The Best Biscuit Recipe for National Biscuit Month

As difficult as it may be for Knoxvillians to believe it, May, the month of the International Biscuit Festival, isn’t National Biscuit Month. That honor belongs to September. Of course, real biscuit lovers celebrate on a daily basis, and I’m not sure that the official observance attracts much attention – it doesn’t seem to come with any days off or other perks like other holidays do.  Still, it’s worth taking some time to ponder the biscuit, especially this year when we’re already feeling the breezes of autumn and the nostalgia that those winds sometimes bring.

Biscuits come with memories and stories full of mothers, grandmothers, early mornings, and big family breakfasts.  After all, it shows a special kind of love to get up early to mix flour into dough and fill the house with that most comforting of wake-up calls, the smell of biscuits in the oven. For me, every biscuit brings a smile because it recalls a favorite family story about a boy named Virgil, who, in his latter days, was also known as Papaw Mynatt.

Little Virgil loved biscuits, especially the particularly fine and well-buttered examples baked by his family’s neighbor, Lucille. She was a kind lady with several children of her own to feed, and, even though it was the Great Depression and times were tough, she always had an extra biscuit.

Virgil’s mother, Maggie, however, took some exception to his biscuit foraging. Perhaps she thought it reflected poorly on her own domestic skill, or that it made Lucille think that Virgil wasn’t getting enough to eat at home. So, mother Maggie forbade him from asking that woman for another biscuit. Virgil obliged. Instead he was soon to be found in the neighbor’s yard, strolling casually by the kitchen window singing a song of his own composition: “I just love them butter biscuits”.

Even as his mother did NOT spare the rod, Virgil protested his innocence; he never asked for that biscuit – it just came his way.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that a good biscuit is worth the risk of a good spanking. And, more importantly, a good biscuit recipe is worth having; it will endear you to good eaters (and some young songsters, too).

Of course, biscuits mean different things to different people, and nowadays biscuits come in all sorts of styles and flavors. But a few years ago, Mahasti decided that she wanted to find the best biscuit recipe – the one that would produce the most consistent and tastiest results with the least amount of fuss. After asking the public for their favorites, Mahasti worked through dozens of recipes. What she found was that the best biscuit was a simple, traditional method using buttermilk and cold butter.

Buttermilk is essential in this recipe because its acidic personality works to soften the villainous gluten which can toughen your dough. Buttermilk helps keep everything tender. Likewise, using chilled butter will make a fluffier biscuit – the butter melts in the oven and produces steam which gives our beloved bread a luscious lift.

In honor of National Biscuit Month, we dug up that recipe so you can celebrate in style.

If you’ve never tried baking your own, now’s as a good a time as any. Just promise us that you’ll try, at least for Biscuit Month, to steer clear of biscuits that come out of a can – you know how we feel about that.

Enjoy!

The Best Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup chilled buttermilk

Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into a medium bowl. Add chilled butter and work into flour with fingertips or a pastry cutter until the butter resembles small beads. Add buttermilk and work flour into buttermilk until you have a soft dough. Turn dough no more than 10 times.

Gather into a ball. Flatten the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1 inch. Either trim the edges and use a knife cut the biscuits into squares or use a traditional round biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits. Gather up any remaining dough into a ball and repeat flattening and cutting the biscuits.

Place the cut biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet (placing the biscuits in the freezer at this point for 30 minutes will yield a fluffier biscuit). Bake in a 425 degree oven for 8 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot.

Makes 6-8 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter.

 

Tomato Head Open Call for Artists

The Tomato Head is accepting submissions for its 2016  art exhibition schedule. Artists may submit a CD or email of 5-10 images of wall-mountable work to:

Tomato Head Exhibits Committee (for CDs)
c/o Bethann DeGrow Smtih
1710 Jefferson Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37917

or bethann@degrow.com

Labeled CDs are requested by October 26th, 2015. Please include a brief bio, artist statement and sizes for each piece of work submitted.

For more information, contact Bethann DeGrow at 865-546-6852 orbethann@degrow.com.

Flour Head Bakery’s Chocolate Zucchini Pan Cake

If you polled farmers about garden humor, I suspect that you’d find out that the poor, prolific zucchini is a popular subject for jokes. That’s because, like rabbits, this summer squash greets life with a singular drive to be fruitful and multiply. I have one gardener friend who tells tales about drive-by squashings; these midnight capers involve sneaking from house to house to leave big bags of the squash on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors, all in an effort to make sure that the squash glut gets eaten – just by somebody else.

That’s why we have recipes galore for zucchini; from bread to cookies, thrifty and clever cooks have found all sorts of ways to use up legions of the rapid reproducer, and do it in a way that combats the inevitable squash fatigue that comes with late summer.

But what’s really great about these recipes is that they’re also excellent options for the devious parent who stays awake at night plotting ways to sneak vegetables into the food of their unsuspecting offspring.

There’s almost an industry about his kind of cunning cooking. You might remember some flack over the publication of Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, which involved accusations of plagiarism by the author of a similar cookbook that dealt with sneaking good food into kids’ diets.

Well, there’s no controversy with this recipe – it’s all ours and comes from the tried and true food resource that is Mahasti’s kitchen. It’s a chocolate sheet cake that’s not only delicious, it’s also easy to transport – and that’s a boon for tailgating, picnicking, and all sorts of places where you might want to accomplish the dastardly deed of feeding little people squash and making them love every minute of it.

The key to sneaking good vegetable matter from the garden and into your kid is subtlety.  So make this when the kids are not around. Or at least have the secret ingredient already prepped and ready to add to the recipe in a flash while you distract your kid with something like taking out the trash (even if you don’t succeed in assigning the chore, the inevitable whining will keep the juvenile mind occupied long enough for you to slip the zucchini into the batter unnoticed). And don’t be tempted to shortcut on the grinding or grating of the squash; you don’t want the vegetable to look anything like itself! After all, if you can’t see it or taste it – it isn’t really there. With this recipe – all they’ll taste is delicious.

One of the byproducts of using zucchini is that it adds lots of moisture to the cake, so it’s really tender. And in addition to the nutritional value of the vegetable, this recipe uses whole wheat flour in addition to white – so it’s a treat that you can feel pretty good about serving. Even with these nods to healthy eating, the cake remains a decadent taste sensation. From the first mouthwatering bite of cake and indulgent dark chocolate frosting the cake is chocolate, glorious chocolate, all chocolate and nothing but the chocolate. You’ll probably find yourself wanting to make this even when the garden isn’t overwhelmed with squash production.

Flour Head Bakery’s Chocolate Zucchini Pan Cake

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1.5 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 cups finely shredded zucchini

1.5 cups All purpose lfour

1 cup White Wheat flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Icing

1-1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup half and half

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a large bowl mix together melted butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and buttermilk. Add zucchini and stir well.

In another large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until all the dry ingredients are mixed well with the wet.

Pour the mixture into a 9 inch x 13 inch greased foil pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for 30-25 minutes until the top feels springy or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool.

While cake is cooing, heat half-and-half on the stove in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate chips, and remove from heat. Whisk the mixture until all the chips have melted. When the cake is cool to the touch, pour the chocolate mixture on top of the cake and spread out with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Cut the cake into squares and serve right out of the pan.

The Season is the Reason for the First Tomato Head-Saw Works Collaborative Beer

The Tomato Head has partnered with Saw Works Brewing Company to create the anniversary beer honored after our 25th anniversary this August. It will be featured during our party on August 29th on Market Square, but otherwise it is only available in the Saw Works tasting room and at both Tomato Head locations.

The style of the anniversary beer is probably not what you would expect from Saw Works’ typically straightforward beer styles. The body is similar to a Scottish Shilling or English Mild, with a twist of chocolate rye malt. Neutral bittering hops keep earthy flavors out of the beer. The result is an ale body with chocolate rye notes that are usually found in darker beers.  The anniversary beer is the perfect transition from late summer to fall. The body is light enough to drink in August’s heat, while the flavor looks forward to the coming season.

Scott, co-owner of The Tomato Head, came up with the recipe for this beer for everyone to boogie with while they get down to Scott Miller and the Commonwealth and a slew of great musicians playing at The Tomato Head anniversary party starting at 4:00 p.m. on August 29th. As a special treat, you don’t have to wait until then to try the special beer.  It is already on tap at both Tomato Head locations at this very moment, so take a break from whatever you’re doing to taste the fruits of this rare moment in local history.

Silver Anniversary Ale

July’s Featured Brewery: Red Hare Brewing Company

This month, we’ve got rabbit beers to go with all of your summer veggie burgers. Red Hare Brewing Company has taken over our featured taps at both of The Tomato Head Locations with their Gangway IPA, Long Day Lager, and Whabbit Wheat.

The Gangway IPA is an American style, unfiltered IPA with a gold color and sweet taste. The IPA is made with Williamette, Cascade, and Chinook hops, then dry hopped with Falconers Flight. The ABV sits just under a high-gravity beer, at 6.2%. The experts at Red Hare suggest pairing this with spicy or bold dishes, chicken, seafood, or sharp cheeses.

The Long Day Lager is a Bohemian Style Lager, meaning it is sweeter and lighter than some lagers, which is immediately apparent from its golden color. It is bittered with noble hops and Pacific Northwest hops, which add notes of citrus. Try this beer with seafood, pork, BBQ, or something spicy. The ABV is sessionable, at 4.98%.

The Whabbit Wheat is an unfiltered American Wheat Ale, with notes of peaches and apricots. Floral notes come from Saaz hops that contrast the crisp apricot. The ABV is 5.6%. Red Hare’s taproom experts suggest trying this beer with seafood, pastires, pies, and salads.

Red Hare Brewing Company is rooted in Marietta, Georgia, where it began in the garage of Roger Davis, a semi-retired corporate businessman.  After a year of home-brewing with his friend Bobby Thomas, they moved their industrious home-brew set up out of Davis’s garage, and into a larger space. Red Hare can only be found in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. If not on tap, their beers are canned, which has been a trend of craft breweries over the past few years due to the preservation of taste that cans provide.  Red Hare was one of the first breweries in Georgia to can their beers, and the world’s first user of the evercan, which is made out of high-content recycled aluminum.

In just three different styles, these beers cover the taste spectrum fairly well, meaning there is more than likely something for everyone.  If you don’t believe us, come taste it for yourself.

Tomato Head’s Yellow Squash Crostini with Pesto

Walking into the Knoxville air and feeling it push back, being caught daily in random patches of heavy rain and lightening, and sweating your ~you know what~ off over the past few weeks of this summer is paying off. Not only did we all sweat out a few pounds and increase our water intake by 200%, but also this time of the year is wonderfully ample in fruits and vegetables. The payout is an abundance of foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and so many more.

This month’s WBIR recipe for yellow squash crostini with pesto certainly pays attention to the local and available.  Although the origins for this recipe are Italian, the addition of one of the three sisters gives this recipe an American twist.

To cook up this dish, you’ll need:

5 cups yellow squash, diced

5 cups tomatoes, diced

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

⅛ cup olive oil

⅛ cup cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and toss well to incorporate all of the flavors.

To assemble the Crostini, you’ll need:

Flour Head Bakery Knoxville Sourdough or Baguette*

Olive Oil

Tomato Head Pesto**

Slice the bread to the thickness you desire. Brush lightly with olive oil on both sides. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400° oven until toasted. Remove the toasted bread from the oven, spread each piece with a liberal amount of pesto, and top with a generous portion of the squash mixture.

A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or even a Vino Verde that is not overly effervescent, would pair nicely as white wines. If you would rather have red, consider an Italian red that is both bright and slightly earthy, such as a Chianti or Barbera.

Although this dish does not seem to be compatible with beer for most, it is possible. Belgian ales pair nicely with the strength of pesto, as the herbs and spices of the ale complement the pesto.

*Flour Head Knoxville Sourdough and Baguettes can be found at Three Rivers Market and Kroger in Bearden

**Tomato Head Pesto can be found at both Tomato Head locations, Three Rivers Market, Butler and Bailey Market and the following Kroger stores:  Fountain City, Cedar Bluff, Farragut, Bearden and Northshore

 

Tomato Head’s Quinoa Cakes with Yogurt and Sriracha

I was so excited when I read Mahasti’s recipe, I let out an audible “yasss” complete with the hand-motion you are probably imagining. Quinoa was the reason behind this. Quinoa is a good source of protein, as well as vitamins B, B6, and E, amino acids, potassium, and a healthy list of other minerals. It is a pseudo-cereal that is vegan-friendly and can be consumed in low quantities by those with celiac disease. The inside of the seeds also happen to taste great when cooked, otherwise it is an unpalatable, bitter seed. To get to the tasty part of quinoa, it needs to be cooked. Luckily, that’s easy to do.

To start, you’ll need:

½ cup Quinoa

1⅛ cup water

Place the quinoa and water into a small saucepan over high heat. Boil until almost all of the water has been absorbed. Then turn the heat down to low, and place a lid on the saucepan. Steam the quinoa until the seeds are soft and splitting open. Remove the quinoa from the stove, and pour the cooked seeds into a large mixing bowl.

In order to turn the seeds into Tomato Head’s quinoa cakes, you’ll need a few more ingredients:

⅛ cup oil

⅔ cup onion, diced

½ cup walnuts, chopped

¼ cup almonds, chopped

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbl Dijon mustard

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup breadcrumbs

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add sautéed onions and all of the remaining ingredients to the quinoa bowl and mix well with gloved hands. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. Next, scoop the mixture into balls, then flatten the balls into disks.

Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the quinoa cakes in the oil until the bottoms are golden, then flip and fry the other side until it is golden as well.

Top them with plain yogurt and sriracha, if you so choose. They could also be served on top of your favorite salad or mixed greens. They can be served hot or cold.

The raw quinoa cakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and fried when needed.

This would be a fantastic dish to keep on hand for a quick lunch, or serve well for an easy dinner. As far as pairings go, this dish would pair well with a Beaujolais wine, low in tannin, fresh and nutty. If you’re adding the cakes to something with a tomato-base or similar flavors, try a Chianti or Barbera.  If you don’t drink red, try a Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand. As far as beers are concerned, try a nutty porter or nutty brown ale rich with roasted malts.

Certainly be sure to give this recipe a try, especially if you’ve never tried quinoa. It is both healthy and delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Click the photo below to watch Mahasti’s recent WBIR cooking segment.

Quinoa Cakes

Tomato Head’s Marinated Zucchini and Mint Pasta

The redeeming grace of summers in the South boils into just a few fine points that prove enough to justify intensely hot summer days. For me, these points can be counted on one hand. Largely, this period of late spring summer multiplies our vegetation options, meaning we have so many delicious options to choose from!

Via the farmer’s market or your own garden, fresh vegetables and herbs are easily available. Fresh ingredients change a dish entirely for the better. Take Saturday’s recipe for Tomato Head’s pasta with marinated zucchini and mint for example; almost all of these ingredients can be found fresh at the farmer’s market.

The ingredients for this recipe include:

2 Large Zucchini, washed and diced to fill 8 cups

⅓ cup Oil

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Black Pepper

¼ cup Olive Oil

⅛ cup Cider Vinegar

½ tsp Salt

¼ – ⅓ cup Fresh Mint, chopped

½ cup Spinach, chopped

Toss the zucchini with oil, salt, and pepper, then place on a large cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400⁰. Remove the tray and allow the zucchini to cool.

Toss cooled zucchini with olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, and mint. Allow the mixture to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Cook a ½ lb of your favorite shape of pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss with 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach and marinated zucchini. Top with parmesan cheese, and this dish is ready to serve.

This recipe for Tomato Head’s marinated zucchini and mint pasta will serve 4-6 people of your choosing, and will pair well with a Bordeaux or a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. For beer lovers, the pasta will pair nicely with a Belgian-style Saison. Come see us when you visit the farmer’s market.

Click on the photo below to watch Mahasti’s recent cooking segment WBIR Channel 10.

Tomato Head's Summer Vegetable Pasta

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design