Last night, two hours into a kitchen disaster that left dishes in the sink, flour on the counters and about a dozen buckwheat ravioli in the freezer (i.e., pasta with the texture of burlap), I gave thanks for the thing we call cooking. Because last night, cooking was part something to do, part a way to release energy and part an opportunity to be creative with concrete objects I could see, even if I turned those objects into tough dough set in thick sheets that didn’t cut well.
I am thankful cooking adapts to our days, adjusts to our needs. It has been, at times, a way to relax.
At others, a chance to feel productive. The night before Thanksgiving, while I made a pie around midnight, it was the only thing that could keep my mind occupied.
On the Saturday after, while I made another pie and then these cheddar-garlic biscuits, it was a welcome distraction and comfort, better than remembering the holiday ended and everyone had to go back home. Sometimes I don’t even care what I’m cooking; I just need the rhythms of mixing ingredients, cleaning the counters, loading the dishwasher yet again.
As far as these biscuits — beyond the fact that I had a little over a cup of buttermilk in the fridge begging to be used, I made them because Jacqui inspired me, because I’ve always liked the ones at Red Lobster that they seem to be an homage to and because, quite frankly, baking biscuits is a much better way to spend a Saturday night than staring at the walls feeling sad. They are cheesy and soft, flecked with pepper and covered with natural ridges like rustic biscuits should be.
I like them toasted in the oven and served alongside a nice, big salad — preferably a salad I have to take a few minutes to put together, feeling thankful for the chance to.
Makes about 20 small (or around 12 to 15 large) biscuits
No kidding, these really are very much like the ones at Red Lobster, if you’re familiar with those, just a little milder and less salty.
2 1/3 cups flour (I used a combination of white and whole-grain spelt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (I used Sucanat unrefined cane sugar)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups grated and tightly packed sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Kosher salt for topping
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and the 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter or two forks or knives, work the butter into the dough.
The mixture should look like coarse sand. Add the cheese and stir to thoroughly incorporate it into the dough.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
Do not overmix. Use a small ice cream scoop or a 1/4-cup measuring cup to scoop the dough and drop it in mounds onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a biscuit comes out clean.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.