Tag Archives: buttermilk

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).

Advertisements

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


IMG_3757

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

IMG_3772

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

IMG_3799

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.

IMG_3798


Some Redemptive Love & Sour Lemon Scones

While I was doing an internship with a college ministry called UCM a couple years back, I went with my fellow interns to the house of Dr. James Houston.  He is the founder of Regent College and is from the UK.  He is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom & insight.  He is full of grace, hospitality and a breath of fresh air.

The UCM director would take the interns every year to Dr. Houston’s house to simply glean from his years of living with God.  We were welcomed into his home with scones, breads, jam & tea.  His wife Rita (who is Scottish, so don’t happen to ask her if she’s from England, because she’ll definitely put in her two cents on the subject) busily made the lunch while we were in the living room listening & asking questions.

Now, when one becomes an intern it isn’t uncommon to know of the specialness of visiting the Houston home.  I can recall former interns stories of Dr. Houston speaking prophetic words into their lives and of Rita’s wit & hospitality.  You expected that he would speak a special word to you personally and walk away holding a gem.  You also knew that Rita would shower you with hospitality.  Both of which made me very excited to be apart of this day.  However, our intern day was a bit different.  In fact, it was so different that he didn’t really speak a prophetic word to anyone, except me.

He spoke of a myriad of things from Romanticism to the Psalter to real spirituality.  There was a key moment in the morning while he was talking about our ministries failing when we peg them as our own.  And as he was talking I asked him a question.  You know, I don’t remember what question I asked him or even remember completely what he was talking about.  I do remember that I was genuinely seeking an answer to this question.  I remember wrestling with the idea of ministry and church and how that all looked.  Through my questions & his answers two things happened.

One was this deep penetration of his eyes locked on mine.  It was probably one of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced.  He knew I was struggling and wrestling, so as he answered me…it was as though everyone else in his living room disappeared and I was the only one he was tending.  He was showing me hospitality at that moment.  He was unveiling a glimpse of what it meant to be present to not only your guest, but the person made in Christ’s likeness sitting before him.  I felt completely loved and cared for by his attentiveness to me and my earnest heart.

Second, was what came from our question & answer.  I believe he asked me what I did with UCM, which I replied that I oversaw Evangitality, which is the hospitality ministry and expanded a bit about what we did and my vision for the students (meaning opening up ourselves & our stuff to anyone we encounter, in order that they would know they are a valued person of the Most High; as well as, giving them a hope).

He then had this, “AHHH” sort of expression and said something to the effect, “Well, you must have come from a home that was immersed in love, parents married…” Of course, my answer was,”No, actually it wasn’t, my parents are divorced and it was hectic at times.”  Then, he said, “Oh (pause), well then, (with a look of reassurance) it’s a re-DEM-ptive love, isn’t it!  It’s like Samson reaching his hand into the carcass of the lion pulling out sweet honey.” With that he left his eyes locked on mine as to give me a sense of my worth and out of a horrible beast of a past, God can still redeem it for sweet, nourishing ending.

That day I walked away feeling nourished by his hospitality, because although his wife was busily making the meal and too many times in our world (Christian and non) we associate the food with hospitality.  But the problem with that is I was not so much nourished by the food, grateful yes, but by the care, counsel and genuine love I was shown by Dr. Houston.  I saw a glimpse of God that day, through his act of loving this downtrodden 26 year old.  He spoke God’s words upon me, “You’re my redeemed!”  What a beautiful, glorious jewel to behold.  So as I try to intertwine food with lovingkindness, (which is hospitality to the nth power) here are some delicious scones to share with a friend or a stranger as you give them a glimpse of God’s heart for them.

Sour Lemon Scones (printable recipe)

Adapted from Baked.  I have made some minor changes, as I’m always experimenting to see if I can add whole wheat flour.  And I must say that everyone at playgroup said these were great.  As my friend Biz said, “they were better than bakery-awesome!”  The whole wheat pastry flour makes a softer crumb, so these scones are not as biscuity in texture, but still very good.

Ingredients:

4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup rapadura sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cubed & cold

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)

1 teaspoon lemon extract (use the kind that is the real lemon essence, not artificial)

2 Tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger.  Whisk until combined.  Add the butter.  **The recipe says: “Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized.” However, I use my kitchen aid and mix to the same consistency and see no problem.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, and the lemon zest.  Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then gently knead the dough with your hands until the dough starts to come together.  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Use your hands to shape the dough into two discs (about 1 1/2 inches in height).  Do not overwork the dough.

Put the discs on the parchment lined pan.  Make a 1/8 inch indentation to make 6 wedges, but do not cut all the way through. Brush each scone with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes (rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time) or until the scones are golden brown.

Transfer the scones to a cooling rack; they can be served slightly warm or completely cooled. Optional top with glaze below.

Scones can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Lemon Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

squeeze juice from half to 3/4 of a fresh lemon

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.  You should come out with a not too thick and not too thin glaze that will be great for putting on top of your cooled (or slightly warmed scones, if you’re like me and trying to hurry out the door to playgroup).

IMG_3346