WND – Farewell to Summer DinnerOctober 4, 2007
Devilled Eggs Hard-boiled eggs
Tomatoes & Mozzarella
Curried Chicken Salad
There are two kinds of people in the world. People who can make pie dough, and people who can make biscuits. I don’t really understand this, since in theory biscuits and pie dough require the same skill set, but experience suggests that if you can make one, you can’t make the other. I make excellent biscuits and lousy pie dough.
Strictly speaking I don’t think there’s a real secret to making biscuits. I think mostly it’s just practice. But, if there was a secret it would be that you need a light hand with the dough, and you need to make it come together fast or the biscuits will be tough.
My mother was recently horrified to discover that Crisco contains transfats and had a crisis of conscience about her biscuits. I say it’s a ¼ cup of Crisco per batch of biscuits and unless you’re planning on eating them every week it’s probably not going to kill you. But, if you’re feeling squeamish about it you can use butter instead (although I think it makes the biscuits heavier and yellower). You can also use real lard, but that assumes that lard is something you can find in your grocery store.
1 3/4 – 2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Crisco (or your chosen form of shortening)
2/3 – 3/4 cup buttermilk
(I have never successfully made biscuits with only 2/3 cup buttermilk, but I guess it’s theoretically possible. If once you’ve added 3/4 cup buttermilk you find you need more, add it little by little. I usually need a little more but it depends on the weather.)
When you have a dough, turn it out onto a floured board and roll until about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut out dough with a biscuit cutter. Reroll until you are out of dough. Prick each biscuit with the tines of a fork 3 times (NB – I have no idea why you do this, but my mother did it, and I suspect my grandmother did it, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it).
Once you’ve added the buttermilk you need to work quickly. Biscuits aren’t something that you can make in advance and leave lying around until you want to bake them. You need to add the liquid, roll them out and get them in the oven as fast as you can.
Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes. Biscuits should be lightly browned on top.
Serve with butter, and slices of ham.
I doubled the biscuit recipe for dinner last night and served 6 people with a few biscuits left over for breakfast later this week. The recipe doubles easily, and triples with some effort. If you are doubling, or tripling the recipe be sure to use the lesser amount of flour.
I was going to make devilled eggs, but apparently it was not to be this week. Three of my eggs exploded in melodramatic ways while I was hard boiling them. I left the rest in the fridge overnight, and when I took them out on Wednesday evening to devil them they smelled a little funky. So I thanked my stars that I had more eggs in the fridge, ditched the strange smelling eggs and hard boiled some new eggs but then didn’t have time to devil them before dinner.
Curried Chicken Salad
My mother swears blind this is the chicken salad she made my entire childhood. This is patently untrue. That recipe for chicken salad had tarragon in it and no curry powder. Leaving aside my mother’s revisionist history (and the fact that it’s an odd thing to choose to revise) they’re both good versions of chicken salad, but this new one looks more impressive when you serve it.
Melt a small knob of butter (maybe 1/2 Tbsp – enough to just coat the bottom of your pan) in a frying pan over low heat. Add your chicken breasts (about 1.5-2 lb). Cover and allow to cook until done, turning once. Depending on the size of your breasts it should take 14-20 minutes. You don’t want to turn your heat up to high because you want the meat to stay white.
Allow to cool and cut into bite size pieces.
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/6 cup plain yogurt and/or sour cream
1-1.5 Tbsp curry powder
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Whisk dressing together in a small bowl. It’s better if you make it a day ahead and give it time to let the flavors mellow in the fridge.
Chopped fruit* (apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, whatever’s around**)
Handful or so of nuts (or not, if you don’t like nuts)
Handful or so of dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, whatever)
This week I used apples because I went apple picking this weekend and have 1/2 peck of apples sitting in a bowl on my dining room table.
* there should be about 1/3 fruit to 2/3 chicken ratio, and the dried fruit should speckle the salad.
** okay, any kind of fruit except pineapple which does amazingly unappetizing things to chicken and will curdle your dressing, or melon which tastes really strange with dairy products.