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Cookies & Cream Cake Roll

You would be surprised how many recipes come from late night conversations with Dan wherein I try to convince him that something exists/I’m right/something is awesome. One night this week he was in an impressively bad mood and to try and shock him out of it I pulled out my secret weapon- complete silliness. I was trying to explain to him what a cake roll was and when words failed me I used my arms (and sound effects) to mimic cake rolling up over and over again. Eventually, he broke. I was triumphant– his grumpiness had faded to laughter. Unfortunately the one side effect was that he now very much wanted a cake roll.

Thankfully we had a derby party to attend this weekend which meant that I had a perfect excuse to make one. I bounced around ideas for a while before deciding that I wanted to make a cookies & cream cake roll- chocolate cake, whipped cream icing, crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. And while the process of making the cake was a little more infuriating than I would have hoped, it turned out wonderfully.

After a few hours the cake and whipped cream sort of disintegrated into each other forming a whole new kind of dessert- exactly the kind I love. I’m not really one for cake but I could eat whipped cream with a spoon, which means this was totally the dessert for me. Dan also seemed to love it, so mission accomplished. Though the next time he’s grumpy I may try to break him out of it with something that involves less painstaking kitchen effort from me.

Cookies & Cream Cake Roll
Adapted from Gourmet, 2001

6 oz bittersweet chocolate

3 tbsp water

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Approximately 14 chocolate sandwich cookies

Melt chocolate in water until mostly melted. Stir together and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350. Beat egg yolks, slowly adding sugar until the yolks are light in color and ribbon like. Stir the chocolate into the egg yolks, 1/4 at a time. Set aside

Beat egg whites and salt until it holds stiff peaks. Stir into chocolate mixture slowly.

Line a shallow baking sheet with wax paper. Butter generously. Pour batter onto sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and cover with a damp towel. Let sit 10 minutes.

Remove damp towels and sift half of cocoa over the cake. Cover with large tea towel and invert. Carefully remove the wax paper. Sift remaining cocoa over the cake. Use the towel to roll the cake up. Let sit, rolled, until the cake has cooled (approximately 10 minutes). While it is cooling, whip whipped cream, vanilla, and sugar until it holds stiff peaks.

Unroll the cake and spread whipped cream generously, reserving 1/3. Crumble 3/4 of the cookies over the whipped cream. Using the towel to guide the cake, roll it onto itself, until it is completely rolled. Transfer onto a plate. Top with remaining whipped cream and crushed cookies. Chill and serve.

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What We Ate: April

So as I mentioned, last month we threw a giant wrench into our normal eating habits. It was mostly for the sake of a good challenge, and I’m proud of what we came up with. With the exception of a bit of weekend cheating we spent April without alcohol, meat, grains, or complex carbs. I’m pretty pleased. And while I seriously missed certain things (sushi), for the most part I was content and full. I know we’ll be incorporating a lot of these recipes into our regular diets.

Most of the foods we experimented with last month have no place on this niche blog, but I thought I’d share a look at what we ate, for those that are curious.

Top left: Cauliflower falafel; spring vegetable frittata; quinoa & ricotta pancakes; cheese plate with apples and honey.

Quinoa stuffed portabella mushroomsdeviled eggsquinoa and chickpea cake with salsa and spicy black beans; salad with tuna, eggs, apples, and peppers

Sesame salmon with grilled asparagus; blood orange sorbet; salmon burgers with mango salsa and green beans; pizza with a cauliflower crust

Wasabi crusted salmon with quinoa; salad with tuna, eggs, onions, and apples; salad with apples, green beans, goat cheese, and a fried egg; hot and sour soup

Cilantro & cauliflower fritters; crab cake, green beans, and kale salad; black bean burger on a bed of spicy corn; broccoli soup with black beans and goat cheese

Recently a student at UNC contacted me for an article she was writing about the relationship between eating “Southern” and eating “well.” In my response to her I tried to make a lot of points about how we’ve gotten away from our roots in homesteading and gardening, how we’ve come to see once special occasion foods like fried chicken and pie as everyday foods, how portion sizes and ingredient ratios have spiraled out of control. But one point that I really wanted to emphasize is that more than any other trick or secret, moderation is what makes a difference. What I post on this blog, what you see of our meals, represents a very small portion of what we really eat. Believe me when I say I love a barbeque sandwich more than pretty much anything, but that’s not something I eat every day. What we eat most days is far more on par with what I’ve shown in this post, lean proteins, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains. And while I honestly enjoy eating this way and find a lot of “health” food to be delicious, what makes barbeque or pie or bacon cheeseburgers a treat is that I only eat them sometimes. I say this not to preach but to use my platform as a Southern food writer to emphasize reason and mindful eating. My dad said to me recently that it was my job to save Southern men’s lives by making my recipes lower in fat/calorie/cholesterol. And while I think I responded that Southerners (and a lot of Americans) would be healthier if they  learned more about what they ate, where their food came from, and how to moderate their indulgences, I took to heart his message. I have an audience, I have a platform, and it is my responsibility to bring these conversations to the forefront. It isn’t lost on me that a boozy pie recipe is ten times as popular as something more healthy (or full of quinoa). And that’s totally fine. As long as we remember that a slice of whipped-cream laden pie is a treat.

And that’s all for the soapbox today. I won’t be posting any more of these recipes than what I’ve already put up, but if you’d like a specific recipe let me know (in the comments or via email).

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Bacon & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Sitting here, in almost May, looking forward through the spring, summer, and fall, is dizzying. So many special occasions coming up, so many big changes, so many day to day hurdles. It’s hard to know what to make of it when it feels like life is flying by.

A few weeks ago my sister, Lauren, got engaged. Actually, her fiancé Bradley proposed during our monthly virtual ya-ya book club, which was just about the cutest thing ever. I already adored him, I know he’s going to make my sister very happy. Not to mention that because of their engagement and eventual wedding I have the perfect excuse to spend time noodling around on pinterest planning bridal showers and bachelorette parties and special surprises. Surprise to nobody, I’ve been dwelling a lot on foods to serve. Cute, delicious finger foods.

I love mushrooms stuffed with pretty much anything. There’s something about the taste and texture of a mushroom cap contrasted with sausage or cheese or rice that’s so perfect. These little ones are beyond delicious… I’m a lover of goat cheese in everything, but in this case it was especially perfect. The salty bacon, the earthy rosemary, the juicy mushroom, the tart cheese. Heaven.

Bacon & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

24 small cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup goat cheese

3 strips bacon

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1 tbsp fresh oregano

Salt

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and clean them out. Cook the bacon. Let the goat cheese come to room temperature.

Chop up herbs and crumble bacon. Mix cheese, herbs, bacon, and salt. Fill each mushroom with stuffing. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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