Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spicy Cheese Biscuits

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that in addition to bacon, some of the other recurring themes are: spicy and cheese.  Lately, our spicy of choice has been sriracha.  These biscuits are drop biscuits, which means no rolling or cutting or anything involved.  All you need is a bowl, measuring utensils and a mixing spoon.  Also, since you cook these atop parchment paper, you don't even have a baking sheet to scrub.

Now, some measurements you'll have to guesstimate.  For example, I've never seen a 2/3 tsp measuring spoon.  What I do is use a heaping 1/2 tsp, and it works just fine.  Although this is baking and usually that means precision, in this recipe you have some wiggle room.  For sour milk, simply measure out regular fresh milk and put in a splash of cider vinegar and let sit while you prepare everything else.  I use gorgonzola crumbles, but any blue cheese will work.  If you aren't a fan of blue cheese, then use an equal amount shredded gruyere, young provolone or young cheddar.  In fact, if you want a simple and deliciously airy cheese biscuit, but aren't a fan of spicy, then just omit the sriracha, everything will be fine.

I usually make 4 biscuits for us two for either a snack or along with soup, and those are the proportions listed first in the recipe.  I've put in parentheses proportions for making (8 -or- 12) biscuits.

  • 3/4 cup flour (1 1/2 -or- 2 1/4)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (1 -or- 1 1/2)
  • 2/3 tsp sugar (1 1/3 -or- 2)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (1/2 -or- 3/4)
  • 1/3 tsp salt (2/3 -or- 1)
  • 2 TBS cold unsalted butter (4 -or- 6)
  • 2 ounces gorgonzola crumbles (4 -or- 6)
  • 1/3 cup sour milk (2/3 -or- 1)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sriracha (1 TBS -or- 1 1/2 TBS)
  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Stir together dry ingredients.
  • Cut butter into a few pieces, and using fingers cut the butter into the dry ingredients by smooshing the butter between your fingers and the dry ingredients.  You want to achieve a pebbly texture, where there are still tiny pockets of butter.  It is important that your butter be refrigerator cold when doing this step.
  • Stir in cheese
  • Whisk sriracha into sour milk, and pour into other ingredients.
  • Stir until just incorporated.  
  • Drop onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet (or two sheets if making 8 or 12) in 4 (or 8 or 12) equal mounds.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned and golden.
  • Cool on a rack for about 3-5 minutes before eating.

Mushroom and Farro Soup

Sounds boring, right?  Just a bowl of brown healthy things. And well, the reason there isn't a photo is that it looks like a bowl of brown healthy things.  This is not a visually stunning soup, and I couldn't get a photo that made it look like anything but brown.  But oh the flavor!  This is a savory, mouthwatering, umami bomb.  And healthy and simple to boot.

This recipe calls for beef stock/broth.  I don't cook enough beef with bones or use beef broth/stock often enough to make cooking it at home a cost-effective measure.  I used Swanson's low sodium beef stock (comes in the tall carton).  I then used a a cup of water to cut it.  However, if you have homemade beef stock that isn't too rich, just add a fourth cup of stock instead of the cup of water.

I used pearled farro, which cooks much faster than regular farro.  But you can use either kind.  If you use regular farro, extend simmering time to about 40 minutes, or what the package suggests for cooking time.

This soup pairs wonderfully with Spicy Blue Cheese Biscuits, the baking time of which is the same as the simmer time on the soup.

This serves four, but you can easily double the recipe.


  • 1/3 cup dried porcini (they will sit loosely in the cup, use about 1/3 of a 1 ounce package)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 onion (size of a baseball), diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces white button mushrooms, rough chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 TBS tomato paste
  • 3 cups low sodium beef stock plus 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup pearled farro
  • Bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine to a boil.  Pour over dried porcini and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Melt butter in a 4 quart pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion and carrot and saute until onion becomes a little golden.
  • Add garlic and cook for about a minute, being careful not to brown it.
  • Add chopped button mushrooms, and cook, stirring regularly until most of the liquid is thrown from the mushrooms.
  • Meanwhile, drain the porcini mushrooms through a coffee filter (this removes any grit).  Reserve soaking liquid and finely chop the porcini. 
  • Push ingredients in pot to sides and add tomato paste into center of pot.  Cook for a few minutes, to caramelize tomato paste, thus adding layers of flavor.  Stir into other ingredients.
  • Add beef stock plus water and the reserved soaking liquid from the porcini and bring to a strong simmer.
  • Add pearled farro and porcini, and simmer strongly for about 15 minutes.