Blog - biscuits and such
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Ramp & Cheddar Biscuits

The smell that always makes me breathe deep, wrap my arms around myself, and sigh in delight is, oddly enough, the smell of freshly mowed wild onions.  Nothing smells more like spring, not the Bradford Pears or the warm air.  It’s the tart, stinky smell that makes it seem like the world has come alive again.  So it is no wonder, knowing that stinky onions equate spring for me, that I love ramps so much.

Ramps are a member of the onion family, a long leafy green attached to a small bulb.  They grow wildly and are most easily found in the woods (if you know where to look) or at your local farmers market.  While there are many things to do with the bulbs (pickle them, saute them, etc) I threw mine in the freezer for future use and focused on the greens.  Like most pungent flavors, I find that ramps pair nicely with cheese, and in the form of a bread.  I’ve had ramp scones and ramp muffins, ramp cornbread and ramp sourdough, but I think that these ramp biscuits have been my favorite variant yet.

I served them with a fig jam (which by the way was amazing and got me so jazzed for figs to be in season that I cried a little in anticipation of the summer months) which was the perfect pairing.  The sweet jam played off the ramps in a fun way, and it all felt very spring.  I suggest you make them.  Go forth to your local farmers markets, pick up some ramps, and make biscuits!  Lots and lots of biscuits!

Ramp & Cheddar Biscuits

1 1/4 cups 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

4 tbsp cold butter

2 tbsp melted butter (for glazing)

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup all purpose flour (for shaping the biscuits, not to go into the mix)

1/2 cup fresh ramp leaves, diced

1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 475(f).  Whisk together the dry ingredients, the cheese, and the ramps.  Use fingers to incorporate cold butter.  With the butter, you really just have to knead it with your fingers until the mixture has a course texture, like corn meal.  Pour in cream.  Stir (preferably with a wooden spoon) until dough forms.  It’s okay if the dough is a little sticky, you’ll work it out on the countertop.

Sprinkle the all purpose flour onto the countertop and scoop your dough onto it.  Use your hands to flatten it out.  I like to flatten it a little, flip it, and flatten it some more.  This method ensures that one side doesn’t get over worked, which is important.  If your dough (and this goes for any dough, really) ever gets too sticky and unmanageable, pop it into the fridge for twenty minutes or so.  The stickiness is really coming from the butter getting too warm, so cooling it off will allow it to firm up a bit.  Using a biscuit cutter (or whatever you have laying around), cut the dough into circular shapes.  Place on ungreased baking pan.

Now, I put aside the measuring cup that I used to hold the heavy cream and melt the butter for glazing in that.  It just gives it an extra creaminess.  Using a baking brush, brush melted butter on top of the biscuits.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 6 biscuits

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Spring Vegetable Quiche

I set out this afternoon to make a quiche with asparagus and wild mushrooms.  I thought, so seasonal! So local! So delicious! But, being me, I can never leave well enough alone.  When I got home with my groceries for the week I thought, well, I can add some chives from Tuesday’s dinner, some green onion from Wednesday night’s dinner, some cherry tomatoes from Thursday night’s dinner (I know, not seasonal).  I kept adding until it was this mass of vegetables floating in egg.  I’m not complaining.

With the exception of the tomatoes (for which you can substitute dried), this dish is a symphony of spring flavors.  The thing that I love about quiche is that it is hearty and light at the same time.  The vegetables danced in the fluffy eggs, and paired with a rich crust it is the perfect anytime meal.  Great for brunch, great for dinner.  Great for life.

Since that’s pretty much all I have to say about the quiche (except try it, it’s awesomely vegtastic), I thought I’d wax poetic about my newest accomplishment.  It’s not really an accomplishment yet, more like a lead to what I hope will be an accomplishment- I think that I’ve found a way for us to have a garden.  I’m exploring my options between community gardens in Baltimore City and yard sharing through a site called hyperlocavore.  Either way I have my heart set on gardening this season so I’m planting seeds (a little late) in these egg shells.  In the past we’ve wrestled with the biodegradable planting pots, which never seem to totally degrade, so I’m excited to try planting in egg shells.  It’s composting and gardening at the same time.  Wish me luck.

Spring Vegetable Quiche

6 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup grated american cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 cup diced wild mushrooms, cleaned

1 cup diced fresh asparagus, cleaned

1/4 cup cherry or dried tomatoes

2 tbsp minced chives

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt & pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Pinch of cayenne

Crust (recipe here, subtract sugar and add 1/2 tbsp salt)

Prep all vegetables.  Whisk together eggs, milk, and cheeses.  Stir in vegetables and spices.

Spread crust out into pie pan and pour mixture into it.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 or until solid and golden brown.  Let sit 10 minutes.  Enjoy.

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Perfectly Light Asparagus

Okay, so first things first Internet.  We are moving.  We are moving to Baltimore.  Soon.  Maybe this month, maybe next month, but definitely soon.  We’re searching, I’ve been looking at a few places a week and we’re trying to find the one that will best suit us.  We’re moving to Baltimore because it’s a little more our style, a little more our pace, and the opportunities have led us there.  This is a great thing, we’re totally pumped.  It means being in a city we love in an area that will be a little more tailored to the lifestyle we want (ie urban).

Here’s the thing about moving (more) urban, we’re going to have to sacrifice space.  Even the biggest apartments I’ve seen are a step down in size from where we currently are (which isn’t very big) so we’ll likely be losing square footage.  And a dishwasher.  And probably all of our This End Up furniture.  My point being, I’m going to need some tips.  How do you cook in a tiny kitchen, what gadgets have you sacrificed, what do you do for storage?  I need suggestions, Internet, and you haven’t failed me yet.

On to the asparagus.  I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (on loan from my sister in law Megan) and loving it.  I just got through the section on asparagus, the food her family uses to kick off their year of eating locally.  In tribute to this riveting (and inspiring if we can ever afford outdoor living space) book, I picked up some local asparagus and cooked it up to accompany a light pasta dish.  I like my asparagus cooked to a minimum and freshened with lemon juice.  It’s light, fresh, and the perfect way to honor spring’s first vegetable.


Perfectly Light Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus

2 lemons

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

In a wide pan, bring 1/4 inch of water to a simmer.  Add juice of 1 lemon and a little s&p.  Cut the bottom 1/2 inch of the asparagus and place in the pan.  Cook 5 minutes or until bright green.  Drain, drizzle remaining lemon juice, parmesan, & s&p over, and serve.

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