Biscuits are always yummy

One evening this winter I made a yummy moose stew and was thinking how nice it would be to serve it with a good piece of sourdough bread (didn’t have any) or, maybe how nice a light, fluffy biscuit would taste with butter and local honey dripping from it. Why is it we forget about certain favorite things we like to eat and then once we make them again, it’s like, how could I forget about making something as basic and yummy as a biscuit?

I’ve made more batches of biscuits after that success in the kitchen. The biscuit recipe I made to accompany the stew was from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that has been with me since the Other Fisherman has. It was their biscuit supreme recipe and much to my surprise, it was quite good. I compared the recipe to the one I got off the back of the bag of pre-made biscuit mix from Virginia. The package mix was excellent. Those southern folks sure know their biscuits.

Biscuits are great companions to so many things, fried chicken, stew, sausage gravy and they are excellent on their own. The southern recipes for biscuits are superior. This recipe is one I discovered from an old friend from Mississippi. He exclaimed after I made them for him, “Mrs. Robl, these may be the best biscuits I’ve ever had!” He was in his ‘80’s and I took that as quite a compliment.

The technique using tea towel as a base may seem a bit strange, but it works well to make a smooth batter and the whole process neater and easier.

Mississippi Butter Biscuits

Makes 3 dozen biscuits, 2 inches in diameter – they freeze well.

4 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup baking powder

¼ cup sugar

½ cup, 1 stick, salted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 ½ cups, 3 sticks, salted margarine, chilled and cut into 2-inch cubes

1 ¾ cups buttermilk, chilled

Put flour, baking powder and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Turn the machine on low and blend for 15 seconds. Add the butter, margarine and buttermilk to flour mixture before turning mixer back on. Turn mixer on medium and count to 10. This goes very quickly; the key is to not overmix the dough. There will be large chunks of butter and margarine, the size of quarters, in the dough.

Scrape dough from the bowl onto a generously floured work surface or tea towel and shape into a long vertical rectangle about 2 inches thick. The dough will seem rough and messy. Using the edges of the towel, fold the lower part of the dough (about one-third) toward the center, then fold the top portion down. With a rolling pin, roll dough out to a 2-inch thickness. Fold the two ends in again, lifting the edges of the towel to help move the dough. Give dough a one-quarter turn and roll it out again to a 2-inch thickness. Continue folding, turning and rolling dough until it is smooth, with noticeable yellow ribbons of butter and margarine throughout.

Roll dough to 1 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut dough into rounds. Punch cutter into dough cleanly, without twisting. When refolding and rerolling the dough, gently stack it to retain the layers. Do not overwork.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet and freeze. Once they are frozen, transfer biscuits to plastic bags. The unbaked biscuits can be frozen for 2 months.

To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Place frozen biscuits in the cups of muffin tins. Let thaw in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes.

Springtime always makes me think of asparagus. When I was a girl growing up in Wisconsin, my gramma would bring our family big coffee cans of fresh asparagus she would pick from her patch in the country. At the time, I had no idea how special these gramma deliveries of asparagus were and didn’t really care for it. In those days, it was cooked it in a pan of water on the stove until it was limp and barely resembled bright green asparagus.

Fresh pasta, asparagus and smoked salmon are tossed with cream sauce in this lovely weeknight dinner that can be prepared quickly.

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon in Shallot Cream Sauce

½ pound fresh asparagus, medium thickness

Salt

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces smoked salmon sliced 1/4-inch thick – not too smoky tasting

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Splash of dry white wine

9 to 10 ounces fresh fettuccine noodles

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (optional)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Snap off the ends of the asparagus where they break naturally. Cut the asparagus on a slant to pieces about an inch long.

Steam the asparagus until they are just barely tender and still bright green, about three minutes. Rinse under ice cold water, drain well on paper towels and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet. Add the shallots and sauté until soft. Stir in the cream and simmer about five minutes, until the cream has thickened a bit, add a tablespoon or two of white wine. Continue cooking a minute.

Cut the salmon into slivers, add it to the cream and remove the skillet from the heat. Season with pepper, lemon juice and zest.

Add the asparagus.

When the pot of water is boiling, add the fettuccine, stir it occasionally a couple of times, then cook two to three minutes after the water has returned to a boil. Drain well.

Briefly reheat the sauce. Transfer the fettuccine to a warm serving bowl, pour the sauce over it, grate a generous portion of fresh parmesan over it and toss. Sprinkle with dill and serve. Enjoy!

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