Sunday, January 18, 2009

Simple Spices

Even as I try to perfect new techniques, and attempt more challenging recipes, I still can't resist a basic ingredient list that just reads like a delicious treat. And I love the practice of baking something fresh on Christmas morning -- the warm oven and tantalizing aromas feel so right, so cozy.

I planned on repeating the favorite side dishes from Christmas 2007 (because in my family, that's the deal: Mom does the entree, Tam contributes the appetizer [and usually a dessert] and I supply the sides), but wanted something new in the mix.

And when I found the following recipe, I was instantly attracted to the simplicity of it: buttermilk and cornmeal for richness, green onions for a bit of bite and tang and plenty of coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Simple spices, and a charmingly easy recipe to throw together on a busy morning.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Green Onions, Black Pepper and Sea Salt


3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter Coarse sea salt


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine buttermilk and green onions in medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper in large bowl to blend. Add 1/2 cup chilled butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until moist clumps form.

Gather dough together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead gently just to combine, about 3 to 4 turns. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using floured 2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Reroll scraps and cut out additional rounds. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Sprinkle each lightly with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.

Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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