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Almond Pear Crostada

I was going to write a post about how this Christmas was the first I’d ever spent away from both of my parents, and how while I had a great time with my new family I was still sad about not being with my siblings, my aunts and uncles, my cousins.  How at this time of year it’s not the presents that matter so much as the tradition, the comfort, the stability of being with people that you know love you even when you’re caught eating cookies in your bed watching bad tv.  In fact, more often than not, they’ll join you.

But I’m sitting here with my husband, belly full of potatoes au gratin and steak, watching him kill zombies (mutants?) on the playstation, and I feel really grateful.  Even though part of me is in Durham with my parents, or in Ewing with my grandparents and extended family, the rest of me was here today, enjoying an amazing Christmas with family that has come to mean so much to me.

I know this is incredibly sappy, but it’s Christmas and if you ever read my father’s blog you’d know that I come by sappy naturally.  It’s just that Christmas brings out the sentimental side of people, helps you to overlook some of the bad.  Like right now I’m able to block out the drive home in the fog and freezing rain and just remember watching my father in law play princesses with his granddaughter, using a very menacing voice to play the part of Maleficent.  Or the speakerphone call I got from my family where I couldn’t really tell who was talking or what they were saying, just the general sentiment that they loved me.

So… Merry Christmas, internet.  I hope that on this day, whatever it means to you, that you’re happy and with family.  This is the time of year to bite your tongue when your grandfather says something insensitive or when your sister eats the last oreo ball.  This is the time of year to appreciate the little time we have with our family.  Even if all you can do is call your mom and tell her about the best pork shoulder you ever ate.

Almond Pear Crostada

2 bosc pears

3/4 cup slivered almonds

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp almond extract

1 egg

1 pie crust (recipe here or here)

Heat your oven to 350.  Spread almonds out on a baking sheet and toast for 3 minutes.  Set aside.

Roll out your pie dough.  Spread almonds evenly over the center, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border on all sides.

Slice your pears and toss in flour, sugar, extract, and nutmeg.  Layer in a circular pattern, stem facing towards the center.  Fold the dough up over to form the crostada shape.  Brush exposed dough with egg.

Bake for 40 minutes.

 

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Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

As I write this, D.C. and it’s surrounding areas are in the midst of a blizzard.  Yeah.  A blizzard.  My readers from all points north can stop reading here and commence eye-rolling because I am about to exclaim my wonder at the amount of snow that has accumulated in these parts.  As of now, it’s upwards of two feet, and going steadily.  I know, right!  It’s probably the most snow I’ve ever seen, and it’s definitely the most snow I’ve seen recently and in D.C.

When I was growing up there was a snowfall of two feet in North Carolina.  It probably hit most of the east coast, so a lot of you probably had the same experience.  It was incredible.  It started to snow as I went to bed and I remember yelling downstairs to my mom that she should wake me up if there was school.  The next morning I woke up (on my own) to two feet of snow, my own winter wonderland.  And because before college the only places I’d ever lived were southern Florida and central North Carolina, it was the most (naturally occurring- I’d been skiing) snow I’d ever seen.

Durham shut down, we were out of school for 10 days (two whole weeks).  It was incredible, I’d never experienced anything like it.  When I tell my friends from outside the south how incredibly that snowfall impacted North Carolina they can’t believe it, but it’s not like we had that many snow plows.  And while I’m sure today’s snow won’t hurt the District in quite the same ways, I can’t help drawing comparisons.

When I went to the grocery store last night to buy lots of wine (and bacon) they were out of everything, picked clean by the threat of a snowpacalypse.  I made a big pot of soup, thawed some lasagna, and thanked the stars that we always have quesadilla ingredients.  Because in a time like this, you’ll want to hunker down with a bowl of soup or stew and enjoy being inside.  And if you have the ingredients on hand or can find them at the market, these muffins are the perfect mate to a big bowl of warm goodness.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

1 jalapeño

1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, sharp

1/4 cup orange cheddar cheese, sharp

1/4 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk

1/3 cup canola oil

Chop jalapeño and shred cheese.

Mix dry ingredients.  Slowly mix in milk and oil.  Pour into muffin tin, filling halfway.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

 

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Barbeque Song

So I have a few recipes planned for later this week but had to share something with you first.  As many of you know, barbeque is a big part of southern culture, and where you’re from totally dictates how you eat it and what your opinion of it is.  I myself prefer the vinegar based barbeque of eastern North Carolina.  Last night my good friend Julia had dinner with us and showed me this incredible video that I can’t believe I haven’t seen before.  It’s amazing and I wanted to share it with you.  Note the part at the end, for my non-southern readers, where it points out that “barbeque” is a noun, not a verb.  That is a very important fact to understand.  And that North Carolina’s is best.  Obviously.

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