I'm back from Southern California. I've given my mother a clean bill of health -- with the provision that she obeys everything I taught her to do. I'm so glad to be back -- my plumbing in my bathroom did not like my absence, and I had to deal with a
leaking connector to my toilet. The place is a mess -- because that's how I left it. And my cat wants to go back to my parents' place because she felt like Miss Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.
*sigh* I'm glad to be home. It has taken a few weeks for the head to clear and settle down. SoCal was getting on my nerves.
And now... to another subject I have to get off my chest.
Somehow, I managed to get a free subscription to SOUTHERN LIVING, where I just couldn't understand why the Southern Cook prided herself on the quality and taste of... the biscuit. I thought I wasn't much into biscuits in the first place, but while I lived
in the Midwest, I became more and more enamored by a common breakfast entree -- biscuits and gravy.
Now I am not a great biscuit baker... but I could make a decent one, that is, until I moved back to the West Coast. Then any biscuit I made looked, tasted, and felt like a hockey puck. NOT kidding. This was quite embarrassing to me because I have often
sung the praises of a sturdy breakfast consisting of biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs and caribou sausage -- which I LOVE!! So imagine my despair when I make, yet again, another batch of hockey pucks.
Then I found a great biscuit-making cookbook... and realized that I couldn't make a decent batch of biscuits because I was using the wrong flour. So I found an online store and bought twenty pounds of self-rising flour from White Lily -- probably the
best representative of Southern-originating pastry flour just perfect for making pie crusts and -- most importantly -- biscuits. Shipping to Alaska was atrocious... but my reputation was on the line.
Tonight, I made a small batch of biscuits and -- with the thought that I need to add an additional tablespoon of shortening -- they turned out great. I need to make them a little thicker next time... but it did work. And, for some reason, my smoke detector
did not go off like it always does when I heat my oven higher than 350 degrees F. So I have eaten all I can... which was half of what I put on my plate -- three opened biscuits and scrambled eggs smothered with sausage gravy with roasted Italian frying peppers.
Out of caribou sausage, but this was more than enough.
For those who do not have access to White Lily or Martha White flour, go to King Arthur Flour and get their pastry flour. For every cup of flour, add 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder (aluminum-free!!) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (preferably kosher).
Here's the recipe I used:
ALWAYS PREHEAT OVEN BEFORE STARTING BISCUIT-MAKING. THAT WAY, THE BISCUITS CAN BE PUT IN THE OVEN AS SOON AS THEY HIT THE COOKING SHEET.
2 cups of White Lily self-rising flour or King Arthur Pastry flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder*
1 teaspoon kosher salt*
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or lard (still has less cholesterol than butter), cold
1/2-3/4 cup buttermilk
* Note: If you are using self-rising flour, omit these two ingredients.
Mix flour, baking soda, and kosher salt together until well-blended. Cut in vegetable shortening (or lard) until shortening is distributed like small peas. Start adding buttermilk and mix with a fork until the dough is very sticky and just pulling away
from the sides. DO NOT OVER-MIX! (I cannot emphasize this point any stronger!) Turn out on a flour-dusted surface and knead for three or four turns. Roll out to 1/2 inch and cut biscuits out until all the dough is used.
Place biscuits in close proximity to each other on a shiny cooking sheet. (Dark cookie sheets unevenly browns the biscuits.) Place into preheated oven for 8-12 minutes until the surface is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and serve as soon as possible.
Makes 5-8 two-inch diameter biscuits.
I've used this recipe to make dumplings, too. Delicious!!