5/31/10

10 Secrets to Buttery, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

When I told my husband that I was making some biscuits, he didn't say anything.  Then he mumbled something.

What did you say?
"I really don't like biscuits."
How come?
"They are dry and crumbly."



I assured him that THIS time, the biscuits are NOT coming from a box.
They are going to be homemade...

I searched high and low over the Internet and settled on Food Wishes Buttermilk Biscuit recipe.   Chef John has an excellent three minute video that is worth watching ~

You can use cold buttermilk or sour milk.

Kitchen Tip:  You make sour milk by putting in 1 T. of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup.  Fill the cup with enough milk to reach 1 c.  Let the milk sit for 5 minutes and ta-da!  You have sour milk!

For this recipe, I opted to use SaCo powdered buttermilk.  It keeps well in the fridge and I always have it on hand.


All purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and powdered buttermilk are mixed in a large bowl.

The recipe calls for UNsalted butter, thinly sliced and then frozen.
I had a cube of frozen salted butter, which sliced up nicely.

A pastry blender works great.  If you don't have one, use a fork or two knives to cut the butter into pea sized pieces.




Add a cup of cold water, (or the cup of cold buttermilk)...







Mix it with a spatula until all the pieces come together.

Crumbly is o.k. ~ do not overmix the dough.

Handle the dough as lightly as you can.

Fold it into thirds, like a letter.

Does anyone send letters anymore?

Fold it into thirds again, in the other direction.

Fold into thirds again, for the last time.

Flour your hands if you need to.
Roll to 3/4" layer (or pat with hands).

Use a 2 1/2" biscuit cutter or drinking glass.

Push straight down....do not twist.

Why?  You get a biscuit with straight sides.


Put a thumbprint in the middle.

Why?  Helps 'em rise straight.


I put thumbprints in all of them....should've left some alone to test out the theory...




Brush with buttermilk.


This is NOT buttermilk.  It is butter.  Salted butter.  Keep reading to see why this is a mistake...






These puffed up high and light....




This one was made from scraps.

I decided to be 'gentle' and just push the scraps together.

Didn't work so well, huh?

Next time, knead the scraps together and re-roll them.


The verdict?

Light, fluffy, flaky....

"Did you make these with salt water?" my son asked.

I took a bite.  Yikes!  Waaaaaaay too salty.



My mistake(s)?

I used SALTED butter when the recipe called for UNsalted butter.  Did you know that SALTED butter can have anywhere up to 3/4 t. of salt?

This recipe calls for 1 t. salt with UNsalted butter.  I nearly doubled the salt by using salted butter.

I also brushed the tops with salted butter, instead of buttermilk.  Oooops!

Please, please, do not make the same mistakes I did.

So you want the secrets?

1.  COLD Buttermilk.  Tenderizes the dough.
2.  Fresh baking soda and baking powder.
3.  COLD UNsalted butter.
4.  Gently handle dough.  Overworking = hockey pucks.
5.  Folding the dough = flaky layers.
6.  Push straight down with cutter; do not twist!
7.  Thumbprint in middle.
8.  Brush with buttermilk, prior to baking...


Chef John from Food Wishes suggests making these biscuits about a dozen times.  I have made these biscuits several times, getting better each time.  It is a recipe worth perfecting and enjoying.  Thanks, Chef John!

 Buttermilk Biscuits
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)






5/28/10

5 Kitchen Tip: Cleaning Oven Racks

When I have a new appliance, I like to keep it looking as new as I can.  Our smoker has only been used a couple of times and I wanted to keep the racks looking clean.

I think the method I used did a great job on these racks!




This is the crusty, stuck on black gunk, enameled smoker drip pan.

I folded two sheets of paper towel and poured about 1 cup of straight ammonia into the pan.





I decided to put my oven racks, along with the newer smoker racks, into a large garbage sack.

Put the ammonia filled pan on top of the dirty racks...





and tied it shut with a rubber band.


Left the bag OUTSIDE overnight.  The ammonia fumes should do their magic...


Then it snowed.  I didn't get to them for 2 days.

The enameled pan came wiped out easily and ended up looking very clean!



I think I will cover this with aluminum foil for next time.




I wiped the smoker racks with a damp cloth and they came out shiny and new!  You can see on the top how black they used to be ~


Here'e my oven rack, before it got the ammonia treatment...



I have to admit, it's been over 5 years since I cleaned them...




Here it is, after.

Not shiny and new, but a little cleaner...

I have a self cleaning oven, which recommends NOT to leave them in during the cleaning cycle.  The self cleaning cycle will strip the chrome off, leaving the racks dull and lifeless.  Not a big deal, but it will be more difficult to slide the racks into your oven.


I need one more trick to see if I can get my oven racks clean.  Cleaner.....

Do you have any brilliant ideas?

5/26/10

4 Smoked Pulled Pork & A Kitchen Tip!

Love pulled pork?  How about smoked pulled pork?  You don't have to have a smoker to enjoy pulled pork.  Do you have a BBQ?  Does it have at least two burners?  How about a thermometer?  Then by all means, you can enjoy smoked pulled pork without a smoker!





The BEST dry rub for pork or brisket is HERE.  It will make enough for (2) four pound pork shoulders (or pork butts).


Here's how (I have a propane BBQ):

Turn on one burner of your BBQ.  Get it nice and hot.

Place a disposable foil pan on the UNlit burner.  This will catch the drips from the pork during smoking.

Prepare a 'smoke' packet.  Take a handful of wood chips that have been soaking in water for 30 minutes and place them in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil.

Apple, Cherry, Maple or Pecan wood chips are great for pork.

Experiment and see which you prefer.  I used Cherry.  Hickory and Mesquite are stronger flavored woods are work best with beef.





Fold up the foil packet, sealing the edges.

Poke several holes in the top of the foil packet.







Put the packet directly on the GRATE of the LIT burner.  I could even place the foil packet on top of the ceramic "briquets," which are over the burners. (In photo, lit burner is on the left, drip pan is on UNlit burner on the right)

Turn the LIT burner on to LOW.

When the temperature reaches 160ºF., place the prepared pork shoulder on the UNLIT side of the BBQ, over the aluminum drip pan.

If your BBQ temperature begins to drop below 160ºF., turn up the lit burner until it is able to hold a steady 160ºF.

Keep this temperature for at least 2-3 hours.  The smoke is absorbed into the meat during this time.  There is no need to add any additional wood chips to continue the smoking.

After 3 hours, crank up the LIT burner temperature to 250ºF.  for the next 8-10 hours.  During this period, the pork is being indirectly baked, not smoked.

Or.... you can bring in the pork and cook it in your oven at 250ºF., until done.  If your oven has a meat probe, even better!

When the internal temperature of the meat registers 185ºF, check every hour or so until the pork registers an internal target temperature of 195ºF.

This pork was ready after 12 hours and the party was not until two hours later....no problem!

There is a way to keep your meat hot for up to 4 hours....here's how:


Wrap the whole pork shoulder in plastic wrap.

I wrap it length wise, then again cross-wise.

Don't worry, the plastic won't melt!



Wrap the pork in some heavy duty aluminum foil, sealing it well.


Grab some old towels and wrap the covered pork...





Get some more old towels...

Stick the meat in an insulated cooler with more towels,

and you're ready to go!




Shred the pork when you are ready to serve.

It's really great with your favorite BBQ sauce and a homemade bun.

Are you ready for summer?

5/24/10

4 Homemade Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

As I type this, I am watching a wet, heavy snow fall outside my window.  I should be posting about a hearty soup, paired with a crusty loaf of warm homemade bread.

Snow?  In May?  *Sigh*  I'm so ready for winter to be over!

I have had so much fun making my own yogurt.  You can use the WARM setting on your crock pot or wrap your bowl of yogurt in a heating pad and some blankets.

I could use a heating pad and blankets.  My feet are cold!


The first time I ever made frozen yogurt, I used the plain store bought yogurt.  I can't tell you what flavor I made because all I remember is the TART after taste...yuck!  Ice cream shouldn't be tart.  Sherbet, yes, but not ice cream ~

Don't have an ice cream maker?  Don't worry.  David Lebovitz has a technique HERE that works.  I also saw a blogger who chilled her KitchenAid bowl and whipped up her partially frozen ice cream.

I searched the Internet and found a very simple, LOW FAT and easy chocolate frozen yogurt recipe on Allrecipes that got rave reviews.  No eggs are required and it got a double thumbs up around my house!

The best part?

No TART after taste....just smooth, creamy, chocolate-y goodness...


Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
(4x6 download)  (full page printable recipe)





5/21/10

8 Homemade Parmesan Cheese: Part One *And a New Look*

Those of you who subscribe to Lovin' from the Oven via email or RSS feeds, hop on over to see the new look of my blog!  I love the new tab:  Bread Gallery ~

My Parmesan cheese has been aging for seven months.

I wish I could show you the step-by-step photos, but I lost them with the virus that practically wiped out my other computer.  Sorry ~



You need to plan at least six hours to make this cheese and 10-18 months to age it.  I hope it's worth it!

My Farmhouse cheddar used whole milk and a mesophilic culture, whereas this Parmesan cheese uses a low-fat skim milk.

I added a little bit of half and half to my skim milk to equal 2 gallons of milk.

Warmed up the milk to 90ºF.

Added the culture, stirred, and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Stirred in the rennet and let it sit for another 30 minutes.


Cut the curds into 1/4" cubes and raised the tempertutre 3º every 5 minutes till it reached 124ºF.  This took about 45 minutes.

The curds shrunk in size to grains of rice...

I let them settle to the bottom of the pan for 5 minutes and poured off the whey.



Packed the curds in a cheesecloth lined mold and pressed at 5 pounds for 15 minutes.

Changed the cheesecloth for a fresh one and reversed the mold; pressed at 10 pounds for 30 minutes.

Changed the cloth again and pressed it at 15 pounds for 2 hours.



Turned the cheese over and pressed at 20 pounds for 12 hours.


Have you noticed a pattern?  The extra weight is pushing all the liquid whey out to make a dry, dry cheese.

By this time, it was midnight.



Put the cheese in a salt solution for 24-30 hours.

Time to go to bed!

Removed it from the brine and put it on a clean wooden board.

Turn the cheese daily for the first two weeks, then once per week for the first two months.  This helps it dry evenly.

I am not good at remembering... I'm a "set it and forget it" type of gal.  I had to program my cell phone with an alarm to remind me to "turn the cheese."


I found a wine refrigerator that will hold the temperature at 54ºF which is perfect for this cheese.  It will be my "cheese cave."

After a couple of months, this is what happens....


a brown, dusty mold.   eeeeewwwww.


I contacted the experts at the Cheesemaking Supply Company, and they assured me this was normal.

Dip a clean brush in the salt water and brush the mold off.

Let it air dry a couple of hours, and put it back in the cheese 'cave.'

Is all this work worth it?  I will let you know in a few months!

5/19/10

1 Healthy Frying and a Winner!

Frying?  Healthy?  Huh?  Yes, it is possible!

These very words were written in a Cooking Light magazine at a friend's house.

Now, they are not advocating that you dump the salad, veggies and fruits, but there are some tips that you can use to help you fry a healthier way.

First, you need to choose a "heart healthy" oil:

1.  Peanut Oil
2.  Soybean Oil
3. Canola

These oils are low in saturated fat and have a high "smoke point" meaning that they can reach a high temperature before they begin to smoke.  I like canola oil.

Tips on Reusing Oil:

Keep your oil clean by filtering it with coffee liners.  I like to use a large coffe liner nested in a strainer.  Strain oil into a GLASS container.  (I used milk jugs until they began to leak.  Ughhh.)
Store filtered oil in the fridge.  Keep oil used for potatoes/breads separate from oils used for meat.

Potato oil can be reused up to 10 times,
Chicken oil up to 5 times,
Fish and Onion....well...I don't reuse those.  Stinky foods = stinky oil.

Next, you need to coat your ingredients:

1.  Use breading that has no/low sugar in it to reduce burning.
2.  All purpose flour absorbs oil, so use it sparingly or in combination with cornmeal.
3.  Use batter that has leavening (baking soda) or carbonated drinks (club soda) as they reduce the oil absorption as well.

Next, maintain your temperature as you fry:

1.  Use a deep, heavy bottomed pot that will hold at least 4" of oil.
2.  Use a clip thermometer that reaches at least 375ºF.
3.  Temperature drops when you add food.  Fry in small batches.
4.  Keep foods in oil separated; they should be able to move about freely.

Oil that is too hot will burn the outside while leaving the inside raw or doughy.
Oil that is too cool will leave your food soggy and greasy.

Last, drain your fried foods:

1.  Use a slotted spoon, skimmer or basket to place food into and out of the fryer.
2.  Place food on layered paper towels to absorb excess oil.

So, there you have it.  A healthier way to fry your favorite foods.  Choose your oil, coat your foods, maintain the temperature, and drain on a paper towel.



Some of my favorite fried foods:

Fried Ravioli

Chicken Nuggets

Onion Straws

Lisa's Doughnuts

General Tsao's Chicken

Scones

Oh, and we have a winner for the "It's May, Let's Have a Giveaway"......sponsored by AllBarStools.com ~

Thank you ALL for commenting, entering, following this blog and making this the BEST giveaway so far ~

Drum roll....


Comment 35!

Okay....gotta go over the comments.....scrolling, scrolling....

It's CMJHawaii, who said, "I'm a follower."  This reader selected the marble rolling pin and marble board.

Congratulations, CMJ!  Contact me at friedalovesbread@gmail.com to claim your prize!





5/14/10

7 Frozen Cookie Dough: A Great Gift!

My mom has everything she needs.  If she needs anything, she buys it and doesn't wait for a "special occasion."

Most Sunday evenings, there are family members that come to visit my mom...to see Grandma and Grandpa.  Part of the fun of visiting is sitting around the kitchen table, having a treat.   Sometimes, it's cake,  ice cream, or a glass of homemade grape juice.  More often than not, it will be a cookie that she made earlier in the day.


I made frozen cookie dough when I was a working, full-time mom.  These were great to pull out at the last minute and have as an after school treat.  You can even mix/match different cookies, or put four cookies in a toaster oven.  What's better than a warm, fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie and milk?

I knew that a gift of frozen cookie dough would be great for my mom ~ or any mom!

Choose a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer.

Line it with plastic wrap.

Drop cookies onto plastic wrap.

No need to space them apart...


One batch of these chocolate chip cookies fit nicely onto one baking sheet.


The peanut butter cookies were dropped with a cookie scoop and spaced a little further apart to allow smashing with the tines of a fork.

Put trays of cookie dough into your freezer until firm,  about two hours.

Remove cookie dough from the trays and put into freezer safe bags that are labelled with the cookie, date, oven temperature, time and any other special directions: greased/ungreased baking sheet.

Return bags to the freezer until ready to use.

These are ready-to-bake.  No need to increase the baking times.

These are the cookie doughs I made for her:




Chocolate Chip Cookies

A soft, slightly chewy cookie packed full of chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Cookies
A thick, crispy and chewy cookie full of peanut butter goodness













Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

A soft brownie-like cookie dusted with powdered sugar


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