More Strawberries, More Biscuit Tricks
June 26, 2016
This blog is going into its second year. Writing it has led me to recognize just who I am when I combine cooking and writing. It turns out I have no interest in developing a recipe, creating a fancy meal, or indeed in doing anything normal (that is, blog-normal).
All I want is to do what has always attracted me in the kitchen: to use what I have on hand and make something unique and also delicious. This approach, perfect for me, doesn't really translate into blog-ese. But I guess I'll keep doing it until the hook comes to pull me off the stage of the blogosphere.
For example. Recently I offered biscuit dough on my posting, in the form of the shortcake part of strawberry shortcake. Having learned over the years that I prefer leftover biscuit dough to leftover biscuits, I have taken to baking only half the dough I make up, saving the rest for another day. Below are two examples of what to do with half a recipe of biscuit dough.
The first time I had leftover biscuit dough I turned it into a pie. I wanted to make a pie using strawberries but was too lazy to make a pie crust from scratch. So I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Rolled out a half-recipe of biscuit dough as thin as I could between two sheets of parchment paper, and then, having removed one piece of parchment, flipped the dough into an 8" cake pan. I wanted a free-standing pie with straight edges rather than the usual slanting-sides of a pie plate. To keep those straight sides from collapsing while the shell baked, I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit (cutting it from one of the pieces I'd previously used to roll out the dough) and covered the dough with it, then inserted a slightly smaller cake pan, wedging it agianst the parchment*. I baked this for 12 minutes then removed the extra cake pan and the parchment and returned the shell to the oven for five minutes to crisp.
The pie I was wanting to make is one I call a strawberry cream pie--because it is the same pie as the peach cream pie I've been making for forty years. I've never wanted to use any fruit but peaches for this pie, since it's a family favourite and it's delicious with peaches.
But I had a quart of strawberries on hand and decided to try it. The peach cream pie recipe is in the book (Fast & Fearless Cooking for the Genius), but here are the basics:
You fill a baked pie shell (or in this case a baked biscuity pie shell) with sliced peaches (or in this case, berries) mixed with a custard sauce**. Then you top it with a mixture of yogurt, lightly whipped cream, and powdered sugar***. It's pretty durned good.
The other trick with leftover biscuit dough is even simpler. It was breakfast time. I allow myself no more than 20 minutes to prepare a breakfast, and I refuse to turn on the oven at that time of day, on principle. So here's what I did. I put my cast iron ridged grill pan on a burner to preheat. I sprinkled a cutting board with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds. Then I pressed a fist-sized lump of leftover biscuit dough into the seed mixture, turned it over and pressed again, turned it over and pressed again. The result was a six-inch round about 1/3 inch thick, which I placed on the hot grilll pan to cook while I made coffee and took the necessaries out to the backyard table. (The necessaries: a tablecloth, the phone, a box of tissues, my glasses, both newspapers, and a pen, for doing the Sudokus.)
After five minutes I flipped my seeded biscuit bread to the other side and continued with the coffee and the necessaries.
The dough didh't rise much as it cooked, nor did I expect it to, since I had flattened the daylights out of it. The finished product was a crispy, crusty flatbread that was sufficient for a two- person breakfast. I recommend this!
*If you don't have two cake pans of slightly different dimensions (not many people do), just make this in a pie plate. Or, if you like the idea of the free-standing sides (though mine gave way at one place when I filled it, as you might be able to see in the photo), you can line the dough with parchment paper then fill that with dried beans or rice for the first part of the baking. DO NOT try to cook the rice or beans later; save them to use the next time you bake a blind pie crust.
**Custard sauce: Put 2 1/2 T flour, 1/3 c. of sugar, and 1 c. milk in a small saucepan. Whisk while heating over medium heat. In the meantime, separate one egg (reserve the white for another use), then add the hot milk mixture, by tablespoons, to the egg, beating well after each addition. The idea is to temper the egg so that it reaches the same temperature as the milk. Now scrape the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, until it thickens. Do not let it boil (the egg will scramble). HOWEVER: if it becomes lumpy, for whatever reason, then pour it into a fine strainer and press it through the mesh into a clean bowl. Ta-da! No lumps. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.
***Many ways to do this. You can drain the yogurt for an hour or so to make it thicker. You can use cream cheese if you prefer, or ricotta. Specifically: beat 1/4 c. heavy cream until slightly thick. Now whisk in half a cup of yogurt and 1/4 c. of powdered sugar, plus a teaspoon of vanilla extract.