Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Day 116

Recently, while visiting back home, my Aunt Bettye and Uncle Frank stopped by to say hello. As I’ve mentioned here before, Bettye and I share a love for cooking, and we talk often about recipes we enjoy. If we lived closer, she’d have to change her phone number (and probably move to another address without telling me…) because I’d be calling her constantly for cooking advice.
Yes, she’s that good. Remember her brown sugar pie on Day 44 of this blog? If you haven’t seen it or have forgotten how good it is, check it out here: . Bettye’s cooking is a blend of passion, talent, and intuition that I’m still trying to cultivate for myself, at least the latter two components.
Photos by Maggie Kapustin

During their visit, Bettye gave me two new cookbooks, one by the QVC chef, David Venable. Since I’m not a QVC watcher, I was not familiar with Venable’s recipes at all, but I have had a field day trying some. I stumbled upon one recipe because I happened to have two baked sweet potatoes in my fridge, leftover from a pork chop dinner earlier in the week. As I flipped through the cookbook, In the Kitchen with David Venable, I saw a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that called for the exact amount of sweet potatoes in my fridge and I had just enough buttermilk leftover too, so a star…no, a biscuit was born!  

A really, really good biscuit. I am confident that Bettye’s version of this same biscuit would taste better. She’d know precisely when dough is overworked. She’d know to add a pinch less or more of whatever might make the biscuits perfect. I am not a natural, so for me, it’s trial and error. I tried these biscuits as the roll-out variety, using a biscuit-cutter as well as making a few as “drop” biscuits. Both turned out. I also experimented with an air-bake cookie sheet versus a cake pan. Again, both worked but there seemed to be better lift in the cake pan, as Venable suggested.

My husband wasn’t around to take the picture for me, so my phone shots will have to do. They were light, fluffy, and teeming with sweet potato flavor. We ate them with butter and honey. Take a look at Venable’s original recipe if you are interested in a book purchase, and give a few of his other recipes a try as well. Everything looks incredibly good! They are delicious as stand-alone treats or as an accompaniment to pork and fried apples for a meal this coming fall. Enjoy, and thanks Bettye, for the cookbooks and for never steering me wrong with recipes and chefs!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed, and chilled (about 2 cups)

2 cups buttermilk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray three 9-inch round cake pans.

Mix the cold mashed sweet potatoes with 1 cup of the buttermilk until well-combined. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and all but one tablespoon of the remaining 1 cup buttermilk. Mix until the dough is just combined, moist, and shaggy.

Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and gently push the dough into a ½ inch thick round. Fold the dough into thirds like an envelope, and using your hands, press the dough into a 1-inch thick round. Do not overwork the dough. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, press down without twisting and cut out as many biscuits as possible.  Gather the remaining dough and press out to a 1-inch thickness and cut out additional biscuits. Place the biscuits in the prepared pans, fitting them snuggly next to one another. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe from 2014 copy of In the Kitchen with David Venable, pages 291-292.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Country Apple Fritter Bread

Day 115

Country Apple Fritter Bread

My daughter made this bread and wowed us, recently. With fall just around the corner, this is a recipe you’ll want to save for those chilly weekend mornings when your family deserves an unexpected breakfast treat.
Photos by Taylor Fowler
It is so good and so easy that you’ll probably make it again and again. I know we’ll be asking Tate to make it again with our first fall apples.

Country Apple Fritter Bread

Bread Loaf
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
2 apples, peeled and chopped (any kind), mixed with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Old-Fashioned Creme Glaze
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons of milk or cream- (depending on thickness of glaze wanted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9x5-inch loaf pan and spray with non-stick spray or line with foil and spray with non-stick spray to get out easily for slicing.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.

In another medium-sized bowl, beat white sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended in; add in vanilla extract.

Combine & whisk flour and baking powder together in another bowl and add into creamed butter mixture and stir until blended.

Mix milk into batter until smooth.

Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apple mixture, then half the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.

Pour the remaining batter over apple layer and top with remaining apple mixture, then the remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using knife or spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, approximately 50-60 minutes.

To make glaze, mix powdered sugar and milk or cream together until well mixed.

Let cool for about 15 minutes before drizzling with glaze.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vanilla Bean Custard-Style Ice Cream with Sea Salt Caramel Sauce

Day 114

If you love ice cream as much as I do, you’ll want to make some before the end of this hot weather. Here’s a recipe that’s sure to please, inspired by South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland.

My husband and I recently visited the creamery with friends, and we each enjoyed a different ice cream flavor.
My ice cream choice was Sea Salt Caramel, so I decided to make a traditional vanilla with a really good sauce. More sea salt can be sprinkled on the sauce just before service if you like that added flavor contrast.

South Mountain Creamery is a fun day trip for families, especially those with young children. At 4pm sharp, you can bottle-feed your very own Holstein calf. There’s always a line, so it’s best to arrive early. The entire experience is unforgettable, and there’s nothing more important than supporting local businesses and family farms.

Visit their website, then visit the creamery for yourself and try the best ice cream in Maryland, for sure:

I hope you’ll take the time to try this homemade ice cream and sea salt caramel sauce; it’s easy to make and so tasty and refreshing!

Vanilla Bean Custard-Style Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar, divided
pinch salt
1 whole scraped vanilla bean
5 large egg yolks
1½ tsp. vanilla

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together milk, cream, half of the sugar, salt, and the scraped vanilla bean (with pod). Bring mixture JUST to a boil.

While this is heating, combine yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar in bowl. Using a whisk, beat until pale and thick (you could use a hand mixer on low as well, if you prefer).

Once the cream mixture has just come to a slight boil, whisk 1/3 of it into the yolk/sugar mixture, off the heat. Then, add another 1/3, whisking constantly. Return that to the cream mixture in saucepan. Stir constantly with wooden spoon over low heat until thickened and until mixture coats back of spoon. DO NOT BOIL this mixture. This entire part of the process should not take more than a few minutes.

Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer, discarding vanilla bean pod. Bring to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight.

Preparing according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Place in freezable containers and store in freezer at least 5 hours for solid ice cream.

Sea Salt Caramel Sauce
¾ cup sugar
*½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup water (use just enough that consistency when mixed with sugar is like wet sand)
1 tbs. light corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

In heavy saucepan, stir together sugar, salt, water, and corn syrup. Scrape down sides to incorporate any stray sugar. On medium-low heat, cook until the sugar mixture turns a very light amber color (10-15 minutes). Keep an eye on the caramel sauce to make sure there is no burning.

Once the sugar mixture has a light amber color, take off of stove and carefully stir in the cream. After incorporating cream, slowly whisk in butter, one piece at a time, continually whisking to emulsify all of the butter. Use immediately.

*When pouring over ice cream, sprinkle more sea salt as desired.