Blog - biscuits and such
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Muscadine Tartlets

I’ll admit that I am not a particular fan of wine made from muscadines (or, for that matter, scuppernongs). But just because I prefer a dry wine doesn’t mean the beauty of the muscadine, a grape with a long history in North Carolina, is lost on me. As it turns out, making sweet wine is just one of the many things a muscadine can do.

 

 

First off, muscadines are lovely on their own, though you have to eat them in comfortable company because they require a fair amount of spitting- the seeds and the skin are not palatable raw. They also make the most wonderful jam. And simple syrup, perfect for cocktails. But above all else my favorite application of the muscadine is the hull pie. Seeded and simmered to soft perfection, a hull pie allows the tart and unique flavor of the grape to shine.

 

 

I’m currently in the midst of packing my house (so that we can move approximately .5 miles away) which means my pie plates are somewhere in a box deep in my dining room. Easily accessible were my mini tart pans, which made a handful of the sweetest little muscadine tarts I’ve ever seen, perfect for topping with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and eating as I stared at a pile of empty boxes, waiting for me to get my second wind.

 

 

Muscadine Tartlets 
makes 8 tartlets or one pie

 

dough:

 

2 cups flour

1 stick butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1/4c cold water

 

filling:

 

2 pints muscadines, seeded

Juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cornstarch

1 egg

 

In a saucepan combine grapes, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.

 

While your muscadines simmer combine flour, butter, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the dough resembles cornmeal. Slowly add water, pulsing until a dough ball forms. Chill.

 

Once your grapes have cooked down preheat your oven to 350F. Roll your dough out on a floured surface and press into greased tart pans (or pie dish). Fill each tart with filling. Roll out remaining dough and either cut strips for a lattice or cut shapes to decorate the top. Whisk egg and brush crust of each tart.

 

Bake for 45 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

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Low Country Boil

Last week we had the pleasure of spending time at our family house in Morehead City with my some of my immediate family. This was our first family vacation with two toddlers, and the week was the most wonderful combination of big adventures, like day spent taking the boat up to Cape Lookout, and quiet family moments, like letting the kids splash in a baby pool on the back porch.

 

 

The house was built in the 1950’s by the Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Department as a seaside retreat, one that was quickly co-opted by wives and children so it became less poker lodge and more family getaway. My great uncle and great grandfather were two of the firemen, and the house remains shared by their decedents. These days my parents live just across the marsh from the house, which means that we are able to spend a good amount of time on Calico Creek, something that is undoubtably good for my soul.

 

 

We mostly cooked at home this week, grilling steaks, frying grouper bites, making pesto pasta with the basil and garlic from my brother’s garden. We kept it simple, enjoying good meals around the big table that has been the platform of generations of family dinners. One evening after a day spent on Shackleford Banks we pulled all the chairs on to the front porch and feasted on a seafood boil. With the marsh lapping the side of the house at high tide we ate corn, sausage, shrimp, clams, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, potatoes, and mushrooms all cooked together with hot pepper.

 

 

A seafood boil, also known as Frogmore Stew, a low country boil, or just a boil, can consist of whatever you have on hand. Corn, potatoes, shrimp, and sausage are staples, but the addition of everything from broccoli to crab can make for a delicious boil. The real trick is lining the table with newspaper, pouring out the boil in the middle and sitting together as you pick through the food. That’s the real fun of it.

 

 

Seafood Boil

 

5lbs head-on shrimp

2 dozen clams

2 lbs andouille sausage, cooked

3lbs small red potatoes

3 large yellow onions

2 heads of garlic

10 ears of corn

1 lb Brussels sprouts

2 dozen white button mushrooms

2 lemons

1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning

1/2 cup sea salt

Bottle of Texas Pete

 

Fill a very large pot (with strainer basket if you have one) halfway with water and bring to a rolling boil. Quarter the onions and add to the pot, along with peeled garlic cloves and whole potatoes. Add sea salt, Old Bay, and Texas Pete. Halve the lemons and add to the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.

 

Cut your sausage into 3” pieces and add to the pot. Break corn in half and add to the pot after the sausage has simmered for 10 minutes. At the same time add Brussels sprouts.

 

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles

For Ev’s birthday we served chicken and waffles (which my friend pointed out meant we basically served pound cake two ways). The fried chicken recipe is from my most recent cookbook, The Southern Cast Iron Cookbook and the waffle recipe is from my first, The American Cookbook

 

 

We topped the chicken & waffles with honey harvested by my friend and neighbor, and served it with prosecco, because we were celebrating. It combined some of Everett’s favorite food groups (breakfast foods and food you eat with your hands), and made for a pretty sweet birthday dinner.

 

 

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles

 

marinade:

 

2 cups buttermilk

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

8-10 mixed bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs

 

to fry:

 

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

4 eggs

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 cups bread crumbs

1/4 cup yellow stone ground grits

Peanut oil for frying

 

waffles: 

 

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup corn grits

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/4 cup milk

5 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

 

 

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients for marinade. Add chicken to bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

On a counter accessible to your stove top line up three bowls. In the first bowl combine half of the flour and spices. In the second bowl whisk together eggs and apple cider vinegar. In the third bowl combine remaining flour, spices, and bread crumbs.

Heat 1” oil to 375F in a large, heavy bottom skillet.

 

Pat chicken dry and dredge first in flour mixture, then in egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumb mixture.

 

Add chicken to the hot oil and fry. White meat pieces should be fried 4-5 minutes/side and dark meat pieces should be friend 5-7 minutes/side. Keep warm on a rack in a 200F oven.

 

While your chicken is keeping warm, make your waffles. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and cornmeal in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, butter, vanilla extract, and egg yolks. Whisk together.

 

Preheat the waffle iron. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until soft peaks form. Fold into batter. Cook the waffles to the specifications of your waffle iron.

 

Serve chicken and waffles together, warm, and with honey or syrup.

 

Make this gluten free:

  • for the chicken, simply substitute flour for a 1:1 gf blend (I used King Arthur).
  • for the waffles, substitute flour for a 1:1 gf blend and add 1/3 cup milk.
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