Thursday, April 19, 2007

Phyllo Triangles with Lamb, Onions and Pine Nuts and a Request for Travel Info

This post may be about Middle Eastern food, but right now I've got bangers & mash, crumpets and pints of Caffrey's on my mind because tomorrow Mike and I are going on a much-anticipated trip to London, followed by a few days in Amsterdam. I went to school in London for a year during college, and I love the city. Mike has never been, so I'll get to show him all my favorite places. We have both been to Europe separately, but this is our first time together. I can't wait, and I'm about to go start packing! If anyone has any good restaurant suggestions for us, or anything else for that matter, please leave a comment! I won't be able to post next week, but come back on April 30th and I'll post pictures from the trip. Now on to the tasty...

For a long time, I was scared of working with phyllo dough. Then, determined to develop my own recipe for spanakopita, I channeled a Greek goddess or two, and took the plunge. By the time I finished, I had a very good spinach pie, and I was laughing at my own hesitation to cook with phyllo.

There’s nothing to it whatsoever! I had made pizza dough and yeast breads, but I was afraid of a cooking with dough that was already done for me? It didn’t make any sense, but was rather a case of fearing the new. Now that I’m over it, I can’t get enough of phyllo dough. If you love appetizers and small plates, phyllo can be your best friend.

These simple little lamb triangles are one of my favorite phyllo creations so far. You just cook up the ground lamb with a chopped onion, add spices and pine nuts, and fold the filling into a piece of phyllo, brushing with melted butter as you go. I find that I never need as much butter as most phyllo recipes call for. You don’t need to cover the dough with pools of it, just enough to lightly coat. You will still get golden, crispy, buttery phyllo.

According to Claudia Roden, this simple filling is a classic Arab preparation. The combination of lamb and Middle Eastern spices is a favorite of mine. The recipe sounds good on paper, but the real thing is so beautifully spiced and flaky that you will want to make them again and again.

Update: Not 10 minutes after posting, it has been brought to my attention that I failed to give due credit to the person who performed the horrible, mind-numbing, tedious task of making all the phyllo triangles himself. My wonderful, culinarily gifted husband did a top-notch job...how one man can have so many talents, I'll never know.

Don't worry if the dough gets a little raggedy; you won't notice once it's baked.

Seal up the edge with a little dab of butter.


Phyllo Triangles with Lamb, Onions and Pine Nuts
Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

If you do not like lamb or can’t find it, this will work just as well with beef or even ground turkey; although for me, the unique flavor of lamb is one of the best things about this dish. Defrost the phyllo dough in its wrapper and always keep it covered with a kitchen towel once it is unwrapped to prevent it from drying out.

Makes about 20

3-4 tbs. melted butter
8 oz. ground lamb
½ tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
2 tbs. pine nuts, lightly toasted
10 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two baking sheets with melted butter using a pastry brush. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add the ground lamb. Cook, breaking meat up with a spoon as you go, until lamb is no longer pink. If your lamb is on the fatty side, turn the meat out onto a plate layered with paper towels to drain and pour any fat out of the skillet. Add the oil to the skillet and lower heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until soft and lightly browned. Return the lamb to the skillet and season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice. Stir in the toasted pine nuts and remove from heat.

Place the phyllo sheets on a work surface and cut them in half lengthwise. Keep all the phyllo covered with a kitchen towel so it doesn’t dry out while you make the triangles. Take one strip of phyllo and lightly coat it with melted butter using a pastry brush. Place about one tablespoon of the lamb filling on one end of the strip, about 1 inch from the edge. Fold the end of the dough over the filling, then continue folding the dough over itself in triangle shapes. Seal up the end with a dab of butter, brush a little butter over the top of the triangle and place on one of the baking sheets. Repeat to use up the rest of the filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden.


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Carrot and Chickpea Salad with Olives and Cumin Vinaigrette


It is easy to forget that the carrot can be a stand-alone vegetable. So often it is just part of the "holy trinity," along with onions and celery, in a soup base; a colorful salad add-in; or a member of the crudite platter, whose presence there, or on any veggie tray, is taken for granted.

I reminded myself how well carrots perform as the main attraction when I made this salad. Easter put carrots in my head. I wasn't up for a rich, indulgent carrot cake, but I needed a hearty side dish, so I thought of this recipe. It is from Once Upon a Tart, a book I have mentioned a lot on this blog (like here & here), always glowingly. The recipe is one of many that I flagged with post-its.

I think chickpeas have to be my favorite bean, and I love olives. I like carrots, but like most people, I wouldn't say I "love" this particular vegetable. I may have to change that assessment now, because I love this salad. It's addictive and, as I discovered a few days after making it, highly adaptable. Toss in chicken, shrimp, avocado--whatever sounds good. Just don't take the spotlight away from the carrots, and you'll be floating.

I wasn't sure what I would turn up when I searched food blogs for "carrots," but I was not disappointed!

Ginger and cumin are perfect flavors for roasted carrots on La Tartine Gourmande.

Moroccan-Style Carrots with pine nuts on Morsels & Musings lends the vegetable to one of my favorite cuisines.

Play with texture in this Shaved Carrot and Fennel Salad from Erin's Kitchen.

Chez Megane does a classic pairing of Roast Carrots and Parsnips with Thyme (if you haven't roasted parsnips, try it; they are even sweeter than carrots!)

And just for fun, take a look at this post from Meathenge and discover the World Carrot Museum!

Carrot and Chickpea Salad with Black Olives and Cumin-Paprika Vinaigrette
Adapted from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau
I did not change any of the ingredients in this salad, just played with the proportions a bit. I wanted it to be a carrot salad with chickpeas, instead of vice versa, and I cut the amount of cumin in the dressing from a whopping two tablespoons down to one. This salad was gone in a flash, so double the recipe if you want some leftovers. I liked it so much that I made it again a few days later, using poached chicken instead of chickpeas and scattering avocado over the top—very delicious.

Makes 2 generous servings

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2/3 c. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded in a food processor or coarsely grated
½ c. chopped fresh cilantro
4-5 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped

Vinaigrette:
1 medium garlic clove, minced
zest of ½ lemon and juice of the whole lemon
1 tbs. ground cumin
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
black pepper, to taste
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, olives, carrots, cilantro and scallions. To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until emulsified. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. You may not need all the dressing, depending on your taste. Check the seasoning and serve or refrigerate for a few hours and let salad come back to room temperature before serving.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fresh Corn Souffles, with Variations


I have written about soufflés before on this blog. My absolute favorite is a blue cheese version that has become a staple for special occasions. If you are looking for a light dessert, whip up this low-calorie banana soufflé. Without a doubt, they are one of my favorite things to make. I love the versatility they offer and the ability to turn any ingredient into a little miracle with a simple technique.

This fresh corn version follows my template for vegetable soufflés. I chose corn to go along with Mole Steaks for a Mexican-themed meal. The sweetness of fresh corn pairs naturally with the light, buttery soufflé. Cotija cheese adds just enough salty tang, but you could use any cheese that sounds appealing to you.

Here are some other ideas for vegetable soufflés using this recipe. The only thing you need to change is the cheese and the veggie for a completely new flavor. Corn is ready to add to your soufflé as is, but you’ll have to finely chop larger vegetables like broccoli.

• Cooked broccoli and sharp cheddar or Parmesan (I made these as a side dish for Christmas dinner)

• Sauteed mushrooms and fontina

• Sauteed spinach and feta (squeeze out as much water as possible from the spinach)

You really can use your imagination. If you haven’t already, it is time to master this incredible dish. For tons of brilliant ideas and inspiration, browse through all the gorgeous soufflés from this past food blogging event.

Fresh Corn Soufflés

Makes 4 (6 oz.) soufflés

Butter, for coating soufflé dishes
Breadcrumbs, for coating soufflé dishes
3 tbs. unsalted butter
4-5 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk
¼ tsp. salt
ground pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
4 large eggs, separated
3 tbs. queso cotija, feta or Monterey jack cheese
1/3 c. fresh yellow corn, cut from the cob
¼ tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 4 (6 oz.) ramekins with butter and coat with bread crumbs, shaking out excess. Taste the corn. If it is sweet and tender, use it as is. If it tastes a little under ripe, microwave in a bowl with about a tablespoon of water for one minute. Drain and proceed with recipe. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes or until very soft. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk and cook until slightly thickened, whisking continuously. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Quickly stir in a spoonful of the milk mixture to temper the egg yolks (so they won’t scramble when added to the hot mixture). Add the yolks to the milk mixture (do not return to stovetop), stirring to incorporate. Stir in the cheese and corn. Set this aside and beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, fold about one third of the whites into the soufflé batter. You want to still see some white streaks, and maintain the volume of the egg whites, so fold gently and briefly. Fold the remaining egg whites into the batter in two more additions.

Evenly divide the soufflé batter among the prepared ramekins and place on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the tops are tall, golden and just set in the center. Serve right away.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Mole Sauce for Steak or Chicken and Lime-Honey Vinaigrette


I know I have written about how much I think Gourmet magazine stands out among the mountain of food magazines that overtake my mailbox every month. Lately, however, more of the recipes I actually cook have come out of Food & Wine magazine. The finger-lickin’ tasty Fried Chicken and Biscuits came from the February issue, and I hit the jackpot again in the March issue with an Mole Sauce that used a simple poblano salsa as its base.

Like many complex and iconic dishes, mole sauce inspires feeling of fascination and reverence in me. Maybe even more so, since it is the kind of dish I may never duplicate authentically unless I move to Puebla and become friendly with the cooks there who carry the secrets of mole-making around in their DNA. Having said that, I think the mole I made with the Food & Wine recipe as a guide definitely does justice to the genuine article.

This sauce is smoky from poblanos, spicy from dried chipotle peppers, nutty from toasted sesame seeds, and rich from chocolate, raisins and cinnamon. Complex doesn’t even begin to describe it; all the sweet flavors are perfectly balanced by the chiles and vegetables. Pureeing makes the consistency creamy and opaque, but it is not at all thick or heavy. All of this means that you could feast on this mole sauce for hours because your taste buds will never get tired of sampling the subtle shades of flavor.

The same article also inspired one of the best salad dressings I’ve made in a while: a simple lime-honey vinaigrette that is refreshingly sweet and zingy. I poured it over a salad of sweet baby lettuces (not the spicy greens we usually prefer, like arugula) from a Dole salad mix, tossed it with chopped tomatoes, a few slivers of red onion and fresh orange sections along with the juices that accumulated when I cut up the orange.

By the way, we served the mole sauce over dry-aged sirloin steaks, seared in a skillet over high heat then transferred to the oven to finish cooking. Any good steak would be wonderful; just let the mole be the star of the show. Two nights later, we roasted whole chicken breasts and topped them with the leftover mole. This was also fantastic. This may be the closest I ever get to authentic mole sauce, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Mole Sauce for Steak or Chicken
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine

The original salsa recipe calls for ancho chiles which are dried poblanos. I could not find them, so I used fresh poblanos with amazing results. The recipe for the Poblano Salsa base yields 5 cups of salsa, but you only need one cup to make the mole. I prepared the whole salsa recipe and used some of the leftovers to make an enchilada sauce by mixing about 1 cup of salsa with a can of plain tomato sauce. I froze the rest in 1 cup portions for future use. You could also use the salsa as a dip or a topping for grilled fish or chicken. Two dried chipotle chiles with most seeds should yield a very hot salsa Adjust the amount of chiles and seeds to suit you, but don’t eliminate them completely; they add a unique sweet-smoky flavor.


Poblano Salsa:
8 poblano chiles, stemmed seeded and roughly chopped
1 to 2 dried chipotle chile peppers, stemmed and some seeds discarded, depending on your desired heat level (see recipe headnote)
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 white onion, chopped
1 tbs. light brown sugar
1 tbs. canola oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. (approx.) freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs. cider vineger

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand form 10 minutes. Working in batches, roughly puree the salsa in a blender. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the vinegar and set aside.

Mole Sauce (Makes about 1 ½ cups; 6 servings):
1 tbs. sesame seeds
1 c. poblano salsa
½ c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 oz. chopped sweet chocolate (I used half milk and half semisweet)
2 tbs. dark raisins
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over low heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden. Add the poblano salsa, chicken broth, chocolate, raisins, cinnamon and nutmegs. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave and serve over grilled or roasted steak or chicken. Keeps in the refrigerator for 4 days.

Lime-Honey Vinaigrette
Serves 4

2 tbs. honey
3 tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tbs. canola oil
2 to 3 drops red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well until emulsified.



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Friday, April 06, 2007

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake


Today, I want you to talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: coffee cake—discuss.

Finished? Good. Here’s my take: I wouldn’t bother with most coffee cakes. Give me a scone, a muffin, even a doughnut over coffee cake any day. My husband likes coffee cake and orders it occasionally at Starbucks. I never had the urge to make it myself until about two years ago. We had just moved into our condo, and a neighbor brought us a lovely, homemade, mini coffee cake. That was a good cake; nothing fancy, just moist, plain cake with a sugary crumb on top.

I was in no rush to duplicate the neighbor’s cake, but the seed was planted. In a baking mood, I batted around ideas yesterday to Mike. Rhubarb pudding cake? Italian Cream Cake? No dice. When I threw out coffee cake, Mike’s eyes lit up and the discussion was over.

I knew we wanted a plain, very moist cake with sour cream, topped with some kind of streusel or crumb. This is just the kind of recipe I knew I would find in my King Arthur Baker’s Companion book. The sweet recipes in this book can be a little heavy and rich, but they always turn out perfectly.

This cake may be even better than the neighbor’s. The batter is very thick, not pourable like a regular sheet cake. When baked, however, it is not too heavy, just incredibly moist and a little tangy due to the sour cream. I slightly cut the amount of flour and sugar in the crumb topping, and still had more than enough for a very sweet, crumbly cake. I also make this cake at night for breakfast today, and I think it does benefit from having ample time to cool and sit. So, it is the perfect sweet breakfast treat to make in advance. Easter brunch, perhaps?

So, now I am on the coffee cake bandwagon. Due to the intense sugar rush, I may not eat it as often as my beloved scones, but it is definitely a nice addition to my repertoire of breakfast treats.



Bloggers love coffee cake; there way too many great ones out there...

Alpineberry's Mini Cherry Walnut Streusel Coffee Cakes have a lovely pink tint.

Seriously Good's Apple-Ricotta Coffee Cake must be as good as it looks since it uses ricotta, an ingredient that's always in my fridge for spreading on toast.

Go take a gander at the gorgeous Apricot-Almond Coffee Cake at Cream Puffs in Venice.

The Dried Cranberry Coffee Cake from Tartelette is quick and simple and uses a secret ingredient--homemade eggnog!

In the archives of Baking Sheet (now Baking Bites) I found another old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake

I wish I had some fresh blueberries to make this Coffee Cake from Chocolate & Zucchini.

This apple coffee cake from Simply Recipes is easy and looks wonderful.

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
I changed this recipe by using half whole wheat pastry flour in both the crumb and the cake. It works perfectly and is undetectable to the untrained eye. Use only all-purpose flour if you want. I suspect it would also be good with only whole wheat pastry flour. I would not use regular whole wheat flour which would change the flavor, texture and color too much for this tender, sweet cake.

Makes two 9-inch rounds or one 9 x 13-inch cake

Crumb Topping:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
14 tbs. unsalted butter (7 ounces)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ tsp. almond extract

Cake:
8 tbs. (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream (I used lowfat)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round pans or one 9 x13 pan.

Make the crumb: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the butter over the flour mixture and stir to combine until the flour is uniformly moistened and you have a sandy, moist crumb. Set aside.

Make the cake batter: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and beat on low to medium or stir with a large spoon until evenly combined.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan(s). Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the batter with your fingers, covering the batter completely. Bake for 20-25 minutes for 9-inch rounds or 30-35 minutes for a 9 x 13 pan. Cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean and the sides are light gold and slightly pulling away from the edge of the pan. Cool cakes in their pan(s) on a wire rack.



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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Crispy Fried Chicken

In my last post, I promised you easy fried chicken to go with those biscuits, along with a few reasons why you can eat these Southern comfort foods without raising your jeans size.

Take my advice, and you will never again have to have guilty fantasies about yourself and a bucket of Extra Tasty Crispy:

• Marinate overnight in buttermilk—it makes the chicken so tender that you won’t feel horribly deprived if you don’t eat all the skin

• Use canola oil—so if you do end up eating more of the fabulously crispy skin than you planned, at least it will be cooked in heart-healthy fat

• Use tasty chicken pieces—go ahead and fry legs and thighs; the extra moisture and flavor makes them more satisfying than breasts, and they cook quickly

• Do greens on the side—this meal becomes a lot more nutritious if you serve simple greens (I did turnip; kale and collard are good too) sautéed in olive oil, lemon and garlic

• Make your own biscuits—They’ve only got 4 ingredients, not counting salt, so it’s too easy not to whip these up yourself; because you’ll use the best ingredients, they will be worth every buttery bite

Crispy Fried Chicken Leg and Thighs
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine and Tyler Florence for Food Network
Plan on marinating the chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Serves 4

8-10 pieces of chicken (any combo of legs and thighs)
3-4 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1-2 tsp. Hungarian smoked paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 ½ quarts canola oil

Place the chicken pieces in a large heavy-duty Ziploc bag and pour in 3-4 cups buttermilk. Seal up the bag, swish the chicken around and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Flip the bag over a few times during marinating period so all the chicken has a chance to soak.

In another large Ziploc bag, combine the flour, salt, pepper cumin, paprika and cayenne. Add 3 or 4 pieces of chicken, seal and shake. Shake off any clumps of flour then press the chicken pieces so the remaining flour adheres well. Set chicken on a wire rack and repeat with remaining pieces.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large, heavy saucepan. Using a frying thermometer, heat the oil to between 350 and 360 degrees. Add 3 or 4 chicken pieces and fry, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes total. The temperature of the oil will drop when you add the chicken, so keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust the heat so the temperature stays between 325 and 350 while frying. When the chicken is done it will be well-browned, but if you aren’t sure, take one piece out and cut into it. You won’t be able to put it back into the oil if it isn’t cooked through, but you can finish it in the oven, if necessary. This is better than having a whole batch of undercooked chicken.

Use tongs to take the cooked pieces out of the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Serve immediately or later, at room temperature.


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Monday, April 02, 2007

Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits

This post is all about why you’ll never go to Kentucky Fried Chicken again. If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance you’re not a big KFC fan, but that’s not important. I know my readers love delicious homemade food, from the healthy to the indulgent, so read on because I want you to have both!

You might contend that fried chicken and biscuits falls into the indulgent category, but it doesn’t have to be the antithesis of healthy eating. We made this classic southern meal for the very first time, and it was so good without being particularly difficult, that we plan on doing it again very soon.

I suggested to Mike that we try our hand at this meal because I really wanted an excuse to make homemade buttermilk biscuits. Being a quick bread, they are not very different from one of my favorite obsessions, the scone. The recipe in a recent issue of Food & Wine was incredibly simple, with only four ingredients. I made one small change and mixed the dough with my fingers instead of a pastry blender or other tool.

I recently read in Cook’s Illustrated that this method would help create a biscuit with more flaky layers because the butter would get pinched and flattened by your fingers instead of getting turned into coarse crumbs by a pastry blender or food processor. Since hand mixing is the easiest way to go, and my biscuits had plenty of flaky layers, I definitely recommend it. Keeping the dough cold (so the butter stays solid prior to baking) and using a sharp biscuit cutter that will not smash together the layers you have created, are also important steps.

In a very distant childhood food memory, I recall the KFC buttermilk biscuit being the best part of the meal, but my homemade version beats the memory hands down. They are even better than the Pillsbury biscuits that come in the paper can that pops open. I’ve written up the biscuit recipe today, and I will give you the fried chicken in my Wednesday post, along with some tips to make this meal just healthy enough to have it whenever you get nostalgic for dinner in a bucket, only tastier.

There are quite a few Buttermilk Biscuit lovers in the blogosphere; here are a few recipes:
Accidental Hedonist's Buttermilk Biscuits

The Buttermilk Biscuits on Baking Sheet rise gorgeously high

Orangette’s Buttermilk Biscuits are made with Southern Flour (I don't know what it is, but I think I'd like it)

Mile High Biscuits from Meathenge look especially tasty modeled by Southern Biscuit Barbie


Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine and Natalie Chanin
With so few ingredients, each one should be the best, so use a good quality unsalted butter that you really like. I used Plugra European style that you can find in most supermarkets. Kerrygold Irish butter and Organic Valley butter are two other brands that are delicious and widely available.

Makes 8

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter
¾ c. buttermilk

Prep the butter up to several hours ahead. With a floured knife, cut it into ¼ to ½ inch cubes. Spread the cubes out on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Whisk together the flour baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold butter, fold into the flour and combine, using your fingers to break up the chunks of butter into slightly flattened bits. At this point, the dough will still be very powdery and should not come together. Add the buttermilk and stir gently with a wooden spoon just until all the flour is dampened. If you still have a lot of excess flour, add a few more drops of buttermilk until you have a barely cohesive, shaggy mass of dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat the dough together with floured hands. Flatten into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to ½ inch thick. Use a floured metal 2 ½ to 3 inch biscuit cutter to stamp out as many biscuits as you can, dipping the cutter into some flour with each biscuit. Place biscuits on the baking sheet. Collect the dough scraps, quickly re-roll and finishing stamping out biscuits. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until risen and lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter.

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