Biscuits and gravy

Wondering what to do with all those biscuits?

Wondering how to add a few calories to your breakfast?

Allow me.

These are really super easy to make (along with, uh, everything else I ever blog) and are such comfort food for breakfast!

Biscuits and gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 can evaporated milk or about a cup and a half of milk (I guarantee nothing with skim milk; I’m a whole milk kinda girl)

Instructions

  1. Brown up the sausage till it’s crumbly and completely cooked — no pink! — then evaluate your sausage grease situation. I put all the sausage on a paper-towel lined plate so I can see what I’m working with. You want to end up with about three tablespoons of grease left in there; drain off anything in excess of that
  2. Turn the burner to medium or so and sprinkle in three tablespoons of flour; whisking to combine. Pretty soon your mixture will look super thick and you’ll want to sock me one because this can’t possibly be right, but it is! Stay with me
  3. Now pour in your milk and keep whisking! Remember that flour doesn’t hit full thickening power till it’s bubbling (unlike cornstarch), so don’t give up; in just a couple minutes you’ll have gravy
  4. Now add back in the sausage and serve over your hot biscuits

This dish may or may not cause a Yankee to propose do you. I’m just sayin’.

Smaller 100% whole wheat pain de mie

Math skillz: I haz none.

See, King Arthur has a smaller pain de mie pan now, which is awesome. I was excited about this because it takes us a while to work through a loaf of bread sometimes; Kiddo will go on a bread jag and eat nothing but this for a week and a half, and then not want to see it near his face for three weeks. It’s hard to predict. I slice it and keep it in the freezer so there’s always some on hand, and the smaller size pan makes just enough bread to fit in a one-gallon zip top bag. Perfect!

The problem is that King Arthur doesn’t have a whole wheat recipe for this size pan yet. So set out to convert the larger pain de mie recipe down to a size that fits the smaller pan.  I can’t tell you how long it took me to do enough math to convert this recipe. Well, I could but then I’d be embarrassed. Someone like The Yankee or my big brother could probably convert this in less time than it took for me to assume the appropriate thinky face, but it took me slightly longer. But now it’s done and I will celebrate — with good bread.

So with your nifty smaller pain de mie pan, try this:

Smaller 100% whole wheat pain de mie

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 1/4 teaspoons dry milk
  • 2/3 cup potato flakes
  • 13.75 ounces flour (or 3 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in order then knead — about eight minutes by stand mixer — until dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl or spray a little nonstick spray around the mixing bowl and let dough rise till nice and puffy, about 90 minutes. I set the sprayed mixing bowl with the dough in the oven (off) with a pan of water that’s been just brought to a boil; think sauna for your dough
  2. Lightly grease a small pain de mie pan pan, then shape the risen dough into a log; pat into the pan, flattening the top as well as you can. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise till the dough is about half an inch below the top of the pan (this will take about 45 minutes)
  3. Spray the lid of the pan with nonstick spray and carefully slide it onto the pan — don’t deflate the dough! — and let the bread continue rising while your oven preheats to 350F (ideally about 15 more minutes)
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the lid (carefully!) and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until the middle of the loaf reads 190F, then turn out onto a wire rack; immediately brush with melted butter for an even softer crust

Biscuit pudding

You know… like bread pudding, but biscuits? And OH MAH GAH this is amazing. This may be the ultimate comfort food. And yet another recipe that tastes a million times better than it looks. 😉

See, my fabulous sister got me these books from Cades Cove, which is my most favorite place on earth. It’s home in every sense of the word. I’ve been picnicking at Carter-Shields as long as I can remember, and The Yankee and I love taking Kiddo there now to splash around and count “water spiders” down by the mill.

ANYHOO… the books. The books are Recipes, Remedies and Rumors from the Cades Cove Preservation Association. And they’re fantastic. Poison snake bite cure for dogs? In there. Squirrel dumplings? You bet. But also pork tenderloin, chicken and dumplings, fried potato cakes, you name it.

Biscuit pudding

Ingredients

  • And my new favorite: biscuit pudding! This is criminally easy:
  • 5 cooked leftover biscuits, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl beat 2 eggs, and add sugar, milk, nutmeg and vanilla and mix
  2. Crumble in biscuits and stir
  3. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes

See what I’m saying? So easy. And so, so good.

Amish friendship bread

Ah, friendship bread. Let’s be honest: it’s like a chain letter. But since I end up with this: I say it’s okay.

Let’s start at the beginning. Don’t have anyone dying to give you some starter? You can make your own (recipe found here):

  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk (110°F)

Now get it going:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it sit for about ten minutes. Stir.
  2. in a two quart glass or plastic (no metal!) container, combine flour and sugar; make sure they’re well combined so the flour doesn’t get lumpy in the milk
  3. Add in the warm milk and dissolved yeast/water, stirring slowly till everything is incorporated; the mixture will get bubbly
  4. Pour mixture into a one-gallon ziptop bag and seal tightly, pushing out as much air as possible

That’s it! That is now day 1 completed. Then you follow the directions as if you’ve received the starter:

Day 2: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary
Day 3: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary
Day 4: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary
Day 5: Add to the bag: 1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. cold milk. Mash the bag (yep, it sits on the counter after this — weird but true)
Day 6: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary
Day 7: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary
Day 8: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary
Day 9: Mash the bag, “burp” the air out if necessary

Day 10: Pour the contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl.
Add:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. cold milk.

Then:

  • Write the date (so your friends know what day one is) on four gallon size zip bags
  • Measure out one cup of batter into each bag
  • Keep one starter bag for yourself; give the other three to friends along with a printed copy of the recipe (Word doc) (remember that if you keep a starter, you will be baking every 10 days)

Time to bake!

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease two small or one large loaf pan

To your remaining starter (about one cup), add:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cold milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

The master recipe calls for a mixture of 1/4 c. sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon for dusting/topping. Use 2/3 of this mixture to dust the greased pans, and then sprinkle the remaining on top of the batter after poured into the pans. Bake for 1 hour. Cool until bread loosens from the sides, about 10 minutes.

Variation: some recipes call for 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding mix and/or substituting 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 oil. You can also play around with different flavors of pudding mixes and additions of fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, and spices.

Two great websites with tips and recipes:

http://www.armchair.com/recipe/amish/amish.html
http://www.momswhothink.com/bread-recipes/amish-friendship-bread.html

I was surprised at how many people were interested in this starter — I had no trouble giving it away, and even mailed a couple of them with no problems. Enjoy!

Life changing icebox dough

A couple months ago I bought the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It’s nigh onto life changing.

Have you ever looked at the clock and realized it’s 5:00 and you were going to make a loaf of crusty bread for supper but now it’s too late? Never again.

Have you ever wished you could have really good homemade pizza at home but didn’t want to knead bread forever, and didn’t start no-knead pizza dough the night before? No problem.

Wish you could serve homemade yeast rolls to the family for supper tonight without calling on Sister Shubert? Done.

This is such an easy solution that it’s almost ridiculous: keep dough in the fridge. The end. It takes five minutes to mix it up, and keeps for two weeks. So what are you waiting for?

If you’re not sure you’ll use it all in two weeks, you can make a half portion of the recipe. I do this because only The Yankee and I will eat it (The Kiddo not so much), and I don’t want any to go to waste:

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water*
  • 3/4 tbsp. yeast
  • 3/4 tbsp. salt

*If you’ve been straining yogurt and have some whey left you can use whey in place of water — a great way to add some protein and a little sourdough-like tang to the bread.

Mix all that together with a dough whisk, a wooden spoon, a mixer, or whatever. No kneading — you just want everything to be well combined. Put it in a container that’s not quite airtight: this 14 cup produce container with the insert removed is perfect for a half portion of the recipe, and is designed to let produce breathe a bit, so it’s become my designated dough container. After two hours at room temperature, move it to the fridge to chill.

Now go bread crazy! I use the dough for pizza, for crusty bread, for buttery dinner rolls, for hamburger buns, even monkey bread! Maybe some barbecue chicken pizza? Dust a little flour on a corner of your chilled dough and pull off a piece as big as you need. Shape it into a ball and let it rise for at least half an hour, but an hour is great if you have the time. Then bake and enjoy! No harder than cracking open a tube of bread with questionable ingredients, and worlds healthier.

Most configurations of the dough will do great at 400 degrees in the oven. Baking time will obviously depend on the size of the bread, but you want the internal temp to be about 190 degrees and the bread to be nicely browned.

I really do recommend picking up the book. It has many different variations of the recipe, and many uses for each recipe. It’s about $17 at Amazon right now, and well worth the price.

Enjoy it, and let me know what you make with it!