Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feature Recipe: Peach Biscuit Cobbler (Easy As 3-1-2)

I've started reading a book called Ratio, the simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking. The idea is instead of relying on recipes to cook, remembering the ratios behind the cooking will help you break free and start creating some amazing things. There are quite a few ratios to remember, mostly surrounding baking. Ratios for doughs; bread, pasta, pie, biscuit, and cookie. Also ratios for batters like pound cake, sponge cake, angel food cake, and crepes. Then the ratios delve into stocks and roux, sausage, brines, mayonnaise, vinegrettes, hollandaise, custards, and caramel sauce! Anyone hungry yet?
I chose to start with making my own chicken stock. For this ratio all you would have to remember is 3 parts water to 2 parts bones. In it's simplest form that is all you would need. Add in some bay leaf, thyme, garlic, tomato paste, salt and pepper and you have a wonderful base for soups. Not many people make their own stocks these days at home but if you really want to elevate your cooking it is the way to go. Store bought broth just doesn't compare. Plus, if you do buy a whole chicken (a cheaper way to go) and roast it, you can save the bones for the stock. That is what I did. I ended up making chicken noodle soup. Success!
The second ratio I attempted to tackle was for biscuits. Homemade biscuits are the best. They are flaky and buttery and can be eaten with savory or sweet food. The ratio for biscuits is also simple. All you have to remember is 3 parts flour to 1 part fat (in this case butter) and 2 parts liquid (in this case milk). My first attempt was not a success. In the book it emphasizes to use a kitchen scale to weigh out the measurements (in ounces). I was using what I had which was measuring cups. But because different ingredients vary in their weights and baking requires being exact, both times I baked biscuits they turned out differently. The first time I mixed cheddar cheese into the dough because I wanted to have the biscuits with chili. They tasted alright, but they tasted like flour and not like butter. They were flaky but in a bad way.
So I made another batch this time hoping to get it right. Keep in mind I still did not have a kitchen scale, which I hope to purchase soon, but somehow I got it right. I don't recall doing anything differently with the exception of spilling some of the milk from the measuring cup as it made its way into the bowl! Whew. I guess that must of helped because this time they were flaky and buttery and delicious. To make them even better, I poached peaches in a cinnamon spice poaching liquid (that I had previously used for a dessert) while the biscuits were still baking in the oven. Then in a food processor I mixed mint and sugar together to eventually fold into whipped cream for the dessert topping. Once everything was finished, I topped the biscuits with the peaches and mint sugar whipped cream and it was like the summer had just begun.
So, if you are interested in giving this peach biscuit cobbler recipe a try here is the simple recipe. It's as easy as 3-1-2!
9 ounces flour (a scant two cups for those of you without scales like me!)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 ounces chilled butter, diced
6 ounces milk
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl. Mix with a whisk. Add diced butter. With your clean hands work the butter into the flour so that there are no pieces larger than a pea. It may take a good five minutes. Add the milk and form into a dough ball. Gently kneed until all the dough is one mass. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. Roll out dough to a half inch thickness and use the rim of a glass or a cookie cutter to cut the dough into a round shape. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden.
(Quarter the peaches and poach- gentle simmer- for 15 to 20 minutes. Save left over poaching liquid to use with other fruit. I store it in a mason jar in the fridge)
2 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 star anise
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 (or more) large peaches
Mint Sugar Whipped Cream:
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
In a food processor mix together the mint and sugar until the mint is well incorporated into the sugar. Keep 1-2 tablespoons for the whip cream. You will have left overs. Store left overs in the fridge and mix into fruit salads. Pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into a bowl. Use a kitchen aid or hand blender to whisk the cream. Whisk until stiff peaks appear. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of the mint sugar into the whipped cream and gently fold in. Top warm biscuits with peaches and mint sugar whipped cream.

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