Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quick-As-A-Whink Biscuits

Quick-As-A-Wink biscuits. The name is very intriguing isn't it?

It should be. These biscuits have a secret ingredient that makes them incredibly light & moist. You may turn your nose up when you find out what it is, but as I always me. I have yet to steer you wrong & I promise I will not this time.

I discovered this recipe one morning in a cookbook I had that was a compilation of recipes printed in the Southern Almanac over the course of a year. I was really craving biscuits & since I'm not usually one for baking, especially when it involves alot of mixing & all that stuff, I wanted something simple that wouldn't take much time. I hit the jackpot with this recipe.

I have used it several times since, one time I mixed in cheddar cheese & crumbled bacon & fresh ground pepper. Another time I added sausage & cheese & yet another I added chives & cheese.

Have I ever mentioned I like cheese? No? Hmmm, funny, because I love it. But this post & recipe doesn't have anything to do with cheese, this time anyway.

Back to the recipe.

I swear you can't get simpler than this & PLEASE do not let the ingredients turn you off, these biscuits are delicious & as the name says quick-as-a-wink.

You'll use 2 cups of self-rising flour. Dump that in your mixing bowl.

You'll also use 1 cup of milk, but the picture I took of that didn't turn out, so you just have to use your imagination as to what that looks like being poured in the bowl.

Here it is...the secret ingredient. Mayonnaise. You'll use 3/4 cups of mayo. Using mayonnaise eliminates using shortening. Plus the mayo is much easier to work with & keeps you from having to work so hard to get really good biscuits.

Add the mayo to the flour & milk.

Stir those ingredients together until they resemble this. The mixture will be sticky & fairly loose. It will not be as firm as normal biscuit mix.

Which is why you will use your muffin tin for this recipe. Be sure to spray the muffin tin with non-stick spray.

I made 6 large biscuits from this recipe, you could probably get 8 out of it if you didn't fill the cups as full as I did. I just like nice big biscuits, but do what you like.  

Fill your muffin tins with the biscuit mixture. Again, I over-fill them, it makes a nice almost crunchy top on the biscuit. They will get a little more brown on top too, compared to what biscuits normally do.
You'll bake them at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

When you pull them from the oven you'll have light, fluffy & delicious biscuits that were made quick-as-a-wink.

They go great with country sausage gravy too. Stay tuned for that recipe later in the week.

Hope you enjoy them!

Quick-As-A-Wink Biscuits
makes 6-8 biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup milk
3/4 mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients until blended well. Grease a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Spoon biscuit mixture into muffin tin. Fill each cup slightly over full for 6 months & just level for 8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Italian Torta

Finally! I'm back! Thank goodness! I've been so busy I didn't realize how long it has been since I posted a recipe.

Actually I do know how long I've been away. Everyday that passed & I didn't have time to get a recipe & pictures together I would think, "Blasted, my people need me & my recipes. There's someone out there who needs a torta recipe!"

With that introduction here I am with a new recipe in honor of my friend Natasha who left just today headed to Italy. (Remember I mentioned her in my last post from a couple of weeks ago, she's the science teacher going to teach English to Italian kids. Who da thunk it.)

My an Italian Torta.

What is a torta you ask? Well supposedly it means cake in Italian. I guess this could be a cake. I actually though torta was Italian for layered or layers or some form of the word layer. Apparently I was wrong. However this recipe, as most recipes, is a combination of a couple of different recipes & those recipes were also called tortas.

It can be quite confusing I know. But we'll make it through & we'll keep calling this a torta.

I have been making this recipe for at least 6 years. I've already shared it with a few other people & I stopped making it for a while because I got burnt out on it.

But it made an appearance at a recent baby shower I gave. I needed something easy that did not require cooking of any nature & the torta was my answer.

So, to make said torta...

You're going to need pesto, I use prepared, you can make your own & send me the recipe. You also need sun-dried tomatoes in oil & 16oz of whipped cream cheese.

This is embarrassingly easy to make, but you'll love it.

OH! And you need about a Tablespoon of minced garlic & a healthy couple of teaspoons of Italian seasoning. Mix together the garlic & Italian seasoning with your cream cheese. It's great if you can let this sit a couple of hours before making the torta too. That way the flavors have time to meld together.

This is a picture of the flavors melding.

What is melding anyway, it's a weird word, maybe it's not a word at all. Maybe I just made it up years ago. Either way I use it all the time.

What does it really mean? Maybe that's a conversation for a different type of blog.

Now, drain your sun-dried tomatoes & dump them in a food processor & add a pinch of sugar. Pulse that until they are finely chopped.

Grab your dish you want to use for the mold. I've used a loaf pan, a tart pan, a pie plate, you could use a jello mold or bundt pan if you want. Whatever blows your skirt up. But whatever you use, spray it with non-stick spray & lay plastic wrap over it. You'll need to be sure & smooth the plastic wrap as much as possible & get it in mashed down really well all around the pan or plate or mold or whatever. Once that is done spray the top of the plastic wrap. Just trust me & keep reading.

Score your cream cheese to make even halves.

Now plop (which is a very scientific word by the way) half of the cream cheese in your mold.

Very carefully spread the cream cheese around the bottom of your mold. There is a technique to this & it involves repeat spraying of the back of a spoon with non-stick spray & very small spreads.

The cream cheese will want to stick to the plastic wrap. Be patient & keep spreading. Have a fingertip full of cream cheese to make yourself feel better & spread some more.

When you're done with all that it should look like this. Good luck! This is tedious but I know you can do it.

Now add the chopped tomatoes to the top of the cream cheese.

Evenly disperse the tomatoes. The technique I use here is taking a fork & lightly spreading the tomatoes around. I know, it's becoming a bit much with all the fancy "techniques".

Add the pesto, which can also be drained just a little, & spread over the top of the tomatoes. This can be a little tedious too, but not too bad.

Add the remaining cream cheese to the top of the pesto & use the spraying, spreading, slightly frustrating steps listed earlier.

You're pesto & maybe even a little tomato will want to mix in with the cheese. That's okay, this is the bottom of the torta, no one will see it except you & it will be delizioso regardless of how it looks.

Cover with more plastic wrap & place in the fridge for at least 2 hours so that it can set.

Once it's set, remove from fridge, place your serving dish, upside-down, on the top of the pie plate. Grab the whole thing together with your big lobster claw hand...

And flip it over. You may have to jiggle the pie plate a little & pull on the plastic wrap to get it to come out all the way.

It should come out looking something like this. See the pretty layers...they taste good too. Yummm!

Garnish with some fresh basil leaves & sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil) & you have yourself an Italian Torta.

Serve this with crackers or crostini & enjoy!

Italian Torta
16 oz of whipped cream cheese
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup of prepared pesto
8 oz of sun-dried tomatoes in oil
Dry sun-dried tomatoes (for garnish)
3-4 fresh basil leaves (for garnish)

Mix cheese, garlic & Italian seasoning together & set aside. Place tomatoes in a food processor with a pinch of sugar. Pulse until finely chopped. Spray mold with non-stick spray, place plastic wrap in mold, covering all areas well. Spray top of plastic wrap with non-stick spray as well. Using half of the cream cheese mixture, spread evenly in bottom of mold. Spread tomatoes over cream cheese, the layer pesto over the tomatoes. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture over pesto. Cover well & refrigerate at least 2 hours.

To serve, place serving dish on top of mold, invert, remove mold & plastic wrap. Garnish with dry tomatoes & basil leaves if desired.