Post #525 “The Grilled Flesh of Some Animal”

February 22, 2017 at 2:31 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Anyone who who’s read this blog for longer than a week, or has known me in real life for longer than a day, already knows that I’m a grunting caveman when it comes to eating meat.  I can go for days without it, but when the urge is there, it’s all I want for several meals in a row until my blood flows rich with iron again.  And our favorite way to have this is with a fresh garden salad of some kind.

So we’re always on the lookout for quick and easy ways to cook our animal flesh.  We watch a LOT of cooking shows, whether in competition style or straight up teaching style.  We watch technique; discuss ease and use; experiment with what we’ve learned.  And recently we found and home-tested a new technique for cooking steak.

Our favorite cut of beef is the boneless ribeye.  It’s tender; it’s tasty; it’s well marbled; and it’s very forgiving.  Alternatively, we like the tenderloin, and the New York strip.  In a pinch, we will also have a sirloin, but that has to be done exactly right or we don’t want it.  Sirloin has so little fat in it that it tends to be tasteless and can be very tough.  For this new technique, you want a thicker cut of meat, one inch at a minimum.  And this technique will work for meats like beef, game, or pork, but I sincerely doubt that it would work with any fowls, or very tender meats like lamb or veal.

But, let’s talk about the salad first.  For us, grilling means salad.  If we’re grilling outside, we sometimes grill the veggies, too.  We’ve grilled corn on the cob, asparagus packets, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and more.  But mostly, our veggies run to salads.  We’re totally into easy so lots of times we get the salad kits.  It’s usually just enough for the two of us.  But we also get creative.  Once I made a salad with just the stuff we had on hand:  cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, pistachio nuts (unshelled by hand, thank you very much) and a dressing from olive oil and pear balsamic vinegar.  It was delicious.  Lately, we’ve been doing wedge salads.  You take a whole head of iceberg lettuce and cut it into six wedges.  Put the wedges into a shallow bowl, then drizzle it with your favorite dressing.  Sprinkle it with nuts, cheese, bacon bits, whatever else you like and have on hand.  Then eat it.  So good.

So here’s the new technique.  We got it from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK), a show on PBS that we like.  They’re reliable and make good food.  We’ve followed many of their recipes with great success.

First, heat a cast iron skillet or griddle pan in the oven on 500 degrees for 30 minutes.  Make sure the skillet is dry; do not put any oil in it at this time.  Also, put the skillet in the oven at the start of the heating process so it heats evenly.  They suggest turning the oven on and setting the timer for 30 minutes.  That will get the skillet plenty hot enough.  WARNING:  THIS SKILLET WILL BE HOT!!!  So be careful with it.

While the oven is heating, prep your steak by sprinkling a 1/2 tsp of kosher salt on each side.  This will draw out some moisture while adding some seasoning into the meat.  It will help with the searing process.

When the pan is ready, turn the oven off, and put the pan on the stove over medium heat.  Put a tablespoon of oil into the pan and move it around.  Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry on both sides.  DO NOT ADD ANY HERBS OR SPICES AT THIS POINT AS THEY WILL BURN.

Place the meat into the pan and set the timer for two minutes.  The meat will sear and your kitchen may get smoky.  Use tongs to turn the meat over when the time sounds.  Sear for two minutes, then turn over and sear for two minutes.  Turn over one last time and sear for two minutes.  Use oven gloves to move the skillet into the cooling oven for about 6-7 minutes.

While the steak is in the oven, get the salad ready, or whatever sides you’re having.  Remove the steak to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil for about five minutes.  When the steak has rested, slice it in quarter inch slices and leave it on the board.

What we do is use dinner plates to pile on salad and place the steak over the salad.

Then we throw out faces into the middle of it and chow down.

I wish I had a picture to share.  This method creates the perfect crust on the steak, and the middle is a perfect medium rare.  If you prefer a more rare steak, omit the oven time.  We’ve done both and it’s yummy.  Also, if the cut is thicker than one inch, you will want to adjust the oven time, not the searing time.

enjoy

Post #524 Bottle Rockets

February 19, 2017 at 4:08 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Both partner/spouse and I grew up in the desert in the southwest part of the country.  Because of that, one thing we always make certain of is drinking plenty of liquids.  We’re constantly going to the bathroom and it has nothing to do with our age.  Truly.  And both of us drink plenty of water, but we both find water to be boring.  So we mix it up with teas, and juices, and sodas.  Lots of sodas.  Over time, our venue for receiving said soda has evolved.  We started with cans, and recycled them.  Then we moved on to plastic bottles and recycled them.  We currently buy 2 liter bottles and pour the soda over reusable and sealable tumblers with straws.  We fill the tumbler with ice, then pour soda over it, screw on the lid, and sit down confident in the fact that even if the dogs jump up, or an earthquake happens, our drinks will remain safely in their containers with nary a drop spilled.

So we watch the sales.  When the single serving bottles of water go on sale, we buy a ton.  Our garage usually looks like we’re waiting for the next disaster.  We don’t look for sales on juices so much because they’re usually fairly low priced.  My favorites are Raspberry Lemonade, and anything cherry.  Sales on soda we watch carefully.  There’s only one brand of soda that we like so when it goes on sale, we snatch what we can.  Many times we return from the store with 20 bottles of the stuff to last us a while.

One day last September or so, Partner/Spouse arrived home after work fairly early in the morning, around 8:30.  He had stopped at the store on the way home so I was helping to carry the bags inside.  Then I hit the jackpot.  A plethora of 2 liter soda bottles, multiple trips.  Okay, so I’m a guy and I wanted to make as few trips as possible.  I can shove four of those puppies under my left arm and usually juggle two more in my right hand.  So I loaded up and turned away from the car, only to lose my grip.  So I dove for the bottle that was fumbling in the air and watched it hit the sidewalk on the cap.

The thing exploded and became airborne.  It slammed into my shoulder which threw me against the car.  I was dripping with soda and slipped and fell to the sidewalk.  I couldn’t see what was going on with soda in my eyes, and still trying to hold on to the bottles I still had.  I know it only took a few seconds, but sure felt longer than that.  The neighbor across the street walked over to make sure I was okay.  I took a shower, threw my clothes in the washer, and dealt with the rest of the day.

It became a joke at work and over the months we all tended to forget it except when someone would drop something, or report a funny accident.  Then the bottle rocket story would come up.

Then about three months ago, I was carrying sodas into the garage.  It was getting colder as winter set in so we were using the garage as a gigantic spare refrigerator to cool the drinks down.  We had sodas out there, and case after case of 160z water bottles, plus some wine, etc.  We’re nothing if not efficient.  We had also stored out outdoor lawn furniture inside for the winter and the long couch-like wicker seat was perfect for storing the sodas on.  I was heading towards them when I lost control of a bottle.  Next thing I knew, it was skittering around the cement floor spraying soda all over the contents of the garage, and me.  I string of shouted expletives later, I was mopping up soda and feeling the squishiness and stickiness of it in my clothes and various body parts.  Why was I mopping it up? my partner/spouse asked.  Because I didn’t want ants in the Spring and cleaning it now was preferable to cleaning it later.  Several minutes later, showered and far less sticky, I mumbled and muttered to myself while watching television and playing with the dogs.  Soda bottles never used to bust open when I was a kid.

Three weeks ago, we were carrying in groceries through the garage again.  I had my arms full of soda bottles, two which were in a bag for some reason.  I set the bag down on an Adirondack chair next to the wicker couch we used to store the bottles.  After I had unloaded my arms, I pulled one bottle out of the bag and set it with the others.  Just as I was straightening up to reach for the last bottle, I heard something rolling, then something hit the floor, then the unmistakable hiss as exploding soda hit the plastic bag and sprayed in a carefully controlled pattern into the middle of the garage.  I thought to myself, I know these bottles are packed and moved less than carefully, how in hell do they only break open when I have them?  Muttering expletives as I once again got out the mop to clean the concrete floor since I still didn’t want ants and bugs when the weather warmed up.

The next day as were out and about, Partner/Spouse said, “I’m going to buy one bottle of diet to replace the one from yesterday if you promise not to drop this one.”  Louder curses and expletives followed as I sputtered as loud as one of the bottle rockets that I hadn’t dropped the one yesterday; it had rolled off the chair and it wasn’t my fault, and anyway I cleaned it all up.  He laughed at getting my goat.

I’m worried though, for two things.  First, by the laws of exponential equations I’m far overdue for another bottle rocket attack.  Second, we never did find the first bottle rocket explosion bottle.  Such a mystery.

Enjoy

 

Post #523 It’s a Pretzel Kind of Day

February 5, 2017 at 7:37 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Even though we’re now living on the peninsula near the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, and we’ve only lived here for about two and a half years, I’ve lived in this area for nearly 30 years, with brief forays in other cities.  So, I know the weather patterns pretty well.  Winter is tough to call around here.  We generally don’t get much bad weather before January although the temps fall drastically.  Then in mid-January, we get what I always call the January thaw.  This is a two week period where the temps soar, and the weather gets mild.  It confuses the heck out of the birds and the plants.  I’ve had roses bloom in the thaw, even had hydrangeas sprout.  People who’ve put their lawn mowers away for the winter try to drag them out to get in a couple of clippings.

But it never lasts.  We hit February, the one I call the Bitch Month, cuz you just never know what the bitch is gonna throw at you.  Usually, if the snow flies, it’s gonna fly in February.  It might last through March, but we’ve had snow as late as April that socked in the cities.  This year is a little different.  The thaw started early, and has lasted a week longer than usual, so far.  The temps are down, but way above freezing.  Today, I walked the dogs in just a t-shirt.  It was a beautiful, comfortable end to the weekend.  So, for lunch, I wanted something different.  We like to do appetizer meals a lot, so figured for late lunch, it was time to make pretzels.

I love pretzels.  I love the skinny salty crunchy ones you buy in the grocery store in one pound bags.  I love the giant soft ones you buy in the mall or on the street.  I love the pretzel bread and pretzel rolls you can get in specialty shops, and increasingly more often at hamburger restaurants.  My favorites, though, are the soft pretzel sticks, usually about four inches long and perfect for dipping into cheese sauce.

So I decided to make pretzels.  Good authentic German pretzels.  I’ve  been to Germany many times, and spent many weekend afternoons wandering through street fairs and markets munching on those glorious giant pretzels.  Sometimes they were fresh, and sometimes not so fresh.  And then there were the brats and pretzel rolls.  Yum!

Here’s the recipe I used.  It makes 8 large pretzels and any number of pretzels sticks:

  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 10 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • Coarse salt or pretzel salt

Combine the flour and yeast thoroughly, then add the water.  Mix until all the flour is moistened, then knead for about five minutes to form an elastic dough.  Add the salt and butter during the kneading process.  Don’t worry if the dough falls apart when the butter is added.  Continued kneading will bring it back together.

Divide the dough in eight equal pieces and roll into a ball.  Cover the dough balls with a towel and allow to rest for five to ten minutes.  Roll each ball into a rope 18 inches long tapering it at the ends.  Form the pretzel by creating a U with the rope, then cross the ends and twist.  Bring the twisted ends down to bend draping the ends over and pushing into the dough.  Place them carefully on a large baking sheet but do not crowd them.  Use two baking sheets if needed.  Allow to rise uncovered in a warm draft-free place for an hour, then put in the fridge uncovered for two hours (you can also leave them there overnight.)

When you’re ready to bake them, preheat your oven to 400.  Boil six to ten cups of water and add half a cup of baking soda when it’s boiling.  Be careful when adding the baking soda as the water will react.  When the oven is ready, carefully slide each pretzel or pretzel stick into the boiling water for 15-20 seconds.  I turned mine halfway through the process.  Then remove and drain for a moment and place on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They will be deep brown with a crispy crust and wonderful flavor.

Here’s what I got:

pretzels

There’s one pretzel and several pretzel sticks missing cuz that’s what I had for late lunch.  I dipped them in a spicy cheese sauce I bought at the store.  When Partner/Spouse woke up, he also ate several sticks and a pretzel.  So good.

I hope you all try these.  It sounds complicated but is actually really easy to make.  Let me know how yours turn out!

Enjoy

Post #522 A Bread Story

January 23, 2017 at 6:49 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have a friend named John.  We’ve been friends for a very long time, since the days before he was married.  His daughter has her drivers license and is getting ready to graduate.  It’s been a long time.  We met when we both joined a contract at work involving world travel (although we never traveled together.)  We shared a desk for several weeks, and sat in the same training classes, etc.  We didn’t leave for kindergarten together, but we have been friends for over twenty years.  So when he mentioned on FB that he was tired of store bought bread, I promised to show him a really simple bread recipe that he could do at home.

The perfect bread recipe has been one of my “holy grail” searches (along with perfect donuts and perfect scones/biscuits.)  Bread can be time consuming, tricky to get right, and aggravating because so many outside entities can influence the success or lack thereof of the finished product.  I’ve played around with bread machines, frozen bread, stirred bread, quick bread, and hadn’t found the perfect bread until recently.  You’ve all read some posts where I mention one of the food groups I’m active in called Food Interactive on FB.  It’s a good group, and we share tips and successes and failures all the time.  Last fall, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, one of the members shared a simple bread recipe.  I can’t remember exactly who it was since there are several regular contributors, but she made it sound so easy and the photos looked so good, I immediately decided to try it out.  It was all she advertised it to be.  It was easy; it was good; and it was exactly what I’ve been looking for.  It’s the only bread I’ve made since, and I usually make two loaves a week.  Cuz we purely love us some bread in this house.

First of all, let’s discuss the bread making process.  It’s not complicated in its basic form, but it can seem complicated if you haven’t done it before.  Also, it can be quite a workout if you don’t have machines to help.  Trying to incorporated six cups of flour into 2 cups of water can be challenging.  But it can be done.  The basic process is blooming yeast in warm water and sugar.  We’ll talk more about yeast later, but basically, this step is provide the rising agent.  Letting the dough rise, or proofing as it’s called, can be done in a lot of different ways, the most common being yeast, but another very well known process uses sourdough.  Not going there in this post.  After the yeast has bloomed, flour is incorporated into the liquid, and the resulting dough is then worked.

Working the dough means moving, folding, pressing, more commonly called kneading.  There’s a chemical process that happens when wheat flour and water interact.  It creates protein strings called glutens.  (These glutens are what people with celiac disease react to.)  Gluten gives the dough elasticity and strength and the characteristic chewiness to the bread.  The dough must be kneaded well for the yeast to be distributed throughout the dough, and for the gluten to form.  It takes about ten minutes or so for this to happen.  The easiest way to do this is bring the dough ball close to you and press gently with the ball of your hands leaning into it a little.  Turn the dough a quarter turn and press again.  Do this for about a minute, then fold the dough on top of itself and start pressing again.  Some people make this an athletic event, but you don’t need to.  All you’re doing is distributing the yeast throughout the dough.

Then the dough is left to proof, or to rise.  Lots of things can impact how well dough is going to rise, and they’re all very important.  One thing the cook can control is ambient temperature, and breezes.  This is done by simply putting the dough in a bowl and putting the bowl in a box of some sort.  I use the oven.  The dough is left for about 90 minutes, until it has doubled in size, then the gases from the yeast are released by “punching down” the dough.  I know lot of people who get a kick out of punching the dough down, but I tend to take a gentler hand and press the dough down.

The dough is then shaped into whatever product is desired.  The basic dough can make a lot of different things, some you may have seen here in this blog.  But for loaves of bread, the dough is spread into a rectangle, rolled, then placed into a loaf pan.  Once the dough is shaped, it’s allowed to rise again until doubled, which usually takes about half the time as the first rise.  The double (and sometimes triple) rise gives the bread it’s rich flavor.

After the second rise, the bread is glazed with an egg wash (one egg of any size beaten with a little water to help break it up) and baked until it’s done.  You can use a thermometer, or just time it and tap the bottom to see if it sounds hollow.  I’ve never have any difficulty with the timing method.

That’s it.  You can see that it takes some time.  Start to finish, it’s a commitment of about four hours.  But you don’t have to be hanging around watching it for four hours.

So here’s my finished product:

bread-1

You can see that I didn’t divide the dough exactly in half, but that only makes the bread more interesting.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 1/4 cup warm water (110-115)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast (that’s 2 1/4 tsp if you’re using a jar)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I substitute 1 Tablespoon softened butter for 1 of oil for flavor)
  • 6 cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 cup AP Flour for working the dough
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

In a large stand mixer bowl, dissolve sugar in water, then stir in yeast.  Let stand 10 minutes for yeast to bloom.  Add 3 cups of flour, salt, and oil (or oil/butter).  Mix until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the final three cups of flour, stirring until well incorporated.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and work the dough until smooth and elastic, adding from the reserved 1/2 cup if the dough is too sticky.  Lightly oil a large bowl, at least four sizes bigger than the dough ball, and place the dough into it, turning the dough so the oil covers it.  In a warm, draft-free area, let the dough proof until it doubles in size, about 90 minutes.  Do not allow the dough to over rise.  When it’s ready, press the dough down, and turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half, and shape each piece.  Use either a rolling pin or your hands to gently spread the dough into rectangle about 9×14.  Starting from the short end, tightly roll the dough into a log shape and place into a lightly oiled 9×5 loaf pan.  Set the pans in a warm, draft-free area and let rise again for 45 minutes until doubled.  Preheat your oven to 375.  Crack egg into a bowl and add a small splash of water.  Beat until well incorporated.  Lightly coat tops of loaves with egg wash.  Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.  Remove from pans and tap bottom to sound hollow.  Cool on wire racks until completely cooled.

Let’s talk about the ingredients for a moment.

Yeast is a living organism that eats sugars and releases carbon dioxide gas.  Basically, it’s a tiny little farting machine.  Those gases cause the dough to rise.  Yeast is very fragile and can die very easily.  If the water is too warm, it’ll die.  If it’s too old, it’ll die.  Those are the two major reason why yeast will die, and the primary reason you allow yeast to bloom before using it.  You don’t want to get into the middle of your bread making process only find your bread won’t rise because the yeast is dead or dying.  Trust me.  You really don’t want that to happen.  Other things will cause the yeast to slow down too.  Salt prohibits yeast from doing it’s job, but I’ll talk about that later.  Cinnamon and other heavy herbs will cause yeast to slow down.  When these are added to bread, they’re always added during the shaping process and the proof time is increased.

Water temperature must be right otherwise the yeast will not activate.  Too cold and it will stay asleep.  Too hot and it’ll die.  My hot water tap is just about the right temp.  It should feel just slightly too hot to your fingers, but use a thermometer if you have one.

Sugar is sugar, but use standard table sugar if you have it.  It dissolves easiest.  I’ve used honey for a different flavor, but if you do, remember to adjust the amount of water so your dough isn’t too wet.

Salt will inhibit the yeast action so why do we add it?  Two reasons, mostly.  First, if we didn’t add it, the bread would taste pretty bland.  Some people might like that, but I like a little oomph to what I’m eating.  Second, if we didn’t inhibit the yeast a little, the dough would explode all over the place.  Not really, but it would rise far to high and too fast.  The result wouldn’t taste very good.

Oil/butter adds richness and flavor to bread.  You can leave it out, but I don’t recommend it.

AP Flour is simply All Purpose flour.  Flour comes in various qualities.  It’s referred to as low, medium, and high strength.  It’s also referred to as cake flour, AP flour, and bread flour.  It has to do with the amount of gluten each produces.  Cake wants to be light textured so very little gluten.  Bread wants a lot of texture so a lot of gluten.  I tend to mix AP and bread flour 50/50 for this recipe.

One more thing to talk about and we’re basically done with basic bread.  The relative humidity in the air has a big impact on your dough.  In these days of air conditioning, houses tend to be more stable in that respect, but today when I was making my bread, it was raining, and it had been raining for several hours.  Knowing this, I added a couple of extra tablespoons of flour to the mix.  During kneading, the dough wasn’t coming together.  It was separating as I worked it.  I stopped to inspect it and pulled it apart and instead of an elastic, pliable structure, I found a dry, breakable structure.  So I added a teaspoon of water to the center of the dough and continued to knead it.  Here’s the thing about adding liquid to bread dough.  When you do, it breaks apart.  But then it comes back together and looks wonderful.  So as you get experience in the recipe and the process, pay attention to what the dough is telling you.

So John, I hope this helps.  Let me know if you try this and how it turns out.  Here’s how the center looked when I cut it into it:

bread-2

Absolutely perfect!  So yummy!

Oh!  One other thing to say.  Bread smells delicious when it’s baking, and even better when it’s cooling.  Part of the structure is created in the cooling process.  You’re going to be tempted to cut into while it’s still warm.  That’s great for rolls or small loaves that you can eat in one sitting.  DO NOT do that to a full loaf of bread.  As the steam escapes, the bread firms up.  If you cut into it too soon, when it’s not completely cooled, it will turn gummy in the center, and no one likes that.

Enjoy

Post #521 Some More Flour Stuff

January 16, 2017 at 11:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last night, I was thinking about morning breakfast.  Partner/Spouse was working overnight and would be home around 8am.  The dogs usually got me up between 6:30 and 7.  I just received the replacement blade for my food processor and wanted to use it to break it in.  We had a fresh, unopened package of our favorite bacon in the fridge.  I wanted to make biscuits!  Fresh biscuits and fried bacon would be perfect!

I know the basic biscuit recipe but I’m always looking for the new twist, something that makes the result unique, or the process easier.  So I hit the ‘net and spent a pleasant hour late at night with a glass of wine reading recipes and looking for a gem.

Didn’t find a gem, but I did find a little puzzle.

Turns out, there really isn’t a new twist on biscuits.  It’s simply fat combined with flour and leavening that’s wetted down and cut into shapes then baked at a high temperature for a short time.  The proportions all remain the same.  Sometimes the temps are different and the bake times change for that.   And other flavors are added in the form of herbs, cheeses, extracts, fruits, etc.

So here’s the recipe I used this morning:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cold milk (I used water)

Mix all dry ingredients together, then rub the butter into the flour until it resembled coarse crumbs (I used my food processor, pulsing the mix about 15 times.)  Add the milk/water and combine until a soft dough forms.  Set on a lightly floured surface and knead about ten times until the dough is smooth.  Pat or roll out to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the shapes out using round cutters, or a knife if making other shapes.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool two minutes, then brush with melted butter.  The most important thing to remember in biscuit recipes is DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH.  Be quick and efficient.  If you want to reuse the scraps from cutting out the biscuits, treat them very gently.

Just a basic flour and water recipe, right?  But something kept tugging at the back of my brain.  I just couldn’t grasp it right away.

So Partner/Spouse comes home in the middle of cutting out the biscuits and is surprised and delighted.  His own breakfast plans were incorporated and a good time was had by all, including the dogs.

This is all that’s left of the eight biscuits I made:

biscuit

 

As I was patting out the dough prior to cutting the biscuits out, I could see lumps of butter and my mouth watered thinking about how these were going to turn out.  So good!

Then it hit me.  I went on a journey of discovery not long ago which I shared with the readers of this blog.  I wanted to learn how to make scones, that uniquely British baked treat full of jam, thick cream, and butter.

Want the basic recipe for scones?  Just substitute the word “scone” wherever you see the word “biscuit”.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cold milk (I used water)

Mix all dry ingredients together, then rub the butter into the flour until it resembled coarse crumbs (I used my food processor, pulsing the mix about 15 times.)  Add the milk/water and combine until a soft dough forms.  Set on a lightly floured surface and knead about ten times until the dough is smooth.  Pat or roll out to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the shapes out using round cutters, or a knife if making other shapes.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool two minutes, then brush with melted butter.  The most important thing to remember in biscuit recipes is DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH.  Be quick and efficient.  If you want to reuse the scraps from cutting out the biscuits, treat them very gently.

They’re the same thing!  However, here in the U.S. , we don’t treat our finished biscuits quite the same.  We do put jam on them, but we seldom use thick cream.  We also sweeten them up by pouring honey or syrup over the top while good salty butter melts inside.  We put slices of ham or bacon inside them and treat them as a breakfast sandwich, even going so far as to add a fried egg and cheese to it sometimes.

Then there’s the king of the biscuits dinner, Biscuits and Gravy!  (Imagine a full orchestra chorus in the background.)

Ground sausage fried up and turned into a thick milk gravy that holds the essence of the sausage flavor.  Two or four giant fresh biscuits lovingly cut into two with a wedge of butter in between, and a full cup of sausage and gravy poured over the top, served hot.  I can feel my arteries hardening just thinking about it.  I can barely make my way through one biscuit, much less two or four.  But I’ve seen people (my father was one of them) who could pack away four biscuits, two cups of gravy, two fried eggs, and a mound of fried potatoes, burp slightly, then reach for toast!

I’ve never seen a scone treated that way.  Scones have blueberries in them, or chocolate chips.  Jam and honey aren’t foreign to a scone, but having a scone as part of a bacon sandwich is.

So, I’m happy that my lifetime of baking biscuits prepared me for learning about scones.  I’m just as happy that I can turn two cups of flour and 1/2 cup of butter and water into something light and delicious.

Enjoy

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