Monday, August 27, 2012

Buttery Lemon Thyme Biscuits

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Is there anything more delicious than a homemade biscuit?

 Not according to Paul, whose eyes glaze over whenever I announce that we’ll be having a weekend breakfast of biscuits and gravy. And who blames him? After all, biscuits have been a staple at the family table for centuries – and for very good reason.

Been working on a lot of biscuits in the kitchen lately to develop the perfect recipe for the Go Bold With Butter blog we've been writing for.  

In the process, we developed a simple, modified technique that won’t require you to roll out the dough or haul out your biscuit cutters. They’re chock-full of flavor, thanks to the addition of lemon zest and a bit of fresh thyme.

And they’re just about foolproof -- buttermilk, along with real butter, in the dough creates a tender flaky biscuit that won’t disappoint.

These lemon and thyme-infused treats are delicious with a bit of lemon marmalade, as shown int he picture.  But, they also make a great dinner biscuit... I'm envisioning these being perfect next to a delicious slice of roasted chicken with garlicky green beans on the side.

Plus, they freeze well, so don’t be afraid to make the entire batch even if you can’t eat them all in one sitting!
Just writing about these makes me wish it was the weekend again... such a great breakfast.

Lemon Thyme Biscuits

If you thing these look good, check out the Buttery Basil Biscuits we developed for the Butter Blog using yogurt instead of buttermilk!

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What we learned from Julia Child

Pin ItOn a day like today, when a kitchen icon turns 100, it would seem remiss not to write a little something to acknowledge the day.

Fortunately, I have just the story.

Julia Child and I have three things in common: A love for food, a willingness to tackle anything, and an incredible "simpatico" with a husband named Paul. Julia was not only the first television chef in my memory, she was my hero. She could conquer anything, it seemed, and she always did it with a sense of humor.

Julia also appreciated the time and effort that went into great cooking -- and found it completely worthwhile.  As she said:

“Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.”

Since we seemed to have so much in common, I made an effort to get to know her.

I watched her on television. I read her autobiography.  I perused her cookbooks, including Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was always a kitchen staple. But, I never felt closer to Julia than when we tackled her recipe for Pâté de Canard en Croûte for a Journal Sentinel tribute that came out right around the time that the Julie/Julia movie was released in 2009.

The recipe was a challenge for numerous reasons, the least of which was that I'd never boned anything in my life, let alone a duck. I didn't even own a boning knife. And I won't stand back and say that I wasn't at least a little bit intimidated.

But, we persisted.

The story begins with our adventure finding a trussing needle in Milwaukee (harder than you'd think!), it continues with our brave attempt to bone a duck and make an impossible pastry, and finally it ends in victory as the duck is stuffed.

If you have a few moments to spare, you might want to peruse our madcap adventures, as they were recorded on the blog.
  1. Pâté de Canard en Croûte Part 1: In Creativity We Truss
  2. Pâté de Canard en Croûte Part 2: You're Gonna Bone What??!! 
  3. Pâté de Canard en Croûte Part 3: That's Just Fowl! And Other French Delicacies
I still look back on that experience as one of the most life-changing I've had so far in the kitchen.  There we were -- Paul and I, side by side -- being pushed to our limits, forced to make peace with our limitations, and privileged to experience an entirely new way of looking at the world of food.

Did it take us three days?  Yeah.
Was it worth it? Hells yes.

Thanks, Julia.

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wonton Crisps Four Ways

Pin It We love easy party recipes.  So, we've developed a little bit of a love affair with the wonton wrapper.

You see, it's not that we hate making things completely from scratch. But, wonton wrappers, which typically contain only three ingredients -- flour, water, and sometimes eggs -- are a pretty awesome time saver when you're looking to create an impressive appetizer spread and you're a bit short on time.

For instance, these crispy wonton appetizer cups are one of the easiest ways we know to put an elegant appetizer on the table in just minutes.

And, if you love being creative, wonton crisps are going to be your new favorite party project.

All you really have to do is slice a few wonton wrappers on the diagonal, brush them with a bit of butter, sprinkle with seasoning, and bake them for about 10 minutes.

A bit like a chip, but sturdy like a cracker, wonton crisps satisfy the craving for “junk” food snacks, but are healthier than most store-bought items.

We played around with four different flavor combinations this time around:

  • Cheesy crisps are a nice standard.  The cheese crisps up nicely, and gives the chips a pleasantly salty bite.
  • Cinnamon crisps really appealed to Peef's sweet tooth. And they reminded Lo a lot of the pie crust scraps her mom used to bake up for her when she would make pies.
  • The smoky paprika crisps were oddly reminiscent of Doritos -- though probably the health food store version, since they were a lot less salty.
  • The sesame crisps were some of the prettiest of the bunch, and they tasted pleasantly nutty.  We also thought they'd go really nicely as part of an appetizer platter with hummus or baba ghanoush.

So, yeah. Wonton crisps make seriously good party food.

But, they also make great after school snacks for kids (or quite frankly, adults).  They're crisp and satisfying, but, unlike other junk food options, they're not particularly calorie laden, and they shouldn't ruin your appetite for dinner.

Looking for clever serving ideas? The cinnamon crisps are delicious served alongside a small bowl of applesauce for dipping, while savory (or plain, buttered) crisps are right at home alongside healthy dips like homemade hummus, salsa, or almond butter.

Wonton Crisps - Four Ways

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Friday, August 3, 2012

Grilled Sweet Corn with Orange Harissa Butter

Pin It Traditionally used as a flavoring for couscous and a rub for meats, harissa is most commonly found in Tunisia and the Saharan desert region where its flavor is prized for adding oomph to stews.

Lo happened upon her first taste of this delicious condiment during a trip to Tunisia, where the locals ate the peppery paste spread simply atop slices of crusty fresh French bread. 

It took her years to stumble upon one of the best flavor pairings ever -- harissa and orange (see our Orange and harissa roasted chicken recipe). But, once she discovered it, we couldn't get enough.

The sweet acidity of orange juice marries incredibly with the smoky, rich flavor of the harissa, and even (dare we say?) tames its sharp heat into something quite manageable.

During the winter, this flavor combination is a delicious flavoring for crisp, comforting roasted chicken.  It's also a great combination to complement simple vegetables. But, we love it equally as much captured in a delicious compound butter that’s perfect for summer grilling.

Try the butter over a flaky filet of grilled fish.
Experiment with it as a delicious finish for your next steak.
Spread leftover butter on bread for a different take on ordinary grilled cheese.

Or do as this delicious recipe suggests and spread a generous pat of that smoky, citrusy butter atop a cob of succulently sweet grilled summer corn. You won’t be sorry.

Grilled Sweet Corn with Orange Harissa Butter

©BURP! Where Food Happens