Cheddar Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

It’s been a while! The holidays are near and things are getting busy; well, you know how it is. But I was able to take time to make these delicious biscuits for a potluck last weekend. Biscuits…from scratch? Absolutely.

While it does save time popping open that can of pre-made (and cut) biscuits, especially since you need enough for 20+ people (and including seconds), it will never taste as good as biscuits from scratch. But actually, they’re quite easy to make and really takes all of about 10-15 minutes to prep. A good buttery and flaky biscuit is more about technique. So I’ll give you my tips early on in this post.

As with all buttery and flaky baked things, such as biscuits and pie crusts, you want the butter to be cold, very cold. You want to see white dots of butter in the dough as you’re rolling out the crust or cutting the biscuits. This will give you that nice buttery and flaky texture. Basically, you want the dough to be as cold as possible when you’re working with it so that the butter doesn’t soften. In recipes that call for cold butter cut into pieces, I’ll cut the butter on a plate and then stick it in the freezer to harden until ready for use. If you’re making it by hand using knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour, stick those in the freezer too. If your bowl will fit, also put that in to cool it before use. And when you’re working with the dough, work quickly because your hands will start to melt the butter as you handle it.

When it comes to rolling out the dough, I prefer to pat it with my hands to roll/stretch it out. You want to disturb the gluten as little as possible so that the biscuit remains soft. Rolling it out with a pin is too disruptive.

If you can, stretch out the dough super thin and fold it over itself 2-3 times. These folds help create the layers in biscuits.

When cutting the biscuits out, if you don’t have a cookie cutter, use something with a slightly sharper edge. A dull cutter can compress the biscuit’s edge, causing it to not rise properly. I used the rim of a wine glass.

When placing them on a baking sheet, make sure that the biscuits are slightly touching each other. This will help them rise upwards, not outwards to the side.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F and grease or line with parchment paper or foil, a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  3. Using a food processor, or pastry knife if making by hand, cut the butter into the flour mixture.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk.
  5. Add in the chives and cheddar.
  6. Stir until just incorporated and dough is loose.
  7. Knead dough for about 1 minute, as it then should become smooth.
  8. Pat the dough out until it becomes at most 1/4″ thick.
  9. Fold the dough in half.
  10. Cut out biscuits and place, slightly touching one another, onto the baking sheet.
  11. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until slightly browned

Garlic Bread

I’m obsessed with garlic bread. It seems like we’re always eating it here at Forty*Chestnuts. We’re eating it with soup, roast chicken, pasta…it can be eaten with pretty much everything else we make. The bread is so easy to make, it’s never really occurred to us to share the recipe. But it’s so delicious, we’re going to devote a whole post to it.

Great garlic bread has that perfect balance of crusty exterior with a soft, buttery, garlicky interior. We’ve experimented using different types of breads: ciabatta has too many holes in the middle, the baguette at Whole Foods is too dense, and the Trader Joe’s baguette isn’t soft enough in the middle. The one that we’ve like the best is the homemade baguette from Fairway. We’ve also experimented with different methods of slicing the loaf to spread the garlic butter mixture. Slicing the ciabatta or baguette in the middle horizontally didn’t spread the garlic flavor to the whole loaf. We prefer slicing the baguette into about 1″ slices, making sure you don’t slice all the way through. Spreading the mixture this way covers more of the loaf insides. A word about the mixture itself, we absolutely love the cheese. It melts between the slices and is stringy when you pull the slices apart. We loved this recipe for garlic bread from Drizzle & Dip that we wanted to share it with you. Try this bread with our Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup. The pairing is absolutely delicious!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Mix the minced garlic, coriander, black pepper, and parmesan cheese with the softened butter.
  3. Slice the baguette into your desired thickness, ensuring you don’t cut all the way through.
  4. Spread the butter mixture generously between the cut slices and a little bit over the top of the baguette.
  5. Wrap in foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and then open the foil and bake for another 3 minutes to brown the loaf.

Cook’s Notes

If you don’t have enough time to soften the butter at room temperature. In a bowl, microwave the butter for 10-15 seconds, until soft. If it melts too much, place the bowl in the fridge and check back after 30-45 seconds. Try variations of this timing until the butter becomes soft and spreadable.

If you want a milder garlic flavor, use 2-3 garlic cloves.

Feel free to substitute or add to the coriander with other herbs of your liking! I think my next variation on this will be with rosemary!

Be careful to not overdo the butter mixture between the cut slices. Otherwise the slices will turn out soggy.

If your loaf is already brown and crispy, reduce the last part of the baking time that browns the loaf.

Jalapeño Cheddar and Scallion Cornbread

Cornbread and I have a complicated relationship. I really only eat it a few times a year, and when I do, it’s great. But, apologizing to my Southern friends in advance, it’s just not one of those foods that come top of mind when I want a bread to eat with soup or chili. I definitely wouldn’t mind eating it more often, I just need to remember.

A few days ago, Dan and I ordered barbecue for dinner which came with a side of cornbread. Upon the first bite, I instantly remembered what I’d been missing. It was buttery, slightly crumbly and deliciously moist. It cut the meatiness of the ribs and sweetness of the baked beans. I’ll admit, this cornbread does have a lot going on with the cheddar, scallions and jalapeño. I think the only thing that’s missing is crumbled bacon; and I’ll let you add that yourself. This recipe works just fine with none, any or all of the mix-ins. But you have to make this in a cast iron skillet. It’s classic. Plus, it gives you those nice toasty edges.

And if you want these flavors in biscuit format, A Kitchen Addiction has a great recipe for jalapeño cheddar biscuits.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Brush bottom of cast-iron skillet (no larger than 10″) or square baking pan with oil or some butter.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Stir in the jalapeños, scallions, and shredded cheddar.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
  5. Stir in melted butter.
  6. Stir buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just moistened. Do not overmix.
  7. Spread batter into prepared pan in an even layer.
  8. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden on top and when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cook’s Notes

The jalapeño, cheddar and scallions are optional in this recipe. Omit these to bake a classic cornbread.

Walnut Rolls

I’ve been spoiled…by my bread machine. Freshly baked bread – cinnamon raisin swirl, cheddar onion, honey herb, pizza dough and even focaccia – all without getting my hands doughy. It’s easy and without the fuss and mess. But yes, if you want to get into the details of it all, there are slight textural changes to the bread depending on how it’s kneaded. The science of it, gluten develops no matter how you knead the dough. But machine-kneading is rougher than hand-kneading. So glutens strands get linked together only to be torn apart. This leads to a slightly denser bread; when you slice the loaf, the holes are smaller and compact. Hand kneading is a gentler process where gluten once formed stays together. This leads to a chewier texture and larger holes. Both methods are fine; and of course there are ways of making bread machine bread less dense (type of flour used, flat beer instead of water, etc.).

But for these rolls, I went back to the roots and made them by hand. I wanted to make them right, especially since they’ve been requested for a long time. I’ve just been (lazily) putting it off. This recipe calls for walnut oil, which probably won’t be found in your basic corner store. I bought mine (Roland brand Walnut Oil, 8.5oz for $6) from New Kam Man in Chinatown. You can also get it on Amazon and (I assume) Whole Foods. Just remember to refrigerate it after opening so the flavor lasts.

These walnut rolls are very soft, chewy and impart a deliciously nutty flavor, which is perfect for Fall. The addition of cracked black pepper adds a hint of spice and zing. As with all hand-made bread, it takes patience and time since you need to wait for the dough to rise, a few times actually. But if you have a free afternoon, give these a shot.

Directions

-To make the Sponge-

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the water, yeast and sugar.
  2. Let stand until it looks creamy and the yeast is activated, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 1 hour.

-To make the Rolls-

  1. Stir in the walnuts, water, yeast, salt, honey, walnut oil and black pepper into the sponge.
  2. Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. If needed, add in up to 1/2 cup more flour to make a slightly sticky dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Add in additional flour only if dough is sticky.
  5. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with pastic wrap.
  6. Let rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Deflate the dough and cut it in half so it is more manageable.
  8. For each half, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick, using as little additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or rolling pin.
  9. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and shape each one into a ball.
  10. Place the balls onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Cover with an oiled plastic wrap and let rise for at least 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  13. Use a sharp knife for scissors and cut a 2 inch long slash into the top of each roll.
  14. Place the rolls in the oven and toss 6 ice cubes onto the oven floor and quickly close the door.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes or until nicely browned.

Cook’s Notes

Microwaving the water for about 40 seconds will get it lukewarm.

The dough will initially turn out quite sticky; it did when I made it. I added in about 1/2 cup extra flour, a little bit at a time. When kneading the dough, it’s fine if it is a little bit sticky, just as long as it is not overwhelmingly sticking to your fingers. The dough will smooth out as it rises. You don’t want to add too much additional flour; otherwise the rolls will become tough and not soft.

I like to keep our apartment pretty cool, which means it’s hard to find a warm place to let the sponge and dough rise. I preheat the oven for about 20 seconds, turn it off and then place the bowl in there to let the contents rise.

To reheat these rolls, cover with a slightly damp towel and microwave for about 10-20 seconds depending on how many you’re heating.

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Scones

Aside from the great, local produce, the Union Square Greenmarket also has delicious bread and baked goods stands. One of my favorite stands is Our Daily Bread. I love scones and they have some great ones. Scones are one of my favorite breakfast/brunch baked goods. Its buttery flavor and crumbly texture pair well with a cup of tea or coffee. My favorite scone from Our Daily Bread is their cranberry cornmeal scone. I made my own version of this scone for a weekend brunch I hosted.

But brunch? Did I wake up hours in advance to prepare all this freshly baked goodness? Definitely not. I try to prepare what I can ahead of time. Here are the components of my brunch and how I usually prepare them:

Fruit: I usually make a fruit salad or offer a bowl of fruit – like strawberries or grapes. This is quick and easy to prepare the morning of.

Baked Good: This is usually a muffin, scone, or some type of quick bread, like banana bread. This can be made the night before and kept moist wrapped in saran wrap.

Entree: This is made the morning of. However, if I am serving Belgian waffels or pancakes, the batter can be made the day before.

Side: This I make the  morning of. It’s usually something like sausages, which is quick to prepare, or home fries, which I bake – put it in the oven and it’s done in about 20 minutes. Quick and simple.

For the baked good, I make it right before I got to bed the night before. I let it cool, put it on a plate, and cover it tightly with saran wrap so it stays moist for the next morning. I tried one of these scones right when it came out and also the next morning – they both tasted great!

Directions

  1. Move oven rack so that the scones will bake in the top third of the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 450F.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  4. Add the butter pieces.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, or two dinner knives, or food processor, cut butter pieces into the flour mixture. You want to achieve a crumbly consistency.
  6. Mix in cranberries and orange zest.
  7. With a fork, stir in the egg and buttermilk. You want the dough to become just moistened. Don’t over-mix.
  8. Dust a clean surface with some flour, form the dough into a soft ball and pat into a large round, about 1/3″ thick.
  9. If the dough becomes too soft to handle because of the butter, refrigerate it for about 5 minutes.
  10. Using a round cookie cutter or cup, cut out circles about 2 1/2″ in diameter.
  11. Gather the dough scraps together, pat into a large round and repeat cutting out circles.
  12. Place the scones onto a cookie sheet, either greased or lined with foil or parchment paper.
  13. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.