It’s not a cookie, it’s not a scone- it’s a BISCUIT

A couple of months ago I got a craving for one of my favorite Portland breakfast eateries- Pine State Biscuits. As I began talking about this with the international crowd I was hanging out with I realized biscuits are a uniquely American thing. That golden brown, warm, fluffy lump of buttery flakey goodness doesn’t exist. In England and Australia they use the word biscuit to refer to a type of cookie.  All they know of biscuits comes from watching American movies and TV. “You eat them with gravy, right?” I got asked. Yes, you can eat them with gravy, or jam. You can eat biscuits any number of other delightful ways, like using  them to make a  sandwich. Which is what Pine State Biscuits does. They put everything in the world on a sandwich. Check this photo out from brunch a couple of weeks ago that my sister-in-law Amber posted yesterday to my FB wall.

pinestate

Anyway, for several months now I have been experimenting with my biscuit recipe and I believe I have finally perfected it. The final ingredient- the cast iron skillet that was a gift from Amber as well. Let me say, I’ve fallen in love with cast iron, especially for baking. I used the same pan for pizza the other night and it was stellar. Everything browns on the bottom but does not burn. Perfection. In addition to my cast iron, I also received a number of other nifty kitchen toys that make life much easier in the kitchen. I was amazed at the difference I get just from using a proper size bowl. Now my dough forms easily into a ball whereas before I would be chasing ingredients around the edge. And I could go on and on about my pastry cutter. But this is not about kitchen devices- it’s about biscuits. In addition to my cast iron skillet I came back with baking powder from the states. I can get baking powder down here but I had noticed before they weren’t rising as tall as I thought they should. The difference in height I get with the stuff from the states is amazing. I made a batch in the states and noticed this as well. So quality ingredients and the right tools really do make a difference.

Biscuits1

Look at how tall they are

Look at how tall they are

Biscuit 3

Biscuits

2 1/4 c. flour

1 TBSP baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 c. ice cold butter

1 TBSP honey

1 c. milk

Pre-heat oven to 425 F

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Cut in ice cold butter into it is pea sized balls.

Add honey and milk and stir in with a wooden spoon until it creates a ball.

Turn out the dough onto a floured counter top and knead 10 times. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it’s sticky knead in more flour. This will vary depending on your climate. I use more flour because I live in the jungle.

Roll or pat out to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a cup or biscuit cutter.

Place on cookie sheet- or cast iron skillet

Cook on 425 for 13-15 minutes.

You can slather them in gravy, put butter or jam on them, or make them into sandwiches. The choice is yours. Enjoy!

I made a bacon and egg breakfast sandwich. I even got to use some of that homemade mayo I made the other night.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

Sometimes you need to break a few eggs

I never had any idea how many eggs I actually consumed back when I lived in the states. Eggs apparently are in EVERYTHING. They are in pasta, they are in sauces, they are breads, I could go on and on but just assume if you like it, it probably has eggs in it. When I lived in the US I bought my eggs by the half dozen, I tried to make sure I always had some on hand but they certainly weren’t something I used every day. Now here, in Nicaragua, I go through 30 eggs a week generally. And I only feed two people. I just go back from a month in the states last Monday and that number seemed absolutely ridiculous to me when I got back (I’m sure it does to you as well.) So when I went to the store Tuesday I bought a dozen. By Thursday morning I was out of eggs again. So, Trevor took the moto up to the corner to buy eggs to get told there would be no eggs until Monday. Anyway, this afternoon Trevor when out to give our friend a lift down the road and I asked him to see if he could find us some eggs.

Apparently transporting eggs 5 KM on a motorcycle is not as safe as from the corner. When he returned with the flat of eggs, a half dozen of them were broken. What do you do with half a dozen eggs in the middle of the afternoon? Omelets immediately came to my mind, but Trevor suggested mayonnaise. I’ve been talking about trying out mayonnaise from scratch but hadn’t gotten the nerve yet. I set two of the six eggs aside and whipped up a quick omelet for us and started looking into homemade mayonnaise recipes. I realized I didn’t have lemon juice, which most recipes require and started looking to see if it could be done without it. I struck up a post on PinchMySalt.com on just that subject. So I pulled out the whisk and got to work. Some significant amount of whisking time later I do in fact have homemade mayonnaise. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it. I’m thinking potato salad but I’ll keep you posted.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise 

1 egg yolk

1/4 tsp Dijon mustard

salt

1/4 tsp vinegar

3/4 c. oil

The recipe I found called for lemon juice which I didn’t have – in season I can get limes but it’s not the season now. I used plain white vinegar because that’s all I had here and a seedy Dijon mustard. You can see the mustard seeds but I don’t mind. I think it will enhance the flavor in the end. I followed the advice to drip the first 1/4 cup of oil on 1/4 tsp at a time while whisking. Then drizzled the remaining 1/2 cup to the mixture. I had difficulty whisking while streaming the oil but found I could tell when the mixture was getting too oily. I would simply whisk to the oiliness went a way and continue adding oil. Probably not perfect but it certainly worked for what I had.