Saturday, January 28, 2012

Biscuits and Buffalo Smashed Chickpeas

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens! He studied 288 websites' scone/biscuit recipes and the bakers' comments, then made 16 batches to perfect his recipe all  with the goal of "[us being] able to make a good if not great scone (biscuit)."

I don't really need words to tell you he achieved his goal - just look at my biscuits. They were golden, fluffy, and tender. I followed his basic recipe and tips to achieve success that had my Dad on cloud nine on the first try. The directions below tell you what I did for that first batch but I highly recommend checking out the full details of the challenge (and trying it right away). The next batch, also below, involved blue cheese, dill and a bit of whole wheat flour with the white.

I chose those flavors as I wanted to make a variation on Buffalo Chicken Wings with the biscuit toning down the spiciness of the Buffalo-style Smashed Chickpeas. The biscuit tasted pretty good, in spite of being precariously close to burnt, but I'm not giving proportions as it wasn't quite right. The filling, however, was awesomely tangy and addictive so the recipe for that is below. I expect to eat it for lunch often move forward with or without perfected Blue Cheese and Dill biscuits.

I also look forward to making more biscuits in the future...and my Dad looks forward to eating them.

Basic Biscuits (as made in the aforementioned first batch)
Servings: Eight 2-inch scones or five 3-inch scones

1 cup Self Rising Flour (Spoon into your measuring cup and level. Do not pack it.)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 tablespoons Frozen, Grated Butter
1/4 cup Skim Milk
1/4 cup Heavy Cream (I didn't have whole milk, but I'm sure that would work instead of this 50/50 mix.)

1. Preheat oven to 475°F.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Rub the frozen grated butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse sand.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed).
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then lightly flour the top of the dough. Knead very gently 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth.
6. Pat the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for ~10 minutes. Then using a well-floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out without twisting six rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ~1/2 inch layer and cut two more scones.
7. Place the rounds spaced widely apart on a baking sheet. (At this point you can chill them in the fridge for several hours if you aren't ready to bake yet.)
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

Buffalo Smashed Chickpeas
Servings: 3-4 ... it really depends on how much you eat ... I ate a lot. :x

Inspired by Buffalo Chickpea Lettuce Wraps by Jenn at Jenn's Lifestyle and Menu Blog featured at Kath Eats here and created with reference to Chef Dennis, Food & Wine, Gourmet via Epicurious, and's Buffalo Chicken wing recipes.

My family doesn't brave the heat too well, so this recipe caters more to the tangy, vinegar flavor of Buffalo Chicken wings and doesn't really need blue cheese to tone down its spice. Feel free to alter the spices to suit your taste. I may give into my urge to add some Sriracha next time.

1 14.5 ounce can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced (~1 heaping teaspoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tablespoons Red Pepper Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
large pinch Cayenne Pepper
3/4 cup diced Celery

1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook stirring occasionally until it begins to turn golden brown.
2. Add chickpeas and stir.
3. Add vinegar, hot sauce, tomato paste and cayenne. Stir until combined. Using the back of the spatula or spoon to press down the chickpeas to smash some of them.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in the diced celery.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.  

Martha Stewart's collaboration with Avery is available at Staples online now, and in-store come February. These may be perfect for baked goods at the Farmer's Market? Cost benefit analysis here I come. (via Oh Happy Day)

Baby Panda Tries to Escape (via Amanda)

Dr. Mary Ellen Avery is an inspiration. She not only holds a lot of firsts for women in medicine, she also made a discovery that continues to save premature babies lives today. (via Marina

Will this be the better way to make ethanol? "Processors for decades have used government subsidies to make ethanol from cornstarch and other sugars, but these are food products. Using them to make ethanol raises the demand for staple commodities like corn and cane sugar, keeping prices high. To date, [Dr. David A. Mullin's] microbe has thrived on cotton waste, a pure cellulose composed of fibers, twigs and seeds; on bagasse, the mulchlike residue of squeezed sugar cane; and on chopped-up copies of the city’s main newspaper, The Times-Picayune." Finding a Way to Put a Zebra in Your Tank at NY Times

This commercial made me cringe. (via Healthy is the New Skinny)

Recipes Bookmarked
Buckwheat Noodle Chow Mein at Clean Eating
Grenadine at All Our Fingers in the Pie (I had no idea it was concentrated pomegranate juice.)
Pixie Sticks at Shindig Parties to Go
Prosciutto Parmesan Puff Pastry Straws at Baking Obsession
Sweet Potato Latte at Epicurious
Upside-Down Honey-Ginger Cake at NPR's Kitchen Window

 View from Brooklyn Promenade, New York, January 2012

It's Real Real Estate It's Real

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

Carter & Co. Historic Wallpapers recreates and prints original wallpapers papers from the 1830s to the 1940s. Their creative process as described by Richmond's Style Weekly takes being detail-oriented to the next level and explains why their wallpaper is worth every penny of its cost. The Jacobs-Uberagua Celestial Ceiling wallpaper is my favorite.

I'm not a doctor, but I think I would choose to die like this article says they do. (via Jay Parkinson + MD + MPH)

Sara Dickerman's Against Pepper: Salt needs a new companion provides a concise history of how pepper became popular and describes the flavors of many varieties. I'd tell you that I'm now curious to try them only I'm not. Run-ins with Grandpop Stillman's freshly ground peppercorns as a child likely have put me off pepper for life.

57 Ways to Spread Kindness (via the kind and ever positive Andrea)

Sunflowers originated in the United States! But Russia popularized the use of their oil for frying and cooking thus saving the sunflower.

Recipes Bookmarked
Apple Sharlotka at Smitten Kitchen
Applejack Flamingo at Eat Make Read
Champagne Marshmallows at BraveTart
Chicken Soup with Ginger and Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe at Simply Recipes
Coconut-Almond Bars at Runners World
Cranberry Cordial at via 101 Cookbooks 

 Flatiron District, New York City, January 2012

 Oh My God

Thursday, January 12, 2012

J. Crew Warehouse Sale: What I Bought

If you live in Richmond, Virginia the odds are high that you know J. Crew's Warehouse Sale is going on right now. In case you somehow missed this fact, I'm here to tell you it is going on and going strong. The amount of merchandise inside is overwhelming and, while they try hard to keep things in order, you have to dig. So be prepared!

I went through a very small percentage of the overflowing boxes to find my haul below and I feel like I did very well getting new, current clothing at basically secondhand prices. I'm especially grateful to the individual who helped me in the tally line miraculously keeping my total under $50 when it should have been more like $80. Unfortunately this makes going back very tempting...but that is a whole different issue. 

1. Wear leggings, a tight top and flats! This will let you try on everything over your clothing without bulk, even swimsuits. There are a few mirrors, but having a friend there to advise would be fun.
2. Carry only a credit card and ID. You won't want anything extra to hang onto when you're digging, hauling a giant clear trashbag of potential and/or trying on clothes.
3. Look at the clothing carefully as there are pieces with snags, holes, ink marks, et. cetera. 
4. Go at an off-peak time. I arrived at 11:30 a.m. today and it was a breeze.

The sale is open from 10 am - 8 pm daily until January 22 at 9750 West Broad Street Richmond, VA 23060 (a former Borders). New shipments arrive daily and rumor has it things are folded when they first appear on the floor. Good luck figuring out when that is going to happen though...

Natasha top, $88 $8

Scalloped Lace Shell, $69.50 $54.50 $8

Teddie Dress, $198 $20

Ruched Betty Top, $60 $3  

in Charcoal & Black, $88 $3
in Blue, $88 $3

I went a bit overboard with the swimsuits. Oops. Swimsuit gifts may be in the future. Also, FYI, if you have any sort of stomach get a printed swimsuit. It will hide things better; in spite of being very well made and fully lined these show bumps.

Jules dress in Ashbury floral, $188, likely $20 at the sale

This dress was in my grasp, minus only a button, too. I wandering the sale a long while wearing it, but I didn't bite as it was tight across the back, verged on scandal when I raised my arms (sad as I am 5' 4"...on a good day) and because of Vika's texted counsel. In my laps several people inquired about the dress, so I found the one who emphatically said I should give it to her and did just that. She was so excited! It felt good to make someone's day.