Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
10088
paged,page-template,page-template-blog-large-image-whole-post,page-template-blog-large-image-whole-post-php,page,page-id-10088,paged-132,page-paged-132,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-2.8,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.3.5,vc_responsive
 

Biscuits 101

This week I was featured on a joint collaboration between Paula Deen and Kraft- an online publication called Live Richly.  A new venture, part of their Real Women of Philadelphia efforts, they’ll be promoting a blogger every other Thursday in a feature called “Build a Better Blog.”  I was honored to be the first blogger they spoke with and love the finished product.  I was also really touched by the kind words that were left on the Q&A and would like to welcome new readers!  We’re happy to have you joining us!

In the interview, they marked my answers with the name biscuits.  Since it went live yesterday half the Museum staff and a few family members have decided this is the perfect nickname for me.  With the exception of my life-long nickname, Enie (given to me by my cousin Taylor, five days my junior, who couldn’t pronounce Elena), I’ve never had nicknames.  So I’m a little excited about this development.

At the beginning of last month a reader asked if, after we were done with the pie craze, I could do a 101 on biscuits.  In the past with things like burgers and steak we’ve done tutorials at the request of readers and so I was glad to get this one, particularly as biscuits are kind of our thing. Okay, pie is kind of our thing but “biscuits and such” had a better ring to it, way back when.

The key to biscuits, as with any dough, is getting the fat to flour ratio right.  All of the ingredients are important, but you won’t get the flaky, delicious layers unless you treat the butter just right.  Which brings me to my next point, which is that while I have used vegetable shortening and lard in biscuits before, I prefer a combination of butter and heavy cream.  I also use a combination of pastry flour and self rising flour, and both baking soda and baking powder.

To start with biscuits, you combine your dry ingredients.  Whisk (which will lighten the flours) together 1 1/4 cup self rising flour,  3/4 cup pastry flour (or cake flour), 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, and any herbs/spices (like rosemary or green onions) that you’re interested in adding.  Whisk all the ingredients so that they are light and fluffy.  Now it’s time to add your butter, which should be COLD.  Cube four tablespoons of butter and, using, your fingers, work it into the flour.  I like to smooth the butter out into long, thin pieces.  This way, when you press the dough out later, it forms layers of butter between the flour, which is what makes the flakes.  Work the butter quickly so that your hands don’t warm it too much.

Next, it’s time to stir in 1 1/4 cups heavy cream.  Stir it in with a wooden spoon, bringing together all the ingredients until they form a rough ball.  It should be on the sticky side as it is always easier to work more flour in than it is to fix a dry dough.  Sprinkle a little all purpose flour on the countertop and dump your dough out.  Using floured hands gently press the dough out flat.  I like to work it a little at a time, working it out and then flipping it so that no one area or side gets too worked.  Continue to press it out until it is 1/2″ thick.  If at any time it starts getting sticky, pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes.

Now it’s time to cut the biscuits.  You’re welcome to cut them free-form, with cookie cutters, a glass jar, or a proper biscuit cutter.  As long as they end up portioned, it doesn’t matter.  Heat your oven to 475, cut them into shapes, and place them on an ungreased pan.  The last thing you want to do before baking is give them a glaze.  I like to take the measuring cup that I used to measure out my cream, stick 2 tbsp of butter in there, and melt the butter in the microwave.  Then I brush the butter/cream on my biscuits.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

As they bake your biscuits will rise into delicious, flaky treats.  Control yourself and let them rest for 10 minutes before you cut them (any sooner and they’ll crumble). After that they are the perfect vessel for jam, butter, a spicy chicken filet, or bacon egg and cheese.  Or you may simply indulge yourself with a perfectly wonderful biscuit.  Enjoy!

Read More

Cottage Pie

The first time I remember having Shepherd’s pie (which a know-it-all-coworker/good friend just pointed out is actually Cottage Pie because it is beef, not lamb) was with the Neary Family.  When we lived in Florida we were lucky enough to have a family live down the street that perfectly complimented ours.  Mr. and Mrs. Neary were friends with my parents, the oldest daughter Caroline was my age, and their twin boys, Jack and Noah, were Reid’s age.  They were fun, glamorous (having lived in England), and had a cat door that Ryan could crawl through when he wanted breakfast before anybody at our house was awake.  They were the best friends we had in that neighborhood in South Florida, it was hard to leave them when we moved back to North Carolina.

I loved this pie from the first bite.  First of all, mashed potatoes.  Duh.  Then, peas, carrots, onions, and ground beef.  I can’t find a downside.  There is no downside.  This pie is only upsides.  Delicious, creamy, herby upsides.

Cottage Pie

Mashed Potatoes:

3 russet potatoes

1 stick butter

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt & pepper

Middle layer:

2 cups peas

2 large carrots

2 shallots

2 cloves garlic

Salt & pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Bottom Layer:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp herbs de provance

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper

Peel potatoes as you heat a pot of water on the stove.  Chunk the potatoes and boil, salting the water, until tender.  Combine in a mixer with butter, mayo, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Mix until creamy.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Over medium heat, saute garlic in oil.  Add ground beef and spices, cooking for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through.  Set aside.

Heat more olive oil and saute the remaining two cloves of garlic.  Add in peas, chopped  and peeled carrots, peeled and sliced shallots, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.

In your pie dish layer ground beef on the bottom, peas and carrots in the middle, and top with mashed potatoes.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

 

Read More

Coconut Cream Pie

National Pie Month has been, in many ways, an amazing challenge.  It’s challenged me to make and edit essentially the same photograph over and over.  It’s challenged me to experiment with new ingredients, new techniques, new flavors.  I’ve loved every delicious minute of it.  Not to mention that I am now able to make amazing custards almost effortlessly.

For my final sweet pie of the month I made a coconut cream pie, the request of a reader.  I was dubious because I’m not a huge coconut fan, nor am I a huge custard fan.  I knew I’d want something different, something to add a twist to the overall flavor of the pie.  So I decided to add a chocolate creme/graham cracker crust.  It was a great decision.  It added a layer of flavor to the pie that was so different from, yet perfectly complimented, the custard and the meringue.  It was the perfect way to end this month o’ pie (sweetly).

Coconut Cream Pie

Filling:

3 egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup shredded or shaved coconut

1 tbsp butter

Crust:

10-12 chocolate creme cookies

4 graham crackers

1 stick butter

Meringue:

5 egg whites

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

Coconut shavings for top

Filling:

Heat milk in a medium saucepan.  Bring close to a boil.  In another bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch.  In a third bowl, whisk egg yolks.  When milk is hot, spoon 1 ladle-full into the eggs.  Whisk together.  Return egg/milk mixture to the milk and stir.  Slowly stir in the sugar and cornstarch.  Stir until it thickens.  Cut the heat and add butter and vanilla extract.

Crust:

Combine oreos, graham crackers, and sugar in a food processor.  Blend until crumbs.  Melt butter.  Toss butter and crumbs together, press into pie dish.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Scoop custard into pie dish.

Meringue:

Whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar until stiff.  Fold over custard, making sure to seal the edges of the meringue to the pie dish.  Top with coconut.  Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.

Read More