Blog - biscuits and such
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Blackberry Chipotle Marinade

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I have talked to Megan Patrylick every day since I was 14.  I’m totally not exaggerating either.  Since we met in 9th grade biology we’ve run in different social circles, gone to different colleges, and ended up on opposite sides of the Southeast.  But seriously, I have talked to her at least pretty much everyday.  And sometimes multiple times a day.  As a result, I’m often influenced by the things she’s doing (though I will never not ever wear leopard print no matter how many matching bra and underwear sets she buys me).  Recently she’s been on a Whole Foods kick (something about their Greek salad), and last week found a chipotle blackberry marinade.  That Megan is marinading at all is a big deal seeing as in high school she broke her microwave by trying to dry her sneaker in it.

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I had been trying to figure out something to do to spice up our chicken and grilled chicken salad nights, and I thought that I would experiment with making my own blackberry chipotle marinade.  And it was SO delicious and SO easy.  My only issue with it was that the seeds from the blackberries made a disconcerting crunch while you were eating the chicken, but that’s really just a tactile issue.  I might press the blackberries through a fine grain strainer next time.  It was also pretty spicy, so I sweetened it with honey.  If you wanted to make it sweeter, you could just leave out the cayenne.  I leave you with one related Megan anecdote.  One time sitting at our dining room table, my brother Reid and I spent the better part of an hour trying to convince Megan that if you crossed the equator, you would not explode.  I have never seen Reid look so incredulous.  And that is why I love Megan and will continue to talk to her everyday.

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Blackberry Chipotle Marinade

1 package of fresh blackberries

1 tsp chipotle

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 tbsp honey

Salt & pepper

Rinse your blackberries.  Combine everything in a blender.  Use half of the sauce to marinade your meat for at least one hour, and then use the rest as a sauce.  If you want your sauce to be sweeter, add more honey.

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Tar Heel Margarita

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As a North Carolinian outside the south, the question I get asked most often (besides “what is a grit?”) is “what is a tar heel?”  For clarification, a the phrase “tarheel” has  a lot of mystery surrounding it.  Some say that it was originated by Robert E. Lee himself. The story goes that North Carolina troops during the civil war were upset with those (damn) Virginians for deserting them in an important fight.  Later, the Virginians asked, mockingly, whether there was any tar left in the Old North State (the eastern part of the state is pretty tar heavy), and the good old boys replied “no, we’re planning on using it on your feet to make you stick better in the next fight.”  General Lee, hearing of this, declared “God Bless them Tar Heel boys.”  And the nickname stuck.

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A favorite diddy in North Carolina is “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I’ll be a Tar Heel dead.”  This is the fight song for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.  You may have noticed that tomorrow they’ll be playing in the championship game of the NCAA tournament.  Like the diddy says, I am a Tar Heel born (though I was unfortunately born at Duke Hospital- consequence of living in Durham), and a Tar Heel bred.  Cheering for Carolina basketball is something ingrained in my DNA.  My father’s father, Ken, played on the 1957 Championship team, and later coached with Dean Smith.  I grew up in a world where two things were always true- we loved Carolina and hated Duke.

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As far as hating Duke is concerned, it’s more of a reflex at this point than anything else.  Some people don’t understand that on the Tobacco Trail, nothing is more important than your basketball allegiance.  There’s a really funny David Sedaris story about how his speech teacher got him to reveal his speaking impediment by asking him who he rooted for.  He made the mistake of admitting that he was a State fan.  I remember one day, during high school, I wore my Carolina sweater to school the day after Duke had pummeled Carolina (the Dougherty years were sad ones).  I am not a fairweather fan, so I wore my sweater to show my pure love for that team.  My TEACHER made a snarky remark to me about it.  I could never take her class seriously again.

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Tar Heel Margaritas
Source: Cocktail Times

2 ounces tequila

1 ounce triple sec

1 ounce blue curacao (pronounced cure-a-saow)

1 ounce lime juice

1 tbsp sugar, for rim

Wet the rim of your glass and dip in sugar.  In another glass, mix alcohol with ice, serve.

Makes one drink.

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Cherry Blossom Danishes

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My mother says what she missed most when we lived in southern Florida was the lack of changing seasons.  I remember one winter she turned the air conditioning in our house way down so that she could light a fire.  It seemed nonsensical, but as an adult I can understand her nostalgia for the transition of seasons.  Why our house in Palm City had a fireplace is a completely different issue.

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Nothing gives my cold, wintered heart more hope than the trees erupting in blooms.  And living in D.C. intensifies the experience because one trip down to the tidal basin and you feel like you’re walking on sunshine.  There’s nothing like millions of little flowers budding on every surface to reassure you that winter is finally over.

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I know that it’s not cherry season yet.  I know that I’ll have to wait until June to get good fresh cherries.  But the idea of making flower shaped cherry danishes during the Cherry Blossom Festival was irresistible.  I used cherry pie filling, but I promise that I’ll make them again with fresh cherries this summer.

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I was also on the fence about whether or not to make these cheese danishes.  I don’t particularly like cheese danishes, but I read through a few recipes that incorporated cream cheese.  So I made half of them with cream cheese and half with just cherries.  The cream cheese is good, it adds a gooeyness to the overall texture of the danish, so I would call it a success.

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I made these totally from scratch, but I suppose if you wanted to Sandra Lee it you could cut shapes out of puff pastry or crescent rolls.  I always feel like things just taste better when they’re made from scratch.  Which is why, I promise, I’ll remake this recipe with a homemade fresh cherry filling as soon as cherries have graced us with their presence.  The dough recipe is nice, though it was a little more biscuit like than a flaky danish.  This was my first go round at danishes, so I’ll keep experimenting.

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Cherry Blossom Danishes

1 tbsp dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups all purpose flour

1 can cherry pie filling

Cream cheese

1 egg, for brushing

Dissolve yeast into water.  Add milk, eggs, sugar, butter, and extract.  Add half the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Add remaining flour and knead 3-5 minutes.  Form into a ball.

Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, turning once so it’s greased on all sides.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot.  It will need to double in size, which takes about an hour.

Use your hands to punch down the dough.  Let it rest for ten minutes.  Place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll it out and use your cookie cutters to cut out your shapes.  I used a set of flower shaped cookie cutters.  I used the largest of the set to make the bottom and then a smaller one to make the top.  One thing that I didn’t do but I recommend, is that you make a nice size well with your finger in the bottom layer to put the cherry and cheese.  Once your bottom is cut out, brush it with egg (that you’ve whisked).  Then, use the bottom of a spoon to schmear some cream cheese, and top that with cherry filling.  Then place the smaller flower on top, and brush that with egg.  Repeat until you’re out of dough.

Let the formed danishes sit for half an hour, and then bake them at 375 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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