Tag Archives: shallots

Tzatziki Biscuits with Caramelized Shallot Butter

6 Sep

September is an odd time for cooking. Summer is still clinging on for dear life, and in Portland we often get more warm days in September than we do in June. On the other hand, the warmth we feel in the air is always undercut with a cool, crisp feeling, a sign that no matter how many days we get to experience the glory of 90 degrees in September, autumn is, in fact, on its way. September really may be Portland’s prettiest month, offering sunshine, late summer flowers, warm days, and crisp nights. As I mentioned before, however, with weather like this, what’s a person to cook?

You see, part of me wants to stretch out summer as long as possible, grilling things, eating outside, and comprising meals of light, flavorful bites, as is befitting of summer. Another part of me, craving the comforts of autumn food, wants to turn on the oven, roast things, bake things, and take advantage of the season’s newest crops of apples and pears. For as much as I love summer food, I might actually like autumn food more, what with its ability to straddle the line between fresh and light (tomatoes, berries, grilled corn), and soothing comfort (apples, roasted anything).

To bridge the gap between the two seasons, I often find myself coming up with meals that can celebrate the best of both summer and autumn. These lovely, light biscuits manage to do just that. With a nod to cool and refreshing tzatziki, the biscuits are punched up with dill, olive oil, creamy yogurt, and a nice dose of lemon zest. Paired with an utterly autumn-inspired caramelized shallot butter, you’ve got a great combination of flavors. To bring this pairing home even more, slip a thick slice of cucumber into a biscuit and crunch down into the companionable world of summer freshness melting into crisp autumn.

Tzatziki Biscuits with Caramelized Shallot Butter Recipe

Tzatziki Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon dried dill

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup plain yogurt

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and mashed or grated into a fine paste

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of the flour, baking powder, baking soda, dill, and sea salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, lemon zest, garlic, and olive oil.

Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and, using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized chunks of butter strewn throughout. Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour and butter, and use the pastry cutter to mix the liquid ingredients into the dry. Mix just until the ingredients come together and form a somewhat shaggy mass. If the mixture is unbearably sticky, add in the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with the pastry cutter until everything comes together in a workable mass.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently flatten out the dough a bit, then fold it over on itself and pat down to adhere the dough together. Gently flatten out the dough again, fold it over again, then gently flatten and fold once more. Pat the dough into a rough 10-inch oval then, using a 1-inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough, placing each one on the prepared baking sheet. Cut the rounds as close together as possible, ensuring that you are using as much of the dough as possible during this first cutting. Piece and pat together any remaining scraps, then cut out the remaining biscuits. The less you handle the dough, the lighter your biscuits will be, so be judicious with your cutting.

Bake the biscuits in the center of the oven for 12-14 minutes, until the bottoms are dark brown and the tops are a deep golden color. Remove from baking sheet to cool slightly before eating. Eat while still warm.

Makes about 20 biscuits.

Caramelized Shallot Butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large shallot, sliced into medium-thin rings

pinch of sea salt

4 tablespoons unsalted, room temperature butter

In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and allow to sizzle gently for a couple of minutes, then add the sea salt and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are deeply browned and very limp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, until it reaches room temperature.

In a small bowl, pour the shallots and any remaining olive oil over the butter. Mash the shallots into the butter, then, using a fork, whip the butter up a bit until it has lightened just a tad.

Shallot and Herb Biscuits

16 Jan

When the weather is cold, I admit to being guilty of using the kitchen stove as an additional heat source.  No, not in the super dangerous way of leaving the oven door open while I blast 400 degrees of power into the room and slowly poison myself with carbon monoxide (even typing that made me feel nervous), but in the super delicious way of throwing together a simple biscuit or muffin recipe so that I may not only boost the heat in the kitchen, but also perfume the entire house with the alluring scent of freshly baked treats.

Biscuits are some of my most favorite throw-together baked goods.  They are super fast, I always have the basic ingredients on hand, and there are few things I can think of that are more comforting than fresh, hot biscuits taken and eaten straight from the oven.  Why someone would eat biscuits from a tube, I’ll never know.  A fresh biscuit require minimal work, and when it comes to flavor?  Don’t even get me started.  You can’t even compare the two.

These biscuits are made with what I consider to be my standard biscuit recipe, amended over the years from a Beth Hensperger recipe that I have tweaked and customized over the years into something that I now consider to be almost like a base recipe, a launching pad for whatever flavor combination you might be interested in trying out in a biscuit.

Previously, I have used this base recipe to make blueberry biscuits, a perfect snack or breakfast treat, but the last time I made biscuits, I was in the mood for something a bit more savory.  I threw in what were quite literally some leftover items sitting on a kitchen counter (half a large shallot, some stray herbs), and in just a few minutes I was pulling a pan of delicious biscuits out of the oven.  My kitchen was cozy and warm, the biscuits flaky and satisfying.  Who needs to turn up the thermostat when you’ve got fresh biscuits?

Shallot and Herb Biscuits

Adapted from The Bread Bible, by Beth Hensperger

Because I rarely have buttermilk on hand, I have taken to almost exclusively using sour milk in any recipe that calls for buttermilk.  To make sour milk, just add 1 heaping tablespoon of vinegar (cider vinegar or white vinegar) or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then top off with milk until you reach 1 cup.  If you need two cups of sour milk, use twice as much vinegar or lemon juice, if you need less sour milk, adjust the other way.  Allow the sour milk to stand for about 10 minutes before adding to a recipe.  This substitution works like a dream in baked goods, but  I would never use soured milk in a recipe that called for buttermilk as a main component (buttermilk ice cream, buttermilk dressing, etc.).

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons finely diced shallots

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and rosemary), or 1 ½ teaspoons dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, savory, or dill would all work well here)

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg

¾ cup cold buttermilk or sour milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add the egg to the buttermilk or sour milk, and beat just to combine.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the butter to the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with no large chunks remaining.  If the mixture appears too soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow it to re-chill.  Whisk the shallots, herbs, and pepper into the flour and butter mixture.

Add the egg and buttermilk mixture to the flour and butter mixture, stirring just to moisten the ingredients.  The dough should appear shaggy, but not sticky.

Turn the dough out on to a well-floured surface.  Knead gently about 6 times, or until the dough just holds together.  Roll or pat the dough into a rectangle about ¾-inch thick.  Do not overwork the dough or add too much additional flour at this point, or the biscuits will become quite tough.  Cut the dough into rounds using a floured 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter (or the rim of a drinking glass that is approximately the same size).  Try to push straight down when cutting, making sure not to twist the cutter, and cut the rounds as closely together as possible to minimize scraps.  Gently roll together any scraps and cut into additional rounds.

Place the biscuits ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake in the center of the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.  Serve hot or warm.

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