Saturday, 11 February 2012

Olive, feta and sun-dried tomato biscuits

I love memories. One of my favorite experiences is when I remember something I have not thought about in years. The memories you never think about are always the most intense. I love driving through the streets of my home town, where I grew up or the city where my grandparents live. I become mesmerized as I look around and soak in all of the forgotten adventures and memories from my childhood. My memory is quite vivid, so these experiences are almost like watching numerous, overlapping and fragmented home movies.

I also like looking back and analyzing the younger, growing-lover-of-cooking me. I like trying to figure out which experiences taught me how to cook, which ones shaped my tastes, who influenced my appreciation for fine food, cooking and recipes. 

I used to try to figure out that one momentous experience that changed my life forever and turned me into the food obsessed girl I have become. But the truth is that when I think about why I am so food crazed, dozens if not hundreds of experiences come to mind. Lucky for me because each one can be a separate story and inspire a different recipe.

It is the same thing for why I am a microbiologist and in particular why I am enamored with viruses. There is no one reason. There are numerous. And over the years, by the end of this, you will probably know all of them. Lucky you.

I don't have a funny experience or story to recount today. And I probably got you all excited that I was going to tell you a fantastic tale. I really just wanted to tell you about one of the first recipes I ever made, that made me think I could cook. The recipe was for cheddar cheese and yogurt biscuits. This recipe came from a $12 cookbook that I bought when I first moved to Vancouver called 'International Comfort Food'. Many of my cooking firsts, like this Tomato Soup, originated from this very simple cookbook which taught me different cooking skills and categories.

Back when I used to make these biscuits, it was a treat. And I did not make them too often because Mike and I would eat the whole batch in one or two days. The only way to prevent that was to not make them. I also remember it being a big ordeal putting in the time to make these when now I can tell you that this is one of the easiest recipes you can make from my entire blog. 

The recipe in the cookbook calls for 1 cup of cubed cheddar cheese but this time I wanted to try something different so I replaced the cheddar with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, goat feta and parmesan. Thus, this recipe is a twist on an old favorite that brings back memories of my first, teeny-tiny, 300 square foot studio apartment in Vancouver and my first days as a timid PhD student.

Olive, feta and sun-dried tomato biscuits
Adapted from Cheese Biscuits recipe in 'International Comfort Food" by Willie Fitzpatrick
The original recipe calls for 1 cup of cubed sharp-cheddar cheese that I replaced here with sun-dried tomatoes, green olives, goat-feta and parmesan. You can try different variations of cheeses, add different herbs like basil or thyme or other ingredients like chopped artichokes, roasted garlic, green onions or chopped nuts.

2 cups all-purpose organic flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter cut into cubes
1 cup mix of sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk

1 - Preheat oven to 425F. Note that I always have my baking stone in my oven. This may affect cooking time and temperature.
2 - Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
3 - Stir in butter and cut in with pastry tool or squish in butter with your fingers until butter is pelleted and grainy, a minute or two.
4 - Stir in chopped tomatoes, olives, feta and parmesan
5 - In a separate bowl, combine honey, yogurt and milk. Whisk until smooth.
6 - Stir yogurt mix into dry ingredients.
7 - Knead dough together on counter for 1 minute.
8 - Flatten out dough on lightly floured surface until round is 1/2 inch in thickness.
9 - Use a round cookie cutter or glass to make circular, cut-out biscuits.
10 - Re-mound and flatten scraps, continuing to make biscuits until all of the dough is used. The number of biscuits you make will depend on the size of your cookie cutter.
11 - Place biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
12 - Bake biscuits 7 - 12 minutes. This will depend on your oven, how big your biscuits are and if you have a stone in the oven.
13 - Remove from oven when lightly browned.
14 - Eat warm with a little bit of butter or serve for breakfast with eggs and hollandaise

*These biscuits make a great base for avocado, poached eggs and hollandaise. See my previous post on poaching eggs and how to make hollandaise.

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