We all know gravy or pan sauce in large quantities might be good for our soul but it isn’t so good for our heart health. After all we are doing nothing more then adding flour or cornstarch to the fat … Continue reading
Back when I thought I could eat gluten I was a biscuit hound. It was nothing for me to scarf down two or three. I have been known to forgo the rest of dinner for a good biscuit. I always considered myself a connoisseur, from angel biscuits to crescents or buttermilk to sweet potato I think I have made them all. Some of them were more fussy to make then others and all always in need of a light hand and a quick touch to keep them from being tough.
This biscuit is what I call a redneck biscuit and I call them this with fondness. They are a working mom’s weeknight biscuit. They come together quickly and without worry and they lack nothing other then fussiness. There is nothing in the instructions about overworking the dough, you don’t need to look for a cornmeal texture in the flour, there is nothing about spacing the biscuits perfectly or about flakiness or making sure you cut the edges cleanly for a good rise. No they are pretty much cream, add the liquid, stir and scoop.
They are inspired by Shirley Coriher’s Touch-of-Grace biscuits which I started making just before I found out I couldn’t eat gluten. They are the kind of biscuits that are gooey in the middle, they aren’t layered but are tender and airy. They are the kind of biscuit you might find at a really good diner. You can imagine this old dogs disappointment when I had to stop eating them. The thing is about 4 months ago I started playing around with and making gluten-free biscuits. While I found many I liked, I went nuts for none.
Then I got a burr up my craw and decided I wanted to make Shirley’s biscuits but gluten-free. It wasn’t all that tough, or I should say, maybe I got lucky. I found a recipe on Bob’s Redmill and, using it as a base and replicating what I knew about Mrs. Coriher’s biscuits, well, low and behold I struck biscuit gold.
In all honesty I like the flavor of this biscuit better then the original. The sorghum flour has such a great flavor. One of the big bonus’s if there are any left, which is a rarity around here, is they hold well into the next day or two.
Saving Grace Biscuits (inspired by Shirley Coriher’s Touch-of-Grace Biscuits)
1 cup white sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1. Heat the oven to 450˚F.
2. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients.
3. Cube the butter and add it to the flour. Using your hands work it into the flour until there are no big hunks of butter left.
4. Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon, The batter will be very loose, it should barely hold its shape before slowly begins spreading.
5. Liberally butter an eight inch cake pan. Using a half cup ice cream scoop, scoop up a ball of dough and turn it out into the pan close to the edge. Continue turning out biscuits working your way around the outside first leaving room for the seventh and final biscuit in the middle.
6. Bake the biscuits for 23 minutes or until browned on top. When you remove them from the oven they will drop. That is OK.
7. Serve with lots of butter.
I am not perfect and don’t plan to be anytime soon. I buy to much when I should do with less and I always seem to waste more then I think I should.
I try to do better.
I compost because I have a garden, I use glass cups instead of plastic, I don’t do tupperware, and my kids use real plates and glass (in 6 years I can count the broken dishes on one hand) and we are trying to go paperless.
As an old dog I understand my bad habits will probably not change, at least not much. I may become resolute for a week or two about some sort of waste and how we as a family should do better. Then it seems we slip back into our old routines. But we have made permanent changes.
One of those changes is to reuse or re-purpose as much as we can. I got an iPad mini for Christmas. I have so many charging cords already that a docking station seems pointless but I knew I needed something to keep it off the counter. After all, I plan to use it for iBook cookbooks and recipes and didn’t want it easily ruined when drenched by the first spill.
I went to the garage and luckily, in a light bulb moment, I spotted an old round wood cutting board. It was perfect. I got out the saw and cut off the end. Then I cut a slot wide enough for the iPad to fit with a little wiggle room so it would angle back for better reading and, voilá, I have a stand. It works so good I made three more and have them in different places around the house.
If you are handy, or someone in the family is, you can knock these out in minutes with a saw.
The wonderful thing is, since it is made from a wood cutting board, it fits in nicely with the decor of our house.
For some it might have been potato or green bean, but for me my gratin affinity began at an early age with macaroni and cheese. You know, the good old-fashioned kind with real cheddar and whole milk thickened with roux or egg yolks. The one that is baked until the correct ratio of crispy, crunchy top to creamy interior is achieved. It taught me early on in life just how fantastic a great food friendship is.
Then, as I came of age, somehow the gratin became any one-dish. It is tuna with the thin crispy onion rings baked on top or Chicken Divan with broccoli, cheddar, and crumbled Ritz crackers providing the crunch. There is the obligatory cottage pie, as done in the Midwest, topped with both cheddar and mozzarella, then browned. For a while, it was a multitude of eggy breakfast casseroles, all, of course, involving more cheddar.
It became neat, rectangular, and predictable. It served twelve. It was a 9×13 casserole world and I was living it.
I was fortunate. I got out. I went to college, I travelled, I ate.
With knowledge and experience came diversity. And we all know diversity makes the world a much better place. So I developed friendships with lasagna, cassoulet, moussaka, and the timballo, to name a few.
Through it all, and even though we didn’t see each other as much, the gratin remained my favorite.
What I realized is the gratin is the kick-ass cousin who went to college too. And when you reconnect at the family reunion you realize you hang with them because they are exciting, interesting, and you can rest assured that there is more depth to them than a spiky haircut and a couple of tattoos. You get each other in that way only family can.
I like the gratin’s quirks. I like its fondness for juxtaposition. I know that, without pretense, Tournedos Rossini can snuggle in next to a celery root gratin as easily as can Irish bangers and, regardless of which side of the tracks it finds itself, the gratin brings comfort to the table, weight to the unbearable lightness of being.
The thing is, the gratin comes by these traits naturally. But I also know that the things that make it stand out — the creamy interior and crunchy top — don’t just happen, that the building of flavors takes effort, and that without a true friend’s presence the gratin’s popularity might wane.
But then that is what true friends do, you know, bring out the best in each other, and relish in each others’ success.
Note: I have been making this recipe for years. It is based on a recipe in the Dean and DeLuca cookbook by David Rosengarten. I have always found it to be a lovely holiday side dish. It goes well with prime rib roasts and roast chicken. It is versatile and can be made ahead to be put into the oven when needed and also is easily doubled.
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon saffron, crushed
1 1/2 cup gruyere or comte cheese, grated
1. If you plan to cook the gratin right away heat the oven to 400 degrees. Otherwise move on to step two.
2. Place the potatoes and celery root into separate large pots. Cover by two inches with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt to each pot. Bring the pots to a boil over medium heat. Cook the vegetables until tender.
3. Once the vegetables are tender, pour them out into a colander set in the sink. Drain the vegetables and let them sit for a minute or two steam-drying.
4. Rinse out one of the pots and add the cream, garlic, butter, and saffron. Bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Add a hefty pinch of salt and a few grinds of white pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese. Stir it into the warm liquid till melted.
5. Place the celery root and potatoes into a mixing bowl (or the other blanching pot if it is big enough) and smash the mix with a potato masher. Add a pinch of salt then add the cream and saffron mix. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.
6. Use a little softened butter to grease an 8-inch oval gratin (12 inches long). Spread the rustic chunky mash out into the pan. Smooth the top with a spatula, then crosshatch the top with the tines of a fork. Spread the remaining cheese out over the top.
7. Bake until the cheese is browned, about 30 minutes. Let the gratin cool for 5 minutes, then serve.