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Category Archives: biscuits

Corn Chowder and Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

chowder

Where I live, it is very, very cold. There are icicles on the trees, cars must be started at least 10 minutes before one actually wishes to make the first foray of the day, and everyone has boots with tread, a shovel, and backup pair of gloves. This morning, sidewalks and streets were covered with a sheet of ice, and we semi-seriously contemplated getting to church by sliding down the hill from our house. (Not that my life is all that Norma Rockwell-ian, but we actually do live at the top of a hill, and our church is more or less at the foot of said hill).

On a Sunday night when it’s been gray and cold forever, and the promise of the holidays is gone along with the first, unsullied snow, dinner needs to provide more than fuel. Demoralized persons (particularly those returning to school tomorrow after a blissful vacation) require something to lift the spirits in a way that cannot be accomplished with meatloaf or macaroni. Saving the demoralized requires something a little more interesting, a little more labor-intensive, and definitely farther outside the box.

Tonight, therefore, I used two of my Christmas gift cookbooks and made Corn Chowder and Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits. The Corn Chowder recipe, quite different from my standard chowder-making routine, is from a strange and wonderful book called Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, about which more later. The Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits are from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.

Cook this stuff. I suppose that if you are languishing in tropical heat somewhere you may not want chowder and biscuits, but no matter where you find yourself physically, if it’s wintery in your soul, this meal will make you strong enough to live another day and like it.

Corn Chowder

(from Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin and Carolynn Carreno)

Ingredients

  1. 6 slices bacon
  2. 1 baked potato, cut into 3/8 inch cubes
  3. 1/4 cup clarified butter, regular butter or ghee
  4. 2 cups froze corn
  5. 1 big yellow Spanish onion, finely chopped
  6. 2 carrots, finely chopped
  7. 3 tablespoons masarepa (Hispanic cooked cornmeal) or cornmeal
  8. A pinch of Pumpkin pie spice
  9. 3 cups chicken stock or any stock or broth
  10. 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  11. 3/4 cup heavy cream
  12. 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
  13. salt and pepper

Cook the bacon until very crisp in a heavy saute pan over very high heat. Remove the bacon from the pan. Add the potato cubes to the rendered fat and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are very crisp and brown on all sides.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan (I used my soup pot) over high heat. Add the corn, onion, carrots and (if you like) other vegetables like arugula, spinach or green beans. Cook on high heat for about 1 minute, but don’t let anything burn. Add the cornmeal and pumpkin pie spice and stir. Add the stock, cheddar cheese and cream and bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce thge heat to low and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan, potato and bacon. Don’t stir too much or wait too long to serve thge soup so that the bacon and potatoes will stay crisp. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.

buttermilk-cheese-biscuits1

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

(from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten)

Ingredients

  1. All-purpose flour
  2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  4. 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced
  5. 1/2 cold buttermilk, shaken
  6. 1 cold extra-large egg
  7. 1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
  8. 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small glass measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. in a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with a small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly, about 6 times. (It’s normal that it will not stick together at first). Roll the dough out to a rectangle 5 x 10 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half, and across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I just used my silicone pan liners). Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 8 in theory, but 4 in reality.

Anyone Can Bake, Too

Yesterday, I posted my list of pantry and refrigerator staples, and some simple meals that could be made using mainly those ingredients. I have a separate list of ingredients that should be kept in the house for baking, which overlaps the list of basic staples a tiny bit. If you have all of these things, you will be able to bake (from scratch) a variety of things including cookies, brownies, cakes, pancakes and biscuits. Here’s what you need:

  1. Butter (on regular staples list)
  2. Eggs (on regular staples list)
  3. White Sugar (on regular staples list)
  4. Brown Sugar
  5. All-Purpose Flour
  6. Self-Rising Flour (This is really just flour with some baking powder in it, but its convenient for scratch-cooking in a hurry)
  7. Baking Soda
  8. Baking Powder
  9. Quick Oats (not the kind in tiny packets; the kind in the cardboard canister)
  10. Vanilla Extract
  11. Cinnamon
  12. Cocoa Powder
  13. Chocolate Chips and/or baking chocolate
  14. Peanut Butter
  15. Cooking Oil (I use Canola)

Here are six things you can make with just these ingredients; the additional items you would need to buy are in green:

Quick Biscuits

If you buy a pint of heavy cream, you can make these biscuits, which are tender and fluffy and impressive.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I use the recipe from the “Toll House” package, and its a great place to start, especially since you will have every single ingredient you need. (Unless you want nuts in your cookies, in which case you’ll need to buy yourself some nuts).

Pancakes

(Adapted from the Martha White Self-Rising Flour Package)

  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  4. 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  5. Blueberries, bananas, strawberries, chocolate chips, or other exotic flourishes (optional)

In medium bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and oil or butter, and mix well with a whisk or fork. Add all remaining ingredients (except fruit and chocolate chips) and stir just until large lumps disappear. (You really want to avoid over-beating or you’ll have tough pancakes. The little lumps are desirable).

Heat griddle or large skillet to medium-high heat. Grease lightly with oil. (I use cooking spray, my husband uses butter, Canola is fine, too). Griddle is ready when small drops of of water sizzle and disappear almost immediately.

For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. If you are adding fruit or chocolate chips, this is the time to sprinkle them lightly over the surface of the pancakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, or until air bubbles begin to break on surface. Turn, and cook 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.

“Before Cookies”

You can now make these, although you may not have quite as many additions as you will after you’ve been baking for a while. For now, you can just add some of your chocolate chips or some chunks of your baking chocolate.

Brownies

I use a standard one-bowl brownie recipe like this one, although I try to use the best chocolate I can find (I like both Valrhona and Scharffen Barger). Sometimes, though, I just use regular old Baker’s or Nestle’s and the brownies are perfectly delicious.

No-Bake Cookies

Okay; this is kind of cheating because, well, they’re “no-bakes,” but they belong in this general category of food, and now you have everything necessary to make them if you buy some milk. (And yes, the skim you already have in the refrigerator is perfectly fine for this). The recipe is here.

You can, of course, bake all kinds of other things using mainly these ingredients, but this is a start. You can dazzle those nearest and dearest to you by whipping up a batch of hot biscuits to go with soup, you can get up early on Sunday morning and make everybody love you (even more) by making pancakes, or you can take care of a major chocolate jones without leaving home.

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