I have, for the past several years, not been able to make a biscuit worth a damn.

Now, I used to make quite excellent biscuits. Won a blue ribbon on ’em a time or two in 4-H competitions and at the county fair. But for the last several years, my biscuits have turned out flat, tough and tasteless. I tried softer dough; I tried drier dough. I tried using butter; I tried using shortening. I even tried using lard.

Today, I aced biscuits. And I did it purely and simply by going back to the way I did it years ago — with self-rising flour.

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Thanksgiving: The recipes

November 16, 2017

It occurred to me, after looking back at the annual pre-Thanksgiving post, that it would be a worthwhile endeavor if I were to post for you the canonical Thanksgiving dish recipes. Because, well, if you want to follow the canon, you need the instructions, yes?

I may, in fact, have posted these recipes previously (in the case of the cranberry salad and the rolls, I KNOW I have), but hey, repetition is not necessarily a bad thing, and besides, here they all are in one spot.

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Another gluten-free breakfast

November 13, 2017

Here’s a bread-free breakfast with a twist.

You really don’t NEED bread for breakfast.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing much better than a hot, fluffy biscuit, dripping butter, cozying up to a pile of scrambled eggs, a scoop of pear preserves, and three or four slices of thick cut bacon, fried perfectly crisp. Unless it’s a thick slice of challah, soaked in egg-and-cream and fried in butter, the best French toast on the planet. Or a piping hot bran muffin, or a muffin bursting with fresh blueberries, cut open when it’s so hot it’ll scorch your fingers, and a copious quantity of butter applied. Or a puffy, golden brown Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven.

I love breakfast breads, and I have a fair number of them in my repertoire. But I also have a kid with celiac disease, and I love her, too, so I try to cater toward her need for things that don’t have wheat gluten when she’s here. And, I’m sorry, but I’ve yet to find anything in the realm of gluten-free breads that worth a diddly-damn.

Fortunately, said child loves her some corn, in most all its iterations. Corn tortillas make a fine breakfast burrito, and do well scrambled up in some migas. And grits? This kid can eat her weight in grits. Always has been able to.

So this morning, I brought out one of my stable of gluten-free breakfasts, tweaked it a bit, and she gave it her seal of approval. Me, I’ll tweak it next time, but it wasn’t bad, not at all.

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Tortilla breakfast

November 12, 2017

OK, so it fell apart. It was good. Especially with oranges.

It’s been years since I made a tortilla, but I was in the notion for one recently, so I made it.

Child B is here, and she’s gluten intolerant, so I have to think a bit when it comes to breakfast goodies for her. I was contemplating latkes Friday morning, but that was more trouble than it was worth. And somebody had posted on the food forum about making a tortilla. And I thought, “Yeah. That.”

So I set about doing same. Truth be told, it was probably as much trouble as making latkes, but, hey, the flavor profile was what I wanted.

I peeled four potatoes, sliced them thin and boiled them in salted water for a few minutes, until they were barely soft. I drained them, and layered them in what started out as a nice spiral in the pan.

Which, by the way, was the 10-inch Lodge carbon steel skillet I bought back in May. Finally got those suckers seasoned. I love them. Get you some.

Layer 1, potatoes and proscuitto.

Anyway. I put a layer of potatoes, and then I added half of the proscuitto that I’d cut into strips. Put another layer of potatoes, and added some more proscuitto. I let them cook on medium heat until they’d started to brown on the bottom. Then I beat up four eggs with a little half in half, added in some paprika and a cup and a half or so of grated romano, and poured that over them.

Note to self. Use six eggs next time. Four was a bit skimpy.

Leave that skillet alone! Let those eggs cook!

The key at this point is to leave the damn skillet alone. Let the eggs cook, undisturbed, until they start to look set around the edges. Then, gently, push the edge of the tortilla¬† away from the edge of the pan, tilt the pan, and let the uncooked egg run into the gap. Do that all the way around the pan, and then leave it alone some more. You’re still on medium heat, here. It’s gonna take a LONG time to burn.

Once there’s no more liquid egg lingering around the surface, get a plate. Carefully slide your spatula under the tortilla to loosen it all over, then tilt the pan and slide it out onto the plate. Put a little more oil — not much — into the skillet. Invert the skillet over the plate, and, with hot pads in both hands, grab hold on each side and flip that sucker over. If all goes as it should, the uncooked side of the tortilla will wind up in the pan, and you’ll have a lovely browned surface looking at you.

Browned yum, right there. Would look better with more eggs.

Let that side cook for another 3-4 minutes, and slide it back out onto the plate. Let it cool for just a minute or two, and carve it into wedges. If I hadn’t been too skimpy on the eggs, it would have retained some structural integrity and made a nice wedge.

Like a quiche, these things are great an hour or two later, at room temp, so make it whenever you please. With some fruit and a muffin, it’s a pretty classy brunch. It ain’t a bad breakfast on its own.

When you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em are in the notion for something different for breakfast, try this. There’s no reason you can’t customize it the way you want; change up the meat, change up the spice, add some onion or other veggies, change up the cheese. Just don’t skimp on the eggs.



Breads, fast and slow

November 10, 2017

Sweet potato pecan bread. Good toasted with butter.

I love bread.

That’s a rather odd thing, seeing that I grew¬† up not eating it very much. My mother was diabetic, and could eat very little bread, so we didn’t as a rule have bread with a lot of meals. Daddy had to have bread with a meal, but was perfectly happy with a slice of sandwich bread from the Sunbeam loaf, and I could do without that. I have, in fact, often tended to eat the insides of sandwiches and leave the bread, unless it was integral to the structure (think PB&J).

Now, I’d always happily eat a biscuit or cornbread or a yeast roll if it were available, but Mama was not, in general, a bread baker, except for rolls on holidays. And I wasn’t one, either.

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A fine breakfast, this is. Trust me.

Next time you’ve got some leftover ham, do this.

Then you can call me and thank me. Or just send money.

Take a couple of decent sized chunks of it the spiral slicer didn’t get to, cut it into pieces about an inch or so square, and toss it into the food processor. Pulse it a few times, until it’s coarsely ground with no big chunks left, but not pureed. You need about a cup and a half of it.

Grate about two cups of your cheese of choice. I like smoked Gouda. Monterey Jack, Swiss or even Cheddar would work well, as would fontina or Havarti. Or use whatever you like.

Take a half a recipe of bread dough. I used half of Miz Mary Loyd Young’s yeast rolls recipe, which will make two dozen dinner rolls or two one-pound loaves of bread. Use the other half for, oh, I don’t know, rolls? Bread? Or make cinnamon rolls out of it.

Roll the dough out into as nearly a rectangle as you can approximate. Aim for about 12 by 18 inches, with your dough somewhere between a half and one inch thick. Push the ends and sides back in to make it more rectangular if you need to.

Sprinkle the ground ham evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the cheese over that. Start rolling like you were making cinnamon rolls, from a long side. Pinch the seam closed when you get to it. Pinch the ends closed as well.

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Back to our friend, the pig

November 6, 2017

Ham with his mustard and brown sugar glaze, ready to go in the oven.

I’ve been craving ham.

Specifically, I’ve been craving ham and cheese rolls that you make like cinnamon rolls, and I have a batch of dough I saved from yesterday’s yeast rolls in the fridge, and that will be happening soon. But to get to the marvelous byproducts of the ham, one must first have a ham.

We’ve been eating Honeybaked Ham for the last several Christmases and Easters, but I didn’t want to plunk down that kind of money, plus I really didn’t want the sweet taste that permeates the ham (and is very good, but just not what I wanted). I had heard several friends talk favorably about the spiral sliced hams at Aldi, so that’s what I got.

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