BUTTERMILK HERB BISCUITS and PIMIENTO CHEESE
Frustratingly, I only seem to really fall in love with dishes from restaurants that are a really long way from where I live. Although thinking about it, that’s probably a good thing, partly for my health and partly because it encourages me to work out my own versions of things, which I can then share with all of you.
This is something that I tried last time we went to Manhattan. I’d had American biscuits before but this way of eating them totally changed my opinion of them. Maybe it appeals to me because it’s like a savoury Southern version of a cream tea…
The caviar of the South, apparently. This is a kind of tangy cheese spread or pate and it’s surprisingly good. I’ve made mine a little healthier than the classic recipe, which uses mayonnaise where I’ve used Greek yoghurt. I’m not really sure how I feel about cheese and mayonnaise together…it seems a little too oily and unnecessary to me. The added benefit of using fat free Greek yoghurt is that it adds extra creaminess to the blend.
100g strong cheddar cheese
60g cream cheese or neufchatel
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
50g pimiento peppers (from a jar)
2 tbsp fat free Greek yoghurt
Grate the cheese and finely chop the peppers. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz it all up until it is well blended and creamy. It’s as easy as that!
Buttermilk herb biscuits
Biscuits in America are pretty close to what we would call scones in the UK. Ironically their scones aren’t really the same as ours, they’re a bit dry, not as fluffy, inexplicably triangular and most worryingly, almost never served with clotted cream!
Here in the good ol’ USA biscuits get eaten as a side to your main course or for breakfast, normally with a peculiar kind of creamy sausage meat ‘gravy.’ Not really my cup of tea. This way of serving them, however, is right up my street. I ate them for brunch in New York and they certainly set me up for the day, I managed 15 miles of pavement pounding without complaining once!
The biscuits themselves are light, fluffy and tender and the herbs really perk them up. The chilling stage to making these is very important. The fluffiness of biscuits comes partly from the steam that’s created when the butter melts in the mixture whilst they bake. Because of this it’s important to keep the dough cool.
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
80g butter (very cold, cut into small pieces)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (any combination you like)
Sift together the flour and baking powder and mix in the salt. Rub in the butter but leave the mixture looking fairly rubble-like. Put this mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes. This will let the butter re-solidify a bit.
Pre-heat the oven to 230°c. Pop your baking tray in the oven to warm up too.
Once the butter and flour mixture has chilled you can mix through the herbs and then bring it all together to form a soft dough using the buttermilk.
Turn this dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat in into a disc, about 1-1 1/2 inches thick. Stamp out the biscuits with one swift tap, never twist the cutter when you’re making scones and American biscuits, you’ll ruin your chances of them rising properly.
Once you’ve used up all the dough you can lay them out on the baking tray, it’s okay for them to touch. Brush the tops with a little more buttermilk and bake them for 15-18 minutes. Once cooked they should have puffed up and the tops should be turning golden. Leave them to cool a little on a wire rack, but these are best eaten whilst they’re still a little warm.
I served mine for brunch topped with pimento cheese, mashed avocado, jalapeño lime marmalade (http://coriandercooks.com/2014/08/04/jalapeno-lime-marmalade/) and a little crispy bacon. There were no complaints!
This is my favourite picture – it looks like Frank Sinatra might want some of Mr Colonial Cravings breakfast!