December 16, 2008

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Robin: December 11, 2008: And we have to get on with the food

This was also from Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase to begin with, before I took it apart and put it back together again.  Mind you, her original is fine.  I just like mine better.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 large sweet potatoes

½ c slightly salted butter, melted

1 c all-purpose unbleached white flour

½ to 1 c wholemeal or (preferably) wholemeal spelt flour

¼ c malt syrup, for choice.  I didn’t discover this stuff till I moved over here, so it may not be available in the States.  Otherwise ¼ c honey is good, or 2T molasses, or 2T molasses and 2T granulated sugar.  All of these will be much sweeter than the malt, which is fairly subtle

2 tsp baking powder

Stab two large sweet potatoes several times with a knife and put them in a moderate oven (in a pan. They will leak) for 30-45 minutes, till they are very soft.  Let cool enough so you can handle them.  Then cut (lengthwise) in half and scrape out the contents into a bowl.  Add the melted butter and any runny sweetener and beat till smooth.  An electric mixer is a boon here.  When you’re done if the mixture is any warmer than tepid, let it cool some more.

Now beat in the first cup of flour and if you’re using any granulated sugar, the sugar.  I do this with a spoon although I suppose you could go on with a mixer.  Then start adding the wholemeal flour roughly by handfuls.  Shortly before you think you’ve added enough flour–you’re going to have to roll or pat this out, so it can’t be too sticky–add the baking powder.

You can then do it right, and roll it out (flour both your counter and the rolling pin), cut with a biscuit cutter, gather your scraps together and reroll and recut.  This does make very stylish proper biscuits.  Or you can cheat, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and pat or roll (depending on how clever you are about using a rolling pin over a cookie sheet, ie with a brim, it does take a little practise) the dough out–don’t try to fill it up to the edges:  the dough will be fairly elastic, and you can tell when it’s stretched as far as it wants to–and then cut it up into about twenty rectangles, or whatever shape and number look good to you as you stare down at that cookie sheet whilst thoughtfully waving a knife, which will grow back together again when they bake, but not too badly.

Bake at 425° (or possibly 450 if you trust your oven) 15-20 minutes.  Eat them as soon as you won’t burn your mouth.  Gloriously unspeakable vice includes splitting them, running them briefly under the grill to get faintly brown and crusty, and then loading ‘em with butter and maple syrup.

Risotto without the Cheese

b_twin_1, reposted in main post “Comfort Food”

31 October 2008


b_twin_1 says:

All done in under half an hour….


Start with –

1 wodge of butter (oh okay, you want a measurement … about 1-2 tbs)

1 spanish onion

2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups chicken stock, hot

Herbs – I usually use parsley, oregano, garlic  (and whatever I feel like grabbing from the drawer or garden)

Additions –

(whatever is in the fridge)

Vegetarian option = Pumpkin or Mushroom

Non-vege option = Bacon or Chicken (pre-browned or cooked) or cooked gourmet sausages (our butcher does some great gluten free pork  or lamb & rosemary ones)

Broccoli / Peas / Corn


Take a heavy based saucepan/pan (I use a cast iron Chasseur) and toss in the finely chopped onion (and fresh garlic and bacon if that is what you are using) with the butter.

After the onion starts to soften I add the herbs.  Then I put in the rice and swish that around a bit to heat up and get coated with butter.

I then add the chicken stock.  All in one hit.  But it is HOT (ie. just off the boil).  Stir that all around and put the lid on the Chasseur.

When the liquid starts to simmer I toss in all the veggies and anything else.   Then I put the lid on.   And turn the heat down very low.

I stir it maybe once or twice in the next 10 minutes or so.  It varies a little each time as to when it is “done” but it is usually about 15 minutes.  I look for it to have absorbed the liquid but still be “slippery” looking and not gluggy.  Gluggy means too much liquid or too long.


Robin adds:

I love pine nuts, so I will put slightly toasted pine nuts in at the last minute in a herby risotto and–further on the lazy domestic stock front–a couple of tablespoons of hummous stirred in with your couple of tablespoons of pine nuts will totally make this a main dish, although if I’m planning on hummous I’ll probably leave the onion out.  (I use an enameled cast iron pot:  easier to clean if I get it wrong, and it sticks.)

Walnut-Parsley Pesto with Pasta

eiriene, May 20, 2008, comment in “Playing With Your Food”

I could swear that you mentioned a walnut-parsley pesto somewhere, but I couldn’t find a recipe for it, so I thought I’d share the one I made last night with you. The measurements are mostly approximate, but I guessed based on other recipes I found online and it came out really well.

Walnut-Parsley Pesto with Pasta

1/4 cup walnut halves
1 bunch italian, flat-leaf parsley (about 1-1.5 cups packed)
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (I microplaned, but you could grate too)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1 lb. of pasta

1. In a dry skillet, toast the walnut halves over medium heat. This should only take a minute or two, and it’s important to keep them moving, as they will burn easily. As soon as they look done, take them off the heat and out of the pan. If you come across one or two burnt ones, just pick them out and dispose of them.

2. Wash parsley and cut off stems with a kitchen scissor. Pat dry.

3. Peel cloves of garlic and cut off the inedible ends of them.

4. Boil a decently salted pot of water for the pasta. I used linguine last night, but any pasta should do decently. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto, as in step five.

5. Place the clean parsley, the toasted walnuts, the grated cheese, and the cloves of garlic in a food processor. Run the processor for about thirty seconds to a minute to finely chop everything (you want it VERY fine), and then, while the food processor is running, start to drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube. Add as much oil as you like, until it gets to the desired thickness. I used about a quarter cup of oil, since the pesto will be thinned out next.

6. By this point, the pasta should have finished cooking. Reserve one cup of the liquid that the pasta has cooked in, since it’ll be used to thin the sauce out. It’s very important that you use the pasta water instead of regular hot water, as the pasta water has released starch in it. Anyway, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add in the pesto, which should be thick, and then dump the pasta water in the pot too. Stir liberally to mix and thin out the pesto enough that it’ll coat all the pasta. Add as much salt and pepper to taste, at this point, as you like.

7. Serve with some more fresh Parmesan cheese on top, either grated or shredded.

It’s a very fresh and green dinner; it made me feel like spring. =)

Creamy Polenta

Saffronrose, 3 Mar 08, comment to ‘Recipe Day’

serves 6-8
Source/comments: Marina Fournier. I am attempting to duplicate the best I’ve had, which was at the Willowwood Market Cafe in Graton, CA. They add cheese at the last moment, but I didn’t hear what kind. The vanilla in my version softens any acid in the wine, just leaving the rounder flavor.

1 c. polenta
2 1/2 c. milk
4 oz. margarine or butter
2 c. water
1 c. white wine
(1/4 t. vanilla)

Soak the polenta in milk for about an hour. Cut the butter or margarine into small pieces. When you are ready to cook it, add the butter or margarine, and water. When the butter is all melted, gradually add the wine, in order to avoid curdling. Heat gently over low heat, stirring with a whisk, to avoid clumping. If the mixture is getting too thick, add more water, and stir constantly until the texture is the same throughout. Cook gently until as firm as you desire (I like it about 15 minutes thick), and then add the vanilla if needed, and any grated cheese, just before serving. Two generous spoonfuls of pesto and a large spoonful of goat cheese instead of grated cheese goes well, and is how Willowwood serves it. I have since found out they do not use wine in theirs, so substitute water or what you please for the cup of wine in the recipe.

Please feel free to use these recipes, but cite me as the source if you pass them along. They are copyright to A. Marina Fournier 2008.