Cheesy Jalapeno Biscuits

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I live with a character. She is nearly 6-feet-tall with the greatest legs in Washington state. She has red hair and would describe her own body as looking like a carrot.

Her family is Jewish, but this year they celebrated Hanukkah with a night on the town and ate barbecue pork.

She graduated with a degree in theater. She has more rings than fingers, and hoops dangle from her ears daily.

She is easily one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

At a Mexican restaurant once, the waitress asked us if we would like our chips refilled and Halle responded, “Oh you temptressss.”

We eat popcorn together. She talks up my cooking abilities. I remind her she is one of the most hardworking people I know.

Naturally, when her 23rd birthday rolled around last month, I had to make something special. She has raved about the biscuits in Portland, ones with spicy jalapenos and the chew of cheddar. I made a take on this, which we happily gobbled up.

Makes 12 little biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or scallions
  • 1/3 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

To form and finish biscuits

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour distributed in rimmed baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse all of the dry ingredients for the dough, until combined. Scatter butter cubes over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture becomes crumbly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add grated cheese, jalapeno and chives. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated.

To form and bake biscuits: Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 mounds. Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour and form into balls. Tap off excess flour and place into the prepared cake pan. Arrange nine balls around the outside of the pan and three in the center. Brush the tops with melted butter, being careful to not flatten them. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake five minutes, then reduce temperature to 450 degrees. Continue to bake until biscuits are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan two minutes, then remove and serve, preferably with more butter.

Maple Bacon Biscuits

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One of my favorite flavor combinations is maple and bacon. The sweet and salty, sultry and smokey is mouth-watering in almost any form. Because I have a place in my heart (and my arteries) for biscuits, I tried out Deb Perelmen’s, of Smitten Kitchen, maple bacon biscuits. Though they didn’t rise quite as much as I wanted, the flavor was really enjoyable. I broke one in half and smothered it with, of course, butter. It paired nicely with my otherwise average breakfast of scrambled eggs and fruit.

Makes 6 biscuits with a 2-inch cutter

  • 3 slices bacon (reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), chilled, chopped into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Fry the bacon until it is crispy (you don’t want fat chunks in your biscuits necessarily). Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on a few stacked paper towels. Pour the bacon fat into a glass measuring cup to see how much you have and save 2 tablespoons. If you have less than needed, just substitute it with more butter. Place your measuring cup in the freezer, and freeze until fat is solid.

Chop the bacon into small bits, and put it in a small dish. Pour the maple syrup over the bacon and stir; then set the mixture aside.

Remove the solidified bacon fat from the freezer. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, rub the chilled bacon fat and 4 tablespoons of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the bacon-maple mixture and the buttermilk. Stir this together with a rubber spatula until it is combined. Knead this a couple times (do not over knead) to form into a concise dough.  Pat out into a 1-inch thick slab on a floured surface, and cut it into biscuits with a 2-inch cutter.  Arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet, and bake them for 12-14 minutes, until they are golden. Serve them warm.

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