Thursday, August 25, 2016

Making Thyme...Biscuits

First, I just wanted to say that I'm doing okay as far as the political debate addiction goes.  It almost killed me yesterday when the AP article about the Clinton Foundation was tossed around, but I persevered and posted a picture of the kitten.  Yay!



Whilst trying to avoid writing about poor journalism and the gullibility of society during a political campaign politics, I decided to turn my attention to my herb garden and come up with something good for dinner.  The herb garden has suffered almost as much as the rest of the garden this year with the awful heat and dryness, but Will dumps Frodo's water bowl out every morning over the top of it, so it's a little bit better.  I did lose the dill and parsley (between the zebra swallowtails and summer in middle Georgia, my dill always struggles) and one of the sages, but everything else is at least trying hard.  Only the lemon thyme and lavender are truly flourishing, and so I decided to grab a few sprigs of the thyme to add to some biscuits for supper.

When I first got married, I kept a mental list of all the things I wanted to do differently than my mother, because I was twenty-four and that's what one does.  One of them, for some bizarro reason, was to find a different biscuit recipe.  To this day, I can't figure out why.  My mother's biscuits are small, round pieces of Heaven and to claim otherwise would be to lie like a rug.  I went through about seventeen different recipes before realizing I was being an idiot and going back to her recipe.  I do make a few changes:  I use all purpose flour instead of self-rising and I use buttermilk in place of whole milk.  I also knead the dough lightly eleven times (I don't know why eleven...it's just the magic number) in the bowl and she doesn't knead it at all.  I think it makes better layers to knead it. ANYWAY, I used that recipe (found below) as the base for these luscious little yum yums.

First, I put the thyme on a plate and took pictures of it because it was beaaaaauuuutiful (please sing this as you read it.  I'll wait while you go back and sing.)  Lemon thyme is a more yellow green than English thyme and last year, I actually had a few variegated sprigs in the clump in the garden, although none this year.  Boolaid.   It's still beautiful, really, and it has a nice lemony scent and flavor (but it's not sour, which is always so odd. Like, you expect it to be sour because...lemons, but no.)


Next, I stripped the leaves from the stem.  In a stew or sauce, I might not strip the leaves, but the stems are a little tough from the heat (or something...I sound knowledgeable, though, don't I?) and I only wanted tender bits.  Then I took a picture, because beaaaaaauuuuuttiful!


I minced the leaves next.  Thyme leaves are very small and probably would have been fine whole. However, I really wanted to get as much lemon flavor into the biscuits as possible.  In case you were wondering, I used about a tablespoon and a half of thyme.  I probably will use more, maybe two tablespoons, packed, next time.  Then I cut up my butter and compounded it with the thyme.  (This is a fancy way of saying "smashed it up with a fork until it was all blended.)  Before doing so, I fell on the floor with the beauty of the green leaves against the yellow butter and white plate and red table. When I got up, I took pictures.  YOU WILL NOW SEE TWO ANGLES OF THYME AND BUTTER.  (It's okay, you're going to see two angles of biscuits in a minute.)



Right?  How beautiful is that?  Then I made a car out of compounded butter.  Not really, but it sort of was shaped that way, and so I took a picture of it.  Because I'm not right in the head.


You know it looks like a speckledy car.

After it chilled in the fridge a while, I cut it into the flour of my regular biscuit dough and made the dough normally.  Except that it was kind of speckledy.  And also, I cut the biscuits with a tiny round cutter I usually use for making crackers.  I made them small because if they tasted bad, I figured we wouldn't be as sad if each biscuit was only two bites.  (We take our biscuits seriously.)  Be advised that my hands are always this wrinkly.  They have been since I was a little girl.  I'm finally growing into the age of my hands, I guess.  Huh.  Also, yes, I do always hold my pinky out when I cut biscuits.  Because I am FANCY.



We had these last night with supper along with salmon, rice, and steamed carrots.  They were a big hit.  We decided that they would be awesome with a little cheese thrown in...maybe parmesan or something kind of subtle.  And I think I'll try to make shortcakes out of them to serve with strawberries or blueberries later...it's just adding sugar to the dough, essentially.  I couldn't take pictures because it clouded up around sunset and the light died, so I saved out some really pretty samples for breakfast and picture taking this morning.  I did find that the lemon taste was stronger today, but the texture was the same as next-day biscuits always is (not as great as fresh), so I think I might try to refrigerate the cut-out biscuits covered for a few hours or even overnight to try to let the herb oils get all infused in the dough.  (I don't think "infused" is the right term.  Permeated into? Something like that...) In any case, I paired the biscuits with homemade blueberry jelly and strawberry jam and they were faaaaantastic.  



And beautiful!  Aren't they pretty??  Many thanks to Phil Smith for my inlaid serving board, which I use for everything from staging biscuits to serving cheese. You can find his work and the work of other talented Georgia artisans in the link above.

For those interested, Mama's biscuit recipe (with small changes by me) is below.  Don't even bother trying to find a better one.  You won't and then you'll be sad because of all the wasted thyme.

Get it?  You get it?

Sigh.  Go make some biscuits, y'all.  Add some thyme to your butter and tell me how it goes...

The Best Biscuit Recipe
                    printable recipe
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (a little less if you're using salted butter)
1/4 cup (half a stick) cold butter
1/2-2/3 cup buttermilk (depending on humidity)

Directions:
1.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
2.  Cut butter into cubes and use a pastry blender or fork to cut into the 
     flour.  
3.  Making a small well in the center, add buttermilk 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix
     with a fork, using a light hand.
4.  When the dough is almost completely mixed, but there is still flour on the
     sides of the bowl, knead eleven times to pick up flour and create layers.
     I knead by folding the dough gently in half and pressing it lightly to the 
     sides of the bowl.
5.  Turn out onto a floured surface (I use about 1/8 cup of flour) and roll to 
     about 3/4 to 1 inch thickness.  Cut out with one smooth motion--DO NOT
     TWIST your cutter 
6.  Place on a cookie sheet so that the biscuits are not touching, but are very 
     close.
7.  Brush with melted butter.
8.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 9-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  

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