SUMMERTIME IS SANDWICH TIME

FullSizeRender

The middle of August is the peak of summer here in San Diego. It’s when temperatures are at their highest, it’s too hot to cook and it’s way too hot to barbeque…so as far as I am concerned, summer is the sandwich season.

I have always been a big lover of sandwiches. Any filling slapped between delicious homemade bread and slathered with mayonnaise is a perfect meal in my book, but this time of year, they are especially tempting…tomatoes have gone off the hook, sweet onions are…well, actually sweet, and it’s just too damn hot to turn on the oven.

This morning I was on the news talking about my favorite “Sandwiches of Summer,” the BLT, the Southern Style Shaved Ham Slider, Oyster Po’ Boys and, of course, cool and creamy Chopped Egg Salad on rye.

These summertime sandwiches are simple to prepare, easy to pack for a picnic and always a crowd pleaser.  Buy a jar of good dill pickles, some thick-sliced salty potato chips and pull out the paper plates, it’s Summer, no one is cooking and, most certainly, no one is doing dishes.  

IMG_2444

Southern Style Shaved Ham Sandwich

Okay here is yet another homage to ACME Southern Kitchen…. But this  sandwich is the epitome of summer cuisine in the South.  It’s SO easy.

Buy a small quarter of a boneless cooked ham, slice it as paper thin as you can manage, drop one handful per sandwich in a pot of hot BBQ sauce, let it heat through and top a warm, buttered brioche bun with a big pair-of-tongs-full.

You can easily use pre-sliced sandwich ham and a good-quality bottled sauce or here is my recipe for my go-to BBQ sauce.

¾   Cup         Asian-Style Chili Sauce

½   Cup         Mae Ploy

½   Cup         Molasses

½   Cup         Brown Sugar

2    Cups        Red Wine Vinegar

2    Cups        Low sodium Soy Sauce

½   Cup         Worsterchire

2    Whole      Pasillas  (seeded and chopped)

1    Whole      Jalapeno (seeded and chopped)

1    Whole      Onions  (chopped)

½   Cup         Garlic (chopped)

1    TBS         Whole Chili Flakes

¼    Cups        Prepared Dijon Mustard

1    TBS         Tabassco

1    Cup         Water

1    Cups        Brewed Black Coffee

Cook all ingredients in a stock pot for 1 hour.

Strain and cool.

It’s Tomato Time

IMG_1381

 

July in San Diego is the height of our local tomato season. With so many local farms selling their heirloom tomatoes at the markets, they are plentiful and there are many varieties to choose from. Sometimes the tomatoes can ripen too quickly once picked. When this happens, I like to roast a huge batch and use them in dishes all week long. Try roasting them over an open fire to get a little smoky flavor, but it’s just as easy—probably easier—to do them in the oven.  Be sure and get a good blister on them… it deepens the flavor.  They get so sweet I have actually served them over vanilla ice-cream… sounds odd, but it’s oddly good.

Make it last! I can’t resist cooking angel hair pasta (1 pound for two people; or 3 pounds for whole week), scooping a generous spoonful or two over the top, and finishing with some Parmesan and a little fresh basil. Or, I might grill ciabatta or levain bread, brush it with melted butter, salt, and pepper, and top the bruschetta with my tomatoes. On a day when I want a quick and healthy lunch, I might place the remaining in my Vitamix along with chicken or vegetable stock and make a quick, easy, and light summer soup.

IMG_1404

Peak of Summer Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Ingredients

3 lbs. ripe heirloom cherry tomatoes

½  cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

10-12 garlic cloves, roughly choppedb

basil for garnish

 

Directions

Stem the tomatoes and slice them in half lengthwise. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Gently squeeze out most of the seeds and juice, but it’s not necessary to get them all.

Lay the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly distribute the garlic over the tomatoes, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper.

Roast for about 30 minutes, rotate the pan, then turn the oven to 400 degrees and roast for another 15–20 minutes until caramelized and blistered.

Sometimes it’s Good to be a TART

FullSizeRender

For those of you who saw me on the San Diego CW6 this morning demonstrating this super simple-yet gorgeous Fresh Strawberry Tart here is the recipe.

This makes a great summer dessert because it’s light and refreshing and a snap to make.

I like to drizzle a little balsamic reduction over the top after I’ve plated it because it adds a great layer of flavor or for the kids a little dollop of vanilla ice-cream is good, but seriously, this needs nothing additional… and is fantastic as-is.

FRESH STRAWBERRY TART

CRUST:

1 1/3             Cup              Rye Flour

1 1/3             Cup              A/P Flour

1                   tsp                Salt

9                   oz                 Cold Butter –cubed

5                   oz                 Ice Water +1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

Pulse all ingredients except water in the bowl of a food processor just until butter is coarsely chopped and combined.

Add 4 TBS water mixture and pulse a few more times. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time until moist enough to form a dough when squeezed between your fingers. Do not add any unnecessary water, it will make your shell tough.

Dump dough out on board on a piece of plastic wrap and form a disc.  Wrap tightly and place in fridge for at least one hour before using.

BAKE:

Roll out crust to desired shape, I like a rectangle, about ¼ inch thick, trim edges so to make nice and sharp lines.  With a fork, poke holes in shell to keep air pockets from forming.  Lightly brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15- 20 (rotating half way through) minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

ASSEMBLE:

1       Cup              Marscapone Cheese

3       TBS              Granulated sugar + 1 tsp Vanilla

Combine these with a whisk by hand or in a standing mixer until fluffy.

Spread cheese mixture to edges of tart crust leaving ½ inch at edges.

Top with layer of good-quality homemade strawberry jam.

Thinly slice the strawberries and arrange in a decorative fashion over the top of the jam layer.  

The Dutch Baby

My New Favorite Weekend Breakfast

FullSizeRender

Each Mother’s Day my children have presented me coffee in bed on a tray, accented with some flowers from the yard and a homemade card or two. I love it.

This year, feeling particularly ambitious, they took up the notion to cook me a complete breakfast. By complete, I do mean complete: pancakes, bacon, cereal and coffee. And they brought this to me in bed.

Don’t get me wrong…. I love the idea… I really do.

Keep in mind this operation was headed by an eleven- and eight-year-old sister/brother tandem.

With preparations under way downstairs, I could hear both commotion, and a lot of whispering. Apparently one “do over” was required when the first pancake had to be scraped off the skillet because they forgot to use non-stick pan spray. In fact, the first pancake recipe plum didn’t work at all. So after two taste tests they dumped it and went online – bless their hearts – to find a recipe on MarthaStewart.com. A bit more complicated, this version included eggs and melted butter (oh my).

After nearly two hours of cooking, they came upstairs with a beautiful tray that included my coffee (I will never let them know it was cold because they made it first), a brown butter pancake (I am calling it brown butter although I know it was not their intention), bacon, a bowl of Corn Flakes, and a beautiful arrangement from the garden.

I dined in both delight, and fear. Delight for the sweet and wonderful effort they extended. Fear for what awaited in the kitchen.

My fears were soon realized. It was a disaster area. Eggs lay cracked in bowls and left for dead. Bacon and its drippings made a trail connecting stove to counter. Half of the melted butter coated the microwave’s floor. I could go on, but you get the picture.

The next hour and a half of my Mother’s Day morning was spent cleaning the kitchen. Oh, and did I mention that in all the “busy-ness” of the morning the kids forgot to take our dog out and the little guy did his morning “business” in the living room…my second Mother’s Day morning project.

Then the big picture dawned. This was my fault. They should be better in the kitchen by this age. I had neglected to teach my offspring the basics of breakfast cookery – ME of all people – and a fix was in order.

So the three of us got busy learning a very simple, special breakfast fit for both any Sunday morning, as well as a special holiday like Mother’s Day or Easter.

Called a Dutch Baby, it is a single skillet pancake baked in the oven. This recipe is fast, simple, and best yet, only dirties two…count ‘em, two dishes.

Teach your kids. Thank me later. But no one forget about the dog.

The Dutch Baby

 

3                Eggs

½               Cup Flour

½               Cup Milk

1                TBS   Sugar

Pinch                   Nutmeg

4                TBS   Butter

½               tsp Kosher Salt

1                tsp Vanilla

 

  1. Preheat Oven to 425 degrees
  1. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, flour, nutmeg and salt in a blender on medium speed.
  1. Place the butter in a 10-inch heavy baking dish or cast iron baking dish As soon as it is melted, swirl around to coat entire bottom and a bit of the sides. Add the batter and put back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the pancake is puffed and golden browned. Lower oven to 300 degrees and bake for five more minutes.
  1. Remove pancake from the over, drizzle with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Alternately you can drizzle with jam or syrup.

I’ll Take a Shot of Whiskey in My Whoopie Pie, Please

FullSizeRender

 

Saturday, April 30th is “National Oatmeal Cookie Day” so my friends down at CW-6 Morning News asked that I come in and make an oatmeal cookie with them. It’s not in me to go on the news and just make a plain ol’ oatmeal cookie so I thought I would have some fun with them and create a softer cookie and make a sandwich with a couple of them using a slightly sweet, creamy mixture of cream cheese, mascarpone, powdered sugar and – the coup de gras – Kentucky Bourbon whiskey.

Okay, so this is a play on the “Whoopie Pie,”… sometimes also called a “Moon Pie,” “Devil Dogs,” “The Black & White,” or just a plain ol’ “Gob.”

Basically a Whoopie Pie is a soft cookie… originally chocolate, that is made into a cookie “sandwich” filled with a creamy white frosting mixture. There are adaptations of this cookie, cake, sandwich, however you want to classify it as, dating back to 1835, and there have been dozens of interpretations since.

When I was studying cuisine of the South for my Acme Southern Kitchen (sniff-sniff), I sent away for Junior League Cookbooks and Church Cookbooks from all over the Southern regions of the U.S. There were so many versions of Whoopie Pies (each claiming to be “the best”) that I feel fine riffing on it using an oatmeal cookie and a creamy, booze-infused filling. They love their whiskey in the South and so do I, so hey…. it’s all game in my book.

The key to a good “Sandwich Cookie” is to have a cookie soft enough to bite through without the filling oozing all over and making a big mess, yet be hard enough not to fall apart when you are biting through it.

This recipe has brown sugar rather than white, which will give it a good bend, and the addition of honey achieves another layer of sweetness and helps to keep it on the softer side as well.

Lastly, keep in mind that if you over-bake them they will get crispy…and that’s still a wonderful cookie if you want to skip making “sandwiches” and just want to make a delicious oatmeal cookie.

Bourbon-Spiked Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

¾   Cup   Shredded Sweet Coconut

1    Cup   Butter Softened

1 ½    Cups Brown Sugar

2    TBS   Honey

2    Large Eggs (room temp)

1    TBS   Vanilla

1 ½ Cups  All Purpose Flour

1    tsp Sea Salt

1    tsp Baking Powder

1    tsp Ground Cinnamon

3    Cups  Rolled Oats (not instant oatmeal)

½   Cup   Raisins (optional)

Filling:

6    oz   Cream Cheese

6    TBS   Mascarpone Cheese

3    TBS   Powdered Sugar

1    TBS   Bourbon Whiskey (optional, may use vanilla extract instead)

¼    TSP   Salt

Heat Oven to 350 degrees

Spread the coconut out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast shaking the pan a few times until lightly browned (about 8 minutes).  Allow to cool.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in brown sugar and honey, beat until becomes fluffy again.  Add eggs one at a time and beat along with the vanilla another 2-3 minutes.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

With the mixer on low… slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and fold until incorporated, add the dates, raisins and coconut, mix until combined.

Line your baking sheets with parchment.

Allow the cookie dough to rest in the fridge for 10-15 minutes or longer until slightly firm.

Using a 4 oz ice cream scoop, place the portioned cookie dough an inch and a half apart on the lined cookie sheets.  Using your moistened fingers, gently press cookie down until they are about ½ inch thick.

Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes, rotate pans, bake for 5-6 more minutes until the centers puff and the edges just begin to brown. (Remember not to over bake these as you want a soft cookie.)

Allow them to cool completely the cookie sheets.

MAKE THE FILLING:

Using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the mascarpone, powdered sugar and Bourbon.  Be sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl.

Pipe about 2 TBS of the filling between two cookies.  Repeat with the remaining cookies and filling.

My Immunity Soup, My Get Well Quick Soup

(or… if you just need to poop soup)

FullSizeRender

And to think I was just bragging to a friend of mine about how I haven’t been sick in a couple years, about how all these years in the restaurant business has seemingly built up my immune system due to all the filthy, germ-laden dirty dishes, water glass rims and soiled napkins I have touched over the decades.

Not to mention that for the last five years I have had kids in elementary school exposing me to every new strain of the flu, croup, pink eye and strep that comes along.

Yes, I had begun to think I was invincible … until last weekend.

The fact is that I had not only come down with the worst head cold I’ve had in memory, I had also lost my voice and that is hugely frustrating. How is a mother to holler at her kids with no voice?  It was mayhem and my kids were taking full advantage. It was non-stop fighting, teasing and arguing, as siblings often do, and I’d have to get out of bed and march down the hall and whisper-yell at them.  It was so frustrating.  You know, the whisper-yell … the voice you have to use when your child is acting up in front of strangers … the voice you use as you fake a crouch-down to tie their shoe but you’re really whisper-yelling at them about what is going to happen when they get home if they don’t knock it off … yah, you know the voice.

Whenever I feel the slightest hint of a sore throat or feel like I might be getting rundown a bit, I head right out and buy myself a stewing hen and make a big pot of my miracle immune-boosting soup.  Although I make this soup purely for restorative purposes … it’s chocked full of celery, garlic, onions, kale and beet greens, I also think it tastes great … it just tastes healthy. It also has great “cleansing” properties if you know what I mean. I like to fill up quart containers and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for as long as it lasts and usually by that time whatever is ailing me (real or imagined) is long gone.

 

FullSizeRender

Immunity Soup

1    2-3lb        Stewing Hen

2    Large       Onions Diced Medium

12   Cloves      Whole Peeled Garlic

1    Head        Celery- Chopped

2    Bunches   Kale- Chopped

2    Bunches   Beet Greens- Chopped

4    Lg.          Carrots- Chopped

Wash your bird and remove the internal organs.  Place the bird in a large pot with enough water to cover once the onions, garlic, celery and carrots have been added.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, skim off any impurities and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until chicken is cooked.

Allow the chicken to cool enough to remove all of the meat from the bones.

Reserve the meat for another meal.  I like to make chicken salad, tacos or shred it over a green salad.

Meanwhile add the chopped Kale and Beet Greens and allow to cook another 10 minutes or until they are tender.

Season soup with Dried Marjoram, Salt and White Pepper, it gives you that warm feeling in your chest.

Pack it up and eat it until you feel better.

Fry Me a River

How To Handle a Hankering for Fried Oysters

FullSizeRender

I recently returned from spending a week in Seattle. I go there often and I just can’t imagine ever going up there without getting my fried oyster fetish on. I really ought to do a little research and see just how bad fried oysters are for you because I am pretty sure that they are not all that good for you….nothing that tastes that good ever is.

Well, leaving all of the nutritional worries behind, there are few things in this world that I get the hankering for more than fried oysters…especially those from up in the Puget Sound.

Oysters pulled from the local Northwest waters in and around the area are nicely sized… about the size of a half-dollar, plump and springy, briny, but sooooo creamy. Even after a quick deep-frying these oysters still have all of their highly sought-after qualities. The water in the area is so cold that oysters are safely eaten all year round, and they are served so many ways. I’ve enjoyed fried oysters as appetizers at upscale restaurants where they pair them with a fancy “caper-aioli something,” or a “mignonette” (playing on raw oysters). They serve them on French buns with “comeback sauce” for a traditional Po-boy style sandwich. Oysters are plunked down on Caesar salads, served as entrees with chips and a good slaw on the side, and, oh–my-word, have you had a fried oyster and bacon omelet? I will admit that my favorite way to eat them, though, is at the Pike Place Market, where they are served streetside in a paper cup over a handful of hand-cut French fries and topped with a dollop of tartar and cocktail sauce.

There are not a lot of places that sell fried oysters in San Diego, so I find that a trip to Point Loma Seafood or ordering them from Catalina Offshore and making them at home is often in order.

This weekend I got in some pretty little Penn Cove oysters. I had some beautiful brioche buns that Shelby had baked down at Bake Sale Bakery, and I made an outstanding down and dirty tartar sauce. All together now…for some mighty fine oyster sliders.

FullSizeRender

Fried Oyster Sliders with Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce

FullSizeRender

 

1       Pint Oysters, preferably no larger than a half dollar.

2 ½   Cups   Fine cornmeal

1       Pint Buttermilk

2 ½   Cups   All Purpose Flour

1       TBS Creole Seasoning

1       TSP Cornstarch

1       Tsp Kosher Salt

Pour the buttermilk into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Place all dry ingredients in a shallow bowl (I like to use a pie plate), blend to combine with a fork.

Pat the oysters dry on a paper towel and drop a few at a time into the buttermilk. Retrieve with a slotted spoon to allow to drain well.  Drop the oysters in the dry mix and shake around to evenly coat.  Drop the oysters in small batches in a deep fryer or a heavy pot with at least 4 inches of oil heated to 375 degrees.  Cook until golden brown about 60-90 seconds.

Drop onto a brown paper bag, hit with a dash of Kosher salt.

THE TARTAR SAUCE

1       Cup Mayonnaise

1 ½   Tsp Dijon Mustard

1       Med Shallot- minced

1       Tsp Siracha

1       TBS Dill Pickle chopped

1       TBS Capers rinsed and chopped

1       TBS Sweet Pickle chopped

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until needed.

Slice slider buns, place 2-3 oysters on each bun, slather with tartar sauce, top with fresh sliced tomato and a lettuce leaf.

Peanut Butter, Bacon and Banana Pie

FullSizeRender

The title of this pie does not do it justice.  First of all… it’s an old-fashioned Peanut Butter Pie, like they serve in the South (oh here I go again, weeping about Acme Southern Kitchen) but with extra lusciousness coming from a crust made of my famous Peanut Butter cookies (you know them- the ones that I imprint with a potato masher instead of a fork) that we sell at Bake Sale Bakery.

The twist is– rather than do a crust from store bought chocolate wafers or a graham cracker crust, we make a crust out of already delicious, buttery peanut butter cookies. Then take it one step further by adding crispy bacon to the food processor along with the cookies when you are making the cookie crumbs.

The result is a delicious, nutty, salty, crispy crust that serves as a fine vessel for the caramely and sweet, creamy filling.  The pie is topped with fresh whipped cream with a hint of vanilla, fresh bananas and roasted peanuts.

For The Crust:

4-5 (approx. 200 grams) Large Peanut Butter Cookies

Strips Thick Bacon Cooked Crispy and Cooled

TBS Butter Melted

Tsp Sugar

Break the cookies into large chunks and place them into the bowl of a food processor.  Add the bacon and sprinkle the sugar around the bowl.  Process by pulsing until the cookies and bacon have  reached the consistency of dry sand.

Add the melted butter and pulse a few more times to evenly distribute the fat.  Pour mixture into the pie shell and gently combine with your hands as you press it into the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

Place in a 350- degree oven for 6-8 minutes to melt the sugar and slightly bake the shell.  Allow to cool completely.

For The Filling:

Cup Creamy Peanut Butter

Oz. Cream Cheese (full fat) at room temp.

¾ Cup Brown Sugar

TBS Vanilla

Cups Whipped Cream- divided

In the bowl of a standing mixer beat 2 cups of whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla and a pinch of salt until peaks form. Place whipped cream into a medium bowl and chill until later.

In the bowl of a standing mixer place the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla and mix on medium high until light and fluffy.

Be patient, it will take about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides every 2-3 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a spatula gently fold the peanut butter mixture with one cup of the whipped cream until completely incorporated.

Assemble The Pie:

Slice a banana or two into the bottom of the cooled crust and cover with the peanut butter/whipped cream filling.

Mound it as high as you like and place in the freezer for one hour to set.

Remove pie from the freezer 15 minutes before serving and slice.  Top each piece with a dollop of whipped cream, peanuts and banana slices.

You can always as an option sprinkle with crumbled bacon or drizzle with chocolate ganache or both!

FullSizeRender

National Banana Bread Day

Yeah, I know, I’m with you… everyday it is “National Something Day.”  I honestly don’t even know who makes these things up.  Maybe the banana growers suggested this one, I don’t know.

Nonetheless, I was asked to go on the CW San Diego News this morning and show off my best banana cookery.  I offered up two recipes; one from Bake Sale Bakery, our most delicious and moist banana-raisin bread (it should be moist with nearly half a cup of canola oil and two whole bananas in it) and also the recipe for Café 222’s famous Banana Bread French Toast, where we slice it, soak it in a naughty bath of cream, eggs and whiskey and then grill it in lots of butter until it develops a beautiful crust.

We then top it off with caramelized bananas—whipped cream is optional.

The secret to adding raisins to this recipe (which you can omit or substitute with nuts) is to be sure and add them to the dry ingredients and let them get well coated in the flour.  This prevents them from all falling to the bottom of the loaf.

Let me know how you like these recipes.

Banana Bread

BAKE SALE BAKERY BANANA BREAD

4 C FLOUR

2 ½ C GRANULATED SUGAR

1 TBS BAKING POWDER

1 tsp BAKING SODA

1 tsp SALT

1 TBS CINNAMON

1 C RAISINS

COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS IN A BOWL THEN ADD THE RAISINS AND MIX UNTIL THE RAISINS ARE COATED WITH THE FLOUR MIXTURE.

3 TBS VANILLA

4 BANANAS (speckled to brown)

PUREE BANANAS AND VANILLA TOGETHER with Braun hand-mixer

ADD:

4 EGGS

1 C CANOLA OIL

2/3 C BUTTERMILK

ADD EGGS, OIL AND BUTTERMILK TO THE BANANA PUREE BY HAND. MIX THE DRY INGREDIENTS INTO THE WET INGREDIENTS AND POUR INTO 2 GREASED BREAD PANS

BAKE 1-1 ¼ HOURS AT 325 DEGREES CAREFULLY ROTATING PANS HALF WAY THROUGH BAKING.

Makes 2 loaves

BBread French Toast

Café 222 Banana Bread French Toast

TO MAKE CUSTARD:

4 eggs

1 cup Heavy Cream

1 TBS Vanilla

½ tsp Cinnamon

½ tsp Salt

¼ Cup Dark Rum

Wisk together in medium size bowl.

Pour into 8” x 8” Pyrex glass baking dish.

 

TO MAKE CARAMELIZED BANANAS:

Melt 2 TBS butter along with 1 TBS brown sugar in medium sauté pan until bubbly and mixtures forms a caramel. Add 1 sliced banana and a dash of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bananas soften but do not break down.

Take off heat and set aside.

 

COOK FRENCH TOAST:

Place sliced banana bread in egg custard and allow to soak for 10 seconds, flip over to coat other side.

Drop 2 TBS butter into large sauté pan or on griddle set on med- high heat.

Once butter is hot and bubbling, grill custard-soaked banana bread until golden brown and nice crust forms (about 4 minutes on each side).

Plate toasts and top with caramelized bananas.

Garnish with dollop of whipped cream.

Biscuit Bitch

a girl who loves biscuits, eats them unabashedly and with an attitude

IMG_6957

Every January, without missing a beat, I have my annual visit with Dr. Slater, my general practitioner.  We have had a long-term patient-doctor relationship that has spanned many years through all of my restaurant openings and the births of my two children. He’s great, but, he is the kind of doctor that I wish was a little more loose with his prescription writing (pad-happy, as I like to call it), but in the end I appreciate him because he always looks out for my best interests.  He saves me from myself – if that makes sense.  For instance, one time last year I went in complaining of what I was certain were panic attacks hoping for “something just to chill me out just a little bit.”  Instead of leaving with a prescription for some little blue pills as I was hoping, I got a forty-five minute lesson on meditative breathing exercises and was told to quit caffeine.

Although my weight seems to be exactly the same every year, no matter what shoes or clothes I am wearing when I weigh in, and my blood pressure always lands on the low side, he still scolds me about my diet. My diet consists primarily of whatever cuisine I am working on or am obsessed with at the time. A few years ago when I was working on the opening of ACME Southern Kitchen, my weight was up three pounds from the previous year and he mentioned it to me. I told him it was surely because I had been working on the recipe for our Angel Biscuits and had been baking and eating them for months. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, I was eating biscuits, trying to get the recipe just right, I told him.

“Well I hope that’s not it,” he said, “it’s just not good for someone to eat that many biscuits and that much butter Terryl. Let’s hope it’s not reflected in your cholesterol values as well.”

He’s really not much fun now, is he?

“Well you’ll be glad to know I have quit eating all those biscuits,” I announced at this years physical.

“Good!” Glad to see you are making some good food choices and taking a personal interest in your well-being,” he said.  “What caused you make the change?”

“I closed the Southern restaurant,”

“I see, still a good decision,” he said.

“Yes and financially an even better one,” I replied. “That place would have sent me to the poor farm had I kept it open much longer.”

“Or sent you to an early grave if you kept eating all that fried chicken and waffles,” he replied.

IMG_2886

I still think about that fried chicken and those big buttermilk waffles, the red beans and rice, smoky collard greens and…oh…those amazing fried green tomatoes.  I miss Acme Southern Kitchen, and still think it was not only a terrific little place to eat ,but also some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the kitchen. We still sell those Angel Biscuits down at Café 222 on all of our benedict dishes or you can order the Biscuits and Gravy where they are smothered in thick, chunky, pork gravy. We also sell a version of them at Bake Sale Bakery, although we have fancied them up a bit with chunks of ham and chives.

Here’s the recipe if you want to make them at home.  They are a bit more work than a drop biscuit, as they are a yeasted dough, but if you make them the night before, let them proof in the refrigerator overnight, and bake them in the morning, you will no doubt agree that they are indeed heavenly.

IMG_8576

Acme Southern Kitchen’s Angel Biscuits

2 TBS + 2 tsp    Active Dry Yeast

½ Cup               Granulated Sugar

6 TBS               Warm Water (110-115 degrees F)

12 Cups            Self-Rising Flour

2 tsp                 Baking Soda

1 tsp                 Salt

1 Cup                Shortening, room temperature

4 Cups              Buttermilk, room temperature

1 Cup                Butter, room temperature

Butter, softened or melted, for finishing

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk 10 cups of self-rising flour, baking soda, and salt in a large shallow bowl.

Break the shortening and butter into pieces and scatter over the flour.

Work in by rubbing fingers with the fat and flour as if snapping thumb and finger together until the mixture looks like small peas.

Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of one hand.

Stir the yeast mixture into the buttermilk and pour this mixture into the hollow, stirring with a long wooden spoon.

Add flour as needed to make a very damp, shaggy dough.

Flour a clean working surface and turn the dough out onto the flour.

With floured hands, knead the dough by folding in half, pushing out, refolding and turning the dough clockwise until the dough is tender (like a baby’s bottom), about 10 minutes by hand.

Shape and refrigerate.

When ready to use, roll dough out into a 1/3 or ½  inch-thick round.

Fold in half and roll or pat out again until 2/3 to 1 inch thick.

Let dough rest 10 minutes.

Repeat with second half as desired.

For each biscuit, dip a 3-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edges and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter.

Let double at room temperature, about 30 minutes depending on temperature of kitchen.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the biscuits on the middle rack of the oven.

After 5 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back.

Continue baking another 4 to 5 minutes as needed, until a light golden brown.

When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with butter