Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My Take on Grandma’s Biscuits

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

My Take on Grandma Banks’ Biscuits

Dedicated to my sister in law Sherry, for her birthday.

May Grandma and Aunt Kay rest in peace knowing I think of them every time I make these.

Biscuits were a regular part of life at my grandparent’s farm. Often, especially on a Sunday, many unexpected family visitors would show up, and Grandma always invited them to stay for dinner. An easy way to extend the food available was to make a larger batch of biscuits.

Although Grandma’s biscuits were great, the family guru was Aunt Kay. So I was fortunate to have a private lesson from Aunt Kay on how to make them.

She used shortening, a “piece the size of an egg” said her recipe, and regular milk. My version uses buttermilk and butter, and I love them. Canadian All purpose flour has a high protein content, and makes the biscuits a little chewy, which I like. The other important ingredient is Magic Baking Powder. Every year my mother brought a year’s supply from Canada back to the US just for the biscuits. It does not have the bitter taste that happens when one uses double acting baking powder. Interestingly enough, this recipe has less fat in it than most other biscuit recipes. I have tried many other recipes, and I still like these the best. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I like to think they are just the best.

See the variations at the end for a change of flavour.

Ingredient Instructions
2 cups all purpose flour

4 tsp Magic baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 regular or 350 convection.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

1/4 cup unsalted butter Use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into pea size pieces into the flour mixture.
1 cup buttermilk Dump in the buttermilk and stir lightly. Let this absorb for a minute, then mix into a soft dough. Handle as little as possible.
Flour the bench, then dump the dough onto it. Press the dough into a rectangle and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Use a sharp biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. Re-roll the remaining dough and cut out the same way. I usually get 12 biscuits from this. Bake on greased baking sheet for about 25 minutes or into slightly browned on the bottom.


Cinnamon Rolls

After dough is rolled out, drip small pieces of butter all over dough. Sprinkle brown sugar, then cinnamon on tol. Roll into a sausage and cut off rolls. Bake as above. An icing can also be added, but they are good just plain.

Ginger Thyme Biscuits

Add 1/4 cup of chopped crystallized ginger, 2 T sugar, and 1 tsp  dried thyme to the dough. Continue same as above. You can also add crystallized sugar on top, but this makes the biscuits soggy if you don’t eat them right away.

It's not humanly possible to eat just one!

Orange Thyme Icebox Butter Cookies

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Orange Thyme Icebox Cookies

One of my favourite sweet cookbooks is the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  This book has a wide range of recipes including cookies, quickbreads, cakes, and pastries, lots to satisfy most home bakers.  The instructions are clear, and every recipe I have made from it has been scrumptious.  As well as many common favourites, there are also a few gems that are not in other books of this type such as sfogliatelle, Spanish olive oil wafers, and Breton biscuits to name a few.  This is my favourite cookbook to give to new enthusiastic bakers.

The recipe for icebox cookies is one I return to again and again.  The cookies are a combination of crisp and buttery.  Many different flavourings work, as well as the addition of nuts and spices.  My most recent take on these cookies was to add thyme and orange rind for the spicings.  The resulting cookies are semi sweet and go well with afternoon tea or also with cheese for an appertif.

One of my favourite recipes in the book

After shaping the dough into logs, refrigerate and slice, easy peasy!

Use a really sharp knife.  I used a ceramic knife and it worked perfectly.

The texture is the best, like shortbread but with a crunch.

The recipe?  In the book.  The flavouring is 1 1/2 tsp of thyme,  grated orange rind from one orange, and about a 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Pumpkin Brownies

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

These brownies evolved because I’ve been trying recipes with hemp hearts.  I found a starting recipe on the site Mum’s Best.  Ive tweaked their recipe to use pumpkin instead of applesauce and changes some of the flours.  These are delicious. They are a more cakelike brownie rather than chewy. Make sure you use pure canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.

Pumpkin Brownies

Gluten Free and Vegan

Can brownies really be nutritious?  You bet. These have a cakelike texture.  They keep and freeze well.

Makes an 8×8 square pan of brownies.

Ingredients Directions
Dry Ingredients:

½ cup (65g) No Rice Gluten Free  Flour Mix*

¼ cup (25g) finely ground sunflower seeds

¼ cup (35g) hemp hearts

1/3 cup (26g) raw cacao powder

3/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

2 tsp psyllium husks

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Heat oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 pan.

Combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly

Wet ingredients:

1 cup(200 g) canned pure pumpkin (this is ½ of 398ml can)( NOT pumpkin pie filling)

2 TBL coconut oil melted until liquid (or use butter)

2 TBL water

Add wet ingredients to dry and quickly mix together.  The batter will be dense, and you have to work fast because the soda activates right away.

Pour / scoop into prepared pan and level the batter mixture with a spoon or offset spatula.

Bake about 20 minutes until just done.  Like regular brownies they are best not overbaked.

*No Rice Gluten Free Flour Mix

This makes about 4 ½ cups,  more than needed for the recipe. I have found this to be a good general GF flour mix.  It works very well in pastry recipes.

1 cup garfava flour

½ cup amaranth flour

1 cup cornstarch

½ cup buckwheat flour

1 ½ cup arrowroot flour

French Macarons

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

On my last day in Paris I wanted to see Pierre Herme’s patisserie. I found it, but there was a long line up, and I decided I didn’t have time to wait. So, I continued and my good fortune was on the next block in the form of Laduree, which was supposed to also have wonderful macarons. I had read debates on Chowhound board over whether Laduree or Pierre Herme macarons were the best, so I was hopeful. I looked over all of the choices, and finally asked the clerk (who was dressed up very smartly in a suit) which were his favoutires. He said chocolate and caramel, so that’s what I bought. I had no idea how much they would be as they are sold by the gram. The total was about 3 euros, about $5. I had tasted other macarons during my travels outside of Paris, and none had been that good, so I was hedging my bets. It was the coldest and windiest day of my trip, and as I left the wind was chilling. I walked half a block and then thought I should taste them before I got too far away in case they were really good. I opened the bag, stood my a wall, looked them over, and took the first bite of the caramel one. It was devine – crisp outside followed by a lucsiously soft inside, then the intense sweetness of the caramel, with a bit of salty flavour as well. I decided to taste the chocolate as well, and it was equally wonderful. After eating these, I was really full, they are very sweet and also the filling is buttery, I do not want o know how many calories!! Because I also was off to try croissants at what I remembered as the best croissant place, I decided not to go back, but I still regret not bring a couple back to Canada. I figured they would get crushed anyway.
I had bought a couple French cookbooks on Macarons, so I was so pleased I had tried what I now considered the true benchmark for a good Macaron.
Upon returning and having time to cook, I proceeded to try to make them. After trying one bartch that tasted ok but did not have the characteristic “foot” they get when they rise, I did some more research and tried a recipe that used Italian cooked merangue as the base. This was in an article on the web Desserts Magazine, an article I highly recommend. So, I was finally successful in getting the feet, and made a chocolate ganache filling. I took my macarons to a Christmas party, they they all disappeared quickly, and several people asked how to make them. When I described my process, no one then pursured the recipe, I think I am the only one crazy enoough to want to pursue this perfection. My macarons were good, but what I learned on this second batch is that you have to be very careful not to overcook them, and also they improve after aging in my cool fruit cellar for a couple days.

Desserts magazone, a free online publicaitons is wonderful, here is the link:


Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Here is a pic of new recipe trial – Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti from the Martha Stewart Baking Book. I really love this cookbook and have made several things from it – all have been very good. I am on a whole grain kick, so I used 1 cup ( 3 cups total in the recipe) of fresh ground whole wheat pastry flour. I told you I am a purist, so yes, I have a flour grinder. Thanks to my friend Peter who fixed my grinder last year when the glue on the stones wore out.

In case you have never made biscotti, they are first baked in a loaf, then sliced up and then baked again until dry. Some have butter in them, and some have just eggs, which tends to make a harder biscotti. Both types are good.

These are good, less butter than a shortbread. Not too sweet, which I like. I really don’t like cookies that are really sweet. The whole wheat pastry flour is a little too soft, so I think I will try this with hard wheat next time.

What other things do I recommend from this cookbook? I love the icebox cookies and have made several versions of them, including rosemary lemon – yumm. They are like shortbread but have a little crunch that is different. This book has a few really unusual things such as flat cookies with olive oil that I love, and a Sicillian cookie that I used to get in Toronto that is wonderful, but a lot of work. I highly recommend this cookbook.

Whole Grain Baking

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

I just finished reading a new cookbook, Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart. I have used one of Peter’s other books, The Breadmaker’s Apprentice, and from it have made several delicious breads. Since whole grains are better for us overall, I thought I would get his new book.

The methods take a lot of time and you need to plan ahead. He uses a sourdough type starter and overnight fermentation for several of the breads. The minimum for most of the recipes is 2 days. I will let you know when I have tried some, I need a week when I am in town and able to do the prep ahead. There are also recipes for crackers and flatbreads. The nut and seed crackers look great, and a recipe for wheat thins is intriguing.

The breads from the Breadmaker’s Apprentice were the best I have every made, so I am motivated to try the new recipes in the whole grain book. I will keep you posted.

New to Blogging

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

I have really appreciated the up to date and interesting content on several blogs I have been reading recently. So….I decided I should try one.

I hope to keep my friends posted on the recent things I have been up to in my personal life, and due to the distance of many of my friends and family, to post some pics that everyone can see.

I hope some of you will comment on my blog to keep this interactive and interesting.

Related Posts with Thumbnails