Ben has moved on from breakfast pancakes or oatmeal on weekend mornings, and has discovered the connection between organized personalities and the joys of baking. In addition to churning out no-knead bread for his lunch sandwiches, he has recently started baking biscuits.
Our downstairs neighbor, Jean, is a lovely lady who hails from North Carolina. At her annual pre-Christmas tree-trimming party, she serves about as much food as a table can hold, but the highlight is the delicious ham accompanied by basket after basket of tender buttermilk biscuits. This year we asked for the recipe, and not only did she e-mail it to me, she brought us back a bag of biscuit flour from her holiday trip down South! Now that is neighborly.
Ben and I made the biscuits together the first time, but since then he’s been making them before I wake up on the weekend, including Valentine’s morning. I strongly equate love with baked goods (don’t we all?), so it was a wonderful start to the day!
Cut together 2 cups self rising flour with 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter (I use unsalted) until well blended. Add a pinch of salt if you want. I do this step in the food processor, then dump it into a bowl to add the buttermilk.
Add 3/4 cup buttermilk and gently mix until moistened. Do not overmix
Turn out on a floured surface and knead very gently a few times (pat it, really) until the dough forms a coherent ball. Do not knead vigorously like you would knead bread.
Pat out to about 3/4 inch think, cut with a round cutter, and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
The biscuits will be better if you use Southern Biscuit or White Lily flour –something about soft wheat, I think. But they will be good anyhow.
This was the first batch, a bit raggedy because we were so careful not to overwork the dough. It does need (ha!) a few kneads to pull together.
One of Ben’s finished batches, complete with lovely presentation!
Topped with my mom’s raspberry jam, they are unspeakably good. Sadly, we used up the last of the jam in the biscuit mania.
Not bad, right?
Now, as if waking up to fresh biscuits weren’t the way to a girl’s heart, Ben made me dinner for Valentine’s day. But not just any dinner. I ordered him to take photos, but I had no idea what he was making, and he recreated the meal I always always order at my favorite restaurant in NYC, Inoteca. At least, what I always ordered: On my last visit it came to light that they have changed the fantastic romaine-raddichio-ricotta salata salad that I’ve loved for years. Good thing we started making it at home a while ago.
Ben’s perfect salad (he added a couple drops of truffle oil for good measure):
TRUFFLED EGG TOAST!!
I have meant to make that at home for years but never did. There was a slight mis-reading of the recipe (you’re not supposed to use whole eggs, just egg yolks), but on the whole it was a swoonily romantic and delicious gesture. Best Valentine’s ever! (He even got cupcakes for dessert.)
Here’s what he made Sunday morning:
He’s making meatballs again as I type. I think Ben has spent much more time in the kitchen than I have lately, and I’m not complaining.
Stay tuned for brussels sprouts (and creative use of leftovers) and an epic mess.
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