Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Atticus Circle Savory Spoon Biscuits

I happened across a recipe last June for sweet potato biscuits that looked pretty good. It was an adaptation I'd spotted on Serious Eats from the book Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook, by Martha Hall Foose, and it called for one cup of mashed baked sweet potato as the first ingredient.Trouble was, I didn't have sweet potatoes in the house. Even in last June's heat I had been on a vegetable roasting spree however, so I did have a batch of oven roasted carrots sitting in my refrigerator. At some point I decided to throw some carrots in the food processor, serendipitously came up with a cup, and proceeded.

It turned out the seasoned roasted carrots made for a flavor combination that hit my daughter's taste buds smack between the eyes (or in the place that would be between their eyes if taste buds had eyes...oh, never mind!).

The first batch I made ended up kind of shapeless and amorphous - looking a bit more like, well, little piles than biscuits. This wasn't too bad but it made spreading butter in the middle tricky. That was clearly unacceptable. So the next batch I tried baking them in a greased muffin tin, the way we do beer biscuits. This time the results were much more aesthetically pleasing. (previously posted here - without the recipe -check towards the end)

Over the following weeks I guess I made a couple more batches of these for my daughter. She took some to work one day (this was pre law school), she ended up sharing one with her boss Anne S. Wynne, who is the founder of her then employer Atticus Circle. (Atticus Circle educates and mobilizes fair-minded straight people to advance equal rights for LGBT partners, parents, and their children.) Anne loved them, and asked for the recipe. LawSchoolGirl passed the request along, and I promised I would get the recipe to both of them. I meant it, too.. However.

I had really just haphazardly thrown together carrots and stuff the first couple of go-rounds. In order to have reproducible results, I knew I would have to make a batch (or two if luck wasn't with me) and more carefully record ingredients, quantities and amounts, so LawSchoolGirl who now lives way waaaaaay north of here, and her boss, who is still in Central Texas, could both bake these and be confident about the results.

Time passed and I never quite got around to making more of the biscuits, much less recording the quantities and ingredients used. But this is January, the month of renewed resolve and fresh starts, so....better late than never.

Today I set about to honor my promise at long last. To both codify and record the process for making LawSchoolGirl's favorite spoon biscuits. I decided to call them Atticus Circle Savory Spoon Biscuits in honor of the great LGBT rights organization where my daughter was working at the time I developed the recipe. Here is what I came up with.

For the Roasted Carrot and Onion Pureé
1 pound bag whole carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel) and rough chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup onion, large dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (more or less to taste)
kosher salt, ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss carrots, onions, oil and herbs in a medium bowl to coat. Spread out on a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30-45 minutes, until the carrots are quite soft and the onions are caramelized, like so:Cool 15 minutes. Place carrots and onions in a food processor or blender and pulse/process, scraping down sides frequently, until it becomes a reasonably smooth paste or pureé.This should measure out close enough to one cup.

Turn oven up to 450 degrees. Spray muffin tin with baking oil and set aside. Assemble the following ingredients:

For the Biscuits
1 cup roasted onion and carrot pureé
2/3 cup milk (I use 2% but you can use whole if you don't mind the extra calories)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the carrot and onion pureé, milk, and butter in a medium bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add to the wet ingredients.Gently mix to form a very soft dough. Drop the dough into a greased muffin tin until each depression is evenly full (usually mounds up over the top quite a bit). I use a baking oil sprayed ice cream scoop which makes this very easy.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until biscuits are a deep golden orange tinged with brown. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack. Keeps at room temperature for a day or so or longer covered, in the refrigerator. Makes a dozen.

Notes: Don't let the appearance of the roasted vegetable mixture or dough deter you. Once baked the browning of the biscuits takes care of any little specks of caramelized onion that might otherwise be unappealing.

As always, your oven's temperament and heating patterns will vary from mine. Keep a close eye on these and experiment with the baking times as needed to get the results you desire.   I always eat my biscuits with butter so I like to finish them on the dry side.  If you are wanting to skip the buttering step, the biscuits do tend to come out of the oven very moist.  

You can roast your carrot and onions together and/or blend them ahead of time and hold that mixture in the refrigerator, covered for a few days. I like to let it come up to room temperature before using, but not sure that is necessary.

If you aren't picky about the shape, you can go ahead and drop them out, spoon style, onto a greased baking sheet by generous tablespoonfuls and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Then your yield goes up to 18 or so.

Finally, I like my biscuits a little crisper on the outside than these typically turn out. They are, as most spoon biscuit recipes all are, fairly crumbly. I ameliorate that by taking mine out of the muffin pan when finished baking, placing them on a cookie sheet, and putting them back into the oven with the heat turned off and the door open for a few minutes. It is a totally unnecessary step - that is simply the way I like them.And speaking of how we like them - these little biscuits make a mean ham sandwich. The combination of savory sweet and salty flavors are juuuuuust right.

There you go - beautiful Savory Spoon Biscuits. You could certainly play around with the herbs and components in the carrot roast if you wish. I will try using chopped red bell pepper rather than onion this summer when they are back in season. If you try these, and especially if you work out a variation of your own, I hope you'll drop a line in the comments section and let me know how they turn out. 


Flapjacks said...

man, times must have been hard if your daughter had to work during pre-school. what, did she work in a coal mine?

wv - resin.

TexasDeb said...

Ooops- you caught me fair and square. I meant to say pre-LAW-school, not preschool as in before she started kindergarten.

I'll hope in and correct that posthaste. Thanks for dropping in Flapper!