I see you.
You are busy, so very busy.
Volunteering 12 hours a month at the humane shelter, picking up dog poo and smiling, even as the fumes waft up your nostrils. Going for a run despite the rain clinging to you brow, the people that look out their windows can no longer tell if you are a nobody or a Nike commercial. Eating a breakfast of granola and hemp milk while standing on the back porch and watching the dawn. Reading the 3 different papers for 1 hour, all the while forming witty opinions and theories to tout to your office friends, and incidentally impress your boss. Downward dogging with the best of them in the i-can-touch-my-heels-to-the-floor-sucka Hall of Fame. And after a simple meal of miso soup, poached white fish and steamed broccoli (all organic all local, of course), you read a touch of Classic Literature No.4 you’ve decided simply must get checked off The List before you die, tucking in to bed without a touch of alcohol. Except for maybe a kombucha. But who counts .5% abu?
Now, I don’t mean to knock you off your horse, but let’s face it. Your horse never existed. Maybe for a couple days you could gloat and stroke its gleaming lean back. But if you are like 98 percent of the people that create lofty goals of a better Life and a happier self, you found yourself profoundly unhappy with all the pressure and are now sitting in a hoof-trampled mud pile of guilt. Hey. Hey, now. Stop beating yourself up. You can do this. We can do this, together. Let’s just do it right.
Let’s do it classy, 2013.
Now regardless of what kind of person you are, if I stereotype you into the January resolution driven America I am doing right now (sorry), you are looking at butter and sugar and everything that makes you tongue orgasm, and shuddering as if the plague is grinning back at you. Or Peewee Herman in combat uniform. Or Blue Velvet’s Dennis Hopper in a clown suit. Like I said, depending on the kind of person you are.
That is why, if you are to enrich the livelihood of your mouth, and enjoy food as you should, you need to make it fancier. Make it subtle, specific. Flaky layers of a buttermilk biscuit. The piquancy of bleu cheese. The sharp edge of fresh cracked pepper. The thick smooth sweet of balsamic and white wine. The earthy crunch of pecan. The resisting burst of red grape.
Do you feel classy yet? You should. This is what will make your dinner party raise their eyebrows. This is something you will eat one serving of, and not need anymore. Because there are so many different levels of every genre of taste happening, all at once, you will be exhausted and satisfied after eating a plate of this. You may need to have an after-appetizer smoke. Or a burp and a nap. Depending on the type of person you are.
If you have been following past posts, the process is simple enough here. Chill your flours, chill your butter. Smash them between your fingers until they are together but distinctly separate. Add only enough liquid to bring it all together and pat it out into the biscuits they were born to become. This is the messy, fun part. Even if you fail, you’ll feel like you did something when you look down and find your shirt covered in flour and a glob of dough in your hair. Oh satisfaction! At least for me.
While these gents are in the oven, slow simmer equal parts of white wine and balsamic on your stovetop, adding just a spot of honey for sweetness. Leave it to bubble and heave until it glides off your spoon in a sort of languid carelessness. Toss the grapes and pecans in, and drizzle over your still steaming biscuits. Even the presentation is beautiful.
No regrets! No guilt! No dog poop!
Feel good, we made it to 2013.
Yield: 8 biscuits with 1 1/2 cups topping
For the Biscuits:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled and chilled
1 cup buttermilk (at most)
For the reduction:
1/2 cup white wine of your choosing
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup red grapes, halved
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted (or any other nut)
1 Tablespoon honey
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper into a metal bowl. Chill in freezer for 20-30 minutes. *You will want a large bowl, as you will be stirring with your hands later. No spills!*
While waiting for your dry ingredients to chill, cut your butter into m&m sized cubes. Return to fridge to re-chill. Crumble your bleu cheese if not already crumbled. Return to fridge. Toast your nuts. Set aside to cool. Wash and halve your grapes.
Prepare a lightly floured surface. Remove dry ingredients from freezer and with quick hands, add cheese. Pinch and rub cheese crumbles into flour until small chunks remain, but are all coated in flour. Remove butter from fridge and do the same, until mixture is mealy in texture and no naked butter or cheese chunks can be seen.
Pour out 1 cup of buttermilk into a measuring cup. Add 1/2 of this buttermilk into your bowl, tossing with either a fork or your fingers. Once dry spots in the bowl appear, add another drizzle. Toss until the mixture is moist enough that you can form a cohesive ball in your hands. Do NOT use more than 1 cup of buttermilk. I used a little over 3/4 cup.
Place dough ball on lightly floured surface and pat out into 1 inch thickness. Using 2 1/2 “cutters, or the rim of a glass (lightly floured), cut out biscuits. Fold dough over itself once and cut out any remaining biscuits. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and if you have milk or cream handy, lightly brush biscuit tops. To finish, grind fresh black pepper atop each biscuit.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom, with visible layers.
While baking, combine white wine, balsamic vinegar, and honey into a small saucepan. Simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir with spoon only occasionally, checking the thickness of your sauce. Once the liquid clings to the spoon and drips in a single thick stream, remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Toss in grapes and pecans until evenly coated.
On separate serving plates, halve biscuits and dollop a hearty serving of warm pecan grape reduction. Drizzle extra sauce. Pour your remaining wine into a glass and enjoy. You made a damn fine little meal for yourself.