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Posts Tagged ‘biscuit’

I’ve been eating strawberries close to three meals a day for the past week. This time of year we must, and must not apologize, because winter is long, my friends. Often enough it’s berries in a bowl with plain yogurt, but I also made two recipes to take me through breakfast with aplomb.

The top is a Martha recipe, originally written to accompany late-season summer fruits (which it does very well), but it sure doesn’t hurt with June’s best, either. This is a nubbly, buttery, tender pound cake that calls for semolina flour, ground almonds, and my favorite spice, cardamom. I didn’t slice the berries because I’m a heathen, but you could. Someday I’ll try the cake toasted with butter, but for now, it’s been soaking up berries and some of that plain yogurt, making it lovely and pink and damp.

Then there’s my never-miss, never fail traditional strawberry shortcake. The recipe is from my 1968 Time-Life cookbook, American Cooking. It’s the author’s grandmother’s, and she used to make it with woodland strawberries that grew in the brambles on her farm in upstate New York. I try not to think about how deliriously good it would be with wild strawberries and just take what I have, which is fine enough indeed. (Though I can’t lie: when I someday get my hands on woodland strawberries, their fate is sealed with this recipe.)

Take a hot, fresh, homemade buttermilk biscuit. Split it with two forks, butter the fluffy insides, close it back up, set it in a bowl, and top with sugared strawberries and cold fresh cream. Sweet fancy Moses, but that’s a good breakfast.

Okay, the below isn’t a strawberry recipe or any recipe for that matter, but I thought you’d dig it. In fact, disclaimer: all but the very top pastry (a chocolate-covered cream puff) are pretend. I made this tray last week for a production of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ carried by the goofbally Gangster Bakers. They say stuff like ‘You biscotti be kidding me,’ ‘You’re really in truffle!’ and ‘One cannoli hope.’ I could go on, but I don’t want to lose readers. There are fortune cookies, too, containing theatre platitudes I made up like ‘Cold free pizza is still pizza.’

Made of craft foam, white Model Magic, homemade play dough, glue, gel paste, paper, and paint. I guess technically that’s a recipe. Got a bang out of making this, and there’s muffin you can do about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Just a photo this week, but it’s a cracker: Deep-dish chicken pot pie with peas, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms, a creamy roux, and the meat from nearly a whole 3.5 pound bird. The buttery biscuit crust has chopped scallions and is made extra fluffy with lots of buttermilk.

I overfilled it like a greedy little thing and it bubbled all over the place, so then I had to judge whether the topping would cook fully before the wind from the oven fan, ceiling fan, and open window would fail and set off the smoke alarm. It never happened, and I ate and warmed my chilly bones.

Stay warm this week, everybody. Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case keep your balmy week to yourself.

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Homemade turkey Sloppy Joe on cheddar-scallion biscuit. I need my strength to sweep the snow off my car.

I don’t get people who hate winter. We’re talking about a three-month, no-apology excuse to burrow under your faux fur throw from Target, fall asleep, then wake up and make luscious food.

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Crab apple liqueur (sugar, apples, and vodka). I need my strength to…uh…pull off my snow boots.

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Steeped, ready, gazing out over the wilds of suburban New Jersey, and plotting its first offensive.

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A pound cake I made the other night. While it was still hot from the oven I docked the top and poured lots of the extra honeysuckle syrup I made last June over it. Sumptuous.

When you want to work up extra stamina for lazing around and feeding, I recommend exploring a landscape. It will be different—more stark, more bare-bones—than at any other time of year.

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Huber Woods, Navesink, NJ. Sycamore and shadows, east pasture.

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Trees and fence, Navesink.

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West pasture, Navesink.

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Ancient felled sycamore and sky, Navesink.

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I came across several old, tiny wooden buildings in the woods. They were labeled 1930, 1931, etc. I wondered if old years are left in the woods of Navesink, to enter just by opening their doors, like the wardrobe into Narnia. What if they are?

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1931, with reflections of the trees and sky—and ripped curtains.

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Our lake finally froze over. Hockey blades, waiting for their owners to come off the ice. Grownup owners, no less. I love this town.

 

 

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So yesterday I was in kind of a bummery mood, down in the dumps. Rented a dorky rom com to watch, took a walk to the beach. It helped a bit. Then I remembered the plans I had made a couple of days ago to bake. This is the time of year to enjoy tropical fruits, and long ago I cobbled together a way to enjoy one of my favorites among them—pineapple–with biscuits, to make shortcake.

First find yourself a recipe for biscuits. I like one of Martha Stewart’s, the one that has yogurt in the recipe, but any will do. They come together, in one bowl, in less than the time it takes to heat up the oven. They’re only in the oven for maybe 15 minutes. You don’t even have to soften the butter to make biscuits. Try it…it’s easy and there’s nothing store bought to compare with the flavor.

I’ll also say a fresh pineapple is best to use because it’s not as goopy sweet as the kind you get in cans, and you’re going to be adding a little brown sugar to this. That and all of those 100% uniform canned pieces of pineapple kind of annoy me ๐Ÿ™‚ Fresh pineapple has character—in its flavor, its texture, its everything.

Cut up the pineapple and put the chunks into a big, wide skillet over medium heat. Add something like 1/8 cup of brown sugar and a few splashes of rum, however much you like. I like Malibu, but you call the ball. A dark rum like Bacardi would be good, too. Stir up the mixture and once it’s hot, turn off the heat. I’ve noticed you lose the rumminess if you cook it too long.

Are the biscuits done? Awesome. Sit them on the pan on a rack for a minute while you get out a bowl for yourself. I use organic lowfat vanilla yogurt instead of whipped cream for this (though please don’t get me wrong—real whipped cream would be divine). Take out your yogurt along with a spoon and a fork.

Take the biggest biscuit off the pan and sit it in your bowl. Carefully work the fork in and out of it, turning the biscuit as you go, until you have divided it in half. (Yes, you could use a serrated knife, but that makes the halves too smooth and perfect. I like the uneven nubbiness the fork gives it.) Open up the two sides. Inhale the steam and smile. Now spoon some of the warm pineapple chunks onto the bottom half of the biscuit. Plop some yogurt on top of the fruit, put the biscuit lid on, and plop some more yogurt on top of that.

You’ll need the fork to spear up pieces of pineapple and to cut through the crispy biscuit; you’ll need the spoon to sop up yogurt and errant pineapple juice. This is not a dainty dish, but that’s one of its virtues, kids.

The hot hot fruit and hot hot biscuit with the cold cold yogurt is delirium inducing, and makes a lovely breakfast or dessert. Last night I really needed soothing, so I treated myself to it for dinner. No apologies.

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I never had much of a thing for lemons until a few years ago. They were something served with fish, or they occasionally, delicately, flavored a cookie. Sort of forgettable fruits.

Then I had stomach problems, bad ones, and was forced to swear off anything citrusy for a good couple of years. I missed oranges and orange juice. When that time mercifully ended, I had powerful cravings for citrus, but not in sweetie-pie doses like the aforementioned lemon cookies. Standard lemon cookies, bars, squares—none of them cut it anymore, not even those from homey bakeries. If I was going to eat something with lemon, I wanted to TASTE it. Which meant making my own lemon desserts.

A few years back I read with interest an article about lemons in the food section of my local paper. It was engaging, telling of the writer’s adoration of lemon curd, but ended on the most depressing note: the writer said he had never had luck making curd at home and that it was best just to go out and buy it.

The poor, misguided soul was fairly begging for someone to set him straight, so I wrote him and told him in a very polite but firm tone that food writers should be encouraging their readers to cook, to get used to the feel and temperament of ingredients—not to have a couple of botch-ups and then give up. Then I gave him the below lemon curd recipe. He agreed graciously, I’m happy to say.

I’ve had this recipe for a while and have tweaked it this way and that. Add more or fewer eggs to increase or decrease richness (though, really, the lemon flavor in this is so assertive that richness takes more than a back seat to it. It’s not even in the back seat; it’s sitting on the trunk and holding onto the spoiler for dear life. So extra richness is hardly worth considering, in my opinion.) This is NOT a recipe for those who think boxed lemon cookies taste just swell. It is for those few who jones for the eye-dabbing kick that real lemon zest and real, undiluted lemon juice gives.

Make the curd with ordinary lemons from the supermarket and it’s delicious. Make it with Meyer lemons, that current darling of the food world (as well as of my own), and the result is stratospheric. The bracing sunny sweetness will actually make your day a little happier, I promise.

3/4 c granulated sugar (use a little bit less if you really like a lemon wallop)

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (if you have one of those microplane graters, use it here)

2 large eggs (or 1 egg plus 1 white)

The juice of three big lemons

A pat ofย  butter, about a tablespoon or so

Put sugar, rind and eggs in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir it with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. This takes 2-3 minutes.

Add lemon juice and your pat of butter and whisk for about 5 minutes more, until the mixture becomes a bit thicker. To chill, put a lid on the pan, put a dishtowel on a rack in your fridge and set the pan on it. It will thicken up in the fridge some more, and makes about 1 1/2 cups.

I’m told this can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, but if your resistance is anything like mine, that tip is kind of immaterial. Apparently it can also be frozen in a freezer Ziploc. Again, hearsay.

This curd is lovely spread between layers of white cake, on hot scones or biscuits served with very cold, thick whipped cream, or as the top layer of the best lemon squares you’ve ever eaten.

I doubled this recipe as a birthday present for my mom, who ate every bit in the best way I can think of: just as the title above suggests.

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