Saturday, July 10, 2010

Double Take: Cheesy Chive Biscuits


When I saw this as Mel's next choice, I misread it entirely. I replied with something like great! I think cheddar garlic biscuits sound good. How I got cheddar garlic biscuits out of cheesy chive, I'm not sure. The garlic must be taking over my brain! After reading the recipe, I learned there was certainly neither cheddar nor garlic but as a rare upside compared to some of the bread recipes in the book, the recipe yield was 7 biscuits. That sounded more reasonable than recipes which prepared 40 hamburger buns. Whew. I've been really cramped for time lately due to some of the elements on my project. Since I knew we were making ravioli from the list, I made both of these on the same night. Rebecca and Mike joined me so you get the benefit of their rating.

Preparation:

I've been making biscuits since I was small. I can remember helping cut them out when I was 3 or 4 so I'll admit I didn't worry too much about the instructions listed in the book. However, I still read them. One atypical variation in this recipe to my normal White Lily standby is the use of butter rather than shortening.

Anywho, 2 c. plain flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp of baking powder. Basic biscuits. Well...not if you use white lily self rising flour, then its just the flour, but I digress.

Instead of 1/3 c. shortening, the recipe called for 1/3 c. butter. In my experience, extra shortening is a good thing. I stuck with the recipe but more butter wouldn't have hurt. Cut the butter finely into the flour with a pastry blender if you have one. Otherwise, a fork works.

When the butter is mixed in the flour such that it balls up into small pea sized bits, its time to add parmesan and chives. Sadly, the heat wave has pretty well damaged my chive crop. Harris Teeter saves the day. We chopped up maybe 5-10 chive stems and tossed them in the mixture with a 1/2 cup of parmesan. I didn't buy the fancy parmesan. Instead I used the sort from the refridgerated section.

Then add 3/4 c. milk and stirred gently to mix and moisten the flour mixture.

You can roll out biscuits however you like. In terms of cleanup ease, I prefer to flour a silicone baking mat and roll the dough out with a slick sided drinking glass. I have a rolling pin but when there are multiple people in the kitchen and minimal counter space, a cup works well.

I folded the dough over itself, rolled it out to about 1/4 of an inch. I refolded it, rolled it down to 1/4 of an inch again. Then I folded the dough to be 3/4 " thick and flattened it down to somewhere around 1/2" thick. I don't have round cookie cutters or "biscuit cutters". I grew up using what was handy. Most of the time, that was a cup. I picked a different glass than the one from the rolling pin to get a slightly smaller biscuit and had about 10 biscuits which were around 2 - 2/1/2 " in diameter and one baby biscuit.

I baked them on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat for 12-15 minutes at 400 F.




Review:

We liked them very much! They were flaky but could've been more buttery. We opted to dip them in the ravioli sauce or butter them or both. We thought they be fun to switch around the flavors. Rebecca and I thought rosemary would be good but she thought a mild cheese would go well with rosemary whereas I was thinking pepper jack. She might be right though. I also would be all about making some garlic cheddar biscuits. The final biscuit was less airy than a White Lily biscuit. I think that's a difference in using butter vs. shortening. I also think I'd use a bit more butter in the future..at least 25% more if not 50% more.

Be sure to head over to Fabulously Fun Food to get Mel's 2 bits worth.

Note: Due to my schedule, we're going to have a temporary pause in Double Takes posts. I'm going to try to get some incomplete posts finished and will still be posting though. Double Takes will resume in August.

What flavors would you like in a biscuit?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Double Take: Chicken and Beef Fajitas and TEX-MEX Cooking Night














This week's double take is sort of a dual purpose for me. I'm woefully behind on posting the monthly cooking nights I've been hosting. My goal is to slowly back up and catch up on the last few months. For now, June will have to do. In June, the monthly cooking night was Tex-Mex themed. Mel suggested making it "easier" by using some recipes from USL. The bonus is it allowed me to get a little ahead on information for our double takes posts.

Tex-Mex Menu

Soppapillas
Flautas (aka taquitos)
Beef and Chicken Fajitas
Black Beans and Rice

Preparation:

The soppapillas recipe came from allrecipes. There were many that used baking soda so I went with it. It was a complete flop. I plan to try again with a yeast version and will report on that later. I talked to someone whose mom makes them in Mexico (they have a different name there) but are a similar item. He said his mom used yeast. Homesick Texan has a yeast recipe that I'll try in the future.

Flautas: I used homesick texan's recipe and it was fabulous. One note I would make is that you can save the broth to use as a soup. I learned this past weekend that soups are a big part of everyday Mexican meals. The broth was tasty with a fair amount of heat. At first I thought, this would really take a tough person to eat but the second spoonful made me want to save it. Miguel says its good with potatoes and a few veggies added to the broth. Anyway, for the flautas, the broth is used to flavor the meat. It takes a couple hours to cook the roast to become very tender and flavorful. It had a little spicy kick but even those that preferred spice least liked them. After cooking the meat, you pull it apart and place it into heated corn tortillas. I made the mistake of rolling them all up and letting them sit before frying..DON'T WAIT. As soon as you roll the tortilla, pan fry them in a little oil. It won't take more than 2 minutes for a set to be done. If you wait, the corn tortillas start to crumble. They remain tasty but not perfect. Feel free to toss in some pepper jack before frying or a little cheddar or pepper jack on top after completion. YUM. Many thumbs up here!


Ingredients for the flauta/taquito flavoring..onions, peppers, tomatillos, cilantro!

The broth with the meat..this was so tasty after 2 hours! Unbelievably good!


Perhaps the only Sopapilla that puffed to the left (the texture was still unexpected)...
Fabulous Taquito to the right!

Beef and Chicken Fajitas: These were stated to mix the marinade and split the marinade into two containers to separate beef and chicken. They were only to marinate 2 hours. I marinated longer. After looking at other recipes, its common to marinate the beef overnight. Anyway, I thought the flavor was ok but nothing special. I would choose a flavor that was more robust in the future and marinate longer. The meat that was called for was massively overestimated. The recipe claimed to serve 20 fajitas to feed 10 ppl. After eating we had over a 9 x 13 full of chicken and another container with beef. Holy cow. I would reduce this recipe's meat approximation by at least half (and I actually didn't use the full amount of beef stated). The recipe didn't mention peppers and onions which are typical fare for fajitas. We sliced a couple of onions and peppers to try to have a balanced amount of each. They were cooked 5 minutes on medium heat and served hot. Other toppings included grated cheddar, tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream.

Jon is chopping veggies for the Fajitas



Black Beans and Rice: This also came from USL. However, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to comment on it yet. Since I am showing the picture, I'll just ask forgiveness. These were great but made a ton more than anticipated. We could've been happy with 1/4 of a recipe and there were 9 of us.




Andrea is cooking the Black Beans and Rice

Andrea gives the noisy camera person a look in the pot

Dessert Substitute: Since the soppapillas didn't work out, we enjoyed some homemade ice cream from the freezer. (More on that later.)

David's working on the sopapillas..why won't they puff?

Semi puffing sopapillas..we're definitely trying a yeast recipe next time.



Are we ready to eat yet?

Wait a sec! We need some grated cheese! Rebecca's on it!

The rest of dinner! Two tortillas (at top) and black beans and rice at the bottom.

Ratings: Sopapillas :try a yeast best recipe...the baking soda version was very disappointing
USL black beans and rice: These were great. Honestly the best I've ever had. They make enough for a small army..be warned
USL Fajitas: The marinade was a bit bland. I'd try something different next time.
Homesick Texan's Fautas/Taquitos: FABULOUS! I highly recommend this.