Make a surprise visit to my place (how dare you). Seriously, don’t. I hate the pop-in and chances are I won’t answer the door. You wouldn’t. I live too far out and the idea that you would be anywhere near my place, willing to shell out the gas money, scale the fencing, make it up the drive in your fancy “city” car then get past the livestock and their guardians, is pretty much zero. But let’s pretend that you mentioned to my husband that you were going to be in town, and he forgot to tell me. Then (and only then) I do take smug satisfaction in knowing that with a quick rummage through my pantry and a few bits from the fridge, I can put together a modest but delicious spread.
Here is the thing. I have learned over the years that having staples on hand is important, but not as important as knowing how to use them. A simple biscuit recipe can go a long way in the entertainment canon. I used this one twice in the past two days; first as breakfast with butter and jam then as a way to sop up spicy gumbo. Sometimes I add a little sugar, occasionally a heap of parmesan. The mainstay is good butter and confidence
Sour Cream Biscuits makes 9 large or 12 modest squares
2 cups all-purpose flour 4 tsp baking powder 3/4 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp baking soda 6 Tbs unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces 3/4+ cup heavy cream 1/4 cup sour cream -Flaky sea salt to accent the top Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. Quickly mix together to evenly distribute. Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour (or use a pastry knife to cut it in). The goal is to have some chunks the size of garbanzos, others like a BB, and everything in between. Don’t go crazy, this should all happen quite quickly. Add the cream/sour cream and mix so that it just comes together. You may need to add more cream but don’t make a wet dough. Turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface; gently pat into the shape of a square. Using a rolling pin, roll out to about 1/4″ thick. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), give it a quarter turn, roll, and fold again. Give another quarter turn, fold. Roll out into a 9-inch square (about 1/2″ thick) and cut evenly into 9 pieces.
Adequately space on a lined cookie sheet. Brush with cream and with a light hand, dust with flaky sea salt (such as Maldon). Bake at 375F until slightly past golden. Check the bottom to make sure they have color. Let cool fully or just warm. Best eaten the same day. A better idea is to, make a few batches to keep in the freezer and bake off as needed. For a sweet version, add a few tablespoons of sugar and omit the dusting of salt–serve with creme fraiche, strawberries, brown sugar, and a touch of balsamic for an impressive afternoon tea.