Monday, January 19, 2009

Biscuits and (Almost Vegan) Gravy

Usually it takes me a little while to actually start cooking from a new cookbook. Like, months even. I flip through it quickly, then go back and really read it. I don't mark recipes or pages that I want to try, but usually a few things will stick with me and when I'm ready for actual cooking, that's what I'll try first. I don't know why I don't use new cookbooks right away. Maybe I want to get familiar with the writing, or I'm intimidated to try something new, or I figure that there are so many things in my other cookbooks that I haven't cooked yet.

With three new cookbooks to choose from, I decided I had to dive in right away otherwise they would languish on the shelf for months. I've cooked from all three books in the past few weeks and am quite delighted with all of the results.

More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin is actually a book of essays, rather than a cookbook. At the end of each essay, or sometimes in the middle, is a recipe or two thrown in. I love how Colwin writes her recipes. They are more like suggestions for making something delicious than an actual recipe. And her tone is so casual that it makes it all sound like a piece of cake. After reading about her favorite biscuits, I headed directly to the kitchen to whip up a batch.

Here is her recipe:

"You need 2 cups of flour, 1/2 stick of butter or margarine (or a combination of the two), 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 3/4 cup (a little more or less depending on the flour and the weather) of milk-sweet, sour, or buttermilk (or a combination of milk and yogurt).

Rub the butter into the flour and baking powder. I myself have had unhappy experiences with pastry blenders and feel that your hands do the best job, but if you don't feel like doing this by hand, two knives work fine. When the butter is well blended add the milk until you have a not too sticky dough. Turn it out on a floured board and knead about five times. Roll, cut out, and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes until golden. Some people like their biscuits just baked, which means that they will be floury white. Some people like their biscuits crispy and a little browner than golden. However you like them, they will never fail you."

If that is not a delightful recipe then I don't know what is.

I added some chopped, fresh herbs and some grated parmesan to my dough. I also cut down on the baking powder because of my altitude, but I would use the full amount next time as my biscuits were a little on the skinny side.

I smothered these babies with an almost vegan gravy. I would have made regular gravy but I didn't have any stock, chicken or vegetable, or any meat or meat fat to start with. I remembered a tasty vegan gravy using water (!) as the main liquid that someone had made for me in PDX. So I searched the internet and found this recipe. I halved it, used butter, soy sauce, and fresh sage, and omitted the nutritional yeast because I didn't have any. I also used a shallot instead of the onion. This gravy was damn good. Not to watery and very flavorful, and super easy. A perfect topping to our casual biscuits.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Goodies

These are the lovely new cookbooks that I got for the holidays...

"Cookbooks hit you where you live. You want comfort; you want security; you want food; you want not to be hungry; and not only do you want those basic things fixed, you want it done in a really nice, gentle way that makes you feel loved." -Laurie Colwin