This is my last November post and my last “we took Thanksgiving on the road” post. Time to put Thanksgiving to rest for 2013. This post is about buttermilk biscuits. My niece Becca made them. She made them for our ‘Thanksgiving dinner on the road.’ They were delicious – Alexandra (my step-daughter) said so and we all agreed. The next morning we split them in half, toasted them and slathered them with butter and honey. What could be better? Biscuits and gravy by night. Biscuits with butter and honey by day. Yum, yum, yum.
So here’s the genesis of the buttermilk biscuits and a therapeutic disclosure. . .. curious? So I cook. It’s what I like and love to do. I would read recipes and experiment in the kitchen all day most days if I could – or a few days a week – something like that. I’d like to sprinkle some athletics in there like hiking, biking, a little yoga, pilates, spinning, stairs, what have you - but I love to cook. And I really love to cook for people – friends, family, strangers – whomever. So when I make a dinner and people come over and I’m always still in the kitchen and cooking because that’s just how it happens, invariably someone comes into the kitchen asking if I need help. The old Amy would say “no that’s ok – I’ve got it.
Stand over there, have a drink and enjoy yourself.” What I wasn’t understanding was that sometimes people want to help – they’re not necessarily just being polite. I mean, I always want to be helping put the food together when I go to other people’s homes. It just took me a million years to figure out that I’m probably not the only one who feels that way and who wants to help. The kitchen is where the excitement is and if I can be part of that it makes me happy. So I started to wonder about other people asking to help and participate in the meal preparation. Some people don’t ask. Some people ask but don’t mean it.
Some people ask because they’re like me and want to help. So I’m trying something new. When people ask me if they can help or if I need help, I give them something to do instead of sending them to the other room to socialize. I have noticed that sometimes I give someone something to do, they do it, and then run right out of the kitchen. Those folks didn’t really want to help but at least I got something done and at least I know that I invited someone to dinner who has manners. I like manners – they’re important. I have also noticed that sometimes people ask to help and they do what I ask of them and then they ask if there’s anything else they can do. I like that too. That’s really nice manners.
I enjoy having people in the kitchen with me so my change in philosophy and practice is all good. I’m happy with the change. That was a long story but just to bring it full circle…. I knew that my niece Rebecca would offer to help and I knew that she would really want to participate in our meal. I happened to have buttermilk in my refrigerator back home that was about to go South so I thought about what I could have her make that would include buttermilk - biscuits were the answer – so I packed up the buttermilk and took it on the road with us.
Here’s the recipe we used.
(from Smittenkitchen.com, adapted from Dot’s Diner in Boulder via Bon Appetit- and a million other sources!) Preheat oven to 400° Cover baking sheet with parchment paper This recipe makes 6 very large biscuits or 9 standard sized one.
2 ¼ cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tsp to 1 ½ Tbsp (10 to 20 grams) sugar
1 Tbsp (15 grams) baking powder
¾ tsp (5 grams) table salt
9 Tbsp (125 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
¾ cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until large, clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together. Transfer dough to a floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to ¾ inch thick. Using a round cutter (we used a glass), press straight down and transfer rounds to prepared sheet. If you like soft sides, have the rounds touch each other. If you like brown sides have the rounds 2-inches apart. The rounds that touch each other will rise more than rounds that are spaced apart.
You can also make drop-biscuits by dropping ¼ cup spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, spacing two-inches apart.
Bake about 12 to 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Cool slight and then serve warm with butter, jam, gravy, or any way you want and depending on what meal you’re serving them with.
You can also form the biscuits and freeze until needed. They can be baked directly from the freezer allowing just another couple of minutes of bake time. These are super delicious. You will make them time and time again!
A couple notes: You can use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour for a more delicate biscuit. You can add herbs or a little grated cheese for a different flavor and the sugar can be dialed up or down depending on the flavor you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re going to add a little grated cheese then you probably wouldn’t want to use 1 ½ Tbsp of sugar – in that case you would use a little less sugar for a more savory biscuit.
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