Home Again + Some Biscuits to Share

Good to the Grain Cheddar BiscuitsWhen I was a teenager, I could sit on my bed for hours with a stack of fashion magazines and a bottle of fizzy water. I didn’t do it everyday. I was far too busy on most days dividing my time between angst and working after school. But, on the days when time permitted, it was my quiet respite from the world. I think back to those afternoons and feel warm and wonderful with memory. It’s funny to think about, really. Those weren’t life-changing afternoons, but they were important. Those tiny moments stolen whenever possible are life’s greatest indulgences. But certainly things change. I can no longer imagine being confined to my bedroom for hours without being terribly stricken with illness. I also don’t have a single subscription to a fashion magazine although I might change that as soon as I finish this post. I still do enjoy copious amounts of fizzy water, sitting still, and reading. On those rare evenings when everything works out perfectly, I might find myself on the couch in the early evening with a cup of the good stuff and a stack of fresh cookbooks.

 

A good cookbook can reel me in just like a good novel. It’s just as addictive, I find. But it’s not the rough cut pages, gorgeous typeface, and mouthwatering photos, over which I fawn. Those elements are wonderfully seductive, but they are merely the icing on the cake.  All too often, such things are distractions. You peel away the icing and find little substance beneath. Every now and then, however, I find a true gem on my hands. That’s what I found in Good to the Grain. This book is a lovely tome of baking written in a truly generous manner. Boyce shares much about her world and the tools of her trade. She does so matter-of-factly without flowery writing or fluff. And, although the book is bursting with imperfectly gorgeous food photography, it’s the recipes and helpful discussions that are the real deal here. This is a concise manual of baking written by a mother who, in the quest to feed her wee ones healthy foods, developed a groundbreaking collection of whole grain baking recipes. I was riveted and not the least bit disappointed.

Good to the Grain Cheddar Biscuits

Good to the Grain fell into my lap at just the perfect moment. I returned to my house from a week’s vacation. When I walked in the front door, I found the house freezing cold and a bit damp. The air was sort of stale and my eyes immediately darted to the couch and the hardened bits of banana smeared into eternity by grubby little paws. But none of it mattered. It felt enormously good to set down the suitcase and walk across the threshold. And Maeve, who was just about to earn an oscar for the most dramatic fit in her lifetime, suddenly clambered to get out of my arms. In a flash, she was across the floor sorting through her toy bin chalk full of rediscovered treasures. I knew in an instant I needed to cook a decent meal. Only then would I truly feel grounded in my home. Vacation meals are wonderful and fun, but they don’t stack up to a decent home-cooked meal. Nor does a house feel like home when it doesn’t smell like food. So, within a couple hours, things were underway and the wee one was napping peacefully. It all felt smooth and easy. I roasted a chicken and some potatoes to perfection. We finished it off with fresh broccoli from the market. And all went swimmingly until I set out the various components of the meal before Maeve. Nary a bite did she eat. In fact, most of the meal went flying in all directions. The few timid bites she ventured were ejected instantaneously. I failed. It’s not uncommon for me, but last night it hurt. I thought we were all on the same page, but I was mistaken. There was broccoli in my hair.

Good to the Grain Cheddar Biscuits My daughter currently lives on a diet of bread and fruit alone. I sometimes wonder if this is sufficient. I wonder if one can live on this little and varied diet. On the other hand, I figure she will let me know when she’s darn hungry. I’m fairly certain of this. And, in the meantime, I will do my very very best to make certain her diet of fruit and bread consists of the very finest fruit and bread there is to be had. Thank goodness for this book. This morning we made cheddar biscuits and they didn’t disappoint. The recipe, as all of the recipes in the book, was easy to follow and flawless. The biscuits are savory with a delicious peppery bite. They a touch flakey, but not too flakey. They’re the perfect to-go snack for a toddler on the run. Maeve ran about with biscuit in hand and I didn’t find myself running behind her with broom in mine. If that isn’t the measure of good toddler fare, I don’t know what is. Oh, yes, and the whole grains are wonderful too.

Good to the Grain Cheddar Biscuits

Good to the Grain Cheddar Biscuits

Make these today. Serve them with soup. Serve them with a perfectly poached egg and fresh chives. Just serve them. Battles with food are tiring. Perhaps it’s best to work within the limitations provided by the wee palate at hand.

Good to the Grain Cheddar Biscuits

 

Cheddar Biscuits

Dry mix:
1 cup Kamut Flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Wet mix:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar, about 1/3 pound
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup crème fraîche

Finish:
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Rub two baking sheets with butter. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter over the dry ingredients. Add the Cheddar and the Parmesan and stir until evenly combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and crème fraîche . Add the mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients, butter and cheeses. Use a spoon or your hands to stir the dough together. As it combines, the dough will have clumps of wet dough next to many smaller, crumblier pieces.

Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it until it roughly comes together, making sure not to overwork the dough, about three kneads. Flour the surface again and use your hands to pat the dough until it’s 1 inch thick.

Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter (or drinking glass), press straight down through the dough. Twist the cutter and lift it up, moving the biscuit to the buttered baking sheet, leaving a 2-inch space between the biscuits.

Continue to cut out circles, gathering the scraps and pressing them together to make more biscuits.
Brush the top of each biscuit with buttermilk and sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper. Bake the biscuits for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the biscuits are golden brown. The biscuits are best eaten warm from the oven but will keep in an airtight container for 2 days.

Source:  Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours

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19 Comments

  • June 27, 2012 - | Permalink

    Those look fantastic! I bet they taste wonderful too. I love the addition of kamut. This flour adds a interesting note to the biscuits.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • June 27, 2012 - | Permalink

    I’ve heard such wonderful things about that cookbook and your endorsement may have sealed the deal for me :) M’s overalls are so dang cute!

    • redmenace
      July 2, 2012 - | Permalink

      Nicole,
      I highly recommend it. It is a joy to read and so full of great recipes!
      xo
      Robin

  • June 27, 2012 - | Permalink

    Welcome home! You are a superstar for having such a delicious meal on the table mere hours after arriving home from vacation! And these biscuits – oh, they look wonderful – can’t wait for a rainy day around here to make them along with some delicious soup. Must check out that cookbook too.

  • Kristy
    June 27, 2012 - | Permalink

    Ah what a treat to read that sweet Maeve doesn’t eat everything you deliciously set before her! Not that I wish that for you and your delightful cooking, but at least I have good company. Nora only eats cheese (she considers different varieties completely different foods) and yogurt. Hang in there. Offering is supposed to magically transform their eating habits at some point, right?

  • June 27, 2012 - | Permalink

    Ah, just what I’m needing… I’m always on the lookout for good wholesome toddler snacks that dont come from a packet. Thanks! (though no thanks for getting me coveting a new cookbook… I don’t think my husband would forgive me if I bought yet another). x

    • July 5, 2012 - | Permalink

      A little update… I made these last week and yep, they were de.licious. loved by child and adult alike!

  • June 28, 2012 - | Permalink

    I am really loving that cookbook as well. And I can attest that my oldest daughter has lived beyond the fruit-and-bread stage (although the second is in the depths of it now). :)

    • redmenace
      July 2, 2012 - | Permalink

      Emmy,
      Thrilled to know the stage will end sometime soon! Thanks for your sweet comment and hang in there with #2!
      xo
      Robin

  • June 28, 2012 - | Permalink

    That book has been on my list for days! And, even though I can’t recall my mom (a South Korean expat) ever making a biscuit…there’s something so homey about them. Love this!

  • June 28, 2012 - | Permalink

    Oh, I remember that excited feeling I would get when a fashion mag came in the mail, complete with those pages scented with cologne!! I’m like you, I don’t subscribe to a single fashion magazine anymore. Now I get that excited feeling when a new cooking magazine comes in the mail.

  • June 28, 2012 - | Permalink

    oy. yes. i am there. it gets better. it doesn’t. life goes on. kids. oy.

    but in the meantime? bread, always bread. it never fails. ever.

    (we made homemade pasta this morning, a full pound of sheer fettucine. from flour and eggs, alone. all before 9 a.m. for the very same reason.)

    xo,
    molly

  • June 29, 2012 - | Permalink

    Love that book- I should take it out more. I’m about to adapt Kim’s wonderful whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe by using Jacques Torres’ process of “aging” the dough to let the flavors meld. Her recipe is delicious on it’s own but I’m intrigued to see if it can be made better. No wonder why little Maeve took to these biscuits- they look delicious! And I’m so not looking forward to the picky eating phase with Ruby- I hear it lasts roughly from age one to 23. Sigh….

    • redmenace
      July 2, 2012 - | Permalink

      Shelley,
      The aging the dough method is new to me. Are you going to blog about it?!
      xoxo
      R

  • July 12, 2012 - | Permalink

    Love the look of this recipe. Delicious!

  • July 18, 2012 - | Permalink

    What a lovely treat!
    As a newly engaged bride to be I was stumbling through photos (I so wish I could afford to hire your husband and his amazing talents!) and found your husbands blog but when I read he married a food blogger I ran to see as I am a Seattle area food blogger myself!

    Lovely site. I can’t believe I had never known about it before!

    • redmenace
      July 18, 2012 - | Permalink

      Hi Peabody!
      Thanks so much for your sweet comment. And, congratulations on your engagement. That is absolutely wonderful news! You should definitely email my hubs. Also, we’ve met! You probably don’t recall, but we met at IFBC a couple of years ago. I was pregnant and I was introduced to you by Allison Day. xo

      • July 18, 2012 - | Permalink

        You know your picture (I was on here for awhile :) ) looked familiar (especially the hair) but I am old now and am getting terrible with who I have met in real life and who I have met On-line.

        I’m on a food blogger budget so I things are tight.

        Allison is the best. She keeps trying from time to time to get me down to see her and teach me all things sushi.

        Are you going to IFBC in Portland in August?

  • Rebecca
    July 29, 2012 - | Permalink

    Robin,

    ahhh, I remember those days all too well. I spent many hours in the gardens, planting, cultivating, harvesting fresh herbs, vegies and fruits, all this wonderful bounty brought into a home of love, sunlight afternoon evenings of wooden swings under leaning trees, golden shimmers danced from delicate petals of the gardens, promises of cooler breezes drifting from the forest…. hours of love went into home cooked meals, and set forth in front of my boys, to have them turn up their noses and request something horrific like boxed mac-n-cheese… ugh. Hang in there, although, I these days I do not cook often, and my gardens have become very small, at least the boys eat straight from the vine, fresh, raw and plentiful. However, they still do not like what I cook, and my feelings still get hurt and I am sure for years to come. But I find joy in that someday….. someday the boys will also be grown men, and have children throwing food at them, and their grandma will be the best cook they know! ;)

    Funny how things work that way. I love your blog. Keep up the fantastic job of creating such a peaceful, loving, nurturing, heart and soul home you do! Hope to see you & K & M soon.

    much love.

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