Sometimes when something big/serious/viral/anything happens, social media feeds are full of opinions. Chock-a-block opinions. Educational, necessary, unnecessary, thought-provoking, heartfelt, serious opinions. I always feel a need to respond. Like somehow I need to side with someone. Let my voice be heard. Right perceived wrongs. Set the record straight. Agree. Disagree. Today I remembered not my circus, not my monkeys. Or rather, what’s the good in joining this argument? Thanks, Donald Miller. I’m not adding to the conversation nor am I trying to shed new light to an issue. Thank goodness there are so many other things to be done. Things like goat cheese and bacon biscuits.
Before we discuss biscuits, there are things you should know.
I’m not a baker. I mean, I’m not morally opposed to baking, I just dislike that it can be somewhat persnickety. Like merengue chars when you walk away for 10 seconds persnickety. When I texted my husband that I had just made biscuits, his response was look at you baking! Because I don’t normally bake. No, really.
I follow recipes. This might make you think I should be a baker. What I really mean to say is that I generally follow recipes. I tend to free my OCD tendencies when it comes to measurements (a serious offense in baking). But while I’m not precise with my measurements, I’m not so liberated that I deviate from recipes. I don’t substitute. I don’t add. Where would I even begin?
I’m reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist for a book club. I love cookbooks that are more than ingredients and general instructions. Don’t we all? I like to know the story, but more importantly I like to know details that might be left out as an oversight. Like are the biscuits supposed to be that close together? Does it really take 15 minutes to cook risotto, because it always seems like it takes me at least 30? Or like, caramelize the onions the day before so you don’t wait forever to add them to a salad when you’re on the edge of hangry. I need those details.
I used to only purchase cookbooks that had pictures. Two reasons – if I could see what it looked like then I could tell if I would like it. I could also tell if had royally screwed up. I’ve only recently started to appreciate cookbooks with added written details.
My mom jokes that when she got married, she couldn’t even boil water. In the early years of her marriage, there was a steady stream of visits from aunts, great aunts, friends and our family nanny. She learned how to cook by watching them. My mom is probably a visual learner, but how do you follow recipes that include measurements like some, a swirl and a half, or a little bit? She watched and learned. I once asked our family nanny for the recipe for a simple cake – flour, some orange juice, a little sugar and two eggs. Right. I can totally see why my mom made everyone cook in front of her. When I read anecdotal cookbooks it’s like I’m watching it happen and absorbing details that I would only get if I was cooking with the author.
Back to the Goat Cheese and Bacon biscuits. As I was reading the book before bed, I really wanted to make the Basic Risotto, Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce, Breakfast Quinoa and Green Well Salad, but that seemed like a bit much. Why not start with the biscuits? I think my stomach growled as I closed the book and went to sleep. It’s a miracle I didn’t dream about food.
I did something I never do, I actually decided that I would deviate from the recipe. GASP. I added bacon and bacon grease. I know, right? Risk taker, that’s my name. Best biscuits ever. My husband even said that it’s possible that these biscuits might replace his grandma’s recipe. WHAT?!?!
The recipe – courtesy of Shauna Niequist, found in Bread and Wine.
Goat Cheese Biscuits
At Table Fifty-Two, Art Smith’s charming restaurant, these biscuits are served instead of bread before the meal. They’re rich and buttery and tangy , and when I make them, I serve them with strawberry jam— the perfect breakfast, or a lovely thing to serve with sparkling wine as dinner guests are arriving. The original recipe calls for self-rising flour and buttermilk, two things I don’t tend to keep in the house. But on a dreary Saturday morning, I was aching to try them. I had the goat cheese and the cast-iron skillet, and I was determined to make it work. I substituted a mix of flour, baking powder, and salt for the self-rising flour, and plain yogurt for the buttermilk, and the biscuits were just delicious. Now I make them that way every time.
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plain yogurt
6 tablespoons cold butter, divided
4 tablespoons goat cheese,
crumbled ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
I added 3 strips of cooked bacon chopped up
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a 10-inch cast-iron pan into the oven while it’s preheating. Pour flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Cut 4 tablespoons of the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl, with the goat cheese and the yogurt. Stir (I used my hands because the stirring wasn’t cutting it) until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of yogurt if needed (I totally added the extra yogurt). Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it (I used bacon grease). When the butter has melted, divide the batter into 12 biscuits, each about the size of a golf ball, and then nestle them into the pan — they’ll be snuggled in there pretty cozily, and that’s all right. I usually start by making a ring of 9 around the edge, then 3 in the middle. Brush the tops of the biscuits with one tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes until browned on the top and bottom. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese (I completely left this step out which is totally devastating because I’m sure it would have been amazing).
MAKES: one dozen biscuits
Conversions: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt