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For dinner tonight, I knew we had fresh, local, delicious burrata, mozzarella, and ricotta, plus local tomatoes. Since there was no time to start bread yesterday, something had to be done today to round out the meal of cheese + tomatoes. Biscuits immediately came to mind because they are quick, easy, and most importantly we have buttermilk in the fridge. I don’t have a “go-to” buttermilk biscuit recipe, so I Googled it and came up with Alton Brown’s. In my experience, there isn’t too much innovation or variety in the buttermilk biscuit arena, so I wasn’t particularly concerned with choosing the perfect recipe. There was, however, a jar of homemade pesto in the fridge that B made from the acres (ok, maybe 12 plants, but they were huge and not being eaten) of basil in the garden of our house-sitting house – lightbulb! What goes with tomatoes and mozzarella better than basil? Nothing really, except balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. So instead of just fresh from the oven buttermilk biscuits to go with dinner, why not pesto buttermilk biscuits!? I’m the dinner hero tonight, which is usually B, so I’m claiming my moment of glory with a somewhat inspired biscuit recipe.

Hypothesis:

Pesto makes everything better.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.
Yield: 13 2-inch biscuits

Materials:

  • 2 cups AP Flour
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 heaping Tbsp pesto

Tools:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Pastry cutter
  • 2 inch biscuit cutter
  • Cookie sheet

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, add to bowl, and incorporate into the flour with a pastry cutter (or 2 knifes, or your fingers).

Add buttermilk, and mix until almost completely incorporated. I added the pesto at this point, but in hindsight I might have pre-mixed it with the buttermilk or added it with the butter. The secret to flakey tender biscuits is to not over-mix the dough! By adding the pesto after mixing in the buttermilk, I probably made my dough a bit tougher, plus it was harder to evenly distribute the pesto after the dough was already formed. Next time I’ll do things in a different order. After mixing everything together, scoop dough onto a floured surface, dust with flour, and kneed 5 times.

Pat dough until it is an inch high, which is always higher than I think, so use a ruler if need be. Cut into 2-inch biscuits with cutter, placing on a cookie sheet (I used my Silpat but it’s not necessary).

Bake biscuits for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Observations:

  • Use shortening like Alton does if you have it/would like to – I don’t have any so I just used butter.
  • If your oven is not up to temperature when you put your biscuits in, they will “melt” and fall over like mine!
  • You can cut your biscuits to any size you like, or even just drop them onto the cookie sheet.

Conclusions:

Success! Maybe next time I’ll even add some parmesan cheese if we have any….

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