Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

June 1, 2011

This Little Piggie GOT IN MY BELLY!


Who can resist a freshly baked buttery biscuit? You know what would go great with that? Hot, juicy sausage. And a kicky sauce.

What we really have here is a truly wonderful, fairly versatile, nom nommily irresistible biscuit recipe that you'll see in various incarnations throughout this blog. In this case, it's seasoned with dried thyme, rolled thin, & cut into strips before shrouding its piggie victims & being baked to perfection.

I suppose any precooked cocktail weenie will do for this recipe, but I just tried the nitrite-free ones from Trader Joe's, and they were great. They come about 36 to a pack, and one pack should be plenty for this biscuit dough recipe. I doubled it for a party last week, and they sold like hot cakes.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
3/4 cup cold, well-shaken buttermilk
1 tablespoon milk or cream for brushing biscuits (optional, but nice)

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, & baking soda together in a medium bowl. Rub the thyme between your fingers & into the bowl to release its aroma. Stir to combine.

Add the cold butter pieces, and "cut" into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers. The goal is to get the butter bits coated in flour & small enough to resemble rolled oats. It's best to leave a few bigger lumps than to get it all too fine. What you're doing is creating layers of cold butter wrapped in flour. When this dough bakes, you'll get golden, flaky layers of goodness. The more you work the dough, the tougher & heavier it will bake up. That's bad. With biscuits, less is more.

Add the cold buttermilk, and using a spatula, fold together to create a uniform dough. DO NOT OVERMIX. It's ok if you have some patches of flour, and some wet spots. Just get it into a lump, and turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. If the dough is wet, dust it with more flour. Gather the sides into its center, like you're folding a packing box. Flip the ball over, make sure you have enough flour to keep it from sticking, and start to press it into a flat disc. Using a rolling pin, flatten out the dough to about 1/4" thick. Keep the dough moving & dusted with flour to prevent sticking.
Once you have a nice flat sheet of dough, use a pizza cutter or knife to cut strips about 1 1/2" wide x 2 1/2" long (or something just narrower than the cocktail weenies you're using, and just long enough to wrap around one once). Test one out before cutting the rest of the sheet. Then go for it. Wrap up as many weenies as you can get out of one sheet of dough, and place them about 1" apart on a baking sheet. At this point, if you'd like, you can brush the piggies with a little milk or cream before baking. This will give them a glossier crust, but is not necessary. Save the trimmed scraps to reroll for a 2nd batch.
Bake at 425' for about 10 minutes, or until the biscuit dough is deeply golden. Serve immediately with your preferred sauce. I just tried the following, and it was a big hit.
1/4 cup sweet & hot mustard (a smooth variety like Russian or Chinese is best)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup hot sauce (like Tapatillo)
chipotle hot sauce to taste

Shake the mustard & buttermilk in a jar, or whisk to combine. Stir in the Tapatillo. Adjust the seasoning with the chipotle hot sauce. The piggies are on the sweet side, so a sauce with a kick is preferable. The sauce should be runny enough to coat the piggies, but not run all the way home.


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