Tag Archives: biscuits

Lemon Poppy Seed Strawberry Shortcake

My little girl loves Strawberry Shortcake.  Well, the dessert, but mainly the cute character I grew to love at the same age.  I’m sure if her and I were the same age, we’d probably be friends as we share similar affinities.

Growing up we would regularly eat strawberry shortcakes in the summer.  My dad was (and is) the fruit king.  It wasn’t uncommon to find heaping amounts of peaches, nectarines, plums & cherries all at the same time in June & July, with a couple of trips to the market throughout the week.  It’s no surprise my younger brother at age three consumed two whole watermelons in one sitting at our church’s watermelon bust.  Frequently on a Sunday evening, my father would begin cutting up fruit for the BIG fruit salad as we sat around like seagulls awaiting our victory.

When it came time for strawberry shortcakes, I was designated strawberry huller.  I must say that I am a veteran strawberry huller.  I don’t mess around with the huller device, but a small paring knife, removing the stem & inner middle (not just chopping off the top–isn’t that a crime?).  Unfortunately, our idea of shortcakes was the spongy prepackaged cakes.  It’s interesting that I wasn’t completely fond of them as a kid.  However, when I would taste various versions of biscuit shortcakes in former years, they were either dry, or felt like gravy should be the topping.

I had put off the search for a while, then shortly after Ben & I got married I came across this recipe thinking that it might just be the summer to redeem the strawberry shortcake.  And folks, this is it.  The lemon poppy seed version was first made two weeks ago, while I normally stick to the original cream version.  They’re reminiscent of flaky, creamy English cream scones, except with more cream.  And this isn’t time to watch your figure, but completely indulge in summer goodness of sweet, seasonal strawberries, flaky cream shortcakes & billows of freshly whipped cream.  A perfect end to a fourth of July meal.  You could easily make the original version (directions below) or put a spin on it with the lemon & poppy seed.  Whatever you do–these should be on your menu this weekend (also try Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Salad).  What are some of your fourth of July food memories?  Don’t forget to take part in the free giveaway!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortcakes (printable recipe)

This recipe is from Fine Cooking magazine.  You can easily make these shortcakes as plain, by omitting the poppy seeds & lemon juice, and using 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream instead.  Another option for the lemon poppy seed shortcakes is by using half strawberries & the other half blueberries.

Ingredients:

For Shortcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tb baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb lemon zest
6 ounces (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tb poppy seeds
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For Strawberries:
5 cups sliced strawberries
1 – 2 Tb granulated sugar

For Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
2 Tb granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Shortcakes Directions:  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt into a large bowl.  Add the lemon zest and toss throughout the mixture.  Cut the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the largest butter is the size of peas.  Add the poppy seeds and mix around lightly.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the cream.  Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry.

Gently knead by hand five or six times to pick up any dry ingredients remaining in the bottom of the bowl and to create a loose ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into an 8-inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic to chill for 20 minutes.

While dough is chilling, Heat oven to 425.  Remove dough from fridge & cut (using a sharp chef’s knife or bench knife) and cut into 9 squares.  Space apart on parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Brush each shortcake with cream & sprinkle coarse sugar on top.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  When done, let cool at room temperature.

Strawberries:  While shortcakes are baking, slice strawberries and place in bowl, along with one tablespoon of sugar.  Mix together and allow to macerate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Whipped Cream:  In a chilled bowl of an electric mixer with a chilled whisk, add cold whipped cream.  Beat on high until it begins to thicken.  Add vanilla & sugar, then continue beating till billowy, soft peaks form.  **If you want lemon whipped cream, then add 2 Tb of lemon juice in place of vanilla.


Quicky Sticky Biscuits

I recall a moment in time when our dear friend Hilary asked Ben, “Benny, what would be your top 10 books of all time?”  Now, as my husband is a an avid reader as aforementioned, it would seem difficult to find a top 10.  In fact, he just told me yesterday that he checked out the most books from the library than anyone else in his whole elementary school (back when he was in elementary school).  But, he quickly named one off the top of his head (which is another hard thing for my introverted husband to do…he’s more methodical about his ideas & words), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

If I could summarize what it is that he likes about it (as do I), I would say it’s a book of self-discovery put into action.  It helps you find out who you are, what you are capable of and putting it into practice.  This is huge for Ben.  And as I’ve been married to him for 7 1/2 years now and a mother of two, I have SO appreciated this philosophy on life.  It helps with focusing on the areas of life which are important, but not urgent.  An example of this would be setting a date night with Ben, because although the dishes, laundry & bills are the urgent items in life…having uninterrupted time with my spouse is important for the long haul.  It’s learning to not live life putting out the fires (searching at 5:00 what to make for dinner, searching for a snack 20 minutes too late as your child (or you) screams their head off).

As we approach the New Year, our family is writing up a Mission Statement, in order to live in the Important, but not Urgent.  We are seeking to know what is best for our family and what aligns with our values, dreams & beliefs and not some other family.  Our mission statement will give us direction for our long term goals and help us navigate in our short term goals.  It is also mailable, because visions change course and we need to adaptability.  I not only want to create a haven for Ben & the girls (and other children we might be blessed with), but also for people outside of it.  For our extended family, friends, and the stranger & neighbor who we barely know.  My life has been richly blessed by people who extended kindness, grace & overwhelming care when I needed it most.  And sometimes it was surrounding a dinner table with food, while other times it was around a dinner table with a listening ear & loving embrace.

I hope you would be encouraged by the people who have done the same for you, or how you have been that person in times of need.  May 2010 bring you clarity of perspective, dreams to dream & a dinner table open for an invitation.  Maybe these Quicky Sticky Biscuits will cut through the awkwardness and create a yummy slice of hospitality.

Quicky Sticky Biscuits (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from the book, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.  These biscuits are not for the faint at heart.  They are rich & buttery and they’re not ashamed to show it.  If you’re looking for something light or watching your figure, be warned, as these biscuits will blow your 2010 resolution diet out the window.  BUT, they are definitely amazing and worth bringing to a family brunch (so you won’t be tempted to eat too many).

For the Sticky Pecan Sauce:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

For the Biscuits:

4 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 1/2 to 2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 2 cups)

For the Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted (depending on how rich you want them, use 1/4 cup for less rich)

POSITION A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN AND PREHEAT TO 425F.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan with softened butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter.  Melt over low heat.  When the butter is melted, increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped nuts.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Set aside.

TO MAKE THE BISCUITS: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender (if you don’t have a pastry blender than use two butter knives to cut the butter).  Blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with some of the bits of butter the size of small peas.

MAKE A SHALLOW WELL IN THE CENTER OF THE FLOUR MIXTURE AND POUR IN 1 1/2 CUPS OF THE COLD BUTTERMILK (I used the whole 2 cups at this point).  Use a fork to blend the buttermilk into the flour to create a soft dough.  If the dough seems too dry as you are stirring it, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to make sure it comes together.  Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle.  Use a sharp chef’s knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.

TO MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar.  Place the biscuits, evenly spaced, cinnamon-sugar-side down, into the pecan syrup-lined pan.  Brush the tops (once the bottom) of the biscuits with more melted butter and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon-sugar.

BAKE THE BISCUITS UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND PUFFY, and the sticky pecan sauce is bubbling around them, 15-17 minutes (it took more like 23-25 minutes for me).  Cool slightly, then place a large serving platter over the top of the pan and invert it.  Remove the pan and allow the pecan sauce to fall around the biscuits.  Use a small spatula to scrape any residual syrup from the pan onto the biscuits.  Serve immediately (but they taste pretty darn good hours later).


Pull out the recipe box

As I mentioned a couple posts back about my cooking class and all the wonderful food I enjoyed, but didn’t have the recipes quite yet.  Well, I do now and I would love to share some of them with you.  But before I do that…I have to tell you a rather sweet & lovely morning I woke up to.

First off, I had a date with Ben last night and dominated the conversation (thanks for listening).  I dumped on him about how I’ve been feeling as a stay at home mom (ie trying to feed the kids in a fashionable time frame, wanting to enjoy a hot cup of coffee for once, trying really hard to run the inner workings of our house while spending quality time with my girls, etc etc etc).  As he was listening, he asked, “what would your ideal day look like with the girls?”  I think I repeated about three times, “well it would look like, no but that would be unrealistic,” while he would continue to say, “I didn’t ask what’s realistic, but idealistic” (here my realistic hubby telling his idealistic wife to stop being realistic–gotta love it).

So one of my answers was being able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, sit down for breakfast all together and come home from Thursday playgroup with lunch already made to serve when we walk in the door (and a little bit more I’m leaving out, maybe it was a massage?).  Well, listen he did.  He took care of the oldest breakfast, had an americano for me and when I thought it couldn’t get any better…”here,” he said diverting my attention to a clear rubbermaid container, “a grilled cheese sandwich that just needs to be heated up and apple slices for the girl’s lunch.”

This is what hospitality looks like to a mother with two young children, who just the day before wanted to drive far, far away by herself.  I’m blessed to have such a guy and I try really hard to not take it for granted.  And as you read this and maybe make one of the recipes, I hope you will find someone you can bless through the simple act of hospitality, in the form of a meal.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

adapted from Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc

IMG_3754I personally am not a big fan of fried chicken, but I do believe some of you are…specifically Liz S.

Ingredients:

1 gallon cold water

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

12 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 large rosemary sprigs

1 small bunch of thyme

1 small bunch of parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Two 3-pound chickens

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 cups buttermilk

Vegetable oil, for frying

Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits

adapted Cooks Illustrated


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These are truly a phenomenal buttermilk biscuit, which are super quick & easy.

Ingredients:

2 C flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 C buttermilk

Additional flour

2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 500ºF. Spray a 9 in springform or cake pan with some nonstick spray.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt to a bowl and mix the ingredients together evenly. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the butter until the pieces are no bigger than a small pea. Fold in the buttermilk until everything is just blended, and there are no streaks of flour remain. Do not overmix, the mixture should still be lumpy.

Line a plate or tray with some flour and using a 1/4 C measuring cup or 1/4 C ice cream/cookie scoop or eyeball it & use your hands, scoop out balls of the dough onto the tray of flour. Flour your hands and roll each ball around in the flour to evenly coat them in a layer of flour. The dough is very wet and very sticky. Place the dough balls into the prepared pan. Place 9 balls around in a ring and 3 balls in the center of the pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.

Bake for 5 minutes at 500ºF (middle rack) and then lower the temperature to 450ºF and bake for another 15 minutes.

Apple Tarte Tatin

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Pate Brisee

12 oz flour, sifted

1 tsp salt

8 oz unsalted butter, diced

1/4 C club soda (more or less)

Put flour, salt, and butter in food processor. Mix until it looks like grated parmesan. Add club soda a little at a time until pastry forms a ball and does not stick to sides. Dump dough onto a flat surface and push it away from you using the ball of your hand.  Do this two or three times.  Combine into a disc using your hands (don’t worry it will look pretty crumbly, which is normal).  Put dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.  Let it rest on countertop for 10-15 minutes, till a bit pliable.  Then roll for your pie pan.

Ingredients for Apple Tarte Tatin

8 tart (granny smith) apples

3/4 C sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter

creme fraiche to serve

You need an oven proof frying pan –  cast-iron ovenproof frying pan is fine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Peel, halve, and core apples. Melt butter in pan on stove. Add sugar (just sprinkle it on top of the butter) and place the apples decoratively on top (cut side down). Cook slowly until caramelized. This can take up to one hour. Do not stir! (Clearly, low heat here.)

When cooked (check by lifting an apple and seeing what’s going on), remove from heat.

Roll the pastry, put it on top of the apples. Tuck the sides in. Cook in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove, take a flat dish and turn the tarte upsidedown. Serve warm with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. You can also scrape a vanilla bean into the apples at the beginning of the caramelization and let the pod sit in there with them, too, but it’s not totally necessary.


Poached Pears

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Ingredients

2 cups Orange Muscat
1 medium red beet (1/4 pound), peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
7-8 small firm-ripe pears (3/4 to 1 pound total), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored

Bring wine, beet, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and bay leaves to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-quarts saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Add pears and cover with a round of parchment paper. Simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pears to a bowl. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaves and pour syrup over pears. Cool completely in syrup, about 30 minutes.

Poached pears can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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