Monday, October 04, 2010

As usual, I blame the Food Network....

It is a well-established fact that I watch far too much Food Network, and now The Cooking Channel as well. And this compels me to fall under evil influences like Paula Deen and friends, and I end up making things that I probably shouldn't! Recently, Miss Paula had a guest on her show named Cheryl Day who is the proprietor of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, and Paula talked the nice lady into making her famous "biscones" on her show. "Biscones" is Cheryl's nickname for these luscious, fat-filled creations that are halfway between a biscuit and a scone. Happily, they are easier to make than either one, as there is no rolling and cutting, just scooping the dough right onto a pan.

Now I made my biscones to fashion some egg sandwiches out of them for Sunday brunch, but they would also be wonderful to accompany a big pot of soup, chili, or beans. And you could add lots of different things to the dough to make endless tasty variations (mine were garlic, black pepper and parmesan).

Back in the Day "Biscones"
Cheryl Day on "Paula's Best Dishes," Food Network)

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons to toss onto dough before baking
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt *optional for savory scones
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in cubes
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup grated sharp white Cheddar (I used parmesan)
*I added about a teaspoon of granulated garlic as well.

egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a fork or pastry blender until the butter is the size of peas and some larger pieces. Gradually add in the cold buttermilk until it is just combined. Stir in the cheese. Do not overwork the dough.

In the same bowl, pat down dough and dust the top with the remaining two tablespoons of flour. Using an ice cream scooper, arrange scoops of the biscone mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with egg wash and bake, turning halfway through, until the tops are golden brown about 18 to 20 minutes.

It used to be just the Food Network that I was addicted to, but now we have their spin-off, The Cooking Channel, too. My favorite show on that sister network is called "Foodcrafters," where we learn about small, independent food businesses around the country. It was because of that show that I discovered things like Laloo's goat's milk ice cream out of Petaluma, CA--SO delicious, creamy but with half the fat and a delicious hint of tanginess, also more digestible for the lactose intolerant. If you can find it (check your local health food co-op), try the Rumplemint which is awesome!

And though I'd heard of them before, The Cooking Channel's segment on Rancho Gordo heirloom beans compelled my roommate to place a small order of three different kinds of beans: yellow-eye, Rio Zape, and Ojo de Cabra (goat's eye). The yellow eyes were cousins to the navy bean, so I decided to make a big pot of savory ham and bean soup with those. And when I was invited to a "True Blood" finale party that would also be attended by vegans, I made some zesty red beans and rice with the meaty Rio Zapes. I haven't tied the goat's eyes yet, but if they are anything like the first two varieties, they will be wonderful! Who knew beans could have so much more flavor and texture than those dry old dusty things we usually get in the supermarket?

For those of you that are hesitant to cook beans from their dried state, the basic cooking method is pretty simple. First, you rinse the beans well, and cover by about an inch with cool water. Soak them for at least a couple of hours and (preferably) up to six. Do NOT drain the beans. The prevailing wisdom these days is that many of the vitamins and nutrients leech out into the soaking liquid.

Toward the end of the beans' soaking time, cut and chop a basic mirepoix of onions, celery and carrots. You may also consider some sweet or hot peppers and a few cloves of garlic. Saute everything except the garlic in a little olive oil until the veggies are tender and just starting to color. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Add the beans, their soaking liquid, and the softened veggies--and perhaps a meaty ham bone or a couple of smoked turkey wings--to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. If the liquid doesn't cover the beans by at least an inch, add more water or, better yet, some flavorful stock. Bring to a vigorous boil for five minutes, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer until the beans are tender, which will probably take a couple of hours. If the liquid starts to disappear along the way, add more water or stock as necessary.

At the end of the cooking time (say, the last twenty minutes or so), season the beans and add anything acidic like tomatoes, citrus juices or vinegars. If you add salt or acids at the beginning of the cooking process, it may toughen the beans. And that's it...a perfect--and perfectly delicious--way to cook beans! Serve your savory, rib-sticking beans with some homemade biscones, and you have a surefire recipe for surviving the chilly days ahead.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Those biscones have got me drooling :)