saansaturday: (lady red)
( Tuesday, 28 February 2006 15:14)
Any time the subject of popcorn comes up, I will tell anyone who will listen about this fantastic discovery of mine. If you don't like sweet popcorn, read on! I'm not talking about sweet popcorn. If you do like sweet popcorn, read on! This is seriously delicious.

About three winters ago, I had made mulled wine one night and later wanted popcorn. The pan I use for popcorn was also the one I had mulled the wine in, and I had a crazy idea that it might be interesting to not wash the pan out (it was still sitting on the stove with a thin coating of thick wine goo on its insides) before making the popcorn, letting the popcorn have a bit of the flavor of the wine and mulling spices. I did so and when it came time to season the popcorn, after adding melted butter and salt, my intuition told me to add cinnamon. So of course I did, and created the greatest popcorn known to humankind. (The mulled wine residue didn't actually flavor the popcorn very much...but the *cinnamon* was a discovery!)

The flavor of cinnamon is so warm, it makes this popcorn perfect for winter. But I've found it so addictive that I add cinnamon pretty much every time I make popcorn. I vary the amount though; sometimes I like just the tiniest bit, sometimes quite a lot. A year or two after the discovery of cinnamon popcorn, I discovered olive oil popcorn and improved upon my recipe.

One of the times I was travelling in Italy with my family, we were staying in a villa kind of in the middle of nowhere, Tuscany. My nieces were always in need of snacks, so we had bought some popcorn at the grocery store when we were in town. Nobody in my family had ever made popcorn on the stovetop, besides me. There was no oil in the villa but the olive oil from the grove right outside the door, so I made the popcorn with olive oil. There was no cinnamon, either, but it was delicious with olive oil and salt!

Of course when I next made popcorn at home, I tried olive oil with cinnamon and found a whole new level of popcorn-tastiness. I eventually found that it's even better to top the popcorn with a combination of olive oil and melted butter, along with the cinnamon and salt. I change the proportions of olive oil and butter to suit my tastes, just as I change how much cinnamon I add. But this basic combination is the most divine popcorn can possibly be.
When I was searching for something to eat this morning, I saw lots of things to make a good sandwich with (smoked turkey breast, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, gouda, goat cheese, prosciutto, etc.) and started craving one of my sandwich concoctions--I do make fabulous sandwiches. I was sad that I had no bread in the house, having eaten the last of a baguette late last night when I got hungry and, feeling very lazy, the last thing I wanted to do was to get dressed and go buy bread. So I thought about baking bread. I started thinking about various quick breads that might also make a good sandwich and got stuck on biscuits. Not only did it seem that a biscuit with mayo, tomato, turkey and gouda would probably be pretty damn tasty, I started craving just the biscuits themselves.

You all know how I love to cook and bake and if you've been reading for any length of time you know I have no trouble with quick breads, yeast breads, pie crusts or other pastry. Yet I have always been a drop-biscuit-from-Bisquick-mix kind of person. It's the ease of this method (and I do find the biscuits made this way tasty) that always wins over making my own from scratch. And even on the few occasions I've made biscuits from scratch, I've made drop biscuits, just so I wouldn't have to knead the dough and then clean up the mess from that. Lazy, I know. But today I was craving *real* biscuits, the kind that are round and tall and fluffy yet mouth-melty sexy. Oh gods.

I started searching for a recipe that had the ingredients listed by weight, because I've found that I always get better results when baking if I weigh. But alas, Americans are not into weighing, and even Alton Brown's recipe used volume measurements.

I searched my recipe database for biscuit recipes and came up with about ten of them. But which to use? I ended up flipping a coin to decide between what I decided were the two best candidates. The winner was from a book called Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham. I have no idea who Marion Cunningham is, but damn does she have a good biscuit recipe!

Still missing a printer, I wrote only the bare essentials of the recipe down (her version is greatly detailed).

1/3 cup shortening, plus extra
2 cups AP flour, plus extra
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Oven 225 C (450 F).

Stir dry ingredients together with a fork.

Add shortening and cut in.

Add milk and stir. Don't overmix.

Lightly knead about 10 times on a floured surface.

Cut out biscuits and place with a little space between them on a greased baking pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

A recipe like that would probably confound someone like V but is was probably more info than I needed. :P I could have done it with just the ingredient list and the oven temperature. ;) When I patted the dough out to a 1/2 inch thickness, ready to cut out the biscuits, I suddenly realized that I had nothing to cut them with, so I ended up using a Guinness pint glass.

They came out of the oven after a bit more than 15 minutes, beautifully browned and fluffed up. I took a few photos before spreading two of them with butter and devouring them. The biscuits were everything I wanted--a bit crispy on the outside and the fluffy insides did that sexy melting thing in my mouth. Is it possible to have oral sex with food? I think I just had oral sex with biscuits!

The recipe made eight biscuits and I only ate two, so I'm thinking forget the sandwich idea, go buy some sausage and make some sausage gravy and have biscuits and gravy for dinner. Ye Gods! I love knowing how to cook. :)

two photos )


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