Welcome to the bright and shiny 2017! We are almost two weeks into the new year, and I notice that I am still writing 2016. Sigh. Even so, I am trying to carry on with my very simple and basic resolutions. I am not giving up yet. I have realized that as the bullet train of time speeds from the station, I am unlikely to eliminate my many character flaws, but at least I can start now to hydrate and walk more every day. Let’s keep it simple, and basic, and reasonable.
2016 was good for walking, I averaged about 5 miles a day. (Not every day. I encourage Mr. Friday to pick up the dog patrol on the weekends.) Now I want to cover a little more ground every day, and maybe pick up the pace. Although I must whine that when Luke is sniffing every blessed blade of grass, it takes forever to cover even two miles.
So, smugly, Luke the wonder dog and I are drinking more water (less Diet Coke, for me; Luke has never cared for it, he smirks) and walking a little bit further on our daily rounds. We are also trying to learn some new kitchen skills: I’d like to successfully master and memorize a few essential recipes: biscuits, bread, spaghetti carbonara, last week’s macaroni and cheese, chocolate ganache. Luke has his essential role down pat – he is the designated observer. He starts off at the edge of the room, and magically inches his way closer, unnoticed, until he is practically handing me spatulas and potholders. I can always count on him to know exactly where I want to step next. His GPS skills are uncanny.
And Luke has his own opinions about food prep. He likes it best when meat is involved, because he has faith in the practical application of Newtonian law regarding the gravitational field: i.e. there is nothing that I can drop that he won’t eat. Friday nights are his favorite, because on Friday nights we make pizza. His pleasure is doubled with the arrival of both pepperoni and grated cheese tumbling off the cutting board, and at his feet, no less.
Luke is a patient dog. He’ll watch even when the pickings are slim. He isn’t too excited about my latest urge to become a practiced and intuitive baker of biscuits. (I want people to say admiringly, behind my back, of course, “She has such a deft hand at biscuits. Light and airy. Deelish!”)
Luke doesn’t appreciate the significance of baking a good biscuit – do we roll or drop? Do we knead? Buttermilk or self-rising flour? Flaky or crumbly? Squares or circles? Brush with butter or milk? Biscuick or scratch? Butter or lard? Luke does like the end result, though. Particularly if bacon or sausages are involved. Just give him a biscuit, damn it.
I tried this recipe last weekend, and for the first time I have baked biscuits with layers. Well, not counting those flaky Pillsbury biscuits in the can that we had been known to serve, on occasion, just once or twice, when we lived with the eating machine known as The Tall One. Now, with this basic biscuit recipe from the New York Times, I can home bake layered biscuits, that are rolled out, and that rise beautifully. I brushed the tops with some melted butter, and scattered a generous handful of Maldon salt over the tops, too. Crunchy. Yumsters. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/5997-basic-biscuits
The Tall One likes this recipe for biscuits. He is a serious eater, so I would listen to him if I were you. It requires more scientific precision than I can muster on a Sunday morning, though. I prefer to think that eventually I will memorize the other recipe so I can whip up a batch of biscuits without needing to look at the recipe. Maybe in 2018.
Flaky Biscuits by Michael Ruhlman
9 ounces flour (a scant 2 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 ounces chilled butter, diced
6 ounces milk
Set a mixing bowl on a scale and pour out the flour. Add the baking powder (pressed through a strainer if it’s pebbly) and salt. Weigh out the butter. Rub and pinch the butter into the flour so that the butter is well distributed and in fragments and small chunks, the largest of which are not bigger than peas. Pour in 6 ounces of milk and combine just until a dough is formed (you will see distinct whole chunks of butter in the dough). Form into a 4-inch-by-6-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Unwrap the dough and dust it with flour. Roll out the dough to about three times its size on a floured counter, board, or plastic wrap, maintaining the rectangular shape. Fold it into thirds and roll it out again (it will be more resistant and springy now). Fold it in thirds again, press it down firmly, wrap it in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour or until thoroughly chilled. Repeat the procedure again. The dough is now ready to be rolled out to 1/2 inch thick and cut, or it can be folded in thirds, refrigerated, and rolled out again one more time for a total of six folds, or turns.
Cut the dough into squares or, if you like, into rounds with a ring cutter or a glass. Bake at 350°F/177°C until done, 20 to 30 minutes.
The Pioneer Woman has a great Buttermilk Biscuit recipe, with self-rising flour and homemade buttermilk, and lots of butter. You need to admire her excesses! Fabulous. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/self-rising-biscuits/
Luke and I are going out to cop another couple of miles to justify all that butter.
“Hope makes a good breakfast. Eat plenty of it.”
― Ian Fleming