Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits

July 6, 2012

So it has been one heck of a week! I know I haven’t published in a bit, but goood Lordy we’ve had some problems around here! It all started last Friday evening with a huge, and rather unexpected storm. It has been very hot and humid around here recently, we’re talking around 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). But that is par for the course in Virginia, in the summer time, much to my dismay. With those sultry temperatures, we will often get thunderstorms springing up in the evening hours. Usually our good weather folks give us a heads up that one may be brewing. Well last Friday night, Mother Nature had quite a surprize in store for us. An incredibly powerful and stealthy storm snuck right up on us and….KAPOW! I’m talking 80 mile per hour winds and a wall of water which just descended instantly on us unsuspecting folks who were simply minding our own business around 11 pm in the evening. Well, Falls Church was devastated, trees down everywhere, trees which took the power wires down along with them. It was bad timing, as if there were ever a good time for mass power outages, but this power outage happened in the midst of a heat wave when the mercury was expected to stay hovering around that 100 degree mark for oh, a week or so. Our power was out from Friday evening through Monday. And we are the lucky ones, as many of my less fortunate neighbours still don’t have power today. Whenever you step outside, which isn’t often if you can help it – remember, 100 degrees of scorching heat envelopes you the moment you cross the door frame – instead of  hearing the peaceful chirping hum of the crickets, you are greeted by the rattling buzz of hundreds of generators, like some sort of  swarm of angry hornets is about to descend. (Hey, after that storm, anything could happen…)

Tree (and wires) down!

Now I had cooked up some delicious, mouth-watering food last friday that I couldn’t wait to share with ya’ll. Specifically  I made crunchy on the outside but moist on the inside Buttermilk Brined Southern Fried Chicken, flaky and fluffy Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits and oh so decadent home-made Bourbon ice cream. It was really yummy. Little did we know at the time, but it turned out to be a last meal of sorts before the onslaught. I was going to get pictures of everything the next day as the light wasn’t so good when I actually finished cooking the meal. Well, you know what they say about those best laid plans of mice and men…The next day, this little mouse found herself sweltering in an electricity, cell phone, internet free zone watching all that lovely bourbon ice cream melt and pool in the bottom of her ever warming “freezer”. I saved my hard-earned southern fried chicken though, icing it down in coolers which I hid away in our basement. You see, the basement temperature was much cooler. It only got up to about 86 degrees F down there… (I have mentioned that thing about how I hate to live in Virginia in the summer…right?) Now mind you getting the ice for the cooler was no easy tasks. Every store, gas station, etc. had not had electricity all night. What with our lovely Virginia temperatures which don’t really dip significantly in the overnight hours, that ice was looong gone. So we drove about 30 miles to our friend’s neighbourhood which did not lose their power because they have under ground power lines. Nothing for the trees to pull along with them on their descent. However, all the other folks without power had this same bright idea. We managed to nab the last six bags of ice at one grocery store and thought we were going to have to fight our way out of the parking lot when the other hot, tired and angry ice seeking folks realized the last ice had left the building.

Whew! I hope you can see I’ve had my hands full! I just didn’t have the energy to fry up another mess of chicken again after this ordeal, but it was so yummy I promise I will do so again soon and share with everyone. I did manage to recreate the Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits post power outage and got some pics as well. These are truly phenomenal biscuits and were so easy to make. I have made buttermilk biscuits before, but they were always the kind you rolled out and cut. These are drop biscuits. Much simpler. And they rose up like champs! Mile High is a good description. Light, fluffy, buttery goodness! They were definitely a comfort to us during our recent tribulations. Give them a try today, while you have power. If there is one thing I have learned, you should always be prepared. You never know when Mother Nature will throw her next hissy!

Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits

recipe from: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

yield: 12 biscuits

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cold low-fat buttermilk

For Finishing:

  • 1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour, distributed on a rimmed baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500° F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Also, spray the inside and outside of a 1/4-cup measure with nonstick cooking spray. * I used an ice cream scoop*

To make the dough: Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter evenly over the dry ingredients then pulse 8-10 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Dump the contents of the food processor into a large bowl and add the buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula just until everything is incorporated (the dough will be quite wet and sticky and somewhat lumpy).

To form the biscuits: Using the 1/4 cup measure you sprayed earlier and working quickly, scoop level 1/4 cup mounds of dough and drop them into the flour on the baking sheet. Continue until you’ve scooped all of the dough – you should have 12 mounds of dough. Use some of the flour from the baking sheet to dust the top of each mound. Flour your hands, then, one at a time, pick up each piece of dough (coating with extra flour if necessary so you can work with it) and gently shape it into a rough ball. Shake off the excess flour and place in the prepared cake pan. Repeat with the remaining mounds of dough, fitting 9 biscuits around the outer edge of the pan and 3 in the middle.

Gently brush the top of each biscuit with some of the melted butter (don’t press down and flatten them). Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 450° F and continue baking for another 13-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the biscuits cool for 2 minutes, then invert them onto a clean kitchen towel. Flip the biscuits over and break them apart. Allow to cool 5 minutes longer before serving.

(Note: Store leftovers in a resealable plastic bag and reheat at 475° F for 5-7 minutes.)

Enjoy!


Snowy Morning Steel Cut Oats

March 27, 2011

It’s the end of March. Flowers are bloomin, birds are singing, we’re wearing short sleeves and light jackets, it’s our long-awaited Spring right? Well turns out Spring has not quite sprung. Winter is still holding on. We woke up this morning to find snow on the ground. Are you kiddin me?!! All of the tender new blooms are covered with snow.

Thankfully it wasn’t much more than a dusting. The one good thing I can say about the snowy morning is that it put us in the mood for slow-cooked, steel-cut oatmeal. I like oatmeal year round, but find it absolutely perfect on a cold, snowy morning. While I will do instant oatmeal in a pinch, I prefer the good old-fashioned kind, John McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal to be specific. This oatmeal has a wonderful nutty flavour and is a bit chewier than the rolled oat variety.

How are “steel-cut” oatmeal different from “old-fashioned rolled oats”? Both are from the same whole raw oat, they are just cut differently. The steel-cut oatmeal is the whole raw oat cut into chunks. It takes longer to cook than the rolled oats, which are the whole raw oat which is steamed and then rolled flat. This process results in a quicker cooking time for the rolled oat oatmeal.

Steel-Cut Oats & Rolled Oats

The nutritional value is essentially the same for both types. And speaking of nutritional value, oatmeal is packed full of health benefits. It is low in saturated fat, sodium free and cholesterol free. It is high in soluble fiber which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol as well as slow digestion which aids in weight control. It also helps to stabilize blood glucose level which lowers the risk of type II diabetes. What are you waiting for? You should definitely get started, because it does take some time, about 30 minutes or so, to cook steel-cut oatmeal. You can reduce cooking time a bit by letting the oats soak in water for an hour before or up to the night before you are planning to prepare them. I usually plan to make it on the weekends when I have more time. I make a big pot so that I will have extra little cup size servings of oatmeal that I can simply reheat it in the microwave during the week.

Breakfast for the week

To make steel-cut oats, you sprinkle 1 cup of the oats over four cups of briskly boiling water. Stir well. Once the oatmeal is smooth and beginning to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. At this point I add a pinch of salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Once its done, you can top it with whatever you like. We generally go for bananas, apples, and fresh strawberries, a little butter, and chopped pecans or walnuts. We would have put some of our scrumptious Pear & Rosemary Conserve on it, from my previous post, but we had eaten it all! I know lots of folks like to add a splash of cream, chocolate chips or maple syrup. Really that’s what so fun about it, you can customize it however you want. It’s both yummy and good for you. Get some today!


Talking about the weather…

January 27, 2011

So what the heck happened yesterday?!! I know, I know. It was snow. Being on the edge of the south around here, we tend to freak-out when it snows. However, you’d think we’d be a bit more seasoned after last years series of  “snowpocalypses”. Not to mention, we’ve had a few little snows already this year, to get us in gear for a bigger snow event.

Squirrel Toes

Squirrel Toes

Icy flower bud

However, I don’t think anything could of prepared us for the chaos of last night! It was so bad, and people were so traumatized that no one has even coined a cute snowmageddon-like name for this snow storm. Its not like the weather forecasters weren’t telling us it was coming-well….they started mentioning on tuesday evening that wednesday could see be a bit more snow than they had previously thought. I guess we were all skeptical. Around 3 p.m. when the rain changed over to sleet, quickly followed by HEAVY snow, wind and believe it or not, thunder and lightening, it was already too late for many commuters. Luckily Jay works from home and I was working all of 3 minutes away from our house yesterday. We were completely unscathed. However, I’ve heard HORROR stories from others. Like my friend John who left work at Georgetown at 5 pm only to find he had travelled all of 2 blocks and hour later. In desperation, he ditched his car a proceeded to walk home for the next hour and 40 minutes. He didn’t even feel so bad about his personal experience when he heard that his coworker who had left town 1 hour prior to his departure-4 pm- did not arrive at her Springfield home- a mere 13 miles away- until 5 a.m. thursday morning. Really?!! A 13 hour commute?!!! Complete nightmare! At first, Jay, Gimlet and I were blissfully unaware of the chaos unfolding around us. Sure the snow was heavy, but quite pretty and the lightening and thunder bizarre, but also exciting. We were having fun running around outside.

Gimlet runs circles around

That is til the heavy wet snow started bringing down trees and branches all around us. A horrible sound to hear. Then we noticed that the lightening was accompanied by the flashes given off by electric wires coming down and transformers blowing.  While we were standing there a rather large branch from one of our trees crashed down onto the road next to our house, blocking it so that only one car can squeeze by.

Offending Branch

Thats when we took a look at the local news and saw what an absolute mess it was out there-traffic nightmares, power outages etc. Amazing how we take all those little things like passable roadways and electricity for granted. Bit of a wake-up call.

Gimlet Reflections


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