Sunday, June 5, 2011

Baking Powder Biscuits

The original recipe for these biscuits comes from my orange, tattered-covered copy of Betty Crocker Cookbook, although Betty used shortening in hers, and although I'm sure it would taste delicious, I really try to avoid using shortening whenever possible, so I revised the recipe to just butter or olive oil.

This biscuit recipe is so incredibly easy since there is no yeast involved, just the reaction of baking powder and salt to create a light and fluffy biscuit.  It's so versatile, too--you can use skim, lowfat, or whole milk, (or buttermilk), as well as the addition of any sort of flavor variation you'd like to create such as grated cheese and chives, freshly-cracked pepper and green onions, onions and garlic...  really any sort of herbs or finely chopped veggies you'd like to add will bake beautifully in these biscuits.  Although I haven't tried fruit, I'm now tempted to try a sweet version using fresh strawberries or apricots.

I also add a little more milk to make drop biscuits instead of cutout biscuits, because personally I like the rustic look of a casually formed biscuit instead of a perfectly round cutout biscuit.  These also keep very well for several days--when reheating, I would recommend splitting and toasting them under the broiler (rewarming them in the microwave will make them tough and chewy).

Printable Recipe

Baking Powder Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2/3 - 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 450.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  If you will be adding any other dry ingredients such as herbs, grated cheese, chopped onions, etc, add them now.  

Add 6 tablespoons butter and cut in with a pastry cutter until crumbly.  Add milk and stir with a wooden spoon or knead with your hands until just combined.  Add slightly less milk for cutout biscuits, and slightly more for drop biscuits.  

For cutout biscuits, sprinkle the counter with flour, and roll dough out to about a 1-inch thickness.  Cut using a biscuit cutter dipped in flour.  For drop biscuits, use a large spoon to place dollops of the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet (recipe makes about 10 biscuits).  Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes, until peaks of dough are nicely browned, but do not overbake.  The centers should be very soft.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and brush over the tops of the biscuits when you take them out of the oven.

Serve immediately with butter, jam, honey, or plain--delicious any way!

Pot Roast with Brown-Sugar Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

When I was growing up, pot roast was the definition of Sunday lunch.  My mom would wake up early to prepare the beef, carrots, potatoes and onions in a roasting pan, where it would slowly cook in the oven all morning.  When we returned home from church, the savory scent of the succulent meat and vegetables would fill the house, causing our stomachs to instantly start growling.

Even now, pot roast is one of those perfect meals... incredibly homey and comforting and still fabulous leftover the next day.  The first time I made pot roast for Jamie (last fall, I think), I was led astray by a recipe I found online that made me believe I could make a tender pot roast in just an hour and a half, and it was literally the toughest piece of meat I have ever tried to chew.  Jamie bravely ate a decent portion and said it was wonderful.  :)  So, this time, I followed my instincts, and the wisdom handed down by my mom that low and slow makes a tender pot roast, and the result was truly wonderful.

(I used our dutch oven for the pot roast, but you can also sear the meat in a skillet then cook in a roasting pan or in your crock pot on low.)

Printable Recipe

For the Pot Roast:
  • 2 1/2 pound beef chuck roast, nicely marbled
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion
  • 10 baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
For the Brown-Sugar Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Onions
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 4 medium carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
Preheat the oven to 200.
Place the dutch oven (or a skillet) on the stove on medium heat, and heat 3 tablespoon of olive oil.  Season the meat with salt and pepper, then lightly coat in flour.  When oil is hot, sear the meat on all sides, for about 4 minutes on each side.  This will help to seal in the juices as it cooks.  Once you have browned the meat on all sides, transfer meat to a plate.
Slice the onions and mushrooms into thick slices, and place in the bottom of the dutch oven.  Return the meat to the dutch oven, nestled in with the mushrooms and onions.  Add beef broth, wine, onion soup mix and garlic.  Bring liquid to a boil over medium heat.

Cover dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven.  Set the timer for 4 hours.  Now you have time to go enjoy your day, get a manicure, take a nap, read a book...

After 4 hours, transfer the dutch oven to the stove to simmer on medium-low for an additional hour while you prepare the vegetables.

Turn the oven up to 400.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Cut the sweet potatoes, carrots and onions into bite-sized pieces and place in the baking dish.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown sugar, nutmeg, orange peel, salt and water.  Pour over vegetables and toss until well coated. 

Roast vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring once, until edges are browned and vegetables are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork.

When you are ready to serve, place the meat on a serving platter and gently pull apart pieces with 2 forks.  Arrange vegetables around the meat.  Cover platter with foil to keep hot.  Using an immersion blender, puree the remaining mushrooms, onions and cooking liquid in the dutch oven until smooth.  Turn heat up to medium high and reduce liquid by half (about 5 minutes), until broth is thickened.  Spoon into a serving bowl and serve with the beef and vegetables.

(I also made buttermilk biscuits to serve with the meal, but will post that recipe in a separate post, so stay tuned...)