Biscuit Bitch

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

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

QUICHE: The Next Big Thing… Again?jan2016-quiche

Sometimes it is called an Egg Tart, or a Galette by the fancier folk, but anytime an eggy, creamy custard filling is poured into a pastry crust and baked will always be quiche to me. Quiche was big in the ‘70s. My mother served it to her girlfriends at her monthly ladies brunches, quiche was on the lunch menu at some of your more chichi restaurants, and it evidently was the dish that defined who real men were.

Though I have always loved quiche, galettes and tartlettes (or whatever they’re calling them these days) and never felt they fell out of fashion, it did take a bad rap for a while when all the “farm to table” excitement started stirring.

Well quiche is back and bigger (and better) than ever. It is once again making its way onto the menus at our local restaurants, and it has shown up on the cover of some of our top food magazines looking all updated and dapper.

And, boy, am I happy about it.

When I opened the bakery, one of our wholesale accounts requested “Little savory hand pies” for one of their lunch items and I was delighted to oblige. We have them in the case at Bake Sale where they sell well in the morning for a quick breakfast on the run and they are equally popular at lunch where we pair them with a little green salad.

I was recently asked for the recipe by David Nelson from San Diego Home & Garden magazine so he could print it for a New Year’s brunch piece he was writing. I scaled down the recipe for home use to share it with you here:

This little savory hand pie is favorite down at Bake Sale Bakery as we have many who stop in to have one for breakfast each morning on their way to work. I like to serve this in the evening alongside a salad for a nice light supper and it works beautifully on a buffet table for entertaining.

This would be a great New Year’s Eve dish as it pairs well with champagne and it would be equally delicious on the New Year’s Day breakfast table along with some fruit.

Here is the recipe for our Easy As “Pie Dough.” This is enough dough to make 5-6 small cupcake pan-sized hand pies.

Black Forest Ham, Leek and Gruyere Mini Quiche

METHOD:
*cut butter and shortening into small cubes and put in freezer
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor
2. Sprinkle butter and shortening over the dry ingredients and toss to coat
Pulse until the fat is pea sized, but not smaller.
3. Dump the dry/fat mixture into a bowl and add water a few TBSPs at a time. Use a fork to toss the mixture and evenly distribute the liquid. Continue to add water until the dough, while still shaggy but holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.
4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly. Let disk cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours but up to two days.
5. When ready, roll the dough out to fit the size of your pie tin, making sure it is large enough to come up an inch to an inch and a half on the sides. WORK QUICKLY IN A COOL ROOM SO THE DOUGH DOES NOT BECOME WARM.
6. Line with foil. Fill the tin with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown.* Remove the foil and weights and bake a few minutes longer to assure the bottom bakes. Be sure and blind bake the little shells long enough to get them baked through but not browned before adding the fillings and custard.

FILLING

2 TBS Butter
2 Leeks White and Green Part (only tender part) chopped.
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2/3 tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Nutmeg
1 Cup Grated Gruyere Cheese (or Swiss if preferred)
1 Cup Diced Black Forest Ham
4 Large Eggs

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and cook leeks until they soften. Remove from the heat and let cool.

TO MAKE THE CUSTARD

Whisk the cream and milk, eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.

Divide the leeks and ham evenly in each in mini quiche and top with cheese. Pour the custard over the top of each filling at least a quarter of an inch lower than your crust.

Place in a 400-degree oven and bake for approx. 25-30 minutes until center is set. You can test this by wiggling the quiche, or doing the toothpick test you do for cakes.

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. These are delicious at room temperature and even chilled.

Pumpkin Pie Throwdown

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Last week I was invited to participate in an on-air Pumpkin Pie Bobby Flay-style “throwdown” with two television personalities from San Diego 6 News, our local CW affiliate here in San Diego. The challenge came about after I had appeared a month earlier with my peanut butter cookie recipe and a friendly peanut butter cookie competition between myself and meteorologist Jacqueline Bennett broke out. (A duel in which I prevailed, by the way, but that story is for another post.)

My competition for this contest was, once again, Jacqueline Bennett, who presented her version of pumpkin pie using condensed milk as the sweetener, as well as the morning news anchor Heather Myers, who prepared a gluten free pie with candied pecans. I prepared a pie from our Bake Sale Bakery recipe, which calls for eggs, heavy cream and milk to make the custard.

I arrived at the studio at an ungodly early hour with all the ingredients to make my filling, a parbaked crust (for the on-air demo), and a completed pie I had baked the night previous for the big taste test.

While most pumpkin pie recipes are very similar, and for the most part all are delicious, the Bakery recipe has one rather special ingredient: real maple syrup, which truly is a flavor changer and is the reason I believe that my pie won the competition. (Notice how I casually mentioned that?)

At Bake Sale we like the butter/vegetable shortening combination for the crust, because all that butter makes it taste great, plus a little bit of Crisco makes it extra flaky.

Here is a variation of our recipe at the bakery:

*Note, I use canned pumpkin, I have found it is the most consistent and produces a nicely flavored pie. Roasting a pumpkin is fine if you want to go to all the work… but in my opinion, leave that for the all the Pilgrims out there!

This recipe makes enough dough and filling for one single-crusted pie.

Bake Sale Bakery Pie Dough

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
3 tablespoons cold Crisco cut into cubes
5-7 tablespoons cold water

METHOD:
*cut butter and shortening into small cubes and put in freezer.
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Sprinkle butter and shortening over the dry ingredients and toss to coat.
Pulse until the dry mixture pea sized but not smaller.
3. Place the dry/fat mixture into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time. Use a fork to toss the mixture and evenly distribute the liquid. Continue to add water until the dough, while still shaggy, holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.
4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly, let disk cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours but no more than two days.
5. When ready, roll the dough out to fit the size of your pie tin making sure it is large enough to hang over the edge.
6. Crimp edges as you like and then line with foil. Fill the tin with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake at 375 until light golden brown. Remove the foil and weights and bake a few minutes longer to assure the bottom bakes.
The key to making flaky pie crust is to have all your ingredients very cold and work as quickly as you can so that the butter doesn’t start to melt until it hits the heat of the oven and puffs up from the steam.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups canned pumpkin
¾ cup cream
½ cup milk
2 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Method:
1. Combine cream, vanilla, milk, eggs, yolks and sugars.
2. Add pumpkin and spices and mix well with whisk.
3. Pour into warm parbaked pie shell.
4. Bake at 325 degrees until just set (about 45 minutes).
5. Center will wiggle slightly, but top should not be wet.
6. Let cool at room temp, then refrigerate overnight.
7. Serve with fresh whipped cream spiced with grated nutmeg.

Love, Work & Mayo

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Freud famously said that all one needs for true happiness is love and work. I would wholeheartedly agree with him with one simple addition: mayonnaise.

Sounds shallow at first I’m sure, but think about it, love… love of family, love of friends and of course, the ever-elusive romantic love… for sure love is needed for true happiness. Work… meaningful work, leaves us fulfilled and gives us a sense of purpose. It is indeed an essential factor for happiness.

Love, blissful work, and a shiny dollop of creamy, white mayonnaise is all I need to be happy. I know… very white bread of me.

I was raised in a big family of added-fat lovers, butter and mayonnaise being at the top of the list. As a matter of custom, each night my grandmother would place a stack of freshly baked white bread and a crock of room temperature butter at the head of the dinner table. The bread sat to the left of my grandfather, who slathered it with butter and took alternating bites of roast with gravy and buttered bread. This is a man who would line a cookie sheet with that same white bread and place it under the broiler pan when grandma broiled steaks. He would take the fat-soaked bread to the table and have it as a side dish. And this is also a man who lived a long and active life to the age of ninety-two.

Well, the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I roast a chicken, and don’t have plans for pan gravy, I always sit my trussed bird on a couple heels of bread in the bottom of my Dutch oven. The bird is stuffed with onions and garlic and lacquered in butter, salt and pepper. Once the bird is roasted and removed, the bread becomes a chewy, crispy salty, fatty crouton floating atop the chicken soup I am going to make the next day…if…it makes it that long, that is!