Flaky Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

This recipe, adapted from Flaky Angel Biscuits, is also inspired by the Cheddar and Jalapeno Biscuits recipe from simplyrecipes.com.

4 c. flour, plus more for rolling (but only a little, if the dough is chilled)
1 c. polenta (or fine-milled cornmeal)
8 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 T. sugar
½ t. cayenne pepper
6 T. diced jalapeno peppers
¼ c. butter, chilled (unsalted)
½ c. shortening, chilled
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5 t. dry yeast
½ c. warm water
1 ¾ – 2 c. buttermilk (warmed 1 min. in microwave)
¼ c. milk
¾ c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except yeast, cheese, and jalapeno peppers) and mix well.  Cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry blender until butter and shortening are the size of small peas.  Dissolve yeast in the water (ideally warmed to about 105-115° F), stir and allow to swell (about 6 mins.).  Add yeast and buttermilk to dry ingredients, and toss with fork to blend and moisten, creating a soft dough.  Lightly mix in cheese and jalapeno peppers.

Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 8 hrs. or overnight; dough can be kept in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

To bake a few biscuits at a time, remove portion of dough. On lightly-floured surface, roll dough to thickness of 1”.  Cut into similar-size rounds or wedges with knife or biscuit-cutter.  Brush generously with milk.  Sprinkle with additional cheddar cheese, if desired.

Jalapeno cheddar biscuits

Place on baking sheet.  Bake at 425° F until lightly browned on top, 12 – 15 mins.  (makes 24 –  2 ½ “ biscuits).

Flaky Angel Biscuits

This recipe is wonderful for parties, because the dough can be made and kept, refrigerated for up to 2 weeks before your guests walk in the door. I roll it out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, press out the shapes I want (at Thanksgiving, I usually use a 2½” acorn cookie cutter), pull away the scraps, and pop the cookie sheet straight into the oven. I re-roll the remaining scraps onto a second parchment-lined cookie sheet. It takes all of about 8 minutes to get these treats into the oven. And your kitchen smells divine as they bake! My sister-in-law found the recipe in the LA Times many years ago, and I have used it every year since.

5 c. flour, plus more for rolling (but only a little, if the dough is chilled)
8 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 T. sugar
¼ c. butter, chilled (I use unsalted)
½ c. shortening, chilled
5 t. dry yeast
½ c. warm water
1 ¾ – 2 c. buttermilk (warmed 1 min. in microwave)
¼ c. milk

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except yeast) and mix well. Cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry blender until butter and shortening are the size of small peas. Dissolve yeast in the water (ideally warmed to about 105-115° F), stir and allow to swell (about 6 mins.). Add yeast and buttermilk to dry ingredients, and toss with fork to blend and moisten, creating a soft dough.
Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 8 hrs. or overnight; dough can be kept in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
To bake a few biscuits at a time, remove portion of dough. On lightly-floured surface, roll dough to thickness of 1”. Cut into similar-size rounds or wedges with knife or biscuit-cutter. Brush generously with milk.
Place on baking sheet. Bake at 425° F until lightly browned on top, 12 – 15 mins. (makes 24 – 2 ½ “ biscuits).

Southern-style Thanksgiving

My son will be going away to college next year (if he gets his wish), so in bittersweet honor of his “last year at home,” I gave him the choice of “what kind of Thanksgiving should we have?” Did he want Napa-style? New England-style? Southern? Tex-Mex? Vegetarian? (That last suggestion was a kind-of joke; he’s a decided meat-eater.) Southern, he said. Really? Did he really know what Southern-style Thanksgiving meant? Turns out, he did, no, really. It’s all about the cornbread dressing, he said. And the biscuits. Needless to say, I was completely dumb-founded and impressed – and I will take his comments as compliments.He was right about the cornbread dressing, and the biscuits. But I have a few other Southern tricks in my apron pocket, thanks to Lee Bailey and my longtime partner-in-party-planning. Lee Bailey was a designer-writer-photographer-stylist, Louisiana-born and –bred, who wrote almost 20 fantastic cookbooks. Based on his recipes and comments, Mr. Bailey must have been a bonafide Southern gentleman, the epitome of Southern graciousness. Which reminds me of my party-planning-partner of arts-and-crafts fame – she is also Louisiana-born- and –bred, also knows her way around a Southern kitchen, and is bonafide Southern graciousness personified. So, planning a Southern-style Thanksgiving will make me bring out my favorite cookbooks and recipes for a gracious holiday that will hopefully inspire my teenage son to return home for holidays! (Phew!)