Buttermilk Biscuits with Maple Glaze and Cracked Black Pepper

Making biscuits has almost become therapeutic for me, I mostly find myself making them on rare lazy Saturdays after a long week of work. There is something about using my hands to cut the butter into the flour, then folding and working the dough by hand, finding the perfect spot to make the first biscuit cut.  It really makes me feel like I’m making something special even though it’s just simple biscuits. My family loves them and even the hint that I might make them turns my brothers into giddy children.  We usually have them with homemade sausage gravy or sometimes we fry up eggs and bacon for a breakfast sandwich.  They are really simple to make and with only a few tips and tricks you can look like a pro!

1)      Make sure the butter is cold before you cut it into the flour.  The reason for this is steam! When the biscuits go into the hot oven the butter melts quickly and releases its water content in the form of steam, this steam pushes up each layer of dough as it cooks to form flakey layers.

2)      If you don’t have buttermilk, not to worry you can use milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Make sure you use lemon juice as the baking soda must have acid to properly react. Buttermilk has enough to make this happen but milk by its self needs lemon juice! I recommend letting the milk and lemon sit together at room temp for about an hour before making the biscuits. Trust me on this!

3)      Once the dough is formed and on your work surface flatten the dough into a rectangle about 2 inches think. Next fold over one end onto itself and flatten back down to about 2 inches repeat this 4 to 5 times. This step is CRITICAL for flakey biscuits in essence you are creating the layers of the biscuit! Make sure not to do any more than 5 folds you still want the dough to be tender and over working it will make for tough biscuits.

4)      I sometimes skip this step for time but it does make a difference. After you have cut and placed your biscuit on a baking sheet refrigerate for 1 hour before baking. This ensures the butter is very cold when the biscuits go into the hot oven, and it also allows for the fat to really coat all the flour which helps with browning as well as flaking. 

Buttermilk Biscuits

  •        3 cups (384 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
  •        3 tablespoons sugar
  •        1 tablespoon baking powder
  •        1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  •        12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for searving
  •        1 1/4 cups cold buttermilk
  •        pure maple syrup, for rubbing the biscuits
  •        nice sea salt or coarse freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling

Instructions

1.       Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 425

2.       Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Using your fingers, work in the butter just until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs with some pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk just until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.

3.       Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface and pat into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold it in half once so that it's 1-inch thick. Do this three more times to create layers in the dough. Then roll the dough out to about a 1-inch thick.

4.       Using a lightly floured 3-inch round cutter, cut out the biscuits (in one motion — do not twist the cutter), as close together as possible, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet leaving 2 inches between them. Gently pat the dough scraps together (do not overwork the dough), reroll and cut out more biscuits. (Note: You could just cut the rectangle into 8 squares, which will leave you with no scraps to reroll.)

5.       Brush each biscuit with maple syrup and sprinkle with crushed black pepper and sea salt.

6.       Bake for 15min.

 

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Classic Hollandaise With Eggs Benedict

We can’t talk about hollandaise without talking about the mother sauces; there are 5 mother sauces in classic French cuisine: Béchamel, Veloute, Espangnole, Sauce Tomate, and Hollandaise.  The name mother sauce is meaningful because they are all base sauces from which a myriad of other sauces can be made from its “mother” for example, béchamel alone is used in things like  lasagna but once you add gruyere and parmesan cheese to it, you have a new sauce called mornay sauce. Bechamel is the foundation or mother sauce to cheese sauces, mushroom and alfrado sauce.  A secondary sauce to hollandaise is a béarnaise sauce which is basically the addition of white wine vinegar, chopped shallot and fresh tarragon.  Bearnaise sauce is a fantastic sauce with baked salmon and even grilled steak.

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Hollandaise is a very delicate sauce, it’s the only mother sauce not thickened with a roux, instead, it uses an emulsification to stabilize two things that normally won’t stay together. Because it’s so delicate you will need a double broiler to provide indirect heat to your sauce. You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy one though, for years I used a medium pot with a bowl resting on top, (a glass or metal bowl, no plastic for obvious reasons).  You will need to fill your pot with about 2” of water. You don’t want too much water that it touches the bowl but you need to make sure you have enough so it does not steam out during the cooking process.

A few tips: make sure you keep the heat on medium, you want the water in the double broiler to lightly simmer and create steam to gently cook your egg yolks, a raging boil would be to hot and you will probably end up with scrambled eggs. If you feel like your sauce is getting to hot at any point don’t bother with adjusting the heat just lift off the bowl and whisk to cool your sauce down a bit. The consistency you are trying to reach with your eggs before you start adding the butter is something like a Dijon mustard, thick but still smooth.

A few fun hollandaise sauce variation ideas are: cajan hollandaise with smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, southwestern hollandaise with chopped jalapenos, and basil hollandaise with chopped basil. What kinds of variations on this classic mother sauce would you come up with?

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Classic Hollandaise

  • 3 Egg Yolks

  • 3 cubes Butter (Sliced)

  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a double broiler (off the heat) combine egg yolks and lemon juice, whisk to combine. Bring water to simmer while whisking yolks. Once yolks begin to heat up they will become thin and runny, keep cooking and whisking till they become thick and smooth, about the texture of Dijon mustard. Begin adding one chunk of butter at a time to yolks waiting till fully incorporated before adding next chunck. Once half the butter is incorporated you can begin to add multiple butter chunks at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated season with tabasco, salt and pepper. Sauce will last a few hours if you can keep it warm but once it’s cooled you will not be able to re-heat it without separation. To keep it warm serve it from your double broiler.

 

Eggs Benedict

  • 5 English muffins halved and toasted

  • 10 slices ham or Canadian bacon

  • 10 poached or fired eggs

  • 1 recipe hollandaise sauce

  • Chopped parsley

Toast English muffins, fry eggs or poach (ain’t nobody got time for that…lol). Heat the ham in a frying pan. To assemble, layer ham and egg on top of toasted muffin pour over with freshly made hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!