Savory biscuits for Sunday morning


This is one of those recipes you really dig your hands into. It’s a basic biscuit recipe with a couple extra ingredients added for flavor and flair.

I got the idea to make these after visiting a coffee shop a couple weeks ago. They had ham-and-cheddar biscuits on the menu, so I ordered one and was surprised at how much I liked it. Since biscuits are a pretty easy thing to make, I set out to find a recipe and found this one.

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use the old trick of taking a one-cup measuring cup, adding a tablespoon of lemon juice, filling it up the rest of the way with milk, and letting it sit for about 5 minutes.

These can be made quickly, whether you want to eat them for breakfast or pair them with a salad for dinner.

I’ll be in Boston next weekend, so look for my next post in two weeks!

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 ounces ham, diced
2 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in large bowl to combine. Add cold butter cubes and use fingers to press butter into the flour (see note) until the butter pieces are the size of large peas.

Stir in buttermilk, ham, and cheddar until just combined, using hands to press dough together if necessary. Stir in a small amount of extra buttermilk if mixture is too dry.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and roll into a rectangle 1/2-inch thick. Fold 1/3 of the dough toward the middle. Fold the other 1/3 piece of dough toward the middle (you should have three layers of dough). Roll out to about 1-inch thick. Cut out biscuits with 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter or top of a glass (you should get approximately 9 biscuits). Chill biscuits while you preheat the oven.

Arrange biscuits on parchment lined baking sheet and bake until golden and set, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Macaroni and cheese that’s worth your time


When I went to check my mailbox a couple weeks ago, I had a surprise waiting for me: a copy of bon appétit magazine. It turns out one of my friends got me a subscription for Christmas, but I didn’t know it until the first issue arrived.

The most recent edition is all about learning. They call it “The Cooking School Issue,” and I can see why. It’s full of handy tips that can help you get the most flavor out of your food, as well as some time-saving tips for weeknight meals. For example, have you ever tried to make homemade macaroni and cheese without boiling the pasta beforehand? I hadn’t, and it’s quite a time-saver, not to mention that it tastes much better than any kind from a box.

The magazine’s recipe for No-Boil Mac and Cheese called for making a thinner béchamel sauce as the base for the cheese sauce. Though the pasta cooked perfectly, I felt the cheese flavor was muted. I used Tillamook’s Mac & Cheese blend, which is a combination of shredded sharp cheddar, vintage white medium cheddar and medium cheddar. Next time, I’ll likely choose just sharp cheeses or add goat cheese or gruyere for more prominent flavor.

The recipe said to use a 13-inch-by-9-inch pan, but I opted to use my Dutch oven, which turned out to be a suitable choice. The depth of the pan didn’t seem to matter as much as the amount of liquid. For my own changes, I used regular breadcrumbs because the store didn’t have panko. If you can get your hands on panko, the crunch would provide nice texture. I also added cubed black forest ham I had left from the previous night’s dinner.

This was one of the least labor-intensive versions of macaroni and cheese I’ve ever made. I’ll be hanging on to this recipe.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups ham, cubed (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, whisking often, until a very thin, glossy sauce forms, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove sauce from heat.

Toss pasta and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch or other shallow 3-quart baking dish. Pour sauce over (pasta should be submerged; do not stir) and cover with foil. Bake until pasta is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, panko, and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove foil from dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then panko mixture. Bake until pasta is tender, edges are bubbling, and top is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.