Thursday, October 20, 2011

Herb Tomato Gorgonzola Buttermilk Biscuits

It feels good to be home. Home in our house. Creating a home where we feel comfortable, regardless of the extent that we will be here at this location. I love parts of this home, the view of the sunset, proximity to parks and friends, the colors inside are warm and inviting, often bringing comfort in what can be a cold house.

We can make our house as welcoming as we can, but without one anther or the people in our lives that have made the transition back to Bellingham meaningful, the house, Bellingham would be colder, greyer than it is already. Luxurious would describe what it feels like to be back in a house, a lush sea of green landscape, bombarded by hippies, streets shut down from protests. All these random things aside, what makes this town special is the people that call this place home.

As we have been back for several weeks, I am still running into old acquaintances, family and previous co workers. It is great, smiles are exchanged, hugs, and brief recaps of the current events are shared. What has been warming my heart these days is the phrase I have heard a lot and figure I will never grow weary of, "It is nice to have you (two) back."  Simple but meaningful. It is great to be back in your company Bellingham. It is sure nice to be back. Thank you for the welcome homecoming.

Over the weekend J and I went to the first annual photo/video contest/fundraiser for one of our local trail associations Whatcom Independent Mountain Peddlers or WHIMPS. Over 400 people packed the Depot Market Square across the street from Boundary Bay Brewery to show their support for the local trail work that this group facilitates from the new Raptor Ridge Connector south of town in the Chuckanuts to the world renowned Galbraith Mountain. There were familiar faces and even more new people but we all had a common interest, the trails that weave their way through greater Bellingham. Thank you all who came, supported and are making Bellingham a more enjoyable place to live.

J and I have been in the habit of getting a few bike rides in together a week. We take quick Galbraith rips and day trips to Canada. Every day our house has less boxes filled with our stuff. We cook hearty dinners and meet friends for bites. We spend the weekend mornings together with coffee followed by breakfast and usually a mountain bike ride.

This weekend, rolling out of a mildly successful week of baking at the bistro I felt inspired to make one of my most popular breakfast pastries, a savory buttermilk biscuit. When I roll up on a bakery case I usually go for a big hearty muffin, J reaches for a savory, cheese and ham filled biscuit. I understand the craving for hearty substance, leaning on the protein end of the spectrum but I like the pick me up that fresh fruit and light sweetness brings to my morning. Flaky on the inside, a crunchy exterior, tang from a rich cheese, color from roasted tomatoes and lightly herbed these biscuits might have me rethinking my decision next time I stand there dumbfounded, needing coffee and calories.

Herb Tomato Gorgonzola Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes about 12 biscuits

Adapted from Dorie Greespan's Baking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and position a rack in the center. You will need a lined baking sheet and a biscuit cutter. Get your poop in a group.

Mix the dry ingredients together. You know what they are and I am not going to list them, all dry goes in one medium bowl. Parsley or whatever herb you choose (besides mint) is a dry ingredient.

Now mix in the stinky cheese. Or a not stinky cheese. Curve ball! Toss in the roasted tomatoes while you are at it.

Get that hand full of little pieces of butter that you cut, drop them in the flour and coat each piece. Now is the most important step. Keep that butter cold, we want flaky biscuits so get the lead out. Use forks, your hands or a pastry blender, cut and work the flour into the butter until the mixture is almost pebbly. Chunks of butter the size of almonds are perfect with mostly pea gravel texture. Stop mixing!

Pour the buttermilk over the the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Take a deep breath, put the fork down and reach in there with your hand and give it three to four good turns and presses to incorporate that sandy mixture in the bottom of the bowl. Don't go kneading the dough, you will get pucks.

Lightly flour your favorite work surface and turn the dough onto the surface. Working pretty fast because there are bike rides and books to read and flaky biscuits to be had, pat the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. It is okay if the dough is all chunky and uneven, that is totally normal. Your biscuit cutter is close so cut out as many as you can and arrange them an inch apart on your equally handy baking sheet. When there are scraps pile them on top of each other creating layers and press back to 1/2 inch thickness and cut. You can freeze them from this point with no need to defrost or bake them off.

Bake for about 15 minutes, they will be golden and puffy. Eat as soon as you can - you might burn your mouth but that is part of the fun.

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