Dying Easter eggs is a great activity to share with the kids, just prepare ahead to prevent messes. You don’t have to buy the special egg dye kits in the supermarket, instead use the food colorings that you already have in your kitchen cupboard or try some of these natural methods to dye eggs.
How to Dye Eggs
Protect All Surfaces
Cover your table with plastic, then add another layer of newspaper. Wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting dyed and think about wearing gloves if you don’t want multi-colored hands.
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Plastic Table Cloth
- Bowls or Cups
- Food Coloring or natural coloring materials
- Paper Towels
- Colander or Egg Tray
How to Dye With Food Dye
- Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to 1 cup of boiling water. Add food coloring by the drop until the water is a deep shade of the desired color. You want the colors strong, they will be lighter on the egg
- Dip the hard-boiled eggs into the coloring with a spoon and let them soak. The color darkens as the egg soaks. Remove the egg when the color is your desired shade. Place them on paper towels to dry.
- Create patterns on the eggs before dying by wrapping them with rubber bands or string, or drawing on them with wax crayons. You can create multi-colored eggs by dipping eggs in several colors, soaking only part of the egg at each time.
Dying Eggs with Natural Foods
- You can also use the natural colors found in foods to color eggs. Simmer the colored plant or vegetable in water until the water is colored.
- Strain the water and add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of colored juice.
- Soak the eggs as before. Some colors may require long soaking times, so keep them in the refrigerator while soaking.
Try these colors:
- Red or Pink: Beet juice, cranberry juice, cherry juice, raspberry juice and pomegranate juice.
- Yellow or Gold: Tumeric
- Orange: Carrots or paprika
- Green: Spinach
- You can also use herbal teas and flowers. Experiment and have fun.
Creating Natural Patterns
Interesting patterns can also be created by applying leaves or flowers directly to the egg before boiling. Start with raw eggs and place the leaves directly against the egg. Hold them in position with a layer of cheese cloth tied tightly around the egg. Boil them for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and allow them to cool. Remove the cheesecloth and leaves to reveal your natural patterned eggs.
- Fill a small bowl or cup half full with white vinegar. Dip hard-boiled eggs into the vinegar, turning it to coat the egg.
- Place the colander or egg carton on several layers of newspaper to absorb spills.
- Drop food coloring onto the egg, letting the colors run together as desired. For best results, start with lighter colors.
- Use a toothpick or small brush to move the color around on the egg as desired. Kids might enjoy blowing the drops of color around with a well-aimed straw. You don’t have to cover the entire egg, leave a little white space.
- Let each color set for a minute before adding the next color, then let the eggs dry before handling them. You can rinse off extra color or blot it off with a paper towel.
- Gently rinse the excess dye off of the eggs and place them on a paper towel to air dry.
How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces
By: The Reluctant Gourmet
If you want to elevate your cooking skills to a new level and add a whole lot more to your gastronomy repertoire, learn how to make a simple pan sauce. With this technique in your cooking bag of tricks, you can turn a simple pan-fried steak into a mouth-watering meal, a plain boneless chicken breast into a delicious feast, or a modest pork chop into a scrumptious banquet. Ok, maybe I’m stretching a bit but check this out.
Restaurants chefs use this technique all the time. Basically, they cook something in a sauté pan over pretty high heat until it’s done and leaves a bunch of brown caramelize bits of “stuff”in the pan. You look at this “stuff” in the pan and say to yourself, “Now how am I going to clean this ‘stuff’ off the pan? What a mess! I wish I had used a non stick pan.”
The “stuff” has a name, it’s called “fond” and you want that “fond” stuck to your pan because it is packed with incredible flavors. It’s also easy to remove by adding a little liquid to the pan and using a wooden spoon to dissolve it. This is called deglazing and can be done with wine, brandy, fortified wines, stock, cider, fruit juices or most typically a combination of two. Just be careful if you use wine to remove the pan from the heat so the alcohol doesn’t ignite and blow up in your face. I’ve spoken with chefs who have seen this happen.
The next steps are to continue to cook the liquid in the pan until it is reduced by half and finish by adding several pats of butter to thicken and enhance the flavor of the sauce. If you ever knew how much butter professional chefs use in restaurants to “enhance” flavor, you would be amazed. I sometimes think they make their dishes too rich because I get that uncomfortable “too full” feeling later on, but then again, it’s so good while you’re dining. Now those are just the basics.
To create more complexity to the sauce you’ll want to add some aromatics like garlic or shallots for a subtle but additional layer of flavor. Then you might want to add some additional ingredients such as mushrooms, mustards, chutneys, herbs and/or spices to give even more complexity and flavor.
For more information on making classic and quick pan sauces at home including what kind of pan to use, how much deglazingliquid to use and two example recipes for the same sauce, one classic and the other quick, go to http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/pan_sauces.htm
About the author: G. Stephen Jones, The Reluctant Gourmet, created a web site back in 1997 as a hobby to assist other novice cooks who may find the art of cooking a little daunting. As an ex-Wall Street broker and Stay-at-Home Dad, I try to explore cooking from a different perspective. Visithttp://www.reluctantgourmet.com/ for more tips, techniques and recipes.
by Alison Anton
There’s no better way to spark up the holiday cheer than to create a gingerbread house with the whole family. My mom, brother and I made these every year that I can remember as a child. My mom would make the dough from her old authentic German recipe handed down from her mom’s mom, and we’d cut out the patterns, assemble the house, frost it and adorn it from top to bottom.
Things have changed a little bit since then… I adapted the dough so that it is easier to work with, and I always make sure to use all-natural ingredients and candies that have no high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or food colorings. I also incorporate dried fruits, nuts and seeds (a phenomenon that would not have occurred in the home-designs of the 70’s). Goji berries and banana chips were definitely the favorites this year!
Since the icing has to hold all the candies in place throughout the weeks before Christmas, it uses about one ton of powdered sugar that allows the icing to get rock-hard within about 30-45 minutes of being exposed to the air. I generally do not recommend powdered sugar since it is goes through such a vigorous refinement process, but for such a specific purpose, I just don’t see any way around it.
Plan to set aside at least 3 hours for making your gingerbread houses, from start to finish. The dough and frosting can be made several days in advance (see storage techniques below). The dough or baked cookies can be frozen for several months until ready to use.
Enjoy and have a very merry Christmas!
RECIPE: Gingerbread Houses – Baking, Assembling and Decorating
Yield: 1 large house (House A) OR 2 medium houses (House B) and 1 small house (House C)
This recipe makes a crisp cookie that can withstand the test of being frosted, adorned with candies and oogled over for weeks during the holiday season. The extra dough can be rolled and cut out into ginger people, but know that the cookies will be a touch harder than a typical gingerbread cookie.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups organic soft brown sugar
1 cup light organic sugar
1/4 cup molasses or sorghum syrup
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon allspice
1/2 cup light organic sugar
MAKING THE DOUGH: Blend the butter with the sugars and molasses in an electric mixer on medium speed until light and creamy (put the molasses into the mixer before turning it on or you will have molasses everywhere but in the dough). Add in the eggs and blend another 1-2 minutes.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and gradually add them into the mixer, scraping down the sides until incorporated. The dough will be slightly crumbly.
Remove the dough to a large bowl or a flat work surface. Bring the dough together with your hands, working it until the dough forms a smooth mass that holds together easily. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 30-60 minutes before rolling.
ROLLING: Divide the dough into five pieces. Roll each piece out on a flat, floured work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out the patterns for the house using the templates. Work quickly, as the dough is easier to cut and shape while it is still cool. Using a pastry or pizza spatula, carefully lift the pieces onto sheet pans lined with a baking liner or parchment paper (or double up two sheet pans) to keep the cookies from burning.
BAKING: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake 10 minutes, until golden, rotating the cookies halfway through baking. Cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely before assembling.
SUGAR GLUE: Heat the 1/2 cup sugar in a medium sauté pan over medium heat until it bubbles and turns a very dark brown, 8-12 minutes.
ASSEMBLING: Have ready a sturdy surface on which to place your house (inverted sheet pan, wooden or plastic cutting board, sturdy cake board, etc.)
Prepare the sugar glue, keeping it on low heat while working so that it doesn’t harden up.
Have ready a house side panel and a front or back panel. Place them together to get an idea of how they will fit. Dip the edges that will come together into the sugar glue and very quickly hold them together, assembling them at the proper angle. It should hold within 10-20 seconds. Adhere the back panel and the other side panel in the same fashion.
To assemble the roof, very quickly drizzle the sugar glue onto the top edges of one side of the house. Place one of the roof cutouts on top of the house, letting it adhere to the glue. Repeat for the other roof cutout. Drizzle glue along the top of the roof where the two panels come together.
Assemble the chimney by dipping the edges of the pieces into the glue and holding them to the roof. Assemble the door, leaving it slightly ajar. You can do the same for window panels, if desired.
Yield: for 1 large house (House A) OR 2 medium houses (House B) and 1 small house (House C)
This icing gets rock-hard in order to keep the candies on top of the house and to hold throughout the weeks before Christmas. If you plan to decorate a snow-drifted yard with your house, make a double batch of the icing. This recipe uses raw egg whites, but if you are hesitant, they can be substituted with meringue powder for the same affect (use recipe from any packaged meringue powder).
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pound organic powdered sugar, sifted or whirled in a food processor
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar until the frosting stands in firm peaks and is stiff enough to hold a sharp line when cut through with a knife.
STORAGE: Place a piece of plastic wrap over the frosting so that the plastic is in direct contact with the frosting. Wrap the bowl in plastic and store refrigerated for up to 2 days.
While working, keep the bowl of frosting covered with a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Once spread onto the house and exposed to the air, it will harden up within 15-25 minutes. Decorate one panel at a time and work quickly!
Nuts and seeds
Chocolate dipped dried fruits
Candied ginger slices
Panda brand red licorice
Shredded coconut for icicles and frosty trees
Ice cream cone trees
About the Author:
I am a Certified Nutritional Chef, food writer and culinary instructor through Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Northern California. I teach cooking and nutrition classes through the Whole Foods Market Salud Cooking School and write a monthly eLetter, also entitled Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking, to a wide audience.
By Rachel Paxton
If you’re looking ahead to the holiday season and wondering how you’re going to get all your baking done, consider freezing your cookie dough or fresh baked cookies ahead of time. When the holidays get closer you can get that last bit of shopping done or last present made instead of spending all your time in the kitchen.
FREEZING COOKIE DOUGH
Cookie dough will freeze well for 4 to 6 weeks. Rolls of dough should be sealed tightly in plastic wrap (chill in refrigerator first before freezing). Other kinds of dough should be stored in airtight containers. Drop cookies (unbaked) may be frozen on cookie sheets and transferred to freezer bags. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
Don’t try to freeze soft meringue-type cookie dough. Chocolate chip, brownies, peanut butter, and sugar cookie dough (or anything similar) freezes well. Let the dough defrost in the refrigerator (about 2-3 hours). Make sure to label the container with the date and type of cookie dough.
FREEZING BAKED COOKIES
Almost any baked cookie freezes well. Let cookies completely cool before freezing. Wrap cookies individually in plastic wrap then store them in a ziploc freezer bag or storage tin (coffee cans or holiday tins work great). You can also just layer the cookies between layers of waxed paper in the container, but the individually wrapped ones will store longer.
Freeze frosted cookies uncovered first until they are firm. Then pack them in airtight container lined with plastic wrap or foil. Make sure to label the container with the date and type of cookies. Unfrosted cookies can be frozen up to 6-12 months (frosted, about 3 months). Frozen cookies thaw in about 10 minutes at room temperature (if you can wait that long). If cookies should be crisp when thawed, remove them from the container before thawing.
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. molasses
In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add eggs. Stir in flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Add molasses, stirring well. Refrigerate dough for an hour or two to chill. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in a little sugar and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and eggs. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Refrigerate dough for an hour or two to chill. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Peanut Butter Crackles
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
Chocolate kisses or stars
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix together butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and press chocolate kisses firmly into cookie.
About the Author: Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom. For more recipes, organizing tips, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com
Begin the giblet gravy while the turkey is roasting and finish it off with the pan juices while the turkey is resting. This recipe is a classic in my family and produces enough gravy for your holiday meal and leftovers.
Turkey Giblet Gravy Recipe
Giblets from turkey
8 cups cold water
4 stalks celery, plus tops, leaves and trimmings
handful of fresh parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried
2 boiled eggs, optional
drippings from turkey
additional chicken broth may be needed
1. While the turkey is cooking, cover the giblets and neck bone with 8 cups cold water.
2. Add onion, celery and parsley and simmer for 2 hours.
3. Strain, and set aside until turkey is done and you’re ready to make gravy.
4. Pick the meat off the turkey neck and chop the giblets, if desired.
5. When the turkey is done, remove it to serving platter and drain all juices from the roasting pan into a cup or bowl to separate fat from broth.
6. Skim the fat from the pan, measure and place into the roasting pan with an equal measure of flour.
7. Put the roasting pan on the burner, cook and stir to brown the flour.
8. Measure 1 cup of broth for each tablespoon of flour used. Add chicken broth if needed to make full amount. Add the turkey drippings and measured broth to the flour in the roasting pan. Cook, stirring to loosten any browned bits in the bottom of the roasting pan.
9. Add salt and pepper and a pinch of oregano. Simmer gravy until thickened.
10. Add the meat and giblets back to the gravy. My mother always adds 2 chopped boiled eggs as well.
By: Amanda Jade
Deep fried turkeys have become all the rage in recent years for a delightful Thanksgiving bird, and for good reason! The skin is left crispy and full of flavor and the meat is moist and delicious without tasting greasy or oily. Unfortunately, deep frying a turkey safely can present a challenge to the new cook. With a bit of preparation and planning and a few key tools, these safety concerns can be left by the wayside on your journey toward a wonderfully tasty turkey.
Tips for Deep Frying a Turkey
Here are a few key things to remember about deep frying a turkey:
- Always keep gloves and a fire extinguisher nearby. Not needing them is great, but not having them can lead to disaster.
- If you purchase a kit to deep fry your turkey in, always read and follow the directions. Most will be designed for a specific weight range of turkey and may have special instructions.
- The optimal weight for a turkey to be deep fried is between 10 and 20 pounds. At 10 pounds, it should take 3 minutes per pound and at 20, it should take 3.5 minutes per pound to cook through.
- Always ensure that your turkey is completely thawed. If there is any doubt, do not fry the turkey. Hot oil tends to explode violently when exposed to cold water or ice, which can cause severe burns and even burn your house down. A 20 pound turkey takes about 4 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.
- Set up your turkey frying station outside on the pavement, never on a deck or in a garage. You want to be free of overhangs and on a level surface.
- Never leave your frying station unattended once the oil has begun heating. Make sure to keep small children and pets away from the frying station. The turkey could take up to an hour or more to cook and at least 3 hours for the oil to cool.
- Use an oil with a high smoking point, 450 degrees F if possible. The best options are canola or peanut oil.
- Always lower the turkey into the oil carefully and slowly. This is best achieved with a small pulley attached to a board, supported by a ladder. Use gloves. Hot oil will burn skin instantly if it splashes. Using a pulley also means that you can allow the turkey to drain when finished without straining your arms or dripping scalding oil.
- Once fried and drained, allow the turkey to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. This oil can be strained and used up to three times.
- To avoid staining caused by oil splatters, place a flattened, broken down piece of cardboard under the fryer. You can also use a large plastic drop cloth with sand or kitty litter to soak up the oil.
Brining yields a much more moist and tender Turkey. Make sure you have room in your refrigerator before you start this. Brining your turkey results in a moist and juicy, not “watery” bird. This method can be used on chicken as well, but you don’t need to brine as long.
How to Brine a Turkey
Make the Brine:
1 1/2 cups, Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups, brown sugar
10 whole cloves
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) apple Juice or cider (non-alcoholic)
18oz hard apple cider beer
The peel from one orange or one tangerine (colored part only – not white pith)
optional: 3 teaspoons, dried thyme and/or 3 teaspoons, dried sage
- Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot, Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes (partly covered). Allow Brine to cool completely.
- Rinse turkey under cool running water, inside and out and remove the giblets from body cavity. Pat turkey dry with paper towels, then immerse turkey in cooled brine. The turkey should be completely submerged in liquid. Place a plate on top of the bird if necessary to keep it covered with the liquid.
- Cover the pot and refrigerate for 8-10 hours. Remove turkey, rinse, pat dry, and roast as usual.
*Be sure container for turkey in brine is non-reactive: use enamel, glass or crockery or stainless steel – never cast iron or aluminum. The pot should be just large enough to just contain the turkey.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp marjoram
1 tsp lemon peel
6 oz hard apple cider
optional fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
Combine Butter, sugar, marjoram & lemon peel in a small mixing bowl. Place towel dried turkey breast side up on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Separate the skin from breast meat. Spread half the glaze over the breast meat just under the skin. Melt the remaining glaze & cool slightly, stir in the cider beer. Brush mixture over outside of turkey. Season with salt & pepper. Lace up the turkey, tuck in the wings and neck skin. Insert the type of thermometer that can stay in the oven the whole time during roasting process OR buy yourself a very nice instant read thermometer to use towards the end of your cooking time. Tent loosely with foil. Roast at 325 for 3 3/4 – 4 1/4 hours or at LEAST until the thigh meat reads 180 degrees F. Remove foil during final 30 min of roasting to allow browning process. Besides the temp test, turkey is done with drumsticks move easily and juices run clear. Remove turkey from oven and recover with foil and allow to stand for 15-20 min before carving. This is essential to allow juices to be reabsorbed from outside back into fibers of meat. Garnish with fresh herbs for presentation if desired.
Brined Turkey Breast with Lemon-Parsley Gravy
Soaking a turkey in a salt-and-sugar solution adds moisture to the meat. This is an especially good technique to use with all-white meat, which can become dry when roasted. Soaking the breasts after brining in fresh water prevents the meat from being overly salty, although it will be somewhat saltier than turkey that has not been brined. Keep this in mind when salting the gravy to keep the flavors of the dish in balance.
For the brine:
4 quarts water
1 cups kosher salt
1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 bone-in fresh whole turkey breasts, about 11 lb. total
9 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 yellow onion, unpeeled, quartered
2 large carrots, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
For the gravy:
7 cups turkey stock
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. minced lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
To make the brine, in a stockpot, combine the water, salt and brown sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let cool to room temperature. Rinse the turkey breasts and pat dry. In 1 very large or 2 large glass bowls or other non-aluminum containers, cover the turkey breasts with the brine. Add ice as needed to cool the brine and cover the breasts with brine when melted. Refrigerate, turning the breasts occasionally in the brine, for 24 hours.
Drain and pat dry. Trim excess skin from the turkey breasts. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Spread 1 1/2 Tbs. of the butter over each turkey breast. Place the breasts on a rack in a flameproof roasting pan. Scatter the onion and carrots in the pan around the turkey. Roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the chicken stock, the remaining 6 Tbs. butter, the white wine, oil and lemon juice. Warm over low heat until the butter melts. After 30 minutes of roasting, baste the breasts with some of the stock mixture. Continue to roast the turkey, basting every 30 minutes with the remaining stock mixture and then with the accumulated pan juices, stirring the vegetables in the pan occasionally, until the breasts are well browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, about 2 hours. Transfer the breasts to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil while you make the gravy.
To make the gravy, place the roasting pan with the vegetables across 2 burners and turn the heat to medium-high. Add 6 3/4 cups of the turkey stock to the pan and bring to a brisk simmer. Stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, about 5 minutes. Pour the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a large bowl, pressing hard on the vegetables with the back of a large spoon to extract all the liquid; discard the solids. Spoon off as much of the fat as possible from the liquid, or pour the liquid into a fat separator and pour off the liquid. Transfer the liquid to a wide saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and simmer briskly until reduced by one-fourth, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1/4 cup stock into the cornstarch to make a slurry. Gradually stir the slurry into the saucepan. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook until the gravy clears and thickens, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the turkey breast against the grain, on a slight diagonal, and serve with the gravy. Serves 8 to 10.
Make-Ahead Tips: The turkey must be put into the brine 24 hours before roasting. The stock may be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or up to 3 months before and frozen. Or, it may be made while the breasts soak in fresh water before roasting.
On Oranges and All Things Citrus
Oranges are something I have always enjoyed. I have eaten them off the tree since I was young and have eaten them from unripe to dried out old. When you get an orange or any citrus for that matter, that is ripe, there is no better flavor in the world. The best orange comes right off the tree. Pick a ripe fruit, cut open in the cool winter sun and consume it right there. It is so juicy that the fluid runs down your forearms as you eat. Flavors abound, the sweetness and tartness explode in your mouth. [Read the rest of this entry…]
How to Make Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits: Tips and Recipe
The secret of light fluffy biscuits is to not over work the dough. Once the liquid is combined with the flour, stir only enough to form a cohesive dough. Most recipes call for a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 for the flour: fat ratio. Being health conscious we tend to use the 4:1 ratio now. I would use the 3:1 if using milk, or 4:1 when using buttermilk. I prefer shortening or lard, butter can be used if necessary, but the texture is different and the color is affected. (Try butter flavored shortening if you like the buttery flavor).
Traditionally the biscuit is split and stuffed with butter or jam. Some cooks now brush the top of the biscuits with butter when taking out of the oven now instead. I can see how this might reduce the fat- provided that you don’t stuff them as well.
Buttermilk biscuits rely on the acid in the buttermilk to help in the rising process. If you do not have buttermilk, try my Self-Rising Biscuits or my Baking Powder Biscuits. Follow the links below for those recipes.
Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe [Read the rest of this entry…]
Cornbread and corn sticks are traditional in the south. They are easy and quick to make, providing you know a few secrets. Since they are made with a chemical levening agent such as baking soda or baking powder no lengthy risings are needed – thus the name “quick bread”.
When making quick breads like cornbread it is important not to overwork the dough. Combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately. Once the two are combined, be gentle. Over beating will develop the gluten in the dough and make the bread tough.
- 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons +extra to grease pan unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Grease a 9 inch square baking pan with melted butter. Place in the oven to heat.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk well.
- Make a well (hole) in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the well and gently fold the dry ingredients in from the side. Do not overmix.
- Spoon the batter into the hot pan. Bake in pre-heated oven (425) for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and done.
- Turn onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.
Use a cast iron corn stick mold to make corn sticks using the recipe above. Grease the mold and place in oven to heat. Make the corn bread batter as above, then regrease the mold and spoon the batter carefully into the hot molds. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Tex-Mex Corn Bread Variation
Add 4 cup cheddar cheese and 2 chopped and seeded jalapeno peppers to the batter for a delicious Tex-Mex version of this tasty cornbread.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:1 pan