The newly discovered cookbook is The Homesick Texan, by Lisa Fain. This is a cooking genre which I hadn't ever felt particularly drawn toward, I have to say. But, having heard it mentioned in the great bloglandia (which blog - I do not recall), it sounded interesting, so I ordered a copy from the library. (Hooray for the library!) Oh, and turns out, the book is fantastic. I love when that happens.
I drooled, ahem, read, my way through it, and showed it to the Mister, who passionately digs heat, sauces, pickles and relishes, recipes for which this book is jam-packed. (This predilection for spice could be from all his traveling. Although some might say this would be from growing up Brit. All the bland food, you know. Not me, of course. I would never say that. The Mister would like to put in that the reason for his spice-love is all the good Indian food in the UK.) I do believe we will be the proud owners of our very own copy of The Homesick Texan quite soon. All those condiments have got me all sorts of excited.
In addition to all the marvelous condiment recipes, there are, obviously, actual meal recipes in there too. Lots of bold and bright Tex-Mex, with a wee smattering of Southern comfort foods. Like biscuits.
Biscuits and I...me and Biscuits?...whatever...we've had a rather tumultuous relationship in the past. See, I love some good, flaky biscuits. And I have eaten some good, flaky biscuits. Only, the thing is, until now, I have never actually made good, flaky biscuits. Each and every time I've tried, and it's been a good many times, my friends, they've been lacking. Some were definitely edible, but not great. Some were, let's call it like it is: utter rubbish.
I have read and heard many tips on making good biscuits. The key one being not to overwork the dough. And I swear by all that is holy, that I did not overwork the dough. (Except for that one time. Matt and Jamie and the Mister may recall an overambitious, slightly inebriated cook, who valiantly attempted a batch of biscuits that went seriously awry. It may have had something to do with a day spent sipping sangria in the sun. We may never know. Nor may we remember clearly. So it goes.)
Anyway. Back to technique. For some reason, this recipe has you whacking the biscuit dough with a rolling pin. I guess it's a Southern thing. I read the recipe, thought: "Well, I haven't yet managed a batch of great biscuits, what have I got to lose?" And went for it. I mean went for it. I smacked that dough around, people, for a good two or three minutes. Feeling a little fearful all the while. But also feeling a little guilty pleasure. Because even if they didn't turn out...well, it was kind of fun.
And you know what? They worked out. Splendidly. Just the tiniest hint of crunchiness on the outside. Not much, mind you. Just enough to give them an interesting texture. And then the inside: flaky as all get out. Absolutely lovely.
Buttermilk Biscuits - Adapted from The Homesick Texan
-makes about 10 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or fine sea salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 450 deg F, and grease a cast iron skillet, or baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Using either a pastry knife, a food processor (my choice), or your fingers (run under a cold tap first), cut in the butter, until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Add the buttermilk, and pulse a few times (if using a food processor), or mix, until the dough is a bit loose and sticky. It doesn't need to be perfectly combined here.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, kneading briefly, just a minute to bring it together nicely. The dough should be smooth and no longer overly wet. Sprinkle on more flour if your dough is sticking to the work surface. Make the dough into a ball and hit it with a rolling pin, turning and folding it in half every few whacks. Enjoy this activity for a couple of minutes.
Roll out the dough to a quarter inch thickness, then fold in half. Using a round biscuit cutter, or a small cup, cut out the biscuits. Place on your prepared pan or baking sheet, close together, about 1/8 of an inch apart, to encourage them to rise up and not out. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Do you like my misshapen biscuit there? That's the one made up of the dough scraps, after cutting out the other tidy ones. Still tastes good, never fear.
We served our biscuits with a vegetable soup, and they were scrumptious. I am rather looking forward to trying the Lisa's recipe for biscuits and gravy, I must say. As well as a whole lot of her other recipes.
A perfect dose of flaky going on here. Enjoy!