Sunday, December 18, 2016

Garlic and Cheese Biscuits

Tis the time of the year to give. And it's usually something homemade. Cookies are the rule of the thumb, but savory goodies make delicious gifts too. I settle on biscuits, laden with garlic and cheese. I do love a biscuit, hot from the oven, flaky and layered, crusty tops with soft insides.

The recipe is a mish mash of many biscuits. There is one have to use butter! Butter is rubbed into flour and leavening agents. Garlic powder and a blend of asiago, fontina, parmesan and provolone are mixed into the dough. These cheeses add mild flavor without overpowering the biscuit itself. I start with a food processor to cut the butter into the flour, but I finish the dough by hand. Squooshing the butter with my fingertips gives me much more control over the dough. The finished dough is then patted by hand, on a floured surface. A fluted biscuit cutter gives the biscuits delicately edged rounds. They sit in the fridge for an hour, which  lets them develop signature layers and that buttery taste when baked!

Makes 16-18 

4 cups all purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 heaping teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 1/2 cups grated Cheese (Cheddar, Asiago, Fontina, Provolone or Parmesan-- alone or in any combination)
8 tablespoons cold Butter
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons Buttermilk

Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to aerate the flour.

Sprinkle garlic powder over flour and pulse to mix.

Scatter cheese over flour and pulse a few times to mix.

Cut butter into 1/4 inch squares.

Add to flour and pulse 10-15 times.

Pour flour and butter into a large bowl. 

Use your fingers to smoosh the butter into the flour. This takes patience and time, though you have a head start with the processor. The flour should resemble fat peas.

Make a well in the center of the flour mix.

Pour buttermilk into the well. Use a fork to gently combine buttermilk and flour. The dough should come together as a shaggy mass. It should hold together when clumped. Try not to overwork the dough.

Dust a surface with flour.

Scrape dough into flour. Pull dough together to form a disc.

Pat the dough into a circle that is 1 inch thick. The surface will not be completely smooth and that is okay.

Use a 2 inch biscuit cutter to punch biscuits. Try to stay as close as possible to the stamped out impressions. This way you can maximize most of the patted circle. Gather up remaining dough and once again pat into a circle. Repeat with biscuit cutter until all the dough is used. 

Lay biscuits two inches apart on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Use two baking sheets.

Refrigerate baking sheets for 1 hour. Dont skip this step as this allows the dough to rest.

Heat oven to 450F.

Bake one baking sheet at a time, keeping the other refrigerated.

Brush the tops of biscuits with remaining 2 tablespoons of buttermilk.

Bake for 17-20 minutes. 

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Repeat baking with second sheet.

Enjoy biscuits warm. They maybe reheated in a 300F oven for 10 minutes.


If you are not using a device, put flour, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to aerate the flour. Scatter garlic powder and cheese over flour and whisk again till mixed well. Cut butter into 1/4 inch squares. Add to flour and smoosh with your fingers until flour resembles fat peas. Add buttermilk as directed by the recipe.

I used a mix of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and Provolone cheese.

The house smells divine. I peek into the oven to watch the biscuits grow. They acquire leaning tower sensibilities. Hot ones are quickly devoured. I have to admonish family as these are meant to be edible gifts!! After all, it is the season. And seasoned gifts are the best kind!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Herb and Garlic Roast Chicken

Have you had a day when it's 6 pm and dinner is the last thing on your mind? Most people would order takeout. As that thought occurs to me, the Food section of the NYT beckons. The year's standout recipes tempt me, especially the Middle Eastern chicken. With boneless chicken thighs on the counter, I am compelled to make the chicken.

The most laborious part is peeling and chopping garlic. I could use store bought garlic paste, but it lacks the punch fresh garlic has. Fresh herbs are the second component. Parsley, mint, thyme and marjoram sound lyrical and taste even better. Lemon, sesame seeds and sumac add more punch. As I chop and squeeze, I imagine a burnished roasted thigh. 

Adapted from the New York Times 
Serves 4

8 boneless skinless Chicken Thighs (about 2 pounds)
5 large Garlic cloves, minced fine
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil 
2 tablespoons minced Parsley
2 tablespoons minced Mint leaves
1 tablespoon Thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced Marjoram 
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Sumac
1 tablespoon Olive Oil 

Trim visible fat off chicken. Cut thighs in half and place in a nonreactive bowl.

Add minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, minced herbs, salt, sesame seeds and sumac to chicken thighs. Mix well so thighs are coated with herbs and garlic. Keep aside for 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350F.

Heat a large cast iron pan over high heat. Or use a cast iron griddle.

Add remaining olive oil.

When it shimmers lay chicken in pan. Brown chicken on both sides.

If you are using a cast iron pan, put pan into oven and cook chicken for 15 minutes. If you have used a griddle, put chicken in an oven proof dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Serve chicken hot with some crusty bread or pita.


Cast iron gives the chicken a great sear. A good ovenproof nonstick pan works well too. I suggested a griddle as you get similar results as the cast iron. In the end these are just guides. Use what works best for you. 

Chicken comes to the table sizzling in cast iron. I see bits of browned garlic and herbs. Moist and lemon flavored, the thighs make a delicious dinner. We cast our vote for this bird.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kabab Sliders

By some quirk of human nature we have three packages of ground beef defrosting in the fridge. It's a long story of I did, she did and I further clarification needed. One package turns into sloppy joes. One into kofta curry and the last one into kababs.

The kabab kheema or ground beef marinates for a few days. I use a recipe from a well thumbed paperback. With a surfeit of tikkas, kababs and other grilled meats, On the Kebab Trail fills my grill, saucepan and oven with tried and tested recipes. Dog-eared pages reveal trade secrets of tandoor masters. And I in turn use those tricks to my advantage. This kabab recipe is a first time try. As usual, I tweak and twist. The kababs are meant to be molded onto skewers and grilled. Time, the cold weather and a package of Pepperidge Farm sliders tells another tale.

Makes 8

1 pound Ground Beef
1 tablespoon Olive Oil 
3 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup Parsley 
1 teaspoon dried Mint
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano 
1 teaspoon Cumin powder 
1/2 teaspoon Coriander powder 
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper 
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 Egg
1-2 tablespoons Oil

Green Chutney Spread
2 tablespoons homemade or bottled Green Chile Chutney
2 teaspoons Yogurt 

Parsley leaves
Mint leaves
Red Onion, thinly sliced
8 Slider Buns, preferably warm ones

Place ground beef in a stainless steel or glass bowl.

Mince garlic and parsley finely and add to beef.

Add cumin and coriander powders, black pepper and salt to beef. Use your hand to mix the beef and spices.

Cover and refrigerate for up to three days.

Just before you are ready to fry kababs add the egg to beef. Squish the beef well with your fingers so the egg is mixed in.

Form beef into 2-3 inch patties.

Heat oil in a nonstick saucepan. Start with a little oil and use as necessary.

Fry patties in hot oil till brown and crusty.

Drain on paper towels.

Make the green chutney spread by mixing chutney and yogurt.

Warm buns. This could well be an optional step, but the sliders do taste good warm.

Place patties in buns.

Top with chutney spread and lots of parsley, mint and onion. 


Family quirks result in a fine kabab...and a delicious slant on burgers. A mouthful of beef, onion, mint and parsley, slathered with chutney, leaves us all wanting more!  I like to think the book nudges me in the right direction.