Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Perfect Biscuit

In the spirit of thanksgiving, before I begin my blog, I want to acknowledge and thank every man and woman who serves in our millitary and every WWII veteran for their sacrificial love of God, home and country in remembrance of December 7, 1941, a day which will live in infamy.....Thank you, all.

The Perfect Biscuit

      I love biscuits. I love to make biscuits. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you I have long been in pursuit of making that perfect biscuit. Along the trails of tennessee you'll find biscuit recipes in books, magazines, online, included as part of  King Arthur, Martha White and White Lilly (all southern soft winter wheat flours) flour bags, etc. Yet, isn't the very concept of "the perfect biscuit" an oxymoron? You say "potato" and I say, "potahto?" We all have our individual tastes (if you'll pardon the pun.)

Webster's Dictionary defines "perfect"  as: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. Yes! This is what I've been looking for in a biscuit! Yet, I discovered the answer to making the perfect biscuit lies where it does in any art form, be it cooking, baking, writing, and learning a musical instrument. Remember the reply to the musician who asked, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer was simple, but not easy. The answer was - and is -'practice, man, practice!' So, you'll find the perfect biscuit... not in a recipe (although a 'tried and true' recipe helps.) You'll find the perfect biscuit by actually making biscuits. Like life, it's a process.

I have been too busy to blog regularly. One of the reasons is that I've been 'doing' instead of 'being.' With Thanksgiving a pleasant memory and Christmas a much anticipated celebration, I do want to post a delicious recipe for Salt-And-Pepper Biscuits included in my Thanksgiving Day Menu. This menu yielded some of the most delicious dishes we've experienced - including some Salt-And-Pepper Biscuits!:

Our Thanksgiving Menu
Roasted Turkey with gravy
Classic Dressing
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans Almandine
Salt-And-Pepper Biscuits
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Blackberry Lovers Biscuit Cobbler
Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie
Salt-And-Pepper Biscuits

      I am a long-time proponent of healthy ingredients; in what I eat and with what I put in my food.  Aside from our occasional "date-night" search for a fun, new restaurant (and Nashville has plenty of these!), my husband, Bruce, and I much prefer dining at home to dining out. This way we know what's in our food...namely, no lard in our biscuits, or hydrogenated ingredients in our food. In short, I would rather pay the farmer than the doctor.
      I started cooking the Monday before Thanksgiving Day but made the biscuits "the day of" because I was trying a new recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine... and planned to tweak the ingredients slightly.
One of Bon Appetit's ingredients in this biscuit recipe calls for all-purpose flour. After much "biscuit-making trial and error," having already given up on all-purpose flour with its varying measurements of baking powder and baking soda, I choose King Arthur's Self-Rising Flour. King Arthur Flour is a trusted name, a good, healthy product...and it works! I found sour cream an interesting approach in making "the perfect biscuit."
Salt-And-Pepper Biscuits
3/4 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp. heavy cream, divided
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp.sugar
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups King Arthur's Self-Rising Flour
6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk sour cream and 3 Tbsp. heavy cream in small a bowl. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, sugar and butter and, with finger-tips, combine butter until it's resembles the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Using a spoon, mix sour cream mixture into the flour, then gently manipulate (knead lightly) a few times until a shaggy dough comes together. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until about 3/4 inch thick. Using a 2 inch cutter, cut out the biscuits. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with remaining 1 Tbsp of heavy cream; sprinkle tops with more kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve. Slather with butter, or, I use Earth Balance, an organic buttery spread made from plants.

*These biscuits were tender on the inside and just short of crunchy on the outside. The kosher saltiness made them interesting - along with the tang of coarse black pepper. I must admit, though, I like my biscuits with a little more " rise." Wish I had taken a picture...

                                                                             Happy Baking!