Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the quest for the ultimate biscuit~

For many moons, I've searched for a good biscuit recipe. I mean, MANY moons. I finally settled on one I found in the Better Homes & Garden's red checked cookbook, but ya know, either I couldn't make em right, or it was a flawed recipe, because they would just crumble to pieces whenever I opened them to put in jelly or slop gravy over them. Grr.

Somehow, the topic came up in a few private messages with a friend on, believe it or not, a photography forum. And I tried the recommended recipe.

My quest is over.

So - may I present Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits recommended to me by my photographer and cooking buddy, Lee. Thank you, Lee! Not that you'll ever read this, HAHA...

(psst - I doubled the recipe because, um, we really like biscuits - so if you don't like biscuits like I do, then cut this baby in half)

Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits (doubled by Sis)
4 cups flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons shortening
2 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry cutter. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick square. Cut square biscuits of desired size, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. The square method eliminates the need for reworking the dough...
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes. bread bowl.
I make all my breads in this bowl, which was a gift from my mom for Christmas.
Except for the breads that I make in the bread maker.
And the ones I mix in the Kitchenaid mixer.
I make all my biscuits in this bowl. (haha)
I didn't have enough shortening, so I just used all chilled butter.
Cut until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Except mine never does. It just resembles flour with chunks of butter in it.
The fun part is coming! Make a big hole in the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk to make an amazing lake! Oh, look, Gertie the magical Gator has paid a visit! She must be curious to see if she can take a swim...
Hi, Gertie! Please don't swim in my buttermilk.
Options abound with the next step - you can play avalanche, dam-break,
earthquake, or my personal favorite, back-hoe...just collapse the sides of the lake
and mix all that good stuff up.
When it'll hold together, dump it out on a floured surface (the counter will do, HA)
and form a ball.
And since I love to get my clean DNA all over bread dough, I used my fingers
to press it out into a nice square. With rounded corners (not on purpose).
I like to use one half of the blades for my electric knife - it's really sharp, serrated, and cuts dough, bread, tomatoes, all sorts of stuff without smashing the edges.
I don't worry about whether the biscuits are all the same size. Sometimes, you get almost done eating, and you just want a little bit extra...there's a little biscuit that fits the bill. Starving? Grab a couple of the huge ones! lol
Transfer to a pan - I'm using a stoneware pan here, I love my Pampered Chef stoneware.
The final product. Ahhhh....btw - those are hamburger patties in the background, just waiting for gravy to be done so they can go back in and simmer a while.
I couldn't wait for supper, so I put just a tiny smidgen of jelly on the littlest biscuit. Just a little bit, because I don't want the jelly taste to overwhelm the biscuit. Plus I don't want to get fat. HAHA
Remember. Just a little bit of jelly.
After all that, sheesh, I need a nap...

Friday, August 8, 2008

'something something' peanut soup ~

heh heh...

The original name of this recipe from Fiwa's blog is "African Thai Peanut Soup Stew Stuff" and please click on the link to see how she did it. I never have the same 'stuff' on hand that all the great cooks have so I just have to fake it, and mine won't be exactly the same tastes, but I don't think it's too different. And...honey, was soooo good...

I've never cooked with peanut butter except to make cookies and desserts. I've been missing something.

Sis's version peanut soup

5 medium size potatoes

1/2 large onion, chopped

green curry paste

minced garlic, to taste (meaning a big ol' heaping spoon haha)

little bit of cooking oil

3 cups broth (beef or chicken)

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 14 oz. can coconut milk (not the sweetened kind)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

Scrub the potatoes clean, and boil them until done in a pot of water. Let cool for a few minutes. Since I seek fiber wherever I can, I left the skins on but you can scrape them off if you like. Slice the potatoes into uniform chunks and set aside.

Heat a little oil in the bottom of a big pot or large wok, on medium-high heat. Saute the onions for a minute or so, add the curry paste and cook another minute, then add the garlic and cook for yet another minute. Pour in the 3 cups broth, the tomatoes, and the coconut milk, and add the potato chunks in, and cook and stir until it's simmering well. Add the sea salt and stir to dissolve. Add the 1/2 cup peanut butter and let it melt while stirring. Let it simmer a few minutes to meld the flavors, and then turn off the heat.

Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts, if you used smooth peanut butter. I didn't have any peanuts to chop, so I sprinkled some roasted salted sunflower kernels on mine and it was delish.

Friday, August 1, 2008

pan fried rice noodles with beef & veggies~

Today I tried a deliciously different way of fixing rice noodles - pan fried. I learned about how to do it and pretty much got the recipe from Wandering Chopstick's post, but I didn't follow it exactly; so I'm linking to her for the original recipe. Being such a newcomer, you'd best follow hers rather than mine, LOL. One more thing - since I had significantly more beef in mine, I didn't have any marinade left in the bowl, so I made up a little sauce from the recipe from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" by Andrea Nguyen, and I added that along with the marinated beef. I'll call that "Flavoring Sauce" like AN did in her book.

Panfried Rice Noodles with Beef (and Vegetables)

1 pound beef round steak, thinly sliced

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Mix these ingredients up and pour over the beef. Set aside to marinate.

Perpare vegetables. I julienned carrots, chopped bok choy, soaked and chopped dried black mushrooms, and sliced an onion thin.
For the noodles: soak 1 package of the medium wide rice noodles for a while in warm water, drain and then boil them until chewy tender. After draining in a colander, rinse with cold water and then drain very well. Toss with a little oil.
Flavoring sauce:
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

3/4 cup warm water

OK - I'm going to let the photos do a lot of the talking...

Beef, marinating...

Boiled and drained noodles, waiting for frying...

Chopped veggies (onion not shown)

In a wok, pour oil until the bottom is covered. Heat on medium high heat until hot, and then carefully add the noodles. I did them in 2 batches. Spread the noodles out to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry until beginning to get crispy and holds together pretty well, then carefully flip with a spatula and fry the other side. Drain on a paper towel covered platter or plate. When the noodles have cooled, cut with kitchen shears into chunks or wedges, or just do like I did and tear them into smaller pieces. Set aside on a plate.

Next, in a little oil, stir fry the onions until they are getting soft. Add beef and any marinade left in the bowl, rinsing with water to get it all (about 1/2-1 cup water). If it's like mine, there is no marinade left, so you can add the flavoring sauce for the needed liquid.

Let that cook a few minutes - a gravy will start to form. Add the vegetables (not the bok choy yet) and stir fry for a few minutes.

Next, add the bok choy and stir fry a few more minutes. Keep the veggies crisp tender.

Finally, add the noodles back into the pan, tossing and stir frying until well mixed. Pour onto a platter and everybody dig in!