Melissa’s Sour Cream Biscuits

Sour Cream Biscuits

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cubed and frozen for 15 – 20 minutes
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons buttermilk, heavy cream, or half and half (may not be needed)

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a half sheet pan with parchment.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, oregano, and salt in the food processor and pulse a few times.  Add the frozen butter and pulse until the mixture looks like crumbly like wet sand.  Add the sour cream and pulse until the dough comes together.  If your dough is still dry and crumbly, sprinkle the dough with the buttermilk (heavy cream or half and half) a teaspoon at a time and process just until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto your prepared sheet pan and pat it into a thick circle, about 4 inches across.  Using a bench scraper, cut the dough into 6 wedges and spread them out on your sheet pan.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Melissa’s Creamy Crock Pot Polenta

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States.  It’s going to be an especially challenging day for me.  A day that will require me to remember to Be Brave.  But it’s a day that celebrates gratitude.  And despite all of the ups and downs of the year, or maybe because of them, I am acutely aware of the bounty that I have been given.

I hope that your Thanksgiving finds you surrounded by those that matter to you.  Those that are close to your heart.  And that you cook, and share, something that warms you.

Creamy Crock Pot Polenta

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note: Do yourself a favor and make a double batch of this polenta.  The first time I made it, I only made a single batch.  And as soon as dinner was over and the crock pot was empty I wished I had more.  I brought back a bag of course stone ground white grits from our trip to Georgia thinking I would love substituting them for the cornmeal.  I was wrong.  It took more than 4 hours for those damned grits to cook into a soft pudding and I didn’t like their texture nearly as much as the supermarket cornmeal.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/3 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)

Lightly coat the insert of your crock pot with cooking spray, or a thin film of canola oil, and turn your crockpot to high.

Combine the milk, 1 cup half and half, 1 tablespoon butter, cornmeal, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the crock pot, cover, and cook on high for two hours or until the cornmeal has softened and the mixture has thickened into a soft, loose pudding.  Once or twice per hour, stir the mixture.  Just before serving, whisk in the remaining half and half, butter, and parmesan (if using).  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt to taste.

{printable recipe}

Chocolate Sponge Puddings

My house has been taken over by canning jars.  They are everywhere.  My kitchen, my dining room, inside my refrigerator, and down in my basement.  Some are full of obvious things, like jam and marmalade, and not so obvious things, like salad dressing and bacon grease.  Others hold dry goods like rice, dehydrated mushrooms, and pasta.  But it’s the ones that sit empty, waiting to fulfill their destiny as a vessel, that taunt me.

So I try and find creative ways to use them.  Did you know that an 8 ounce canning jar holds one serving of soup perfectly?  It does and so I use them when I pack soup in my lunch.  It’s this creative use of jars that, to me, explains the explosion of the “in a jar” phenomenon.  Pie in a jar?  Yep.  Cupcake in a jar?  Absolutely.  I’ve also seen fruit cobbler in a jar, cookie mix in a jar, and of course cocktails in a jar.

What you don’t realize when you start canning is that the empty jars will take up a lot of freaking space.  So it’s better to actively use them for something, anything, than to find room to store them all.  Besides, everything looks absolutely adorable when served in a jar.  Hence, “in a jar” trends.

This of course is only my opinion and is not backed up by any scientific research or independent measurements.  Basically, it’s just me:

A) Trying to justify my continued acquisition of jars

B) Finding an way to transition to a recipe for Chocolate Sponge Pudding….baked in a jar.

C) All of the above.

Chocolate Sponge Puddings

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note: Despite the simplicity of the recipe, I struggled a fair bit.  My egg whites fought being incorporated into the batter.  And I had to nearly double Melissa’s recommended cooking time in order to get the puddings to set.  Of course, I didn’t find out that they needed more cooking until I had a spoonful ready to pop in my mouth…so that one didn’t make it back into the oven and we’ll write that serving off as quality control.  After some additional time in the oven, the bottom of the pudding was rich and thick while the top was spongelike and cakey.  You can make these in ramekins but I used small (4 ounce) canning jars.  So where I say “jars” below, you can pretend it says ramekins if that’s what you have.

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used vanilla salt, because I had some)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

Heat the oven to 325 degrees and spray the insides of 4 small canning jars with nonstick spray.  Divide 1 tablespoon of sugar among the jars and completely coat the inside with the sugar.

Combine the cocoa, flour, and salt in a small bowl.  In another bowl, or mixing cup, combine the milk and vanilla.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with a hand mixer until the sugar dissolves and the yolks are very pale yellow.  Add the half of the cocoa mixture and then half of the milk to the eggs in two additions, beat until smooth and then add the remaining cocoa and milk and thoroughly combine.

In a separate bowl, using clean beaters, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until incorporated, being careful not to overmix the batter, and divide the batter among the jars.

Fill a baking pan or dutch oven large enough to hold the jars with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the jars.  Carefully place the jars in the water bath and bake for 15 to 30 minutes or until the sides of the cakes begin to pull away from the jar and the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Carefully remove the jars from the water bath (if you have canning tongs, they would be perfect) and serve immediately.  Leftovers can be refrigerated…but I can’t really imagine there being any leftovers.

{printable recipe}

Chicken and Mushrooms

The Mistah has this habit that drives me kinda batty.  When we sit down to eat, he’ll say, “So tell me about this”.  I know this is his way of expressing interest but what I want to say most of the time in response is, “It’s a hot plate of food, now hush up and eat before it gets cold”.

When I served up Chicken and Mushrooms, I jumped ahead in our usual script.  As I handed him his plate, I said “It’s chicken and sauce.”  You see, another peculiar habit is his fascination with ‘sauce’.  Doesn’t really matter what kind, he’s into sauce.  And if a dish isn’t served with some, he’ll go rooting around in the refrigerator to see if there isn’t something of the sauce variety that he can put on his plate.  This has seriously led to more than one uncomfortable silence at the table after he’s doused something in soy sauce.

So it really didn’t matter what else I said.  Sauce was the magic word he needed to hear.

Chicken and Mushrooms

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note:  This is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.  You might want to just go ahead and make a double batch to make sure you have some tasty leftovers.

  • 2 pounds bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Dry the chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat half of the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown the chicken on both sides, working in batches if necessary.  Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the pot and cook the onions until they begin to soften.  Add a quarter cup of the chicken broth to get any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and flour to the mushrooms and onion and cook for a few minutes.  Add the wine and deglaze the pot.  Return the chicken to the pot and add the and herbs de provence and the remaining chicken broth.  It should come almost to the top of the chicken.  Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.  After 25 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook another 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and transfer the chicken to a plate.  Set the pot over high heat and reduce the sauce until it thickens a bit.  Turn the heat off and gradually add some of the sauce into the sour cream until it is loose.  Add the sour cream mixture into the pot and stir to combine.

Return the chicken to the pot, coat thoroughly with the sauce, and serve over noodles.

{printable recipe}

Fish Piccata

I love gummi fish..but not gummy fish piccata.

If you’ve been hanging around these parts for a while, you’ve seen the name Melissa d’Arabian once or twice before.  She was the winner of The Next Food Network Star a few seasons back who now has her own TFN show.  I was pretty much in her corner from the beginning.  I loved that she was a home cook competing with professionals and that she carried herself with confidence.  It was very much a Rocky moment for me when she won.

So I’ve been watching her show, Ten Dollar Dinners.  To be honest, I don’t manage to keep my food expenditures down to $2.50 per person.  Not even by shopping sales, cutting coupons, and using my store “loyalty” cards.  It’s a lofty goal and I give her mad props for showing that it can be done without sacrificing quality and that weeknight meals don’t have to involve canned this or microwaved that.

This is not to say that all of her recipes speak to me.  Black bean brownies?  Thank you, no.  But the ones that I have gone online and printed out have won me over.  Pot Roast CarbonnadeCrispy Skinned Orange ChickenBraised Pork?  All her recipes.  And now it looks as though Fish Piccata has earned a spot on that list.  This could quite easily become a regular weeknight meal at our house.

Fish Piccata

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note:  This is a quick cooking dish.  Be sure to have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking.  Don’t be tempted to dredge the fish in the flour and then let it sit on a plate while the oil heats.  You’ll end up with gummy fish.  While I personally enjoy gummi or swedish fish, you want to avoid gummy fish piccata.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small fillets of tilapia or sole
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed if you prefer
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  While the oil heats, dry the fish with paper towels and season with salt.  Once you are ready to cook, dredge a fillet in the flour, shake off the excess, and place in the pan.  Repeat with remaining fish fillets until all are in the pan

Cook about 4 minutes on each side, until the fish is browned and just cooked through.  Transfer the fish to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Use the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.  After about a minute, add the lemon juice and capers and whisk to combine.  Whisk in the butter.

Serve the fillets topped with the sauce.

{printable recipe}

Pot Roast Carbonnade

On the 4th of July while many Americans were grilling and chilling, I was peeling and chopping and sweating and braising.  Even if our grill were ready for action, it was too freaking hot to stand out in the blistering sun flipping burgers and dogs. I’m not complaining about pulling kitchen duty on a holiday though because without meaning to, I found my ultimate pot roast/beef stew hybrid.  Continue reading “Pot Roast Carbonnade”

Melissa’s Braised Pork

image from istockphoto.com

I’m sure my high school English teacher would disapprove of the title of this post since it could be interpreted that I am braising Melissa’s pork.  Let me just go on the record to say that to the best of my knowledge, I do not know if any of the pork I’ve ever fixed had a connection to someone named Melissa.  So technically, I have never braised Melissa’s pork.  But I have (mostly, sorta, kinda) followed Melissa d’Arabian’s recipe for braised pork a time or two (or three).  The grammar police can come knocking on my door for all I care.  Once they get a taste of this tender, flavorful dish, they won’t care if I split an infinitive or two, dangled a participle, or misplaced a modifier.  I hope you won’t either.

Braised Pork

Inspired by Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note: For a more robust flavor, use red wine and beef broth instead of white wine and chicken broth.  Take it from me, you really can’t break this recipe.

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder (butt), cut into 4 to 6 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Trim any large pieces of fat off the pork and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Divide the pork into two batches and brown the pork until nicely browned on all sides.  Remove the pork to a plate.

Add the onion and carrot to the pan and cook until soft, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and cook for approximately 2 minutes or until nicely browned.  Sprinkle mixture with the flour and cook for a minute or two.  Whisk in the wine and let it cook down by half.

Place the pork slices back in the dutch oven, add in the broth and bay leaves.  The liquid should come just to the top of the pork.  If it doesn’t, add water but do not  completely cover the pork with liquid.

Cover the dutch oven and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender.  Carefully remove the meat to a large cutting board and shred with two forks (removing any additional fat).  Before returning the meat to the liquid, skim as much of the fat off the top of the liquid as you like or ladle it into a fat separator.

Return the pork to the liquid and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

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