This weekend I took a short but sweet trip home to North Carolina for my sister’s college graduation. Flying back and forth from San Francisco, CA to Raleigh, NC is a lot of traveling for a weekend trip but I had not been home since Christmas, so it was worth it. It’s hard when your two favorite places are on opposite sides of the country! It was a wonderful visit, packed with family time, hanging out with friends, and eating lots of Southern food. In honor of my recent visit home, I’m going to share a recipe for a quintessential Southern food; buttermilk biscuits!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- 2 cups flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons chilled butter
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
Step One: Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Step Two: Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.
Step Three: Add the buttermilk to the mixture and stir until moistened. Knead the dough a few times until combined. Don’t over handle the dough. The quicker you combine everything, the fluffier the biscuits will be.
Step Four: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and pat down to an inch thick circle.
Step Five: Use a floured circle cutter (I used a drinking glass) to cut out your biscuits. Place the biscuits together in a cast iron skillet or baking sheet, so that the sides are touching. Take the scraps of dough and use your hands to form into another biscuit. Don’t re-roll the dough.
Step Six: Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Buttermilk biscuits are delicious with a little honey or molasses. Another amazing way to eat a biscuit is to split it in half and make a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese. No matter how you eat it, it’s sure to satisfy. Enjoy!
Cast Iron pans, oh how I love you! I use my cast iron pans everyday-twice a day. I find them invaluable for their versatility and even, consistent heating. They are definitely in the top five of my most essential cooking tools. (In case you’re wondering, the other four are: a wooden spoon, big pot, sharp knife, and measuring cup.)
Cast Iron has been a basic and indispensable cooking implement for hundreds of years but I’ve come to realize a lot of folks are unfamiliar with basic care and upkeep. My Mom told me that she “ruined” the pans she received for her wedding by soaking them in water. I put “ruined” in quotes because you can actually revive rusted pans. The Kitchn has a great article on how to re-season your pans. Some basic rules for cast iron:
- Keep it greasy! (well-seasoned pans are non-stick and have a shiny surface)
- Don’t clean it with soap (it removes the seasoning)
- Don’t put it in the dish-washer
- Don’t use steel wool (use salt as an abrasive)
Cast Iron pans are pretty cheap, especially if you find one at a thrift store or yard sale. I just picked one up for $20 at flea market here in Berkeley. Plus, they’ll last a lifetime and can be passed on from generation to generation.
One of my favorite things to cook in my small cast iron pan in cornbread. Cornbread cooks so evenly and browns beautifully in cast iron and it somehow feels more authentic (I imagine southern ladies of olden’ times making their cornbread the same way.) The cornbread recipe that I’ve been using is both simple and delicious. It comes together quickly and is easy whip up while you’re in the midst of cooking the rest of your meal.
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 5 tbs melted butter
- Pre-heat oven to 400 F
- Combine all the dry ingredients
- In another bowl whisk eggs, milk, and butter together
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients until well-blended.
- Cook for 25 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean and the top is slightly brown)
Living in the Bay Area is amazing but I miss North Carolina. I was born and raised in North Carolina and moved to the Bay Area after college. The Bay Area has some of the best and most diverse food in the world, but to to remedy homesickness I make southern food. There’s nothing more comforting than fried chicken in my book.
I’m more of Southern chef now that I live in California than I ever was in NC. I never made cornbread or fried chicken when I was living in back home. (Granted, I didn’t do much cooking at all in college.) In NC, southern food is the norm; if anything, it’s harder to avoid than find. Here in the Bay Area it’s quite the opposite. Obviously, it’s not the South but there are a lot of us here! You would think it would be easier to find a good buttermilk biscuit in this town. Sheesh.
When I picked up my CSA box this week I was excited to see that collard greens were included. Then I noticed the potatoes and remember that I had some chicken in the fridge and I knew then what must be done… fried chicken, with collard greens, and mashed potatoes! Heck yes!
Did I mention I love fried chicken? Because I L-O-V-E fried chicken. After being a vegetarian for almost six years it was fried chicken that brought me back. I’m still learning how to fry chicken but I must say this was a pretty delicious attempt. The mash potatoes were creamy and soothing and the collards were the perfect complement. It tasted like home. My southern boy was happy too; he didn’t stop smiling the whole way through dinner.
What food reminds you of home?