Tuesday, July 6, 2010

herbed biscuits

now that i'm in oregon, i have my sister's herb garden at my disposal, which means there will be several herbalicious recipes in the very near future, starting with these:


1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (you could also do a 50/50 white and wheat combo)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

preheat oven to 375 F.  in a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. work the butter into the flour (i used my hands) until the mix has pea-sized crumbles, then place the bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes while mixing wet ingredients. in a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, and herbs. create a well at the center of the flour mix and stir in the buttermilk mixture until just blended. drop batter in cupcake or muffin tins and sprinkle with salt. bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the biscuits comes out clean.
serve warm and toasty.

note: you can switch up the herbs to anything you prefer. i've also made other version of these with lavender and lemon zest, for which i used 2 tablespoons of zest and 2 tablespoons of lavender buds in place of the herbs. those were less savory, but awesome with a bit of honey.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

homemade cheese balls

despite what it may look like based on recent blog posts (or the lack there of), i have eaten this week. and quite well too, but i haven't had much time for experimenting in the kitchen. tomorrow i am moving to oregon and this week has been pretty hectic because of it. i did, however, manage to squeeze these little cheese ball appetizers in.

recipe (from a chow life*):

1/2 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
herbs, spices, seeds for rolling

the procedure of making this cheese is not as complicated as it might seem, but it is somewhat time consuming. in a large, heavy pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. this step will take apx 30 minutes, so it's a good idea to have a book or ipod handy. once the milk starts to boil, remove it from the heat and slowly stir in the lemon juice. the milk will begin to curdle and the whey should appear a clear yellowish-green color. if the whey remains milky, return the pot to the heat and continue to stir until it becomes clear. allow curds to settle beneath the way for 15 minutes.
prepare a colander by lining it with cheese cloth and placing it in a sink. pour the curds into the lined colander and briefly  rinse with lukewarm water. gather the cheesecloth around the curds and gently twist the to remove excess liquid. transfer the bundle, which will still be dripping at this point, to a plate and top with apx 2 1/2 pounds of weight (i used a jar of pasta sauce). 
allow to drain for 45 minutes, then unwrap the curds and transfer to a bowl (if you have a stand mixer, you'll want to use a dough hook to knead the cheese, but if not, it's best to knead by hand). add the salt and beat/knead for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese no longer has a grainy texture.
roll the cheese into a log and wrap with plastic wrap. refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. meanwhile, prepare the different crusts for the balls (or mini logs if you prefer). i used 3 varieties: zaatar (a blend of roasted thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds), a blend of roasted sunflower seeds with paprika, and a paprika chili flake blend. this part of the process is all about personal preference, a blend of fresh herbs would also be lovely.
once the cheese is cold and firm, you can form your balls or logs and roll them in the assorted crusts. serve with crackers or pieces of rustic bread and enjoy!

*a chow life has great step by step photos of the process that you should check out.