Breakfast Biscuits

Growing up with a relatively small family in New England, I don’t know whether to count myself lucky or unlucky to have been spared embarrassing family reunions, stressful weddings, or depressing funerals. I don’t mean to say I’ve never been to any of those events, but right now – at almost 27 years old – I have been to a grand total of 2 family reunions I can recall, 0 weddings, and 2 funerals. Here on the East Coast, my extended family equals my uncle and grandmother and, as much as I love them, it means we get next to nothing in the party department. I’m telling you this so you can appreciate just how excited I was to be invited to a bat mitzvah this past weekend…

My uncle’s fiancé’s family (if there’s a simpler way to explain that relation, someone please tell me, haha) is Jewish, which makes me happy in-and-of-itself because I often joke about converting to the faith simply for the food. I know everyone gets caught up with gefilte fish, but c’mon: those of us who don’t like our fish sponged can forgive that one hiccup for the sake of soul-warming matzo ball soup, sticky sweet teiglach, and warm challah. Even the pickiest eaters out there can’t deny the genius that is a latke (this reminds me, I really have to try Deb’s apple latkes recipe soon!).

Anyway, I’m getting off topic here and you’ll start to think this recipe of mine’s kosher (it’s not, sorry!), suffice to say I was probably more excited than necessary and certainly more excited than normal to attend the party. The service itself was held in a gorgeous temple and my cousin-to-be’s vocal talent soon became obvious as she sang her way through what I’m told is one of the hardest sections of the Torah. I knew that becoming a bat or bar mitzvah took years of practice, but they weren’t kidding! Nearly 2 hours of intermittent singing later Livvy was my new hero and I really was regretting drinking so much coffee.

The reception afterwords could easily have been for a wedding: tables filled a huge ballroom at the nearby country club, a DJ spun tracks and convinced flocks of tweens to participate in mini-games (no small feat), and a giant white and red teared cake occupied the last amount of floor space. It was a lot of fun and I even got to join in a horah dance which is just as awkward and awesome as it seems, haha! Only once did my mother, brother, and I have to escape for a walk around the grounds as the screams of fifty or so girls reached record decibels.

The bat mitzvah was a state away and work was waiting for me even before I got back in the door, so I haven’t been able to cook up what I had planned to show you this weekend. Instead, you’ll have to make do with an incredibly simple recipe for really yummy drop biscuits. It’s one of the few recipes I can claim as my own, although I did have to ask my grandmother what her usual drop biscuit base is – having never made them myself and not finding it in Ratio. You can whip these babies up in under and hour and have enough to feed a hungry family on a lazy weekend morning. 🙂

Breakfast Biscuits

Ingredients:

2   C   flour

1   T   baking powder

½   t   salt

1¼   C   buttermilk*

¼   C   melted butter

1   C   bulk chicken sausage**

½   C   freshly grated cheddar cheese

*Note: you can make your own buttermilk easily by mixing 1 Tablespoon lemon juice per 1 Cup milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes or so. I just used a little over 1 tablespoon juice for the 1¼ cup milk, not bothering to calculate the details.

**Note: I love the al fresco brand and used their sundried tomato kind for this recipe. If you also want to use linked sausages, simply cut the meat free of the casings, cut into small cubes, and mash a bit with a fork to create a crumbly texture.

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and blend. Make a little hollow in the center of the flour mix and pour in buttermilk and melted butter. Gently stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until well incorporated.
  2. Fold in sausage and cheddar cheese until (relatively) evenly distributed. Using heaping teaspoons, drop mounds of dough onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 20 minutes.

Beezer’s Notes:

While not the prettiest things to look at, these biscuits turned out better than I had hoped for such a spontaneous and simple recipe! Warm out of the oven, the sausage is still slightly juicy and the cheese gives a satisfying crunch to the outside of the biscuit while also giving the inside a chewy, moist crumb. I’m glad I mashed the sausage up with a fork before adding it to the dough because doing so loosened up the herbs. You can see in the photo above that the seasonings are throughout the biscuit even while the sausage stays in pleasant little chunks. These do keep pretty well, but I recommend you reheat them if eating leftovers later on since the sausage isn’t nearly as good when it isn’t warm. I’m definitely going to experiment with drop biscuits more in the future and hopefully will find more yummy combos to share!

Overall Enjoyment: ♥    ♥    ♥



Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This soup (like the Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup) comes from Cook’s Illustrated: Soups and Stews. In fact, the recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Soup is on the page directly opposite of Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup. Coincidence? Nope! I read them both and tabbed them immediately. I have a thing for tabs.

I’ll give you fair warning: this soup, while absolutely amazing, would not make it into any diet plan…unless a diet plan included cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, bacon, and fried potato skins. Made from scratch, I would still eat this soup over any other processed soup on the market without thought. You just probably shouldn’t eat this every day. Save it for those cold, wet, dreary evenings when you need some fantastic soul-food. Or, even better, save it for a potluck! The smell of this soup alone draws folks over like moths to a flame and it’s hearty enough to serve in small portions.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (from Cook’s Illustrated: Soups and Stews)

Ingredients:

8              slices of raw bacon, chopped

3    lbs.    russet potatoes, scrubbed (about 6)

1               large onion, chopped

2               medium garlic cloves, minced

2      T       unbleached AP flour

4      C       low-sodium chicken broth

1      C       heavy cream

1    sprig   fresh thyme (or 1 t dried)

1      lb.    sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (~ 4 Cups)

1      C      sour cream, plus extra for garnish

3              scallions, sliced thin plus extra for garnish

black pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Cook bacon pieces in a Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed deep stock pot over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until crisp. While bacon is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to remove potato skins in wide strips, saving the peels. Cut the peeled potatoes into 3/4″ pieces.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked bacon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Blot gently with another paper towel to remove excess oil and set aside.
  3. Add potato skins to bacon fat in the pot and cook until crisp – about another 8 minutes. Remove the skins to another paper towel-lined plate and blot as before. Set aside.
  4. Add onion to the fat remaining in the pot and cook about 6 minutes or until golden. Stir in garlic and flour and cook about 1 minute or until fragrant. Gradually whisk in the broth, cream, and thyme. Then stir in potatoes and bring the mix to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and let it cook until the potatoes are tender, 7 – 10 minutes.
  5. Discard the thyme (if using a sprig) and transfer 2 Cups of cooked potatoes to a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Puree the remaining soup using an immersion blender or, if using a conventional blender, blend in batches until smooth and return to the pot.
  7. Warm the now-smooth soup over medium-high heat. Once warmed, remove soup from heat and slowly stir in handfuls of cheese until all the cheese has been melted in. Whisk in sour cream. Return reserved potatoes to soup and season with pepper to taste.
  8. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with bacon, potato skins, scallions, cheese, and sour cream.

Beezer’s Notes:

Mmm, my mouth is watering just remembering this soup! One of the many things I love about it is how folks can adapt it a bit to suit their tastes: load on all the garnishes or sprinkle just a few – or none! This soup has a multitude of flavors all by itself. As I said before, it wouldn’t win any health awards. That said, you simply can’t deny the benefits of cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients. Just ask Jamie Oliver.

I’m sure you could tweak the recipe a bit to lower the calorie count. Would it taste as good? Probably not. Would it still be a satisfying meal? Most definitely. I used regular sour cream, so first off change that to reduced-fat. You could probably even omit the sour cream altogether in the soup itself without a fuss and serve it solely as a garnish. I would also try halving the cheese. I know, I love cheese too, but the original soup is so thick that I’m convinced you could get away with a ½ Cup of it. Finally, nix the heavy cream and use whole or reduced-fat milk. I’m going to try these methods the next time around and see how it goes.

Overall Enjoyment: ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥


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