Around midnight, I heard a knock at my bedroom door. “Are the biscuits done?” asked my grandma. I told her the batch I had made after she went to bed were indeed ready to be reheated in the morning. When she didn’t reply, I got out of bed to see if she had heard me. I opened the door but she wasn’t there, so I went looking for her and found her in the kitchen pinching off a piece of biscuit from its storage container. She took a bite, smiled, and said, “I couldn’t wait until morning. These are oh, so good!”
When I travel, I usually prefer other people to cook. But when it comes to biscuits, I am always happy to bake up a batch. Most folks will have on hand the necessary ingredients and they are not difficult to prepare. Making biscuits is a fun thing and the small amount of effort always yields much joy.
My basic biscuit recipe is my most popular, as it’s a fine vehicle for honey or homemade jam. But I also like to adapt with whatever I have on hand. This has led to jalapeño cheddar biscuits, sweet potato biscuits, and tomato, cheddar, and bacon biscuits. And that’s just the ones that I’ve shared here, as there are quite a few more variations that I’ve made. A biscuit, while superb on its own, is an excellent blank canvas.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Spring is always a late arrival in New York. While I’ve been hearing about people in Texas enjoying the bounty of bluebonnets over the past few weeks, it’s remained cold and lifeless up here in the North. This week, however, the temperature rose and as I walked down the street I saw that the trees were finally in bloom. At last.
While the signs of a new season have been slow to arrive, due to the miracle of transportation we can now get produce from just about anywhere in the world. There is an argument for eating locally, but when it’s been cold and grey for the past few months and the farmers market is still only selling the same tired apples and winter squash, you take what you can get. So, when I saw a huge display of Texas sweet onions at my grocery the other day it was cause for celebration.
Texas sweet onions, also known as Texas 1015s, were developed in the 1980s by some onion-loving Aggies. They are related to other American sweet onions such as the Walla Walla of Washington and the Vidalia of Georgia, but I believe that Texas sweet onions are the best. And my store must also agree, as the display was prominently placed. I grabbed as many as I could.
My grandma used to grow onions back when she kept her garden, and they have long been family favorites. We slice them into salads, sprinkle them on top of enchiladas, and batter and fry big, wide onion rings. These are all fine applications, but as I was doing some research I came across a series of scalloped onion recipes in Texas newspapers from the early 1900s. The gist of each story was that scalloped onions are a mighty fine addition to the springtime table.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
“Did you know that if you dip a Frito into ketchup it tastes like fried shrimp?” asked my aunt. I told her I did not. She explained that she’d been at a party where everyone brought strange concoctions and this was one of the dishes on offer. “I was doubtful,” she said, “but it’s surprising how your mind is fooled.”
Curious, when I returned home I grabbed a bag of Fritos, squirted some ketchup into a bowl, and began to dip. It wasn’t a perfect substitution, but if I closed my eyes and hadn’t been aware of what I was eating, I might have believed it was fried shrimp. Amazing. But as much as I love Fritos I might love fried shrimp even more. Sure, that trick of the mind had been initially pleasing, but ultimately all it did was make me crave the real thing even more. It was time to make a batch and get some true satisfaction.
Inspired by the corn chips, instead of doing my usual flour or saltine dredge I opted to coat my shrimp in crushed tortilla chips. Now, in my second cookbook I have a recipe for a tortilla-crusted fish, so taking a lead from that I applied it to my shrimp. First, I lightly seasoned the shrimp then coated them with flour to help everything stick. Next the shrimp were given a quick dip in some eggs and then dredged through crushed tortilla chips seasoned with black pepper, garlic, and cayenne.