I made a couple hundred biscuits today for the Slow Food Calgary booth at the Calgary Folk Festival this weekend (which I sadly won’t be attending, because I’ll, with any luck, be in Tofino). Yesterday Kris, Jenn, Maxwell and I made a few vats of chili (using beef from Tim Hoven), organic beans and other tasty stuff (including sweet marjoram and summer savoury from Kris’ farm) – but who wants a plain old bowl of chili with no carbs to dip in?
So today I holed up in the downstairs kitchen of the Cookbook Company and lost count at about 20 batches. That’s a lot of biscuits. I made an enormous mess. I took a picture. You don’t want to see it.
But – good news! Aviv is back. He came by to visit. He’s freshly back in Calgary after spending four months in Kathmandu-Tel Aviv-Paris-Montréal – he baked bread at Tangboche and at Everest base camp and worked with one of the best bread bakers in a city full of bakers and boulangeries. I sweated a little bit when he checked out the flour (from Kris and Highwood Crossing), then picked up a biscuit and bit into it. He liked them. Or at least he was being nice about it.
And lucky us-he’s going to stay right here in Calgary. He has decided to call his new bakery (for which he has plenty of cool ideas, but I’m not sure he’s ready to share them) -Sidewalk Citizen. How cool is that? So very cool. Just like his shoes.
Use any ratio of all-purpose to whole wheat flour you like, so long as you wind up with 3 cups. (Keeping some all-purpose flour in there will ensure you get some lightness and lift.) If you like, toss a handful of chopped fresh chives, parsley or green onion (or a bit of each) into the dry ingredients, or whiz them up in the food processor with the butter to finely chop and disperse them.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3-1 cup butter, cut into chunks (I used roughly a third to a half a pound of butter – it doesn’t have to be exact)
1 cup milk or half & half, plus a little extra for brushing on top
In the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse or work with a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers until the mixture is well combined and crumbly, with bits of butter no bigger than a pea – you want to leave some larger bits, rather than blending it completely – the larger chunks are what will make them flaky.
If you used a food processor (this is my favourite way) – dump the mixture into a bowl. Add the milk and stir just until you have a soft dough (you may need to use your hands). Pat the dough out about 3/4″ thick and cut into small rounds with a biscuit cutter, glass or open can rim, or a knife, or if you really want to streamline things, pat it into a circle and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray, spacing them a bit apart. If you like, brush the tops lightly with milk. (I do this to the whole circle of dough before cutting it.)
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes 8 large or 2 dozen small biscuits.
Wanna hear about dinner? Ironically the day before yesterday, in a state of panic, I made room in the freezer for all the stuff that will likely go stinky if left to its own devices in the fridge for the next couple weeks, which of course displaced much of the frozen stuff. I lobbed bags of cooked beans (white, red, black), six whole frozen tomatoes (which melt right into soups, stews, chilis and curries in the slow cooker), a bag of frozen cooked ground meat I couldn’t identify but turned out to contain zucchini, frozen diced tomatoes and peppers into the pot, plus a chunk of frozen chipotle pepper, and shook over some chili powder and cumin and let it go (on low) for 6 hours.
It was fab over new potatoes, cooked in a hot pan with a bit of canola oil, then topped with cheddar. W suggested we add a fried egg, so I obliged. It was actually pretty damn tasty.