BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


19 Comments

Not-So-Southern Biscuits

Biscuits remain something of an edible enigma to me, defying definition; as elusive as the fleeting aroma released from the oven as they spring forth, from raw dough to fluffy golden cakes. Growing up far from the southern border, I can’t claim any “authenticity” in my own attempts at biscuit fabrication, but there’s no way I’d let a lack of experience stop me from treading forth into such savory waters. I may not know exactly when to serve them, what to top them with, or how to pair them with your average meal, but if I have to build my entire menu around this simple side dish, so be it. Through trial and a whole lot of error, I’ve found my perfectly nontraditional biscuit formula that’s worth all the fuss.

Crisp, with a crackling amber-brown crust on the outside, but tender and soft on the inside, these coarse little breads bear far more flavor than your average wheat flour rolls. A harmonious marriage of cornbread and scone, these particular quick breads burst with the summery essence of corn, all bundled into a tidy handheld package. Enriched with the exotic taste of coconut milk, there’s a certain depth and buttery flavor to the crumb that no stick of congealed dairy products could ever hope to impart. They may have been inspired by the typical cream biscuit construction, hailing from the northernmost reaches of the country in Maine, but the end results transcend all boundaries. Something about the bright corn flavor makes me think of summer and backyard cookouts, although they would make just as fetching accompaniments to a cozy winter stew.

There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy these unconventional biscuits- The only key is that you enjoy them as soon as you can. Hot out of the oven, still steaming when you split them in half, and with a modest pat of buttery spread melting into every nook and cranny, the experience is of pure, freshly baked bliss.

Cornbread Coconut Biscuits

1 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup Medium-Grind Yellow Cornmeal
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
6 Tablespoons Vegan Margarine, Chilled
1 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk, Plus More to Finish

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with either a piece of parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper until thoroughly blended. Cut the cold margarine into 1/2-inch pieces before tossing them in as well, mixing to coat with the dry goods. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the margarine in, stirring and mashing so that you achieve a coarse, crumbly consistency. You don’t want the margarine to become completely incorporated, but there should be no pieces remaining that are any larger than petite peas.

Shake the coconut milk well before opening to ensure that it’s properly mixed. Pour it into the bowl and stir with a wide spatula, just until the mixture comes together. Never mind an errant lump or two; they’ll bake out just fine!

Once you have a slightly shaggy, sticky dough, transfer it to a well-floured surface and pat it into a rough rectangle about 1-inch thick. Take a very sharp knife and cut it in half lengthwise, and then into either thirds or fourths crosswise, depending on how large you want your biscuits. This will result in 6 or 8 neat little squares. Gently transfer the cut biscuits to your prepared sheet pan, reshaping slightly if necessary, and brush the tops lightly with additional coconut milk to promote browning.

Bake for 18 – 22 minutes until golden brown all over. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before digging in. To save the biscuits for later, let cool completely and store in an air-tight container at room temperature. The finished biscuits will keep for up to 4 days.

Makes 6 – 8 Biscuits

Printable Recipe


22 Comments

Save Strummer!

The news landed in my inbox like a bombshell detonating upon impact. Cancer, that most insidious yet omnipresent disease, had struck again, wrapping its sickly fingers around yet another loved one. It’s one of the realities that I fear most, in my heart of hearts, so deeply that even saying the word feels like a punch in the face. I have experienced its destructive wake firsthand, losing someone so kind and compassionate that it seemed like the most perverse twist of fate. Let’s be honest, it still does, and it still stings bitterly. It still reams me out every time I think about it.

Hearing that this horrendous illness has touched another loved one, no rhyme or reason to its cruel selection, is difficult to process. Especially when that person is actually a dog; the smallest dog I’ve ever known or loved. Strummer, the endlessly loving pup cared for by Melisser, has the uncanny ability to connect with everyone she meets. It’s impossible to understand how such a terrible hand could be dealt to this gentle soul.

But cancer is not a death sentence, and I’ll be damned if the whole world isn’t fighting alongside this tiny pup. Small but mighty, she has the heart of a lion, handling treatment with grace thus far. To help pay for medical bills, Melisser has put out a call for assistance, offering up prizes as a thank you for contributing, although I get the sense that the prizes aren’t even a consideration for most donations. Stunningly, the goal of $3,000 was clobbered within 48 hours of opening up the fundraiser, and still the love and support continues to pour in. Any additional funds will be sent to an animal sanctuary, so there’s still a reason for kicking in a few dollars if you can.

Up for offer as one of the raffle prizes will be my Green Goodies. Wholesome dog treats for sharing with your own beloved pup, they’re made with power-packed spinach and green pea flour, among other more humble superfood ingredients.

We’re all rooting for you, Strummer! For those who can’t donate or don’t win these treats, the recipe is as follows. It’s worth the investment in time to share with the pup you love.

Green Goodies (Dog Biscuits)

1/2 Cup Fresh Spinach, Packed
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter or Tahini
2 3/4 Cups Green Pea Flour
2 Tablespoons Whole Flaxseeds, Ground
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silpat.

Place the spinach and 1/3 cup of water in your blender. Blend on high until thoroughly pureed and as smooth as possible. Add in the applesauce, peanut butter or tahini, and pulse to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, mix together the green pea flour, ground flaxseeds, and parsley. Once all the dry goods are well distributed, pour the wet mixture into the bowl. Use a wide spatula to combine, and switch to mixing with your hands when the dough becomes too thick to stir. The resulting dough should be very stiff, but if you can’t fully incorporate all the dry ingredients, add the remaining water while stirring, one tablespoon at a time.

Sprinkle a generous coating of pea flour over a clean surface and pat out the dough to about 1/2 inch in thickness. Use small cookie cutters (approximately 1 inch wide in any shape you desire) to cut out the biscuits. If the dough is too sticky to manage, dip the cookie cutters in pea flour first, and then reshape the biscuits after removing. Transfer the shapes on your prepared baking sheet, placing them close together as the treats will not spread or rise. Repeat until all the dough has been cut into treats.

Bake for 28 – 32 minutes, until golden brown and dry to the touch. Let cool completely before storing in an air-tight container or sharing with your furry friend.

Makes 3 – 4 Dozen Small Biscuits

Printable Recipe


35 Comments

Biscuit Eater

Biscuit-making and -eating is not in my heritage; I can’t recall having these savory, flaky quick breads on my dinner table even once throughout my childhood. It’s a shame, really, because they’re such a tasty and effortless side that perfectly compliments almost any meal. Traditional or “authentic” southern biscuits may be beyond the scope of my abilities, but I do know that I like mine tall, tender, and fluffy, with more flavor than just plain flour can bring to the table. Fresh herbs and a healthy handful of vegetables liven up this simple staple, making it ideal for serving with soups, smothered in gravy, or just eaten solo.

Garden Herb Biscuits

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Chives
1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
4 Ounces (1/2 Package) Vegan “Cream Cheese”
1 Cup Finely Grated Carrot or Zucchini (or a Mix of Both)
3/4 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

Additional Melted Non-Dairy Margarine (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat or piece of parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Make sure the greenery is well distributed throughout the dry mixture. Cut the margarine and “cream cheese” into tablespoon-sized pieces before adding them in next, and use a fork or pastry cutter to further incorporate the two. Once you achieve a coarse consistency where there are no chunks of fat remaining that are any larger than peas, toss in the carrot and/or zucchini shreds. Finally stir in both the non-dairy milk and vinegar at once, and mix with a wide spatula just until the thick batter comes together. If you’re into the old-fashion way of doing it, you can also mix by hand, of course.

On a very lightly floured surface, pat out the dough to about 1 – 1 1/2 inches tall. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits, and space them out equally across your prepared baking sheet. Gather up any scrapes, pat back into shape, and cut again, until the dough is all used up. You should get 6 – 8 tall biscuits out of the mix.

If desired, brush a small amount of melted margarine across the tops of the biscuits for an extra buttery flavor, and then pop them into the oven. Bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until golden brown all over. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before eating, just so that you don’t burn your mouth!

Makes 6 – 8 Tall Biscuits

Printable Recipe

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,146 other followers