Tag Archives: Biscuits

Classic Buttermilk Biscuits

As relief efforts continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Matt and I are trying to help in whatever ways we can.  All of our efforts feel very small, but the hope is that the small efforts of many individuals add up to something greater. Last Sunday we took a car full of old clothes, coats, canned foods, toothbrushes, and diapers (collected from ourselves and our wonderful neighbors) to a local donation center.  We then stayed for four hours helping sort and box clothes. The outpouring of support and donations are amazing and truly touching.

One type of donation that has been called for in the media is stuffed animals and toys for children whose homes were ravaged. For years now, I have been keeping all my childhood stuffed animals in a plastic bin under our guest bed. I loved stuffed animals as a kid, particularly monkeys, and I was an avid collector.

I decided to donate most of them to the kids who have lost their beloved toy companions. I looked through the bin, sorting through faces I hadn’t seen in several years, and got hit with waves of emotion and nostalgia.  There was the souvenir from going to Busch Gardens as a kid. There was this guy, who hung from a floor lamp all through college.

There was the one my mom gave me when I got the flu in middle school, even with getting a flu shot, and I should add that my mom got me a get-well companion despite my frequent reminders to her that she’d “made me get a flu shot for nothing!!” I did keep one, my personal childhood favorite, but the rest went to the donation center.

It may seem somewhat trivial to get emotional over letting go of childhood stuffed animals I hadn’t even dragged out of an underbed bin in years, especially considering how much others have lost during this time, but it honestly was a little sad to part with them. I’ll admit I did hesitate for a moment. I can only hope and pray that they give a small sliver of happiness to someone who desperately needs it.  I can hope that my doing this small thing is indicative of the overall inherent goodness of humanity, and is an example of how communities do band together in times of need.

I thought the ultimate comfort food was appropriate here.  Biscuits were one of my favorite things to nosh on as a child.  They still are.  Enjoy!  And click on this post for a list of ideas for donating and/or volunteering to help in Sandy’s aftermath.

Source: slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook, by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 tbs unsalted butter, well chilled
3/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Drop in the stick of butter and use a pastry blender or two forks to cut it into the flour. You are done when it looks like pea-size crumbs. Add the buttermilk and mix with a rubber spatula until the dough just comes together.
Knead for one minute. If your bowl is large enough, I find it’s very convenient to just use the bowl, but flour your hands first. Alternately, you can dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it there, again flour your hands first.
The dough will be smooth and no longer wet when you’re done kneading. Make the dough into a ball and then roll it out with a well-floured rolling pin until it’s about an inch thick, maybe a tad less.
Using a round biscuit cutter, stamp out biscuit rounds and place them onto the baking sheet. Bake 10-11 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve immediately. You can butter them or spread jam on them if you wish. But I must say, they don’t really need anything to be delicious.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Yesterday I blogged a delicious dish I think everyone should consider adding to their Thanksgiving menu, because I think you and your guests will inhale it.  Today I’m blogging another dish I think would be very appropriate for a Thanksgiving spread, especially because I know some families have a bread basket on their tables.  And I think these Sweet Potato Biscuits would be a spectacular alternative to dinner rolls. Or perhaps a lovely addition to the more ubiquitous dinner rolls.

Think about it, you’re getting the nutrition from the sweet potatoes along with your carbs; biscuits don’t have yeast in them, so they are much faster and easier to make; and it would be an unexpected twist for your guests.  And you could easily turn them into drop biscuits for even less effort.

We found these to be quite wonderful.  I’m also thinking that these could make a terrific breakfast or brunch item the day of or the day after Thanksgiving.  Something to ponder…  Anyway, I hope you enjoy them in whatever capacity you choose.

Source: adapted from Food Network Kitchens Favorite Recipes

Ingredients:
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for dusting
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
5 tbs unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup whole milk

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 400 F.
In a mixing bowl, toss the sweet potato with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a baking dish and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, until cooked through and just starting to brown.
Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then place in a food processor. Puree until it’s completely smooth. Set aside.
Raise the oven temperature to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Place the butter in, and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You are done when the butter resembles small peas.
In a small bowl, measure out 3/4 cup of the sweet potato puree and add the milk. Mix to combine, then pour the mixture into the flour. Use a rubber spatula to combine them. Knead the dough in the bowl for one minute with well-floured hands, then turn it out onto a floured flat surface.
Flour your rolling pin, then roll the dough out to a height of one inch. Flour a 3-inch biscuit cutter and stamp out biscuits. Re-roll the scraps and stamp out more biscuits. You should have 8 biscuits in total.
Place the biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool briefly before serving.

Blue Cheese Hazelnut Drop Biscuits

I don’t have any kind of substantive story to accompany this recipe. I made these because I had leftover Gorgonzola and leftover hazelnuts from this wonderful dish, and that’s about as profound as it gets today.

They were delicious and awesome, of course. Perfect fluffy texture, with the light crunch of the nuts and the tang of the blue cheese. Matt all but demanded that I make these again sometime.

Drop biscuits are an ideal initiation to the world of biscuit making. I understand that making biscuits from scratch can seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. After you do it once, though, you realize how ridiculously easy it is and then you want to make them all the time. But, if there is any nervousness on your part, first try some drop biscuits. Basically, all you do is mix together the dry ingredients, cut in the butter, then add the liquid and any add-ins, mix together, then drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a baking sheet. No rolling pins, no kneading, no dough sticking to your counter or cutting board because you forgot to flour it. I’ve never done that, by the way. I’m just saying, hypothetically, one could forget. 😉

So whether you’re a novice or a pro in the biscuit world, definitely give these a shot. I think you’ll love them. You can use any blue cheese you like. The original recipe called for Stilton, I used Gorgonzola because it’s what I had on hand (and because it’s Matt’s favorite type of blue cheese, that’s usually what I have lying around). You could also play around with the choice of nuts. Hazelnuts are in the original recipe, and that’s what I used, but this would be equally delicious with walnuts, I think. See what strikes your fancy!

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups flour
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs baking powder
¾ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut or sliced into pieces
1 cup chilled buttermilk
1 large egg
¾ cup blue cheese crumbles
2/3 cup chopped, skinned, toasted hazelnuts

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter. You can do this with a pastry blender (my preferred method), two forks (that’s never worked for me) or your fingers, which works quite nicely. If you’re using your fingers, I recommend running them under cold water first, then drying them thoroughly with paper towels.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Make a well in the center of the dough and pour in the buttermilk. Then add the blue cheese and nuts and mix with a spatula until it comes together.
Using 1/3 cup dough for each biscuit, drop 12 mounds onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and tester inserted comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.