Saturday, April 5, 2008

Madeline, A Rainy Friday + Homemade Biscuits

I've been working on a bear of a project for the past three weeks, which my ever-throbbing sciatic nerve will happily attest to. Unfortunately for me, the nature of my design business is, I take on projects, somehow agree to their insane deadlines, and by hook or by crook (whatever that means), meet them. So, in this instance, it has meant waking up at 5:oo am to start working, and wrapping up my day well past my normal bedtime hour. As a result, I've not eaten very well, I've hardly gotten to the gym, or breathed in fresh air, I have bluish-brown stains beneath both eyes, and I don't believe I've shaved my legs in quite some time. But at 6:15 pm on Thursday evening I received a voice message, then an email, from a young friend of mine, Madeline, asking if I was free to help her bake homemade biscuits. Well, it's not every day that a ten year old calls me up to ask me to cook with her, and when one does, there is no way on Gods green earth that I'm passing on the opportunity. I decided at that second, that no amount of money was as important to me as making homemade biscuits with ten year-old Madeline, so I cleared my calendar for the next afternoon, and started searching for the perfect biscuit recipe for my young apprentice. I wanted one that wasn't too difficult for a starter chef, one that didn't require a lot of rolling or cutting or fussing, and I quickly found it on Epicurious. The Buttermilk Biscuits from Dot's Diner in Boulder Colorado, were everything you could want in a biscuit recipe; they were easy, light and delicious, and would pair well with a roasted chicken, mashed spuds, and thick gravy at the Sunday dinner table, or a bit of strawberry jam for a lazy brunch. We made them together, measuring all the ingredients out very carefully into a big metal mixing bowl on the counter, then we dropped them by small, sticky handfuls onto a cookie sheet before popping them in the oven for about fifteen minutes; they couldn't have been easier, or more comforting on a rainy and blustery Friday afternoon. Madeline gobbled her two up with pats of melted butter, declaring them the best biscuits she has ever had in her ten, long years. I savored mine as well, but for an entirely different reason, of course.

Buttermilk Biscuits (from Dot's Diner, reprinted from Epicurious)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Makes about 12-15 biscuits

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