Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Honey Butter
Photo updated November 2012
This post is really late -- I meant to have it up before Thanksgiving!  But then I went to New York and taught Mom how to make the Sweet Potato Biscuits in a recipe swap, and she taught me to make Chinese Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant.  And right after that was the baby shower for my sis.  Then Thanksgiving happened, and I cooked for two days.  So I'm finally taking a breather to tell you about what are now my most favorite biscuits I've ever made.  And don't skimp on that Cinnamon Honey Butter!  It didn't sound like my thing, but it's dangerously good.  They made another appearance on Thanksgiving morning, and again at the dinner table.

Baby Shower
But before that I was exhausted with making these shower lollipops and pink velvet cupcakes.  From top left: The cupcakes are easy enough, if *ahem* your sister would only stock her kitchen with a mixer, whisk, or dry measuring cups; my twin sis with another prego friend; everyone loved the "Bun in the Oven" candles, which came in a box that looked like a stove/oven and smelled good enough to eat; and making these chocolate and pink white chocolate lollipops were easy enough, except making dozens will keep you up til 3 a.m., as we discovered.

Back to the biscuits.  I was getting obsessive about finding the right recipe.  I didn't want a fussy recipe that called for yeast and required waiting for rises.  Drop biscuits would give me misshapen lumps.  I wanted biscuits -- really tall, crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside.  I was drawn to this recipe because the sweet potatoes are flecked throughout the dough, rather than being one dark shade of orangey-brown.  And they smell really darn good.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
I didn't have any self-rising flour, so I used a substitution (see the recipe), and it worked perfectly.  The dough will be sticky and have the texture of cottage cheese, but don't overwork it.


I did have reservations about using melted butter when you always hear that the secret to flaky biscuits is cold ingredients.  So I made the recipe as directed, but stashed the cut-out biscuits in the freezer for 20 minutes before baking, for some insurance.  They came out nice and tall.  No flat hockey pucks here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mom's Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant


Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant
New photo updated Oct. 2012. 

You might think shrimp and eggplant are an odd combination, unless you've had this dish at dim sum.  I love it.  Mom still finds it weird to have me snapping shots around her and trying to note every little detail, but I got the recipe!  In exchange, I showed her how to make sweet potato biscuits, which I'll be posting soon.

Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant

The eggplant is sliced on the diagonal, and then sliced again (but not all the way through) to create a pocket to hold the shrimp.  The slices are then filled with shrimp, and browned in the pan.  Because eggplant sucks up oil like a sponge, eggplant dishes can be greasy.  Mom uses the Chinese method of quickly frying for color and flavor, then steaming the rest of the way through to avoid more oil absorption.  The dish is finished off with the usual oyster sauce, and Mom's addition of mirin adds complexity.  Use Japanese eggplants, which are slender and long, rather than the short and bulbous Italian variety.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Banana-nut bread and the chocolate chip cookie make a good couple.  These Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies have the flavor and lightness of banana bread, with the taste and chocolate hit of chocolate chip cookies.  They're fun and easy to make, and just what I was looking for after slightly fussier apple crostatas and bar cookies.

Halloween 2010

I've been doing more, but my baking and cooking projects don't always end up on the blog.  Some I consider too ordinary or ubiquitous.  Sometimes I neglected to take photos.  Sometimes, as in this case, the recipe just didn't work out.  I had been looking for a pumpkin biscotti recipe but they're so few.  This recipe was halfway to a disaster.  The flavor was good, but they didn't get to the correct, hard biscotti consistency and had chewy middles despite repeat stints in the oven.  I finally decided that pumpkin puree must be too wet for proper biscotti, and that the storebought variety I'd tried before probably uses some industrial powdered pumpkin flavoring.

My pumpkin-carving didn't go so great either, since I cleaned it the week before and let it sit, and it grew moldy.  In the end, I carved a simple face in a very thick gourd since stores were sold out of pumpkins.  I had to envy Joe's pumpkin (bottom right), since he did a better job and his pumpkin is still mold-free.

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk

These cookies went waaay easier.  Surprisingly, the recipe called for oats and some whole wheat flour, and I used some white whole wheat flour I had on hand.  Everybody's favorite start to cookie dough is that mixture of butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.  The remaining ingredients are added, and then scooped onto a cookie sheet.  The cookies bake up small, but I had a big yield of over 40.  The recipe calls for cutting up your own chocolate chunks, but I didn't realize and had bought 60% cacao chocolate chips.  But they were perfect, nice and big with a deeper, grown-up flavor.