, I would get done early enough to enjoy the rest of my day.  I would make the biscuits by hand in a giant bowl: add the dry ingredients, cut in the shortening by hand, add the ice-cold buttermilk and then use my short little arms to mix away.  Don’t worry, I washed up first.  My hands would ache with the cold from the buttermilk.  You would think, after such a glamorous adventure, that I would hate biscuits, but I loved them, even as a surly teenager.  I had not attempted to make them as a surly adult until now, but I always order them at restaurants.  Minus the gravy.  I do not love sausage gravy.  Please feel free to send all the hate mail you want.  This surly adult eats her biscuits with butter and honey.

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One of the secrets behind a great biscuit turns out to be the mixing by hand.  Go ahead and use a spatula if you must, I will not judge because I too hate having crap all over my hands, but it really is the best way.  The recipe below is for a small batch of biscuits, enough for one meal, which is good, as they are best fresh from the oven.  As indulging in a tray of biscuits as supper seems like a bad idea, I made a chicken as a side dish:)  Enjoy!

Buttermilk Biscuits:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450º
  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and cut in the cold butter until it looks like coarse meal.  I always think it looks like sand.
  • Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk and mix just until combined.  The dough should be very wet.
  • Place the dough on a floured board and, using your hands, fold dough four times.  You will probably want to flour your hands..unlike what I said earlier about the spatula, a rolling-pin is a big no-no at this point.
  • Press the dough to 1 inch thick and use a round cutter (or a cold glass if you don’t have a round cutter) to cut out the biscuits.  You can gently put the scraps together to make more-the purists will tell you it isn’t as good, but why waste the dough?
  • Place the rounds on a cookie sheet, or even better, a baking stone and bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and brush the tops with melted butter.

14 Hour Bake-a-thon

Have I mentioned my dear friend Julie?  She invited me over for a baking day.  I thought, sure, sounds like a blast.  We can sit and catch up, bake a little, do some dishes and hang out.  Yeah, except I forgot that Julie does nothing by halves.  As you can guess by the title, we did very little hanging out and a whole hell of a lot of baking and dishes.  She bought $200 worth of supplies for us to bake with at Sam’s Club.  This included a bake of Nestle Morsels the size of my pillow.  I don’t know where our shared husband Henry gets the energy to keep up with her.  The supplies are pictured below:

When Super Woman shops

It was a long, grueling day.  We needed a pizza or three at the end just to stop breathing in the sugar.  We made 5 or 6 different types of cookies, two types of bark, two types of bread, two types of bars, two types of cheesecake, and one cupcake recipe.  There may have been more, but I am attempting to block it.  Julie tried to help me keep up with her with a constant supply of blended and iced coffee.  She also made a yummy and healthy chicken salad that I now have developed a slight addiction for.  It was made out of cubed chicken, craisins, celery, pecans, mayo and a hint of Dijon mustard rub-YUM!

Oops

I made some biscotti, on accident, that smelled remarkably like charcoal.

Had to toss that experiment out.

But all in all it was a great day, and I appreciate Julie letting me come over and play in the kitchen all day.  I thought I would share one of the recipes that we made, it was just really hard to make a choice.  One was the ginger cookie that I shared in a previous post, so that would be silly to redo.  I finally decided to share the Hummingbird Bread recipe that Ms. Julie found in a magazine.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, especially since we had to mess around with the recipes as Julie’s family had eaten the bananas she had bought to put in the bread.  We substituted maraschino cherries for the bananas and it still turned out.  I, personally, think that the bread is awesome enough to stand without either, but you can decide for yourself.

Pineapple Hummingbird Mini Loaves

Ingredients:

Bread
  • 1 packages – yellow cake mix
  • 1 packages – vanilla flavor instant pudding, 3.4 oz.
  • 4 – eggs
  • 1/4 cups – vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoons – ground cinnamon
  • 1 cans – Dole crushed pineapple, juice drained, 1 cup reserved
  • 2 – medium ripe bananas, well mashed (1 cup)-we used a half a cup of chopped  maraschino cherries here
  • 1/2 cups – chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Glaze
  • 2 ounces – cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoons – milk
  • 1/2 cups – powdered sugar

Directions:

Bread

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Combine cake mix, dry instant pudding, reserved pineapple juice, eggs and oil in large bowl with mixer for 2 minutes, or until blended. Add crushed pineapple, bananas and nuts; mix just until blended.

Pour prepared batter into 5 foil mini loaf pans sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely.
Cream Cheese Glaze
While bread is baking you can make Cream Cheese Glaze:
Combine 2 oz. softened cream cheese with 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 cup powdered sugar; drizzle over cooled loaves.
Drizzle Cream Cheese Glaze over cooled loaves.

Super Tasty even before we added glaze!

A Much Needed Success in the Cornbread Department

Ever have a person in your life that was like a bad cigarette habit?  You know that the best thing for you is to quit, and you know that irreparable damage is being done to yourself, but you have invested so much of your life in that habit, and you really enjoy parts of it, even now.  In light of the current stress and to avoid spending the next 6 weeks sobbing into my pillow, drinking unhealthy amounts of vodka while relearning how to smoke and putting the Bridget Jones DVD on a loop, I am turning to my kitchen for therapy.  Look out dieters, here I come.

Day one of kitchen therapy. I recently read a lovely free book about Soup and Bread.  This has inspired me to go out and purchase a 16 quart stock pot so I can learn how to make soup.  Clearly I am reaching out for comfort, as I have never felt that urge before.  The book also contained the seeds for the cornbread recipe that may be “the one”.  If you have been following my blog, and if not why not?, you know that I have been trying to find a great cornbread recipe.  The recipe that follows is just about perfect.  Super moist, not too cakey, and just sweet enough.

The cornbread was served alongside a basic turkey chili.  I know that there are purists in the chili department who will cry over the lack of beef or the beans.  To them I would say that there is enough divisiveness in the world, just look at any race for public office.  Let it go.  I won’t force you to eat beans, people from Cincinnati won’t force me to serve with noodles and we can all enjoy our own version of chili in peace.  This recipe is for a mild, fairly plain chili.  That is the beauty of it, you can add more/different spice as your personal preferences call for.

Corn Bread

Ingredients

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil.  In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt) together.  In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, buttermilk, heavy cream) together.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Stir just until combined, taking care not to overmix.  Let the batter rest for 5 minutes, then spoon into muffin tin, filling each cup 3/4 full.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden on top.
Basic Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs lean ground turkey

1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2-15.5 ounce cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2-14.5 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

2-15 ounce cans tomato sauce

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 dash cayenne powder

Directions:

Add turkey, onion, garlic, and chicken broth to a large pot.  Brown the turkey until cooked completely.  Add remaining ingredients to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The longer the chili simmers the more the flavors blend together. Remove the bay leaves and serve with whatever toppings work best.

A Tale of Two Muffins

I went to our Wisconsin State Fair this week.  My son wore a squid hat the entire time.  Yes, I said squid hat.  He was trying to embarrass me, apparently we have never met because I don’t shame easily.  I did think it was sad that my grandchildren would never come to be, because who is going to mate with a man walking around with a giant squid on his head?  The real answer to that is everyone.  Strangers, some of them cute women, came up to us all day to tell him how much they enjoyed his hat or to have their picture taken with him.  Just proves how little I know.
Oh, how I digress…I just can’t help it though, I mean a squid hat?  Really?  Maybe my brain is just trying to distract me from these muffins.  See, the reason I chose to make this recipe is that I had eaten a apple cider donut at the fair.  Sprinkled lightly with cinnamon and sugar, it was awesome.  I had this recipe I had gotten from Eating Well Magazine for Cinnamon Steusel Cider Muffins lying around and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Per my usual optimism, I followed the recipe exactly the first time.  The results were not pretty.  The muffins did not rise much and all you could taste was cinnamon.  For hours.

The second time, I used the recipe below and they were less cinnamony.  I also did some research, and it turns out my muffin tin is black-nonstick.  This is one of the 5,845,321 things that your mother should have warned you about and did not.  Turns out you need to lower temp of your oven when cooking with black-nonstick pans.  I adjusted the oven temp and this helped a lot.  The recipe still needs some tweaking, but I loved the apple taste of the “take 2” muffins.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (I switched out the vegetable oil)
  • Cinnamon and sugar for shaking on top of muffins.

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. In a small mixing bowl combine egg, apple cider, and applesauce; add all at once to flour mixture. Stir just till moistened. (The batter should be lumpy.)
  2. Spoon about 3 tablespoon of the batter into each prepared muffin cup. Sprinkle tops of muffins with a cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Bake in a preheated 400° F (unless you have a black-nonstick muffin tin, then give it a go at 375) oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove muffins from pans; cool slightly on racks

The Eternal Search for Cornbread

I am on an eternal (or so it feels) search for a cornbread recipe.  Now I know what you are thinking, that your future grandmother is already showing signs of early dementia.  I do realize that there are cornbread recipes everywhere, I am just searching for the perfect one.

One of my favorite things that my Grandma Jane made was cornbread stuffing.  One of my favorite meals as a kid was when my dad would make us cornbread for supper.  He would bake an 8×8 pan of cornbread and serve it with sausage links.  My son (the man you will know as dad) is pretty skeptical, but an 8×8 pan of cornbread and one package of frozen sausage links used to feed our family of 6.  You have to love the power of such a simple dish to invoke so much nostalgia.

I love the idea of cornbread, and am sooooooooo ready to settle down with a recipe of my own, if only I could find it.  Luckily, your future dad is only 18 and has not started dating a future mom, so I have some time.  The recipe below, shared on food.com, was not the perfect cornbread that resides in my imagination.  It was moist, not too sweet, and my dad would probably approve, but it just wasn’t the one.  This recipe called for an 8″ cast iron skillet.  I do not happen to own a cast iron skillet, there are only so many kitchen tools one can own when you have a kitchen the size of a tiny walk-in closet.  I used an 8″ baking stone and skipped preheating it and adding the oil, as the stone is seasoned enough to be nonstick.  I can tell you that the fun of not following instructions well is that when you neglect to stir the eggs and buttermilk together first, you can find bits of cooked egg in your cornbread!  Ah well, cooking, like life, is an endless adventure.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F
  2. Heat oil in an 8″ cast iron skillet for 5 minutes (or skip this step like I did and use a baking dish)
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, making a well in the center
  4. Stir together the egg and buttermilk (oops) and pour into the well made into the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened
  5. Pour into the hot skillet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden

Cornbread trial #832