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Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Knead, No Roll, No Cut Biscuits ~ A Recipe For Those Who Think They Can't Make Biscuits

I made my first pan of biscuits when I was 9 years old. If there had been enough of them, all I would have needed was the mortar, and I could have built a sturdy house! Having unknowingly used plain flour and no baking powder, I cried when they came from the oven as hard as bricks. I never made that mistake again.

As a Southerner and having been resident chef at every home I ever lived in, since I was a kid, I have striven to make the perfect biscuit. Not those dainty, smattering of jelly, hold with your pinkie in the air, city biscuits. But a biscuit that just screams to be smothered in gravy or stuffed with eggs and sausage. Every time I heard or read a new "secret" I was off to the kitchen to give it a whirl. Aside from that first batch, my biscuits have always been great and get lots of compliments. But I have always felt there had to be an easier way. A way that would allow even the most insecure cook to create a dish to be proud of. I feel so bad when someone tells me that he/she can't cook, and I just don't think it's true. There's more than one way to skin a cat and some folks just need a different way to do things. So I love taking standard recipes and tweaking them to make them easier.

My oldest daughter, who swears she cannot cook, made these biscuits successfully. My 16 year old makes these often and treats her friends at school and they always beg for more. I'm willing to bet, even if you have never made a decent biscuit in your life, these will turn out great for you as well...

No Knead, No Roll, No Cut Biscuits

2 Cups Self Rising Flour + 1 More Cup (Do not put this 3rd cup of flour into the dough!)

1/4 Cup Butter, margarine, shortening, whatever you have on hand. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter works great as well.

1 and 1/4 Cup Milk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare your baking sheet by covering with a sheet of parchment paper or lightly greasing it with butter or shortening. Place the 2 cups of flour into a medium size bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour with a pastry blender, or break up with your hand, ever how you usually do it. Continue till the margarine is the size of peas to marbles and distributed through the flour. Now add 1 Cup of the milk and mix with a spoon. You want a wet dough. A dough that you wouldn't dare stick your hands in. If it doesn't look wet, add the other 1/4 cup of milk.

Now, take that other cup of flour and put it into a small bowl. With an ice cream scoop, dipped in flour to prevent sticking, remove one scoop of dough from the bowl and drop into the little bowl of flour.

Take up some of the flour from beside the dough ball and sprinkle over the top to cover. Now, with a light hand, turn the dough ball in the flour to coat and place it on your baking sheet. As you place it, take your fingers and flatten it with gentle pressure, to make 1/2 to 3/4 inch, we're not making pancakes so don't press out thin. Basically, you'll want it about half as thick as you intend for your finished biscuit to be. Continue until you've used all your dough.This is actually a really fast process, it just seems longer in words. LOL

Put in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown. You'll know when they look like you want them. Brush with butter when you take them out and enjoy! No fancy editing, This pic just turned out beautifully golden, as if on cue. LOL I think it must be the difference in lighting, from my counter to my stove top.

Some added notes...

These are even better made with buttermilk. But you can also use cream or canned milk.

If you don't have an ugly, beaten, battered, 400 year old ice cream scoop like mine, you can use a plastic measuring cup, or whatever. Just sort of shape into a ball as you coat the dough in the flour.

Save the leftover coating flour for your next batch or use it in the gravy.

This recipe makes about 7 cat head sized biscuits. You'll get twice as many if you make regular sized ones. I usually double this recipe and I have a houseful to feed.

If there is a dusting of white flour anywhere on the biscuits after baking, just dust it off and carry on. This is complete normal and doesn't hurt a thing.

I'm like a culinary Evil Knievel. I will take chances. Therefore, If I'm already baking part of the meal, and it's cooking anywhere from 350F to 450F, I will go ahead and put my biscuits in the oven along with it. I just watch them and I have never had them turn out badly.

Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Turkey Pot, Turkey Pot, Turkey Pot Pie!

I made this dish of Turkey Pot Pie, earlier this week, using the same recipe that I posted for Chicken Pot Pie, a few weeks ago. It was yummy and, just as with the chicken version, we had no leftovers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

I thought I'd share a picture of the cinnamon rolls I made on Saturday night. And link to the RECIPE that I used.

I did not follow the recipe exactly. First of all, instead of butter, I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Cooking and Baking Sticks. I have found that this blend tends to add a bit more of a salty taste than margarine so, while I left the salt content the same in the bread part of the recipe, I did not add a pinch to the filling, as it called for. I did the first rising of the dough. I did not let the unbaked refrigerate overnight. Nor did I let the unbaked rolls rise again before baking. I baked these in my counter top convection oven. Also, I added a bit more of everything that the icing called for, so I would have extra.

I have to say, even with all the changes I made, these still came out great. Probably the best recipe that I have found so far for cinnamon rolls. I have always wound up with ones that were either like bread with not enough cinnamon flavor, or little dinky cinnamon bricks, the list goes on and on. But, as I said, my luck changed with this recipe and everyone loved them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

I love Chicken Pot Pie! I don't like it fancy. I think it tastes best when it is kept simple. This is the "recipe" that I use. I've never written it down as it is so easy to remember. Whether I make this for family or company, I never have any leftovers to speak of.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken - You can use leftover chicken, deli chicken, or even canned chicken. You'll need enough to cover the bottom of a 9" X 13" baking dish.

1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup

1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 Can of Cream of Celery Soup

Frozen Peas - 1 Cup
If you don't have frozen, it is perfectly OK to use canned peas instead. When I do this, I just go ahead and use the whole can, Be sure to drain them first!

Frozen Carrots - 1 Cup
Again, use canned if you need to.

Cooked Potatoes - 2 of them, cut into cubes. I usually cut a couple into cubes, add water, and boil until fork tender. I will also use leftover baked potatoes sometimes. One could also just microwave a couple of potatoes or used canned. Just don't use raw ones or you'll be waiting forever for them to get done inside the pie!

Self Rising Flour - 1 Cup

Milk - 1 Cup

Margarine or Butter - 1 Stick

Salt and Pepper

Preheat your over to 350 degrees and grease your baking pan or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place your chicken pieces into the pan, spreading around to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now, add your peas, carrots, and potatoes, distributing evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, again. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all three cans of cream soups, mixing well with a spoon. Spread this mixture on top of the vegetable layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt your butter over low heat on the stove or by microwaving it in a microwave safe dish, a few seconds at a time. Pour into a bowl and add the flour and milk, along with a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. Use a whisk and mix well. Now, pour this over the top of the ingredients in the pan. I usually try to keep this even, by pouring in three even strips from one end of the pan to the other. place in the oven and bake until golden brown. This will take at least 30 minutes, sometimes longer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chocolate Covered Cherries

These will have a more liquid filling with the cherry, which is what I prefer over the creamy filled kind.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

3 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Cup Water
1/4 cup butter ( not margarine)
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 TBS of reserved cherry juice for flavoring.
Candy Thermometer

You will also need:
2-3 8 ounce jars of maraschino cherries
2- 12 ounce bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 slab of wax

Put cherries in a strainer/sieve for several hours to drain well. Be sure to reserve 2 TBS of the cherry juice.

Combine first 4 ingredients and the reserved cherry juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cover for 3 minutes so steam will wash down sugar crystals. Uncover and cook until it reached 238 degrees, stirring occasionally. Rinse a large heat proof platter or pan with water. Pour onto platter. Do not scrape the saucepan. Cool to lukewarm, then beat the candy with a wooden spoon until it turns white and creamy. If it suddenly turns hard and seems to set, knead until it becomes pliable again. Knead in the vanilla.

As soon as possible, after preparing candy, you need to begin shaping it... Roll a ball of the candy, about the size of a large marble. Now, flatten the ball, place a cherry in the center, and pinch the candy around the cherry to cover it. It is important to get the cherry completely covered. Put the candy covered cherries on wax paper and let stand until a crust forms. This takes about 1.5 hours. Melt the chocolate and wax in a double boiler. You can improvise with a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water, if needed. Dip each candy in the chocolate to cover. Place on a cookie sheet or other sturdy surface that has been covered with wax paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dip in chocolate again. Once these have set up ( chocolate has hardened) place in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These need to be left to "ripen" for a week or so. The bit of juice that is left in the cherries will liquefy the candy the cream candy that is covering them. This recipe will make about 50-60 chocolate covered cherries.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sweet Tea

Sweet tea is a staple in these parts. It's also pretty cheap per serving, which makes it a great drink during this recession. Some folks like sweet tea. Some folks don't. A few folks make what is akin to toasted water, with a sneeze of sugar in it, and call it "Sweet Tea". I figure those folks are mostly the reason that other folks think they don't like sweet tea. I will say this, If you make bad sweet tea, word spreads real quick and, whether you're an average citizen or a restaurant, folks quit coming for dinner.

I have been making sweet tea since I was tall enough to reach the stove. So has my sister. We've never had any complaints. My oldest daughters can also make sweet tea that tastes just like mine, and mine tastes just like my sister's. It's every Southern mother's duty to pass this skill on down to her children.

To start, I use family size bags, two per half-gallon of water. A half-gallon of sweet tea is just enough to start a fight around here, so I generally make a whole gallon, which takes four bags. My absolute favorite is Luzianne, next would be Tetley, and after that is Lipton. Lipton is a good tea, it just doesn't seem to have the body and depth of flavor that the first two have.

I fill a small sauce pot with water and bring that to a boil. Once it starts boiling, I remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Make sure to dunk them a couple of times to ensure that they stay under the water. Let this set for about 20 minutes. Put your sugar in the tea pitcher that you will be using. We're real fancy around here and use one of them plastic gallon sized ones from the dollar store. A lot of folks get confused about how much sugar to add. A good rule of thumb is to add the same amount of sugar to your tea that you like in your Kool-Aid, or lemonade, or any drink that you add sugar to. For most folks, this is 2/3 to 1 C, per half gallon. We use 1 Cup. For artificial sweetener, just check the box as most of them tell you the equivalent amount to use.

Now, wrap the strings from your tea bags around the handle of your pot and hold them there, as you pour the hot tea in with the sugar, being careful not to let the bags flop out. Now stop and use a long spoon to stir the tea and sugar. This ensures that you get your sugar dissolved, before adding the cold water. Now, with the tea bags still in the pot, fill it with cold water and then pour it into the pitcher. Repeat this step until the pitcher is full. Make sure to stir well. Put in the refrigerator to chill. Most times, by the time I finish, folks are standing around with glasses full of ice, waiting to pour that warm tea over it.

Flour Tortillas

A bit of caution as these can be very addictive. These honestly made me detest the store bought varieties. They aren't exactly "easy" to make, but it gets easier every time you make them. Besides, all that rolling, slapping, and patting, is very therapeutic! I use these in any Mexican recipe that calls for flour tortillas and also in those that call for corn tortillas, as I just prefer the flour kind. These turn out study enough for filling yet melt in your mouth and are never tough.

I actually own a tortilla press but do not use it. Mainly because I like my tortillas to be a bit larger and also find it just an annoyance to use. I use a marble rolling pin. One of these can be quite expensive new, but Renni purchased mine at a thrift shop for only $8.00. But really, any rolling pin should work.

Flour Tortillas

4 cups plain white flour (Plus extra for rolling)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1 and 1/4 cups hot (not boiling) water
( Not sure why, but the hot water really makes a difference.)

I use a fairly large bowl for mixing these, as it gives me plenty of room to work my hands in the dough. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to the bowl and mix well with a fork or your hands. Now add the shortening and blend into the flour mixture until your mixture gets to the consistency of little peas. Next, use your fist to make a little "nest" in the center of your flour mixture and pour the hot water into the nest. Carefully work in a circular motion, turning the bowl as you go, and gently toss the flour into the hot water.(I know this sounds odd but really, just hug the bowl with one arm and mix the flour into the water with the hand of the other arm. I always feel so "pioneer" when I do this step! lol).

Once you have married the water and flour, you can begin to knead it inside the bowl, as you do this, kinda roll the dough around the sides of the bowl, collecting any stray pieces. Knead about 20 times or so. If it is too sticky, add another tablespoon or so of flour. If it is too dry, add a tad more water. We're going for a sort of elastic, smooth ball of dough. You'll just know when it gets to that point.

Now, it's time to pinch off the dough and roll it into balls with the palms of your hands. I make mine about the size of a golf ball and this usually yields me about 18 tortillas. Place these on a cookie sheet or other flat surface, cover with a towel, and let rest for around 20 minutes. While I wait, I take out a large bowl and a lid or plate to cover it with. I make sure I have a small bowl of flour near my rolling area. I start heating up my cooking surface about 5 minutes before the resting period is over. If you can have someone help you with the next steps, it would be a great help. Otherwise, just try to set things up so you can get move the tortilla quickly from one step to the next.

Roll the dough ball around in the flour and place on your flat surface and get to rolling!. The goal is to keep a circular shape, so turn 1/4 turn clockwise, after each swipe with the rolling pin. I also like to flip mine over now and then. I add flour as needed to prevent sticking and tearing. Get it really thin. Now toss it onto a hot griddle, electric skillet, frying pan, whatever. I usually toss the tortilla lightly from hand to hand, on it's way to the griddle, this probably isn't necessary but I have convinced myself that it removes excess flour. I do not grease the surface of the pan. I just make sure it is hot enough that water drops will dance across the surface. Cook for 20-30 seconds on each side. It will puff in places and get little "toasty" spots. Immediately place in the large bowl and cover with the plate. Once you get the hang of this, you should be able to work on rolling one tortilla, while keeping an eye on the one that is cooking. You could also roll them all out first and then cook but I have found this to be a true pain as they like to stick together and tear, when stacked in raw dough form. With any luck, you can convince someone to roll while you cook. Also, there can be quite a bit of smoke.