Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Pesto and olive tapenade biscuit breakfast sandwiches

I guess you could say I am afraid. Not afraid like I am of heights, or bears or flying. More like how I am afraid of jumping into a cold lake, or how I was afraid when I witnessed Mike and his friend light-up a miniature hot air balloon and release it from the roof. It is fear of something obviously completely harmless, something that is actually exciting but something that is uncomfortable, unpredictable and unknown.

I have been ready to move on and move forward for what seems like forever. Many aspects of my PhD studies were difficult, heart breaking, infuriating and unfair. But somehow, I became good at what I was doing, I enjoyed my research and now I enjoy being someone that people come to for advice and direction. I like the feeling of earned respect.

You can probably understand then that starting a new job, where I need to learn more than I know, is just slightly frightening. I have been telling myself that I am still working in my old position to help out my former supervisor. But I might also be resistant to letting go of the stability and predictability of the place I have spent the last seven years. Once I get used to something, once I become good at something and comfortable with something, I find it very difficult to place myself back in a situation of discomfort.

It is like my love of baking biscuits. They are an old comfort. I really want to learn how to make some great buns, or English muffins and also had planned to make bagels at one point. But biscuits are safe, they never let me down. They turn out crispy and delicious and irresistible every time. I should move on, try something different but I am afraid of failing. Being good at something feels great; not knowing if you are good at something else is scary. Even when you know that in the long run, expanding your skills can only be a good thing.

Biscuits are the best breakfast sandwich holder ever. You can make them so tasty with butter and cheese and other fun stuff like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, onions and so on. A complete and delicious breakfast simply requires the addition of some avocado and a poached egg. If you make the biscuits the day before and manage to save some for the morning, you can have a complete breakfast made the next day in 10 minutes flat.

My intention for these biscuits was to use up some left over basil pesto and olive tapenade. The idea was a good one but I have to warn you, a messy one. The base of this biscuit recipe is very simple and standard. The twist comes in to play during the rolling and stacking part. Once rolled, I slathered the dough with pesto, cut it, stacked it and rolled it again. Maybe you can foresee that the pesto would ooze out all over the place. I did not. I had to pick up my dough, wipe the counter and re-flour a couple of times. But yum.

Pesto and olive tapenade biscuit breakfast sandwiches
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover pesto, olive tapenade or other spreads or toppings you might have on hand. Use your judgement for how much pesto or tapenade to use; if you use too much it will end up oozing out all over your counter.

2 cups all-purpose organic flour
1 tsp finely ground sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup cubed, cold butter
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated white cheddar
3 tbsp left over pesto
3 tbsp olive tapenade
Sliced mozzarella
Fried or poached eggs
Avocado slices

1 - Preheat oven to 425F.
2 - Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
3 - Stir in the chopped butter. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry knife or use your fingers to break apart the butter chunks into smaller bits. Continue cutting until flour mixture takes on a grainy appearance (a few minutes).
4 - Stir the cheddar cheese into the flour.
5 - Stir the milk into the flour. The dough should be slightly sticky, not too dry, and should hold its shape well. Add extra milk if your dough feels too dry or is still crumbly.
6 - Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until just evenly mixed.
7 - Flatten dough with hands or roll out dough to about 1 inch to 1.5 inch thickness.
8 - Slather the dough with a thin layer of pesto.
9 - Cut dough in half, stack two halves on top of each other (pesto sides facing each other) and press the dough out again to 1.5 inch thickness.
10 - If pesto is oozing out the sides, clean up the area and re-flour the counter.
11 -  Top the dough with a thin layer of olive tapenade or if you do not have tapenade, use more pesto.
12 - Repeat again the cutting and stacking and pressing out the dough to about 1 inch thickness
13 - Clean counter and area as needed. Messiness is expected.
14 - Use a glass or a round cookie cutter to cut out biscuits from dough. 
15 - Reshape dough as needed and continue cutting biscuits until all of the dough is used. The last couple of biscuits may just need to be formed by hand.
16 - Lay biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
17 - Bake biscuits for 12 - 15 minutes, rotating pan once, halfway through cooking, to allow even cooking.
18 - Remove biscuits from oven when they are golden brown.
19 - Tear biscuits in half, top with mozzarella, avocado and poached or fried egg.

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