My roommate of going on 7 years often tells people that I am the one who taught her how to cook. I feel flattered every time she says this, because she is really a great cook herself… but when I look back at our dorm room days, I realize I have saved her from a blunder or two.
That same roommate will also attest to the fact that I have some control issues when it comes to the kitchen, but when I focus on breathing deeply and handing over my authority, I actually really love to help those who lack kitchen confidence to discover that they too can prepare delicious meals and enjoy the process.
In that spirit, I am hoping for the “Edible” section of this blog to be a way for me to share my enjoyment and knowledge of cooking with those who might be intimidated by trying new foods & methods, or baking from scratch. Because I believe if you have the tools and are willing to take just a little time (I rarely spend more than 45 minutes making anything), everyone can learn to love cooking.
Are you willing to journey along with me? Good! This will be fun. =) Now, let’s talk biscuits.
It’s rare that I’m willing to admit it, but I have a weakness for certain southern comfort foods. I attribute it to my parents’ North Carolina roots. I also have a serious affinity for starches, so I guess it’s no surprise that the prospect of fresh homemade buttermilk biscuits makes my mouth water. AND you can bake cheese right into them.
I found a great base recipe on AllRecipes.com, from which you can then take whatever creative liberties inspire you at the moment. These biscuits are SO easy to make, you really have no excuse not to try. No excuse! The basic ingredients (proportioned for 6 servings) are:
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
- 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup cold butter
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese (or mix in of your choice)
Now, for some helpful substitutions:
Buttermilk: You can buy buttermilk at the grocery store, but unless you can commit to making pancakes or muffins from scratch within 7-10 days, you’ll likely end up wasting what’s left of the quart you have to buy. If you don’t have 1/2 cup buttermilk you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1/2 cup. Let the mixture stand for 5 or 10 minutes before adding to the recipe.
Mix ins: I’ve tried out this recipe with gouda cheese & fresh sage leaves (amazing) as well as with fresh grated parmesan & roasted garlic (incredible). The original recipe calls for sharp cheddar. This week I used white cheddar. I bet you could also try corn kernels, bacon, or just about anything else.
For the health nuts: I usually make these biscuits with whole wheat flour, and they are just as delicious.
Follow the directions from the original recipe. My additional tips:
- Make sure the butter is cold. To “cut in” the butter with the dry ingredients means to use a pastry blender or criss-cross two knives until the mixture looks crumbly.
- Don’t manhandle any bread dough, ever. I.e., do not over-mix or over-knead.
- Knead means you squash the dough with the heel of your hand, fold it back in on itself, squash, fold, repeat.
- If your dough is too wet, just add a bit more flour, 1-2 Tbsp at a time.
- I don’t own a biscuit cutter. You could use a drinking glass or wine glass (flour the rim). I just use a chef’s knife and make square biscuits, rolling the dough into a rectangle instead of a circle.
My downstairs neighbors threw a party to celebrate the start of fall, and I brought these biscuits, using parmesan & roasted garlic as the mix in. They were a hit, so perfect with the potato and cheese soup, chicken soup, and beef stew we had for dinner. If you have any leftover biscuits the next morning (or just go ahead and make a double batch) they would make a delicious breakfast when reheated in the toaster oven, served with butter & honey, and a side of eggs.
Please try these, and tell me what mix-ins you choose!