Saturday, January 20, 2007


1. Roll out of bed, feed the cats, put on some music. This morning it's Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet.

2. Water, kettle, stove, grinder, beans, French press. Coffee.

3. Biscuits. Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything is easy and perfect. Mix 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and a scant teaspoon of salt together in a bowl. Cut 2 to 5 tablespoons of butter (more is better) into little pieces and work it into the dry ingredients by picking up bits of the mixture, rubbing them betwen your fingers, and dropping them back in. Incorporate all the butter thoroughly. Stir in 7/8 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk with a wooden spoon, just till the batter forms a ball. Turn it out onto a floured surface, knead 10 times (no more), then press it into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Use a glass or a biscuit cutter to cut the biscuits out. I like biscuits that are on the smaller side -- the smaller they are, the more you can eat -- so I use an espresso cup. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet (baking parchment is your friend). Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until they're golden brown and beautiful. Bittman says they're at their best within 15 minutes after they come out of the oven. Scarf them down with butter and jam. Or:

4. While the biscuits are cooking, discover that you still have some bulk sausage in the freezer, frozen into convenient patties. Fry up three of those. Set them aside. Pour off all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan. Over medium heat, stir in a tablespoon of flour to make a roux. Let it cook out for a few minutes, then whisk in maybe a quarter- to a half-cup of milk (one glug is my usual amount). As the milk boils and thickens, stir up any browned gunk that may still be stuck to the pan. Add more milk as necessary. Crumble the sausage into bits and return it to the pan to acquaint it with the gravy. Grind in an appropriate amount of black pepper. Break up two or three of your biscuits (still steamy-hot from the oven) into a bowl and top with the gravy. Drizzle on some hot sauce if you like. Grab a soup spoon, pour yourself a second cup of coffee, and enjoy.

I've never made this for anyone else. To me, it's by nature a thing to be eaten alone, or at the most with a cat or two watching you.


Tes said...

It looks like hell, but it's sure making me drool--me sitting here scarfing down a handful of almonds before I have to get on the subway....

Rob said...

Yeah, it's not pretty. One reason I've never made it for anyone else is I'm afraid they'd go "ew. I'm supposed to eat this?"

An Briosca Mor said...

Not being a southerner, I've never done the biscuits 'n gravy thing. But a long-ago long-distance girlfriend who lived in western NC outside of Asheville did turn me on to sausage biscuits, specifically those from a chain chicken place called Bojangles. I don't think there were ever any of them in DC, but I used to stop at one or the other of the Richmond or Raleigh-Durham outlets on my many trips down there and back. I also seem to remember one on 29 just outside of C-ville, when I took the all-the-way-to-NC-on-29 route. Anyway, she liked to put jam on them, preferably raspberry, but grape would do in a pinch if that was all they had. Surprisingly good!

As for breakfast: Yesterday during my snow-induced absence from RiRa I decided to go through the fridge and try to salvage stuff by vacuum packing it using my newest kitchen toy. I had half a jug of buttermilk left over from the cake I made to take to Orion's party. What to do with that? Couldn't vacuum pack as is, so I whipped up a batch of pancake batter and then portioned it out for vacuum storage. I'll pick up some sausage at Whole Foods during the week sometime, and throw some dried blueberries from the pantry into the batter on Saturday and have pancakes 'n sausage for breakfast. Sort of gives me a reason to press on during the tedium that is the work week!

And as for your earlier question about why I'm not blogging myself -What, and have the likes of Lorna sniping at everything I write? That, and the fact that I lack a digital camera and thus could never resort to the one-photo-equals-a-thousand-word-blog-entry option during crunch times...

Rob said...

Dude... you're on a slippery slope to sous vide. If you get an immersion circulator, I'm going to be so jealous.

My cooking has gotten slightly more southern since I've been living in DC. Not really sure what to make of that. I don't even remember ever eating biscuits and gravy when I was living in Georgia. I suppose if I moved back there I'd start yearning for Ben's Chili Bowl, despite the fact that I've never eaten there.

And yes, Bojangles is top-tier fast food. I'd almost forgotten about that place. Sausage biscuits and raspberry jam, eh? Hm.

Tes said...

I was always a Biscuitville gal, myself--we didn't have a Bojangles in Lynchburg--and Biscuitville made a passable country ham biscuit. Sigh. Those were the days, when I could still eat pork.

In other news, Jenny's parents gave me a Deborah Madison cookbook for my birthday--not Savory Way or Greens--it looks newer than that. Some great looking stuff in there!

And...our next fancy kitchen purchase will be a whisk. Oh, the excitement. But Rob, we did get the magnetic spice jar thing sorted out. Too cool, man, too cool.

Rob said...

Wow, Biscuitville! Are they still around?

I like Deborah Madison's stuff a lot, as you know, but I've never really gotten cozy with her magnum opus Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and you're making me think I need to spend more time with it.

My next purchase is going to be a spatula, since I destroyed my favorite one while seasoning my wok. After that (deep breath) I want to upgrade my knives.