Tennessee Blueberry Shortcake Biscuits (Gluten Free)

TN Blueberries

Mid July

Summer Saturday mornings…Farmer’s Market early…a few…just a few cartons of local blueberries sitting on the plank counter just waiting for me…I am sure of this.

Blueberry Biscuits

Sunday summer mornings…lazy time to make biscuits…just a little bit sweet with blueberries..softened butter, hot coffee with milk…the best of the summer in a bite.

Here is what you  need: 1 cup fresh blueberries rinsed & drained; 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour) ;  2 tsp baking powder;  1/4 tsp baking soda;  1 tsp salt;  1/2 cup raw sugar;  1/3 cup frozen butter (the measurement is right on the stick);   1 egg;  3/4 cup buttermilk

Biscuit Ingredients

Let me talk a bit about gluten-free flours…as the name says they are without the gluten that gives dough or pastry its elasticity, therefore pie crusts such as I made recently for my Rainier Cherry Galette or for these biscuits, have a “shortbread” quality.  The finished crust or biscuits will be more tender and crumbly than when made with regular flour. Just keep this in mind when working with a product such as this one…handle a bit more gently and the results will be amazing.

Here is how you do it:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar & salt in a mixing bowl.

2. Very quickly grate the stick of frozen butter into a bowl. It is already “pea size”!

cold buttergrated cold butter

3. Using your fingers toss flour mixture & grated butter together. Make a “well” in the center of the flour.

flour with butter

4. Crack egg into buttermilk & gently whisk together. Pour into the flour well. Mix wet & dry ingredients together until a “slaggy” dough forms.

Yogurt/Milk Mix

5. Sprinkle blueberries over dough. Carefully blend berries into the dough.

Blueberries in wet dough

6. Dump mixture out onto a floured work surface. Use your hands to form dough into a ball & then pat out into  a circle about 3/4 inch thick.

Dough with berries

7. Cut biscuits with a 2 to 3 inch round cutter & place on a lightly buttered iron skillet or baking sheet. This recipe will make around 16-20 biscuits.

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8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

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Blueberries & Shortcake in a Biscuit!

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Hmmmmm…a few left over for the next concoction? Bon Apetit.

A Smashing Pumpkin & Pear Pangrattato

I adore the taste of pumpkin in all it’s transformations into pies, breads, roasted, toasted & baked. Pumpkins conjure up images of bonfires & baking, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” & a lifetime of Jack O’Lanterns.

Sunday morning at the Nashville Downtown Farmer’s Market I found myself in the midst of thousands of pumpkins, winter squash & gourds of every color tone, size & shape…from perfectly perfect to the fantastically gnarly…spread out & piled high, all beautiful. I purchased what is marketed as a “pie pumpkin”, about 2 lbs, for $1.00.

 I went to my current favorite cookbook , “Tender/Vol 1” by Nigel Slater (4th Estate London, publisher), which is full of some of the best, most accessible recipes & cozy meanderings throughout his garden life. The photos are so yummy and real. I found a very simple, intriguing recipe entitled “A pumpkin pangrattato with rosemary and orange”.

Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs

My version of this recipe comes with a few changes due to using what I had on hand which did not include parsley and did include a couple of fresh pears picked from my neighbors tree which is still heavy with fruit. Pumpkin, crispy pears, breadcrumbs..a very nice trio.

“A Smashing Pumpkin Pangrattato”

(very much based on Nigel Slater’s version with a few changes & additions)

For this version you will need the following:

2 lb pumpkin

3 cloves garlic

1/4 to 1/3 cup good olive oil

a finger size mild red chili

1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves

the zest of half an orange

1  cup roughly chopped arugula leaves

3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (I used a gluten-free sandwich bread)

Kerrygold butter (or any very good butter)

Directions:

1. Using a sharp knife cut pumpkin in half, clean out seeds & membrane. Cut pumpkin into bite size chunks and cut away the peel.

2. Place chunks of pumpkin in a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam for about 10 minutes or just until pumpkin is slightly softened. Meanwhile…..

3. Prep other ingredients..mince garlic, thinly slice red chili, finely chop rosemary….

……peel & chop 2 hard crispy pears into bite-size chunks, roughly chop arugula, zest half an orange & toss bread into the food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.

4. Pour half of the olive oil into a large heavy skillet & turn heat to medium. Add garlic & chili to skillet & cook for a few minutes until garlic just begins to turn golden.

5. Check steaming pumpkin with a knife. When it is barely softened remove from heat. Set aside.

6. Into skillet with garlic & chili add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, chopped arugula & bread crumbs.

7. The goal here to create the perfect “pangrattato/breadcrumbs” is to turn the soft breadcrumbs into beautiful golden brown crispy breadcrumbs without burning them. So leave on medium heat stirring often until ingredients are browned & crispy throughout. This might take about 10 minutes.Remove from heat

8.  To assemble & bake turn the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a casserole dish & add in steamed pumpkin. Scatter chopped pear over the pumpkin.

9. Lastly scatter top of pumpkin-pears with a few pieces of Kerrygold butter. Sprinkle pangrattato/breadcrumbs over top evenly. Drizzle with a bit more of the olive oil & bake for about 30-40 minutes. Top will be very golden brown & the pumpkin & pears will be softened but still holding their shape.

10. This dish can be eaten as a main course or side dish, but for our dinner I cooked up some Quinoa pasta & tossed it with a few tablespoons of olive oil &  black pepper & salt. The serving of pasta was then topped with Pumpkin Pangrattato, a few shreds of freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano along side a glass of slightly chilled Pinot Noir which was one perfect Sunday dinner for a warm October evening in Nashville.

Some Music for October evenings:

“October” (Song & Album, U2) Universal Island Records 2008

“Red Hot Chili Peppers Snow ((Hey OH))”  Warner Bros 2006

“Farm Fresh Onions” (song & album, Robert Earl Keen) 2003 Koch Records

“October Song” (Song/Album”Frank”, Amy Winehouse)

“1979” (Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits) 2001

“Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme” (Album Simon & Garfunkel)1966

A Little Gallery

 

 

boo!

“Honeycomb Cocktail for Fall Musings” or To Recipe or Not to Recipe….

Do food blogs have to be recipe driven? While sipping my “Honeycomb Cocktail” my mind was wandering…..that is what a Honeycomb Cocktail will do to you….

It does seem that a good, simple recipe can wow the most jaded of audiences. A beautiful photo of that recipe certainly gilds the lily. But there are many times, when the recipes I am cooking & the cocktails I am conjuring up belong to someone else  & what I am cooking is not for me, but for a cookbook, a restaurant menu, a magazine article or ad.  While I do love my work it definitely slows down my home kitchen output. But while I am on a shoot I always keep my camera handy. Wonderful imagery abounds in ways obvious or obscure having to do with food. These images often are what inspire me to cook up a new recipe, look at an old recipe differently, see food more scientifically and humorously. Here are some recent encounters of the food kind, not so recipe driven.

P.S. Don’t miss the recipe after the photos  that got this idea percolating...”Honeycomb Cocktail for Fall Musings”

Pie on paper
Ten til Five.....beautiful stainless steel everywhere
Not to be confused with any other breader.
Chicago, on a shoot, view out my hotel window.
An image styled.....
....part of same image "un-styled".
Dried up pears from a tree in my neighborhood...on ground since last fall.
Bread Box with inspirational sayings on restaurant table.
Lots of Big Spoons.
Lots of Big Ladles.
Fresh green peas ready to be shot.
Red Stripes.
Chef's coats
"fun" written in chocolate syrup
Some folks still make real flour sacks
Kitchen in an abandoned house
Chayote was the subject
Old recipe box for home economic students
Egg & Whisk

A simple recipe for my “Honeycomb Cocktail for Fall Musings”

Ingredients: Chilled White Rum, Chilled Limoncello, Honey with honey comb

Honeycomb

Directions:

Mix together 1 ounce chilled White Rum, 1 ounce chilled Limoncello liqueur, a tsp good local Honey. Pour into a glass. Garnish with a wedge of Honey Comb. Sip and let your mind wander.

Questions?

How often do you really follow a recipe?

Do you listen to music when you cook? What kind?

Do you encounter images daily that create food & recipe ideas in your head?

The more you know about food…do you find yourself eating less? or more?

Do you think you eat more than your fair share of the earth’s bounty?

Is it more important to blog often with less content or blog less often with more content.

How many times have you actually tried the recipes you encounter on food blogs?

What would you blog about it you had nothing to eat for a few days?

I ask myself these and more…

…..food for thought…

salut!

“A Late August Four-Letter “F” Word To Savor!”

My favorite four letter “f” word in late August is “Figs”. Finally we have some figs to play with. I have been watching the trees in the neighborhood, snooping around the farmer’s markets, just waiting, thinking on simple recipes using tree ripened figs.

“Brown Turkey Figs”

Sitting with a group of food friends the other day we started talking about foods we really were not aware of when we were younger, foods that we now know and love. For most of us Southerners it seems fresh figs just didn’t make it onto our radars until adulthood. I am not sure why. Fig trees thrive around here so it seems that figs would have been a summer staple just like peaches & late summer pears. I think I will do a bit of research to figure out why I never ate fresh figs as a child. As an adult I relish the arrival of this little, lush four-letter word.

“Fresh Figs-Pine Nuts Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake” 

 The corn meal gives it a bit of a crunch as do the pine nuts. The caramelized fig topping drizzled with maple syrup is luscious.

Ingredients: 5 to 6 fresh figs, 2 to 3 cups self-rising white or yellow cornmeal (I used gluten-free); 1 tsp ground cardamom; 1 stick good butter (Kerry gold of course!); 1 cup brown sugar; (divided into two 1/2 cups; 1/4 cups toasted pine nuts; 2 eggs; milk; real maple syrup

Directions:  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet, preferably, over medium high heat. Add in 1/2 cup brown sugar stirring until melted.

2. Wash & dry figs. Cut each one in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down in skillet in a circular pattern. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts over figs. Turn heat to low allowing the figs to caramelize somewhat for about 5-8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients..cornmeal, second 1/2 cup brown sugar & cardamom. Add eggs & enough milk to make a batter.

                                                                   

4. Pour/scrape batter into the hot skillet with the figs on top of the stove. Transfer skillet to the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cake is golden brown and set in the middle. Remove skillet from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes.

5. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and “flip” plate & skillet upside-down. Scrape any caramel left in the pan over the top of the cake. While cake is still hot drizzle generously with real maple syrup. Cool cake for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve slices with additional maple syrup on side if desired.


Bonus Recipe: “Figgy Pancakes”

Ingredients: Same as for the cake recipe with a few extra figs quartered.

It was morning when I was baking the cake and had a bit of batter left over after filling the skillet. While the cake was baking I whipped up some pancakes for breakfast!

Directions: 1. Heat some butter in a small non-stick pan or griddle over high heat. Add a few quartered figs.

2. Pour in batter. When batter is set on bottom and bubbly on top flip pancake and  finish cooking til golden brown.

        

3. Serve immediately with real maple syrup. This was one good pancake recipe!

EXTRA, EXTRA BONUS RECIPE…SEE BELOW…THE EASIEST MOST DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT FRESH FIGS…….DON’T MISS THIS ONE!

“Sea Salt & Raw Sugar Dipped Figs”

Take some wonderful fresh figs. Cut them into quarters. Sprinkle some great sea salt & raw sugar on a saucer. Dip cut edges of figs in salt-sugar mixture and eat.

A sublime treat.

Doesn’t the word “fig” conjure up an image of Adam romping around in the Garden of Eden wearing a fig leaf?

I wondered what figs would be like after they were frozen?

 FYI. Mushy, but aren’t they pretty frozen?

Some “f” word music I like. A little bit different, fun and peppy to help you get figgy.

Album, “The Figs”,  The Figs, 2007 Valcour Records

Album, “What Keeps Me Up At Night”, The Figs 2008

Songs, “Jumbo” & “The Long Goodbye”, Marseille Figs, 2009 Figs of London

Eat good stuff.