Pumpkin Pecan Biscuits, Take II

Pumpkin-Pecan biscuits!

Pumpkin-Pecan biscuits!

I sit here with a cup of coffee, a purring cat by my side and blustery winds outside (it’s not really that cold, maybe 50 degrees, but my apartment is cold). The morning sun is reflecting off the houses and it’s very quiet outside. Saturday is my favorite day.
Sometimes I make mistakes…I mean, how else will I learn? After the first try, I decided to scrap the previous recipe and re-do it by adding more cold butter and substituting a little dark brown sugar for honey. I also made my own buttermilk (see below). These actually taste and look like biscuits. The previous recipe results looked like lumpy scones and didn’t taste very good at all. These are light, flaky, layered biscuits. The extra flour and butter definitely helps too. I think this recipe is far better!

To make buttermilk: 1 cup milk + 1 TB or fresh lemon juice. Add juice to milk and stir. Let it sit for about 10 minutes or, until it thickens. Use as you would regular buttermilk.

  • 2 1/4 C. AP flour
  • 1 1/2 TB baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 8 TB chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 C. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 C. buttermilk
  • dash of vanilla
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. chopped, toasted pecans (in 2 TB of butter)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Chop and toast pecans in a skillet in two tablespoons of butter, set aside to cool. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, cut in butter with a pastry cutter or, with hands, until butter is the size of peas or tiny pebbles, set aside (If you’ve handled it too much and the butter pieces are warm, chill the dry ingredients while you deal with the wet ingredients). In a medium sized bowl, whisk the buttermilk and brown sugar, add vanilla and pumpkin. Stir until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir in toasted pecans. If you find that the dough is a little sticky, don’t fret, add a little flour and use your hands or a spoon to mix it. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and press into a rectangle until the dough is about 1 inch thick all around. Also, try not to over handle the dough, as the butter will warm up (which you don’t want). If the dough becomes too warm or sticky, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes. Press (don’t twist, or else the biscuits won’t have layers) biscuit cutters into dough and place onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. The dough makes about 12-14 biscuits. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or, until slightly golden brown. You’ll be able to tell when they’re done. Serve warm with some whipped honey, or, like I did, with butter. Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator or, wrap up in wax paper and foil in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer.

Before I took the biscuits out of the oven, I switched on my Pandora Charlie Parker station…the song that played? “April in Paris.” Weird coincidence? I think not. My heart goes out to all the people of Paris. Je suis Français.

Saving and Sharing Recipes–Passing Along Traditions

Several years ago, I was talking to my Grandma and she was recounting a story from when she was a young girl and how she spent the summer helping out at her aunt and uncle’s restaurant in Shelbyville, TN. She told me they had a really delicious BBQ sauce, a family recipe that was kind of famous in the small town. When I asked her if she had that recipe written down somewhere, she said “Darnit, no! I wish I had it…”. I’m sure it was a good recipe and I’m not upset over it. To me, it’s just another reminder to get and pass along family recipes. My grandma died in 2013….I miss her. A. Lot. There are recipes and questions and conversations that I wish I had with with her, but, I didn’t…

I was reminded of the above conversation while in the process of assembling a few binders of recipes that belonged to my friend’s mother. They are mostly handwritten on index cards all organized specifically and separated by labeled divider cards in a few metal recipe boxes. My friend’s aunt got the idea to put them all together, glued onto paper and put into plastic sleeve covers– into a few binders so my friend would have them and use them and maybe, pass along to others. These index cards/recipes were well used–you can tell by the worn edges and stray stains on the cards. (Something that all good cooks and bakers do with their favorite recipes).

Several binders of recipes later…I am now on my last one, the big one, which is all baking recipes and will probably require a second large binder. I’ve been writing down a few coveted recipes along the way, so I can attempt to recreate these recipes for pumpkin pie, biscuits and pecan-coconut cake, hoping that they will be as good as her mom’s (but, I’m sure my versions will pale in comparison). I am glad my friend is letting me put these recipes together in one place for her. I know she will use them and they will have a place on the shelf in her kitchen.

My point is….get those recipes from your mom, dad, grandma, aunt, uncle, whoever. Ask questions, write stuff down and pass them along to people you love. Continue to make those recipes and share them with people. Even though our loved ones are gone, the recipes and the flood of food memories will keep them around, forever.

Salted Pecan Shortbread Bars

Originally I was thinking of lemon-lavender shortbread, but then I remembered I had pecans, so, I made these instead. Next up, I’ll use lemon zest and a tiny amount of dried lavender. These shortbread are pretty easily adaptable. Enjoy your Sunday….whatever you do.

  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. cornstarch
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1 tsp of fleur de sel
  • 1-2 tsp water
  • 1/4 C. chopped, toasted pecans

Note: I toasted my pecans in a tablespoon of unsalted butter and then let them cool slightly before adding them to the dough.

With mixer, stand or handheld, cream butter and sugar together, add flour and cornstarch and mix well. You may find that the dough is quite crumbly and not hold together…at this point add a tiny amount of water until the dough starts to come together more and is well-formed. Careful, don’t add too much water! Add toasted pecans until thoroughly mixed together. Spread dough into 8″ square baking dish and, if you like, top with another sprinkle of fleur de sel. Bake at 350 for 22 minutes, or, until golden brown. Let rest in the pan and then cut into whatever size you wish and serve. I like to cut the bars on the small-ish size. Or, wrap up in wax paper and aluminum foil and seal tightly in a plastic bag to store in the freezer. These bars should last a few months in the freezer.

Variations: other nuts: swap out pecans for almonds or hazelnuts. Lemon: add 1tsp lemon zest and 1/2 tsp of crushed, dried lavender. Lime-basil: 1 tsp lime zest, 1/2 tsp fresh, chopped basil.

Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes recipe, found online

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

almondbuttercookies

I’m not Paleo, but, I thought I’d try something different. I have a similar peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe and I wanted to vary it. Plus, I got some new (to me)
almond butter and wanted to use it*. Most importantly, these cookies come together very quickly and you only use one bowl. Score!

Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF)

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c dark chocolate chips
  • Fleur de sel (sprinkled on top, optional)

In a large bowl, whip egg with whisk until frothy, add brown sugar, almond butter, baking soda and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Use 1 1/2TB cookie scoop or, 2tsp cookie scoop for smaller cookies (what I used).
– Flatten cookies with palm of hand
– Bake for 8-10 min @ 350 F on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
– Let rest for 10 min on cookie sheets, then cool on baking racks. Resting the cookies is a must, if not, they will fall apart because they are a little bit fragile when hot. Makes about 2 dozen. Will keep in a tightly sealed container for about a week. These also freeze well.

* side note: I don’t usually purchase almond butter because I refuse to pay $14-$20 for a jar. The brand I used here, I found on Amazon, and as an Prime member, it’s totally worth the $10–in my opinion–for a jar. Yippee!

How to Make Non-Dairy Buttermilk

Sometimes you need buttermilk and you don’t have it on hand, or, perhaps you’ve got a dairy sensitivity or are vegan. Think you’re out of luck? No way! You can totally make buttermilk using almond milk, soy milk or even coconut milk and one TB of white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) or fresh lemon juice.

  • 1 Cup Almond milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar

Let sit for about 10 minutes until it looks thicker or curdled. Voila! Use in cake, pancake, muffin or bread recipes.