Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Biscuits and Beans

As I mentioned earlier, based on a recommendation from Maia and inspiration from Heidi and their website, I ordered some beans from Rancho Gordo the other day. They arrived today, along with a bottle of hot sauce, and a package of canela (cinnamon sticks.)
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I have to admit, I was compelled to order the beans in large part because they look so cool, but I really have no idea what to do with them. I love the idea of eating more non-meat forms of protein and getting more fiber and whole foods in my diet, but I wasn't raised in a bean eating family, unless we're talking about pork and beans, or those icky three bean salads made from canned wax and kidney beans. (I still can't get over the fact that you just open the cans and dump it in the bowl. Ick!!) Needless to say, I turned up my nose at those things, even going so far as to pick the beans out of my chili when I was a kid.
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I need a little help, people. If these were your beans, what would you do with them?

I have heirloom Good Mother Stallard, (what a great name!) Cannellini, Borlotti and Marrow beans.

Speaking of great names, I am at the section in Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, where she talks about the names for all of the heirloom varieties of vegetables you can buy. It's making me really excited to seek out some unique and unusual varieties when I plant the garden next year. (I'm going to need a lot of boxes to grow all that I have in mind!)
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I'm just trying new things all over the place. I've made scones a million times, and shortbread for strawberries as well, but I had never set out to make big fluffy biscuits from scratch, until this week when I decided to give them a try for my supper club meeting tonight.

I actually had a false start on my first effort, following the recipe from Joy of Cooking. (You know there's a serious disconnect when one recipe that calls for three cups of flour makes a dozen biscuits, and another that uses only two cups claims to make twenty!) What I wound up with was something more akin to a cracker. They were crisp and flaky but slightly flat, and tasted sort of like like buttery saltines. I actually think they would make great canapes, baked in small squares, split and filled with cheese or salty ham. We ate them with some fig jam and bleu cheese as an accompaniment to oven fried chicken and a green salad.

This morning I got up a little early to do a re-do on the biscuits, so that I would have something to take to the supper club this evening as promised. I needed a new recipe, and I remembered seeing a promising-sounding biscuit recipe on the adorably funny blog Smitten Kitchen recently. Sure enough there it was, lurking among a number of delicious-sounding brunch recipes. I didn't use the chives because I knew I wanted to be able to drizzle the biscuits with honey and/or slather them with jam, and I didn't have any buttermilk on hand so I was forced to substitute some yogurt, which worked just dandy. I was very pleased with the way these came out. They were fluffy, flaky, light and delicious - in short, everything a biscuit should be. Here's the recipe, as I adapted it.
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Fluffy, Flaky Biscuits
adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who in turn adapted her recipe from Dot's Diner in Boulder, CO

3 cups Organic All Purpose Flour, sifted
1 Tablespoon of sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) chilled unsalted organic butter, cut in 1/2 inch slices
3/4 cup organic plain lowfat yogurt (I used Trader Joes Organic)
1/4 cup organic whole milk, plus a little more as needed.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda with a whisk. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, with pieces no larger than a pea.

Combine the yogurt and milk in a measuring cup, and pour all at once into the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon just until it comes together, adding a little more milk if necessary. Knead against the side of the bowl five or six times, and turn out onto a floured marble or stone surface. Roll out to 3/4 of an inch thick, forming a large square. Cut into 9 even pieces with a sharp knife. Flip the squares over, dust off any excess flour, and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until the tops are lightly browned, about fifteen minutes. Serve warm with softened butter and a drizzle of honey.

To reheat room temperature biscuits, place in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. These would also freeze very well!