Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hectic holidays

The part I hate about hosting meals is that, while everyone else is socializing and picking over the hor d'oeuvres, I'm always stuck in the kitchen, slaving over everything, playing a game of trying to get it all ready at the same time so that I'm not serving anything cold. I know I'm not alone because the same thing happens to my mom on Thanksgiving. There also seems to be the problem that you never have enough oven space or burners (on my mom's part, this was partially rectified this Christmas when she received an electric pressure cooker (how cool is that?)). As a result, my goal when cooking in these situations, is to make as many parts of the meal in advance. This way, there's less stress and I can enjoy the company of others.

I believe I've nearly perfected my methods, as yesterday I served dinner to NINE people and only had to disappear into the kitchen for a half-hour before serving the meal (that's right, I actually got to enjoy some of my own salmon spread this time). I would like to share with you the little tips and tricks I employed for cutting down on kitchen time in the hopes that you'll be able to use them yourselves in the future and spend more of your holidays with your loved ones than slaving over a hot stove. Enjoy!

The turkey
  • I brine my turkeys. This not only helps keep the bird moist, but it alters the proteins in the meat, allowing it to cook faster. I've never had a bird in the oven for more than three hours, and I've cooked some pretty big birds.
  • I use a digital, leave-in thermometer. I know it's tradition to serve dry, tough meat, but it doesn't have to be this way. By using a thermometer, you remove the guess work of knowing when you're meat is done. White meat should be at 165F and dark meat should be at 170F. Most turkeys I've had (that I haven't cooked) would probably read around 178F and 185F, respectively, by the time they're pulled from the oven. This is because they're probably in there for a full hour longer than they need to be.
  • If the turkey happens to be done early, I put the lid on my roasting pan (the turkey is cooked exposed, with a "turkey triangle" (a folded triangle of aluminum foil) placed over the breast meat for added protection), and turn the oven down to 150F.
The gravy
  • You know that grab-bag of goodies you pull out of your turkey's butt before you cook it? That's not just a cracker-jack prize - it's an opportunity to make your gravy BEFORE your turkey's done.
  • Use the gibblets and neck to make an easy gravy and store it in a 1L thermos. It'll stay warm allllllll day, just pour and serve.
  • After everyone's gone home at the end of the day, you can salvage what's left in the bottom of the roasting pan and freeze it for an easy gravy NEXT time.
The potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes are not just cooked potatoes that have been beaten to a pulp and thrown into a bowl.
  • Add a quarter to a half cup of sour cream (depending on amount) to your potatoes during the mashing part (don't forget some melted butter and seasonings!) and they won't set up like bricks when they cool.
  • Make them ahead of time, transfer them to a casserole dish and let them cool.
  • To reheat, nuke them in a microwave for about 5-6 minutes, then finish them in the oven while your turkey is resting (30 minutes!) to lightly brown the top.
Remember: Your turkey should rest, tented or covered, for 20-30 minutes before you cut into it. This allows the juices to redistribute in the meat and prevents it from all coming out on the serving platter. During this time, you can be finishing the vegetables and any other last minute meal parts.

Finally, carving the turkey with an electric knife will make the entire ordeal much faster and less messy. Consider buying one if you don't already have one.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Snowcaps

Last night I went to my curling club's Christmas potluck and I brought my famous Salsa Tortilla Bake and Chocolate Snowcap cookies. As I had hoped, they were a huge success and everyone was asking me for the recipes. "No problem," I said, "They're on my blog," thinking I could just direct them to Kitchen Fallout and they could peruse my recipes at their leisure.
But wait a minute! I've never shared my Chocolate Snowcap cookies with you! Bad me! They're a seasonal tradition for me, having first discovered the recipe when I was in elementary school in my very first cook book ever (knowing my mom, she still has it somewhere). I've been tweeking the recipe ever since (different amount of dough per cookie, more or less flour, etc) and I think it's just about near perfect, though my husband thinks it needs more peanut butter.

You be the judge.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just in time for Halloween

I owed a lot of people thanks at work for all the help they've been giving me, so I decided to make some cookies. What with it being fall and all, I went with a sugar cookie in the shape of the seasonal favourite: candy corn. It's a super easy way to make sugar cookies, no rolling required, and they look extremely impressive. Also, a normal sized recipe makes dozens of cookies. I made 10 bags with 8 cookies in each.

This post isn't about the sugar cookie recipe. You can use your own, personal favourite, or just use a package mix (like Betty Crocker) if you're pressed for time. I personally prefer Alton Brown's recipe from the Cookie Clause episode (side note: the peppermint pinwheel variation is amazing!).

Step 1: Start with one batch of sugar cookie dough.

Step 2: Divide the dough equally into thirds. I did this using my kitchen scale, but you can eyeball it as it doesn't matter if one section is slightly bigger than the others.

Step 3: Put one third to the side, and colour the other two thirds yellow and orange using food colouring (I prefer the Wilton brand paste colours, personally).

Step 4: Line a loaf pan with wax paper and press the uncoloured portion into the pan.

Step 5: Repeat with the orange and then yellow sections.

Step 6: Cool the dough in the refrigerator for atleast 1 hour.

Step 7: Remove the dough from the pan and slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices. This was made easy by using my Oxo Good Grips Bench Scraper which was sharp enough to cut the dough, and had 1/4 inch markings on the tip.

Step 8: Cut each slice into triangles.


Step 9: Bake in batches in a 375 deg F oven for 8-10 minutes, until the edges just start to brown.


Step 10: Cool on the sheet for several minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.





Original Source: Betty Crocker - Candy Corn Cookies

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An unconventional way to roast a chicken

The very first time I tried to roast a chicken, I ended up serving my pour, unsuspecting in-laws some grossly underdone meat. This is why I always say that family make the best guinea pigs - because they still have to love you, even if you serve them something terrible. :D Part of what I didn't understand was that a "roaster" chicken (2 kg and up) is not ideal for quick cooking methods the way that "broiler/fryer"s are (~1.5 kg). I had been attempting to spatchcock the chicken (an old fashioned term that means to flatten the chicken by removing the spine and breast bone) in order to reduce the cooking time. I eventually did get it right (after moving to the smaller bird size) but the skin wasn't quite right. Depending on the oven, you'll get overdone spots, even if you finish the chicken under the broiler.

Last weekend, I serendipitously watched a rerun of Chef at Home where he cooked the chicken in a cast-iron skillet, using regular mortar bricks to press it evenly into the pan and ensure maximum contact. I had originally passed this off since, at the time, I didn't own a cast-iron skillet large enough. I now, however, am the proud owner of a beautiful 12" Lodge Cookware skillet (bought for a song while down in Las Vegas) and this cooking method was open to me. To solidify the idea that I should try this out, America's Test Kitchen showed an episode, around the same time, where they used bricks in the same method to get beautiful skin on the BBQ (so even if you don't have the 12" skillet, this technique is still an option for you).

The resulting chicken had gorgeous skin. It was perfectly done and I didn't have to fiddle with anything. To add to the "pros" of this cooking method, the whole chicken was done in about a half an hour and came with an almost-ready-made gravy/sauce. What's not to love?

Pollo al Mattoni (aka Brick Chicken)
(Download PDF)

Ingredient List
whole chicken (~ 1.5 kg)
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
onion (1 medium) (for pan sauce)
white wine (½ cup) (for pan sauce)
heavy (35%) cream (½ cup) (for pan sauce)
white vinegar (for pan sauce)

Hardware List
kitchen shears
10” cast-iron skillet
bricks (2)
aluminum foil
probe thermometer (if available)

Directions
Wrap 2 regular-sized bricks with aluminum foil and set aside.

Flatten one 1.5 kg whole chicken by removing the spine using a sharp pair of kitchen shears. Open the bird like a book and remove the keel (aka breast) bone by cutting down the sides of the cartilage and removing it with fingers.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a 10” cast-iron skillet over high heat. While the skillet and oil are heating, coat the bird on all sides with more olive oil and liberally salt and pepper.

Once the oil just begins to smoke, place the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet and top with the two foil-wrapped bricks. Immediately reduce the heat to low. The goal is to maintain the sizzling sound without producing any smoke.

Slowly brown the chicken for approximately 20 minutes, careful not to burn the skin.

Preheat the oven to 450F. If making a pan sauce, finely dice 1 medium onion at this time.

When the chicken is golden brown, remove the bricks and flip the chicken. Insert the probe thermometer into the center of the breast meat, if available, and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.

Cook until the thermometer measures 160F. Remove the skillet from the oven. Transfer the chicken to a platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil to rest for at least 5 minutes.

To make a pan sauce:

Remove any excess oil from the skillet. Brown the diced onions over medium-high heat, being sure to scrape up any fond from the bottom of the pan.

Add ½ cup white wine and any juices from the resting chicken, then increase the heat to high.

Reduce the liquid by approximately a half before adding ½ cup heavy cream. Reduce again until thickened.

Finish with ½ tsp white vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the chicken in quarters (breast & wing, leg & thigh), topped with pan sauce.

Nutrition (per ¼ chicken, breast with skin, no sauce)
Calories 300
Total fat 11 g
Saturated fat 4 g
Cholesterol 200 mg
Sodium 490 mg
Carbohydrate 3 g
Dietary fibre 3 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 47 g
Vitamin A 4 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 1 %DV
Iron 8 %DV

Nutrition (per ¼ chicken, leg with skin, no sauce)
Calories 314
Total fat 19 g
Saturated fat 6 g
Cholesterol 233 mg
Sodium 432 mg
Carbohydrate 1 g
Dietary fibre 2 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 35 g
Vitamin A 3 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 3 %DV
Iron 11 %DV

Nutrition (per 2 tbsp sauce)
Calories 51
Total fat 4 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Cholesterol 14 mg
Sodium 199 mg
Carbohydrate 1 g
Dietary fibre 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 0 g
Vitamin A 3 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 1 %DV
Iron 0 %DV

Original Source: Chef at Home - Brick Chicken with Sherry Pan Gravy

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to boil water

I know I've said it a time or two, that someone is so bad at cooking they can't even boil water. A quick Google search for "boiling water" turns up tons of eHow-type pages on how to do it. But there really is more to it than just putting a pot of water over heat and waiting until you see bubbles (or there CAN be more to it, anyway).

Here's a post on, "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know (Plus More!) About Boiling Water" by the Serious Eats Food Lab.

Don't laugh, there's some interesting stuff there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to get crispy skin on chicken/turkey

Step away from the bird, put the turkey baster down, and no one has to get hurt.

Ever since I started applying my critical thinking skills to my kitchen forays, I have been perplexed beyond words why anyone would think that, to achieve crisp chicken/turkey skin, you should baste the bird by pouring over all those juices from the bottom of the pan. I'm pretty certain that every single one of my relatives is guilty of doing this (excepting my vegetarian uncle, of course). When asked why they think that this achieves crispier skin, I've received answers ranging from the elusive ("It just does.") to the stupid ("That's fat at the bottom of the pan and coating the turkey in grease will crisp it up." FYI, anyone who bothers to separate that liquid afterward for gravy knows that it's approximately 80% water, 20% fat.).

Bottom line: You're pouring water all over your delicious turkey, thereby preventing the very thing you're trying to achieve.

In order to reach the browning stage, the temperature of the skin must climb well above that of boiling water. To do that, you need to remove as much of the water as possible from the skin, otherwise all of the heat (read: energy) will go toward converting water from its liquid to its gaseous state, and none of it will do into raising the temperature of the proteins, etc. in the skin.

So what's the solution? Well, people have known for a while that air-drying any meat in the refrigerator for atleast 12 hours will help remove surface liquid. They also have known that rubbing the skin liberally with salt will encourage the release of liquid in the skin, allowing for it to evaporate earlier in the cooking process. What's been recently brought to light is the addition of a "magical" baking ingredient that, when used with the salt on the skin, leads to an even crispier end-product. What's that ingredient?

Baking powder!

How does it work, you ask? Here's the science,

Baking powder consists of both an acid (monocalcium phosphate) and an alkali (aka base) (sodium bicarbonate). As the salt encourages the release of moisture, it is absorbed by the solid baking powder, allowing the acid and alkali to react. The released calcium ions are now free to enter the skin cells, activating enzymes responsible for the break-down of proteins. Combined with the remaining alkali, these broken-down proteins now have a lower "activation energy" required to undergo the Maillard reaction and start browning (i.e. it now takes less heat to brown the skin).

So, in conclusion, when baking powder is combined with salt and rubbed onto the skin of the turkey/chicken, it will produce a crispier, browner skin. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Recipes that use this technique:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crispy Rice Goodness!

I think, that with all this try-to-improve-my-kitchen-skills thing, I've forgotten that, sometimes, the simplest things are the best. Case in point: Last Monday I participated in my work's golf tournament (no, I don't golf, but I'm still surprisingly good at it) and brought along Rice Krispies Treats. They were the only quick-and-easy thing I could think of that would stand up to the heat. The result: my team said I was awesome, the team behind us begged to have some, and I received one profession of undying love and devotion (seriously). All because I spent 15 (maybe 25, max) minutes in the kitchen the night before.

Now it's not as simple as making Rice Krispies Treats from the recipe on the box, because the recipe on the box IS NOT the recipe my generation grew up with. Enter my mother. She doesn't throw away anything and, consequently, has a typewriter-typed recipe with the original recipe as well as some pretty clever variations on it. On a related note, my mom makes these things for every family get-together and they're always the first thing to go.

Crispy Rice Treats
(download PDF)

Ingredient List
salted butter (¼ cup)
marshmallows (300 g, ~ 40 large or 4 cups small)
puffed rice cereal (5 cups)
vanilla extract

Directions
Coat the inside of a 9”x9” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper and coat the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt ¼ cup salted butter over medium-low heat. Add 300 g marshmallows. Stir the marshmallows as they melt, making sure that the bottom doesn’t burn.

Once the marshmallows are completed melted, stir in ½ tsp vanilla extract thoroughly.

Add 5 cups puffed rice cereal, one cup at a time, until evenly mixed with the melted marshmallow.

Pour the mixture firmly into the prepared pan using slightly wetted finger tips.

Let the pan cool to room temperature before cutting into squares using a pizza cutter.

Makes 12 squares.

Notes
Doubling the recipe makes enough to fit into a 9”x13” baking pan.

Variations:
  • Press a thin layer of mixture into lubricated muffin cups to form shells. Fill with ice cream and top with chocolate syrup.
  • Before cutting, pour over melted chocolate (and/or butterscotch).
  • Dip ends of squares in melted semi-sweet chocolate, then in chopped nuts. Place on waxed paper to harden.
  • Substitute up to half of the puffed rice cereal for another fruity or chocolaty cereal.
  • Mix in some M&M’s, Reece’s Pieces, crushed candy canes, etc., fruit, or nuts.
  • Stir in ½ cup peanut butter to the melted marshmallow to make peanut butter treats.
Nutrition (per square)
Calories 160
Total fat 4 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 153 mg
Carbohydrate 30 g
Dietary fibre 0 g
Sugars 13 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 7 %DV
Vitamin C 5 %DV
Calcium 0 %DV
Iron 23 %DV

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strawberries + lN2 = SCIENCE!

I don't think I've yet blogged about our amazing neighbours next door. When we moved in, they came over with a plate of cookies. Later we learned that they also loved board games. We borrow each others' stuff (ladders, rakes, etc) and occasionally have dinner together. They are awesome neighbours. The wife invited me to go strawberry picking. I LOVE fruit picking. I think it's mostly about the bargin I get (usually half the price of stores, PLUS I don't have to settle for a few crappy fruits at the bottom of the container), but I also enjoy getting outside and doing something different.ANYWAY, so I may have gone a *little* overboard and picked a few too many quartz of strawberries. I made strawberry rhubarb crisp (still tuning the recipe) and strawberry jam (don't skimp and buy No Name brand pectin, it's worth the extra few cents for brand name) and then I sort of ran out of time. Solution? Freeze the rest.The most common way to do this is to first hull the strawberries. I also removed the centers of the very large strawberries. To do this, I use a jagged-edged iciing tip: Push in, twist, pull out. Simple. Next, you would arrange them in a single layer on a heavy-duty baking sheet and place it in the freezer. The goal is to freeze them as quickly as possible. This way, you'll get smaller ice crystals. Large ice crystals are bad because they will tear apart the cell wall of your strawberries so that, when you thaw them, you get strawberry soup.

The best way to freeze strawberries is to drop them, individually, into some liquid Nitrogen (lN2). lN2 has a temperature of -162 degrees Celcius. (Recall that there is nothing hazardous about lN2 (except for its temperature) as N2 accounts for 78% of the air we breathe.) This is how the big companies that sell frozen vegetables and fruit at the supermarket do it.

And it's also how you would do it if your husband were a physicist who works with the stuff on a daily basis to cool his scary-powerful lasers. *big grin*
Freezing the strawberries was a lot of fun and I look forward to the next fruit-freezing opportunity (unfortunately, raspberries are a little small and time-consuming to pick any appreciable amount). I did learn one lesson though: Don't dare your husband to eat a recently frozen strawberry. He'll do it, and then you'll have a whole tongue-frozen-to-flag-pole ordeal ahead of you. :P

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Good Eats is Good Television

Short post as I'm at work (obviously not working, but at work, semantics, really) and don't have any of my photos or recipes to use. I thought I'd share a link to a YouTube Channel that is actually carrying the most recent Good Eats episodes.

For those not familiar with Good Eats, the host, Alton Brown, once described it as a Mr.-Wizard-and-Monty-Python-meet-Julia-Child type of show. I find that it really delivers on the science and anthropology side of cooking. For me, it's not enough to know that doing something in such a way works, I want to know WHY it works. I also enjoy being able to drop little bits of information into casual dinner conversation (For example, did you know that the carrot was originally black (then yellow, red, etc.), but that the Dutch engineered it to be orange in honour of William I of Orange?).

I've learned a lot from this show and always look forward to new episodes. Unfortunately, they don't air in Canada (at least not in a timely fashion) and so I have to go without. No longer! Some thoughtful Youtuber, Adam Jon Peterson, has posted the last handful of episodes (in High-Def, no less) for our viewing pleasure.

My favourite episode of the new season is probably the one on Eggs Benedict (Little Big Lunch), where Alton shows how to prepare the parts of the dish separately for easy assembly later. Really bad for you but really, really . . .

*begin show intro*

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Frozen Steel-Cut Oats

What won't they think of next?

I suppose, once you know about it, it doesn't seem like that ingenious an idea, but I certainly didn't think about it before, so props to the first guy who did.

I've blogged about Overnight Steel-Cut Oats before, but the recipe was lacking the "day of" recipe (which can, admittedly, take up to 45 minutes, but that's what you get when you don't plan ahead). So it will have to be revisited and revised. Most likely in the future, when I'm not preparing to submit a Research Ethics proposal at work and dealing with the (lack of a) new kitchen at home.

I know I will be making many large batches of the stuff and freezing them in 1 cup portions . . . once I get my kitchen back.

Speaking of, the plumber/gas fitter is apparently in the house as we speak. That means that my kitchen is OFFICIALLY FINISHED!!! Now I have the difficult task of organizing where everything is going to go (I only have one set of double length drawers which really makes storage a bugger). After that, I have until Saturday/Sunday to get the rest of the house spotless AND bake a pineapple upside down cake in preparation for my father coming to visit for an early Father's Day celebration (I've entered us in a canoe race!). Fun times.

I will definitely be writing a post about my kitchen organization scheme once I'm done since a Google search for "kitchen cabinet organization" turned up next to nothing useful. And pictures. Lots of lovely pictures!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Salsa Tortilla Bake

It's been an entire month, and I was so hoping my kitchen would be done by now, but apparently there are a lot of players involved and getting them all in the right place and the right time takes some coordinating. For example, the countertop has to be ordered from a separate company. They can't take measurements until the cabinets are in. Once they take their measurements, it will take 1-2 weeks to order the material and cut it to size. Only once the counter top (and sink) have been installed, can the gas fitter/plumber come in to do his job.
That's where I am right now. Waiting for the countertop people to show up, and then the plumber can't make it until next Wednesday. Pft.

Anyway, I apologize for my absence. Just because I can't cook doesn't mean I can't share kitchen stories with you. In an attempt to make it up to you, I offer you this image, taken on Day 2 of the renovations.

Scary, no?

I will also share with you a very precious recipe that I admit to holding back from you for some time now. Infact, I first tried the recipe in highschool (that's almost a decade ago, for those keeping track) and have tweaked it so much that it doesn't even resemble the original anymore but it tastes delicious.

Enjoy!

Salsa Tortilla Bake
(download PDF)

Ingredient List
cheddar cheese (200 g)
frozen chopped spinach (300 g/1 pkg)
lean ground beef (675 g/1.5 lb)
taco seasoning (2 tbsp/1 pkg)
mayonnaise (½ cup)
AP flour (½ cup)
whole/3.25% milk (3 cups)
salsa (½ cup)
large flour tortillas (10-12)

Directions
Shred 200 g cheddar cheese (makes approximately 2 cups after shredding). Thaw and drain 300 g frozen chopped spinach. Set both aside.

Brown 675 g lean ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the ground beef and add 2 tbsp taco seasoning (or to taste) and ¼ cup water. Stir until the seasoning is evenly distributed, and simmer on high until all of the water has evaporated. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together ½ cup mayonnaise and ½ cup AP flour. Gradually add 3 cups whole milk and whisk continuously until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Stir in half of the shredded cheese until melted.

Reserve 1 cup of the sauce in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming on the surface.

To the remaining sauce, add the ground beef, ½ cup salsa, and the spinach. Stir mixture until uniformly combined.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spoon ¼ - ⅓ cup of the mixture into the center of a large flour tortilla and roll up. Repeat until no more filling remains. Arrange the tortillas side by side on a baking sheet so that they are tightly together and there are no gaps in between. Top them evenly with the reserved sauce and sprinkle over the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.

Makes 10-12 wraps.

Notes
“Tex mex” pre-shredded cheese can be substituted for the cheddar cheese. Cubed, boneless or ground chicken breasts can be substituted for the ground beef. Use taco seasoning and salsa to personal taste preferences. Additional Tabasco sauce can be added for more heat.

Nutrition (per wrap)
Calories 321
Total fat 15 g
Saturated fat 7 g
Cholesterol 76 mg
Sodium 311 mg
Carbohydrate 21 g
Dietary fibre 2 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 25 g
Vitamin A 6 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 22 %DV
Iron 15 %DV

Original source: Kraft Canada - Our Perfect Zesty Chicken Tortilla Bake

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sometimes everything I know gets turned upside down

I like to learn about cooking and baking from a scientific point of view. For instance, learning about the difference between baking soda (alkaline) and baking powder (neutral) and when to use each (to balance the acidity of the other ingredients), really improved my baking abilities. But there are just some things that we are hand-fed in the cooking world that we take as gospel truth, without any questioning. One of those strongly held beliefs of mine was recently turned on its head.

Were I to ask you to to cook me up some pasta, those in the know would find their biggest pot and bring their water to a boil. Well, apparently, you don't need to do either - use a large volume of water OR have the water at 100 degrees Celcius.

I know, I know, I'm as shocked as you are. But think about all the energy you'll save from only heating a small amount of water for a shorter amount of time. I promise to test this out as soon as my new kitchen is finished (only two more weeks!). In the mean time, go have a read for yourself here:

The Food Lab: A New Way to Cook Pasta? (Serious Eats)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beefy, stewy goodness

I've been developing this beef stew recipe for nearly 8 months and I've finally got it to where I would like it to be, as far as the cooking technique and the right ratio of ingredients. I'm still kicking myself because, the first time I made this, I didn't write down what I was doing! Let this be a cautionary tale for you: When playing about in the kitchen, keep a notebook! Michael Smith does it, now I do, and so should you!

Anyway, enjoy this stew. It's really simple to make, tastes great, and I love any recipe that allows me to do all the work before company arrives so that I can start things off with a clean, clutter-free kitchen.

Beef Stew
(download PDF here)

Ingredient List
stewing beef (~ 500 g)
onions (2 medium)
garlic (5 cloves)
tomato paste (156 mL/5.5 fl oz can)
beef broth (2-3 cups)
red wine or beer (1-2 cups)
potatoes, white or Yukon Gold (3 medium)
carrots (4 medium)
vegetable oil (2 tbsp)
bay leaves (3)
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Directions
Cube 500 g stewing beef into large, bite-size pieces. Allow beef to come to room temperature while preparing remaining ingredients.

Finely dice 2 medium onions and mince 5 garlic cloves. Set aside.

Pat beef dry with paper towel and liberally season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium high heat, in a dutch oven or other oven-proof vessel with lid. Brown one batch of beef in a single layer in the oil for approximately 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove browned beef to a plate. Add more vegetable oil to the dutch oven and repeat with the remaining batches of beef.

Add diced onions to the empty dutch oven and cook them until they soften, approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add 1 can tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Return the beef and its juices to the dutch oven and pour over enough liquid to completely submerge the beef. Aim for an approximate ratio of 2 cups beef broth for every 1 cup red wine or beer.

Peel 1 medium potato and shred it with a box grater. Add the shredded potato to the stew, along with 3 bay leaves, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover the dutch oven with the lid and bake in oven for one hour.

Peel and cube 2 medium potatoes and add to stew. Return stew to oven for another hour.

Peel and cut 4 medium carrots into coins and add to stew. Return stew to oven for another 30 minutes-1 hour. The stew is ready when the beef is fall-apart tender and the vegetables are cooked through.

Optional: Just before serving, add 2 cups frozen green peas and/or 1 package chopped spinach, thawed and drained, or serve stew over a bed of fresh baby spinach.

Makes 6 one cup servings.

Notes
A chuck roast (from the shoulder) or some other tough cut is best for stewing. When buying generic “stewing beef”, choose a package with good marbling and lots of connective tissue.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 438
Total fat 11 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Cholesterol 74 mg
Sodium 750 mg
Carbohydrate 46 g
Dietary fibre 9 g
Sugars 18 g
Protein 35 g
Vitamin A 167%DV
Vitamin C 82 %DV
Calcium 9 %DV
Iron 39 %DV

Best Peanut Butter Cookies . . . Ever!

My mom's favourite cookie of all time is the peanut butter cookie. Every birthday, Mother's Day, anyday, I like to make her a batch because I know she likes them so much. I used to make the cookies from the recipe on the back on the Kraft Peanut Butter jars, but this February (her birthday), she commented (as did Gabriel) that she preferred chewier peanut butter cookies over the crispy ones that this recipe yields. Instead of going back to the books, looking for a different recipe and figuring out which is best through trial and error, this time I applied my newly acquired cookie-science-know-how and came up with my OWN recipe. It was fantastic. The cookies are sweet, peanut-buttery, and oh so moist and chewy. Gabriel says that the only way I could improve it is to find a way to pack in even more peanut butter taste. In the mean time, this recipe rocks. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies
(Download PDF here)

Ingredient List
bread flour (1¼ cup)
butter (½ cup)
brown sugar (¾ cup)
granulated sugar (¼ cup)
peanut butter (smooth or crunchy) (½ cup)
egg (1 large)
vanilla extract
baking powder
baking soda
table salt

Directions
Combine in a small bowl: 1¼ cup bread flour, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp table salt.

Heat ½ cup butter until just melted.

In a medium bowl, beat together: melted butter, ¾ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup granulated sugar. Beat in ½ cup peanut butter, followed by 1 large egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Gradually add the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and uniform in texture and colour.

Form dough into balls and place on baking sheets. Gently flatten dough balls, partially with hands, then with fork tines, making the criss-cross markings on the top.

Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake for 9-11 minutes until bottom edges of cookies begin to brown and the middle of the cookies appear set. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 18 cookies with a 35-disher.

Notes
If bread flour is not available, AP flour can be substituted but cookies will not be as chewy in texture. In this case, beating the mixture for an extra minute after incorporating the flour will help produce more gluten, making the cookies slightly chewier.

Nutrition (per cookie)
Calories 157
Total fat 9 g
Saturated fat 4 g
Cholesterol 24 mg
Sodium 141 mg
Carbohydrate 17 g
Dietary fibre 1 g
Sugars 9 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 3 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 2 %DV
Iron 3 %DV

Friday, April 16, 2010

As smooth as velvet

Sorry for the delay in posts, but I have good news! Gabriel and I are having our kitchen redone in May. And when I say "redone", I mean completely torn out and built from scratch. The walls, the floors, cabinets. It's so exciting. We're even switching from an electric to a gas stove. That will make cooking SO much easier (yay for a uniform heat source!). Pictures will be forthcoming.

So today I do not have a recipe for you, but a question: Where can I get good liquid food colouring?


For the Easter weekend, I baked a Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It was delish and there were no leftovers. But before I go transcribing the recipe, I need to figure out a better way to make the cake red. As you can see from the picture, it's more pink than red, and I think it has to do with the fact that the recipe calls for liquid food colouring, and the only kind we have in Canada is the cheapy Clubhouse brand. I may investigate a way to use my better-quality Wilton colouring pastes and just add some liquid to compensate. Eitherway, I promise to perfect this recipe and get it out to you because, even if it is pink, it's one damn good cake!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

And in the mornin', I'm makin' waffles!

There was a time when buttermilk (and whipping cream), would only be found in my refrigerator during special occasions (holidays and the like). Now, I try to keep it on hand at all times because it's so versataile (recall the easy buttermilk biscuits). Case and point: This morning, it took no effort to make a yummy breakfast of buttermilk waffles (served with light maple syrup, of course).

Enjoy!

Waffles, Buttermilk

Ingredient List
AP flour (1-2 cups)
whole wheat flour (1 cup) (optional)
baking soda
baking powder
table salt
granulated sugar (3 tbsp)
eggs (3 large)
unsalted butter (¼ cup)
buttermilk (2 cups)

Directions
Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Melt ¼ cup unsalted butter.

Whisk together in a medium bowl: 1 cup AP flour (2 cups, if not using whole wheat flour), 1 cup whole wheat flour (optional), ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp sugar.

In a small bowl, beat 3 large eggs. Whisk in the unsalted butter, then 2 cups buttermilk.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir to combine until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of batter onto the waffle iron, pushing it out to the edges. Close the top of the iron and cook until the steam coming out of the sides of the iron reduces substantially, and the waffle is golden brown and can be easily removed from the iron.

Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200°F oven.

Makes 6 6” round waffles.

Notes
To make chocolate waffles, reduce the flour to 1 ½ cups and add ½ cup dutch-process cocoa powder. Add ¾ cup chocolate chips and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

For the PC waffle maker, turn the heat setting to 5 and use an over-flowing ½ cup of batter.

Nutrition (per waffle (1/6th recipe))
Calories 313
Total fat 11 g
Saturated fat 6 g
Cholesterol 129 mg
Sodium 668 mg
Carbohydrate 43 g
Dietary fibre 1 g
Sugars 11 g
Protein 10 g
Vitamin A 8 %DV
Vitamin C 1 %DV
Calcium 15 %DV
Iron 14 %DV

Original Source: Good Eats - Basic Waffle

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Applied science is ALWAYS cool...

...especially when its applied to the art of cookie making.

Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, but not everyone likes them the same way. I like crispy cookies, while Gabriel likes his chewy, and when you follow a recipe you get...well you get a cookie, which may or may not be what you wanted. Enter Alton Brown and his Julia Child meets Mr. Wizard meets Monty Python cooking show, Good Eats. NOW I know how to make the type of cookies I (or Gabriel) like(s). NOW I'm one happy baker.

Alton Brown uses the Tollhouse cookie recipe, but I prefer the Chipits recipe. It uses 1/4 cup less butter (gotta cut the Cals where you can), and starts with a different white to brown sugar ratio. Start with your favourite recipe, then read on to learn how to change things up.

The Science of Cookies

To make thinner, crispier cookies:
  1. Increase the amount of baking soda by up to a half. Baking soda reduces the acidity of the dough which raises the temperature at which the dough sets. Therefore, the cookie will have more time to spread before it sets.
  2. Substitute one of the eggs with ¼ cup whole milk. Eggs puff as they cook. Therefore, the cookies will puff less and spread more.
  3. Increase the ratio of white to brown sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which attracts moisture from the air. Therefore, using less brown sugar will result in a drier, crispier cookie.
  4. Use dough at room temperature. Butter has a low melting point. Therefore, starting the dough at a higher relative temperature will allow it to melt and spread earlier.

To make puffier cookies:

  1. Substitute the butter with butter flavoured shortening. Shortening melts at a higher temperature than butter, so it remains a solid longer. This gives the dough time to rise and set before it spreads.
  2. Increase the ratio of brown to white sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which attracts moisture from the air, leading to a tenderer cookie.
  3. Substitute the AP flour for cake flour. Cake flour has less protein than AP flour, which soaks up moisture. Therefore, the extra moisture can be used to produce steam and provide lift for the cookie.
  4. Substitute baking powder for baking soda. Baking powder is more acidic than baking soda which will lower the temperature at which the dough sets. Therefore, the dough will set more quickly and spread less.
  5. Use thoroughly chilled dough. Cold dough spreads more slowly and, therefore, the cookie will puff more before setting.

To make chewier cookies:
  1. Substitute the AP flour for bread flour AND melt the butter. Bread flour has more protein than AP flour. The water from the melted butter will combine with the protein to produce gluten, which is chewy. Also, since bread flour can absorb more water than AP flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie.
  2. Increase the ratio of brown to white sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which attracts moisture from the air for the protein in the bread flour to combine with to make more gluten, leading to a chewier cookie.
  3. Replace one of the egg’s whites with 2 tbsp whole milk. Egg whites dry out baked goods. By removing one of the whites, you allow more moisture to stay in the cookie.
Original Source: Good Eats - Three Chips for Sister Marsha

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daddy's Magically Sublimating Cookies

On my on-going quest to find ginger cookies exactly like Gabriel thinks they should be (no idea what this means), I stumbled upon this ginger cookie recipe. It has three different forms of ginger in it, as well as cardamom AND cloves, so really, it's a spice cookie. Either way you look at it, this is one good cookie.

I made a batch for Christmas and brought them to my parents house. The next day, I got a call from my dad, asking me if I was aware that I'd given him "sublimating cookies." "Sublimating?" I asked (the direct transition of a substance from the solid state into the gaseous state). "Yeah, they all disappeared." So I made some more. :D

Ginger Cookies
(Download PDF here)

Ingredient List

butter (½ cup + 2 tbsp)
brown sugar (1 cup)
egg (1 large)
molasses (¼ cup)
gingerroot, fresh
AP flour (1 ¾ cup)
baking soda
kosher salt
ground cardamom
ground cloves
ground ginger
candied ginger (115 g)

Directions
Bring ½ cup + 2 tbsp butter and 1 large egg to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Finely grate 2 tsp gingerroot and mince 115 g candied ginger. Set aside.

Combine in a small bowl: 1¾ cup AP flour, 1½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp ground cardamom, ½ tsp ground cloves, and 1 tbsp ground ginger.

In a medium bowl, beat 1 cup brown sugar into room temperature butter until lighter in colour. Add the egg, ¼ cup molasses, and the grated ginger, at medium speed. Mix in the minced candied ginger.

Slowly add the dry ingredients, in batches, waiting until the previous amount has been incorporated before adding more.

Form dough into 1 inch balls on baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 48 cookies.

Notes
To make gingerbread cookies, add an extra 1 cup AP flour to the dry ingredients. Roll dough out and cut into shapes. Bake as for regular ginger cookies.

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories 66
Total fat 3 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 82 mg
Carbohydrate 10 g
Dietary fibre 0 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 2 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 1 %DV
Iron 2 %DV

Original Source: Good Eats - Ginger: Rise of the Rhizome - Ginger Snaps

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie!

When I wrote about the new biscuit recipe, I mentioned that I would post the recipe I used it with - Chicken Pot Pie. Now I know this may look involved, but it's not. I just like to be thorough when writing things down. The recipe takes even less time if you're using leftover chicken instead of cooking fresh stuff. However, there is definitely something to be said for using the homemade chicken stock that results from the first part of the recipe. Anyway you look at it, this is definitely some good ol' homecooked comfort food. Perfect for this chilly time of year.

Oh, and you'll also notice the new downloadable PDF of the recipe, available for easy printing!

Chicken Pot Pie
Download PDF here

Ingredient List
chicken parts, whole (0.80 kg)
OR chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (0.35 kg)
carrots (2-3 whole)
celery (1-2 stalks)
chicken stock/broth (2 cups)
onion (1-2 medium)
bay leaves
butter (3 tbsp, divided)
AP flour (¼ cup)
half-and-half (¾ cup)
kosher salt
ground pepper
biscuit dough/pie shell/puff pastry
frozen peas (½ cup)
fresh parsley (optional)

Directions
If leftover chicken is not available, prepare the poached chicken recipe as follows. Otherwise, skip to the next step.

Poached Chicken
Cut 1 whole carrot and 1 celery stalk into 2-inch pieces. Quarter 1 medium onion. Place 0.8 kg chicken parts OR 0.35 kg chicken breasts in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add aromatics (carrot, celery, onion) and several bay leaves. Cover with 2 cups chicken stock/broth (preferably homemade or reduced salt) and enough water to cover the contents of the pot.

Bring pot to a simmer, and then reduce heat until the liquid doesn’t quite bubble. Partially cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes (chicken parts) or 8-12 minutes (chicken breasts), until the juices from the meat run clear.

Remove the meat and let it cool before separating and shredding. Strain the remaining liquid and set aside.

Creamed Chicken
Have on hand: 0.34 kg cooked chicken meat, separated and deboned.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in ¼ cup AP flour. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly, until the flour gives off a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1 cup chicken broth and ¾ cup half-and-half, until smooth.

Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly, and then cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cooked chicken and cook for another 1 minute.

Season, to taste, with kosher salt and ground pepper.

Chicken Pot Pie
Have on hand: creamed chicken, and biscuit dough/pie crust/puff pastry.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a medium size casserole dish.

Chop 1 medium onion and dice 2 carrots and 1 celery stalk. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet and add vegetables. Cook vegetables, stirring often, for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

Stir the vegetables into the creamed chicken, along with ½ cup frozen peas and 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced (optional).

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and top with biscuits/pie crust/puff pastry.

Bake in upper half of the oven for 20-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Notes
This recipe is best with a mixture of white and dark meat, although all white meat can be used. Turkey also works well in the recipe.

Nutrition (per serving, with biscuit topping)
Calories 566
Total fat 29 g
Saturated fat 12 g
Cholesterol 118 mg
Sodium 923 mg
Carbohydrate 41 g
Dietary fibre 3 g
Sugars 6 g
Protein 34 g
Vitamin A 120%DV
Vitamin C 11 %DV
Calcium 11 %DV
Iron 21 %DV

Original Source: The Joy of Cooking - Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Evolved chocolate cake

My mom is an amazing cake decorator. I learned a bit from her and, on occasion, I like to decorate cakes as well. So when the McMaster Association of Secular Humanists (of which I am an exec) decided to throw Darwin a birthday party on Darwin Day, I knew I had to make the cake. Originally I was going to go with a traditional frosted cake with a design on it, but I couldn't think of anything more inspiring than a Darwin fish which, while its poignant, is pretty basic and boring. In my state of lack of imagination, I decided to ask my favourite sciency chef, Ms. Humble, for some ideas, to which she replied, "Off the top of my head I would do (the most amazing cake idea ever)." The result? The yummy, easy, chocolate cake you see below. The cake itself (recipe posted below the picture) is incredibly easy to assemble, tastes moist and flavourful, and can stand alone without iciing without being too sweet. It's a great recipe to have on hand when you need a dessert asap.

Happy Darwin Day, world!


Chocolate Cake, Quick & Easy


Ingredient List

butter, unsalted (½ cup)
coffee, freshly brewed (½ cup)
cocoa powder, Dutch-process (¼ cup)
AP flour (1 cup)
granulated sugar (1 cup)
baking powder
baking soda
table salt
sour cream (¼ cup)
egg (1 large)
vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and a round piece of parchment paper.

Place ¼ cup cocoa powder and ½ cup butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Pour over ½ cup coffee. Cover with plastic wrap, poking a few holes for venting, and microwave until all of the butter has melted. Whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine: 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup sugar, ¼ tsp baking powder, ⅛ tsp baking soda, and ¼ tsp salt.

Beat together in a small bowl: ¼ cup sour cream, 1 large egg, ½ tsp vanilla extract.

Whisk the coffee mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the sour cream mixture, do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake, in the pan, on a rack, for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and return to rack until the cake has cooled completely.

Sprinkle over icing sugar and/or serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Makes 6 servings

Notes
Substitute cocoa powder for flour coating when preparing a cake pan for a chocolate cake.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 381
Total fat 19 g
Saturated fat 12 g
Cholesterol 76 mg
Sodium 223 mg
Carbohydrate 52 g
Dietary fibre 2 g
Sugars 34 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin A 11 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 3 %DV
Iron 9 %DV

Original Source: Food Network Kitchens - Favorite Recipes

Edit: I'm trying a new thing. I'll continue to put the recipe in the body of the post, but I will now offer it as a downloadable PDF as follows:

Download PDF here

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brock-Colli

When I was younger, I was under the impression that I was a super-taster. These people experience taste to a much higher degree, partially due to a higher amount of "taste buds" on their tongues. As a result, they do not like vegetables like broccoli.
Then I learned how to cook broccoli properly and it became one of my favourite veggies. Until recently, I didn't think broccoli could get any better than properly steamed, fresh florets. I was wrong.
Roasting broccoli brings out a whole new set of flavours that I simply love. Combine that with bread crumbs and cheese, and you have one happy, veggie-eating Diana.
This recipe calls for Panko bread crumbs. If you've never heard of them, they are a Japanese style bread crumb with a lighter, airier texture. At Fortino's (or any other Loblaws store), they're found near the fresh sushi area. However, if you're from Hamilton, go to the S&S Market on Locke Street (or a similar Asian market in your home town) where you will find them for 1/4 the price. You could use regular bread crumbs, I guess...if you had to.

Broccoli, Roasted

Ingredient List
broccoli (450 g, ~ 2 heads)
Panko bread crumbs (1/3 cup)
olive oil (2 tbsp)
garlic (2 cloves)
kosher salt (½ tsp)
ground pepper (¼ tsp)
cheddar or parmesan cheese (¼ cup)

Directions
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the florets from 450 g broccoli. Trim and slice stalk into loonie size pieces.

Place ⅓ cup Panko bread crumbs in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Toast the crumbs in the oven for approximately 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn the crumbs.

Toss broccoli florets and coins with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, minced, ½ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp ground pepper, and toasted bread crumbs. Spread mixture in a single layer in the baking pan.

Roast the broccoli for 10-15 minutes, until it reaches the desired tenderness.

Transfer the broccoli to a bowl and toss with ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded OR ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated.

Makes 4 servings.

Notes
Depending on the toughness of the stalks, they may need to be peeled before slicing.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 163
Total fat 9 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Cholesterol 6 mg
Sodium 490 mg
Carbohydrate 15 g
Dietary fibre 3 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 7 g
Vitamin A 15 %DV
Vitamin C 168%DV
Calcium 14 %DV
Iron 8 %DV

Original Source: Good Eats - Oven Roasted Broccoli

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New favourite biscuit recipe

I used to be a big fan of Michael Smith's Frozen Butter Biscuits, but I never truly loved them because I would get pretty tired after grating an entire 1/2 cup stick of frozen butter with a box grater. Recently, Food Network Canada suggested the same method, using fridge-temperature butter instead. I haven't had a chance to try this out because America's Test Kitchen -- my favourite kitchen scientists -- came out with an even easier buttermilk drop biscuit recipe. I've made it several times and all it requires is for me to have buttermilk on hand, which I usually do, because waffles don't taste the same without buttermilk (note to self: post waffle recipe). FYI, a drop biscuit is any biscuit that doesn't need to be rolled out/cut.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Ingredient List

butter (½ cup + 2 tbsp)
AP flour (2 cups)
baking powder (2 tsp)
baking soda (½ tsp)
sugar (1 tsp)
table salt (¾ tsp)
buttermilk (1 cup)
non-stick cooking spray

Directions
Preheat oven to 475°F.

Heat ½ cup butter, until just melted, and set aside.

Whisk together in a medium sized bowl: 2 cups AP flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp sugar, ¾ tsp table salt.

Place 1 cup buttermilk, cold in a small mixing bowl. Stir the melted and cooled butter into the buttermilk. The mixture will become clumpy.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix, using the opposite end of a wooden spoon, just until the mixture comes together.

Spray a ¼ cup measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray. Press the dough into the cup, and then drop the biscuits 1½ inches apart.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Brush with 2 tbsp butter, melted and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 biscuits.

Notes
This dough can be used as the topping for a potpie by pinching off 1 inch size balls and placing them over the pie before cooking. Keep them from touching to make serving easier.

Red Lobster Biscuits – mix 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated into the dry ingredients, and add garlic powder and parsley to the brushed on butter

Nutrition (per biscuit)
Calories 256
Total fat 15 g
Saturated fat 9 g
Cholesterol 39 mg
Sodium 432 mg
Carbohydrate 27 g
Dietary fibre 1 g
Sugars 2 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin A 9 %DV
Vitamin C 1 %DV
Calcium 10 %DV
Iron 9 %DV

Original Source: America's Test Kitchen - Best Drop Biscuits