Tuesday, 24 August 2010

How to Use Up a Jug of Buttermilk...

Where has the summer gone?  As I sit here at my desk, window open and consequently sweatshirt on, I am nothing short of impressed that the summer has disappeared so quickly and it will soon be September once again. 

Not that summer wasn't good to me.  I discovered a few new cool markets I had never visited before, spent some lovely Saturday afternoons in the park with a book and my husband, went back to Spain for a short time (a country I absolutely love but hadn't been back to visit in nearly 10 years!), and just recently closed the chapter on my 20's- all wonderful things...  However signs of autumn have somehow seemed to creep up on me just as quickly and quietly as the expiration date for this jug of buttermilk.  One day it seemes ages away and the next day you realise you have to make the most of it before it's gone!

So, make the most I did. 

First, I made biscuits.  Not British biscuits.  American biscuits.   Made with buttermilk, spring onions (scallions) and sea salt.

Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream, hence the name. It also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks, common in warm climates (e.g. Middle East, India, or the Southern United States) where fresh milk would otherwise sour quickly.  It is why in American culture, buttermilk has such ties to Southern cooking; buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, red velvet, buttermilk fried chicken etc.  (My mouth is now watering uncontrollably.)

These buttermilk biscuits are truly worth making.  My first instinct was to leave the spring onions out all together, but adding them really enhanced the flavor of the biscuits.  Plus the small amount of cornmeal made the recipe feel homey and wholesome- like cookies fresh out of the oven.  Eaten warm with a small pad of melting butter would surely be enough to help anyone welcome in the first signs of autumn with open arms and a cozy sweatshirt.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Green Onions, Black Pepper, and Sea Salt

Bon Appétit  | November 2008
  • 3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Coarse sea salt

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F/200 C . 

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Combine buttermilk and green onions in medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper in large bowl to blend. Add 1/2 cup chilled butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until moist clumps form. 

Gather dough together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead gently just to combine, about 3 to 4 turns. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using floured 2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Reroll scraps and cut out additional rounds. 

Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Sprinkle each lightly with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper. 
Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Or I suppose if that kind of thing doesn't tickle your fancy you could always make a pie.

Turns out I did that too...

Buttermilk Pie
Adapted from Joy the Baker

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stick melted butter, slightly cooled.
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extrct
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I used a pre-made puff pastry sheet but really you should make your own I suppose... shortcrust would work equally as well)

Beat eggs slightly. Mix sugar and flour well and add to the eggs. Mix until creamy. Add melted butter, mixing well. Add buttermilk and vanilla extract. Bake at 325F/165C degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the custard sets.

The custard will still jiggle a bit in the oven even when it’s set. Just make sure that the middle does not jiggle a lot more than the sides. That means it needs more time.

Let the pie cool down to room temperature.  You can either serve it at room temperature or chill it.  It's a beautiful balance between custard and cheesecake and would work perfectly served with fresh fruit. 

Turns out I spent August in the kitchen.  No wonder it went by so quickly!

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