Rosemary Parmesan Biscuits

This recipe is a variation on the original Quick Drop Biscuits, and is very similar to the biscuit topping on the Italian Pot Pies.  Of course you can flavour your biscuits anyway you like.  Anything that goes well with butter is going to go well in your biscuit, as long as you keep the liquid additives to a minimum.  My plan next time is to go with bacon and cheddar cheese.  These particular biscuits went very well with a lamb roast.  I made them twice the size of the original Quick Drop Biscuits, and so doubled the recipe accordingly.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.  If you have a convection oven, which my parents do, then 400°F is probably fine.  All ovens are different.

In a bowl, mix together 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Drop in 3/4 cup cold cubed butter, and cut to pea-sized pieces with two knives or a pastry cutter.

Stir in 2-3 teaspoons fresh or dried rosemary, broken up a bit, and about 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. (Just so’s you know, my hand isn’t really that pink in real life.)

Add about 1 cup finely grated parmesan, or more, to suit your taste.

Make a well in the centre of your mixture and pour in 2 cups milk.  Stir until just combined and mixture is clumping and sticky.

Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet (or several).  They don’t expand so you can place the drops pretty close together.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until firm and golden.  Because all ovens are different, make sure you keep an eye on them.

Of course these babies are best crisp and fresh from the oven, but you can store them in an airtight container for a couple of days and they’re pretty good then as well.

Walnut Cheesecake Squares

These were another creation for a research participant, and I like them because they’re not too sweet.  And because the base is the same as the topping the whole thing is incredibly easy.  This recipe is from Esther Brody’s 250 Best Brownies, Bars & Squares.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9×13″ pan and line it with parchment paper — then butter the parchment paper as well.

Mix together in a bowl 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

You’re looking for crumbs here, so if you have walnut pieces, pop them in the food processor (slightly more than the cup measure as it will settle) for a spell.

Using a pastry blender:

Or two knives:

Cut in 2/3 cup cold cubed butter until the mixture is entirely coarse crumbs.

This may take a while, so be patient.  Too large pieces of butter will result in holes in your base.

Pour half the mixture into your prepared pan and press it to the bottom.  Set the other half aside.  

Bake the mixture in the pan for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool slightly.

In another bowl, beat 1lb (500g) softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until smooth.

Beat in 2 eggs and 1/4 cup milk, then add in 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over that nice warm base.

Sprinkle the reserved base stuff evenly over the top.

Bake the whole shebang for 20-25 minutes more, or until everything is just set, and then remove the pan to a rack and let it cool completely.

Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled squares out of the pan and cut them into squares.

If you have any left, store them covered in your refrigerator.

Quick Drop Biscuits

Because I am so very lazy, I adore this particular recipe, which doesn’t involve kneading, rising, rolling, or cutting.  The biscuits it produces taste like butter, my favourite flavour.   It comes from The Joy of Cooking, 2006 edition (page 639).

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Drop in 6 tbsp COLD butter (which is 3/8 of a cup, slightly more than a quarter cup and slightly less than a third, or 3/4 of a stick if you get butter in sticks).

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the mixture until the pieces are pea-sized.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 1 cup milk.  Stir until the mixture is sticky and just combined.

Using a spoon, drop walnut-sized pieces of dough onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are a light golden colour.  The don’t expand very much so you can put them pretty close together. 

Be careful not to overbake as the bottoms will burn easily.  Let cool on a rack or eat hot.  Once fully cooled you can store them in an airtight container for a day or two, but they’re best fresh.  This recipe makes about 24 1 1/2″ biscuits.

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