Tuesday, April 6, 2010


There are times in life when I am demanding.  Specifically, they are Saturday and Sunday mornings when Russ sleeps in late and I am hungry and  we are in need of a trip to the grocery store and there is no milk left for cereal.  Generally I pout on the couch, trying to ignore the roaring rumble in my stomach until Russ wakes up and makes something genius out of the scraps left from the week's shopping.

I'm not proud of this.  So, recently I decided to do something for the betterment of both myself and Russ's state of weekend well-being: I made breakfast.  Biscuits to be exact.  I'd been eyeing a recipe in Alice Water's new cookbook, In the Green Kitchen, for true, southern style buttermilk biscuits.  The book, which highlights staple cooking techniques taught by well seasoned masters, boasted one photo of baking soda leavened biscuits too beautiful to ignore. 

So ignore it I did not.  I woke up early.  Tip toeing around the kitchen, defly pulling out mixing bowls and baking sheets, I had grand plans.  I'd time the biscuits to be browning in the oven just as Russ would start to wake up...the scent of the baking buns tickling his nose and making him fall in love with me all over again.  He'd wake up and ask, "are you baking something," and just at that moment the timer would ding and I'd pull out a tray of fluffy, buttery, breakfast.  It was my turn for genius.

I pulled out the flour.  I cut cold pieces of butter.  I pulled out the salt, the sugar and the...  Oh shoot.  No baking powder!!  Major roadblock! I panic.  I fret.  I feel a familiar Saturday morning grumble and pout spreading across my face.  But I am determined.  I flip madly through the pages of the cookbook and discover, a ha!  Of course!  Right there in fact on the very page I was reading...I can make my own baking powder!

Homemade recipe #1:  Baking powder
1 part baking soda
2 parts cream of tartar

Refreshed, renewed, I press on.  I rub the butter into the flour.  I pull out the...  Oh shoot shoot shoot.  No buttermilk!!  I remember that we are due for that weekend grocery store trip and I grumble a Charlie Brown grumble, envisioning and dark, angry curly cue swirling around over my head in frustration.  Back to the books.  Homemade buttermilk?  Impossible.  But...wait...Yes! Possible.

Homemade recipe #2: Buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

The mixture looked strange and curdled, but then that is exactly as it should be, and having made it through the recipe with everything else in stock, I can attest, it makes things taste as they should taste as well.

After lightly kneading, gently rolling and carefully cutting, I added one extra homemade touch I love to find an occasion for.  A light sprinkle of vanilla sugar, made simply from storing leftover scraped vanilla bean pods in an airtight jar of granulated sugar, gives simple sweets that little kick of...mmm, this is tasty indeed.

And well, they were.  No I did not prepare like a chef.  No, the biscuits didn't wake Russ from his sleep but they reheated well, and frankly, would be quite delicious at any temperature.  And I'm pretty sure he still loves me.  I mean, I made breakfast.  Homemade.  From scratch.

Homemade recipe #3
Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from a recipe in Alice Water's beautiful new cookbook, "In the Green Kitchen"

 2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
approximately 1 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons sugar
Cream to brush the tops
Vanilla sugar to sprinkle

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
3.  Rub half of the butter into the mixture until it's crumbly.  With the other half, press each piece into flat discs and toss in flour.
4.  Make a well and pour the buttermilk into the mixture.
5.  Stir just until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated with the milk.
6.  On a well floured surface, knead the dough gently, only a few times, until the dough comes together.
7.  Roll dough out to about a 1/2 inch thickness.  Pierce the dough through the the tip of a fork, across the rolled out area.
8.  Use a circle cutter, 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide, and press straight down, not turning, to cut biscuits.
9.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown.
10.  Hot out of the oven, brush tops lightly with cream and sprinkle again with sugar.

Yield:  approximately 12 biscuits, plus scraps for snacks!!  (re rolling scraps is not advised as kneading the dough again will make them tough and not nearly as delicious)


Anonymous said...

Mmm...biscuits...it's cute that you make breakfast from scratch for your imaginary boyfriend ;)

Russ said...

I'm not imaginary... There's pictures of me and everything (you can see me making whiskey, and frying softshell crabs)

Kimara@weefolkart said...

Thanks for the smile and the yummy recipe. I had to laugh... well, I suppose I really snickered... when I juxtaposition your "planned" morning and your "reality" morning. Life is literally littered with those discrepancies... but it makes things interesting. (My personal favorite is the night we brought our first born home from the hospital!) Anyway, I can't imagine Russ was anything but thrilled to have homemade biscuits... even ones an hour (or two or three) old!

Danger Kitten said...

I love biscuits, and these look delicious! Thanks for the recipe--I didn't realize Alice Waters had a new book out. I can't wait to get it!