Improv Chicken and Biscuits

Chicken and Biscuits1

I think I should start this post off by being completely honest about something:

This was supposed to be a different dish.

Not a HUGELY different one, but a different one all the same.

It just didn’t happen that way. Because…stupid stuff.

Chicken and Biscuits4

I originally set out to use my new springform pan to bake a deep dish chicken pot pie that I’ve had my cooking eye on for a while. I had a spare pie crust in my freezer that’s been there since I made my Deep Dish Apple pie a few months back. I thought that since it’d been in the freezer all this time, and since I could still see the chunks of butter in the dough that it would be okay to just thaw in the fridge and use, thus sparing me the necessity of making another pie crust from scratch.

I thought.

Chicken and Biscuits2

So what had happened was, I rolled out the thawed pie crust and lined it in my springform pan. I thought it felt and looked fine. There waaaaaas a tiny little problem though: I didn’t have parchment paper and/or pie weights or beans to place on top of the crust while it pre-baked in the oven. All I had was aluminum foil.

So I knocked on wood,placed a layer of foil on top of crust and put it in the oven and waited for something to happen.

And turns out, something DID happen…it just wasn’t a very good something.

Chicken and Biscuits6

About ten minutes into the bake, (just to be on the safe side) I looked in the oven and lifted the foil.

Yeah so….the crust was collapsing in the pan in a gelatinous, greasy pile. It was a hot mess.

No WAY was this gonna work.

To be perfectly honest, I have NO idea what I did wrong, guys.

Maybe I really did need the parchment paper and pie weights. Like, maybe they were the “heart and soul” of the recipe. (Doubt it, but hey, could be.)

Chicken and Biscuits3

It’s very possible and likely that the fats in the butter of the frozen pie crust over the long period of time had in the freezer, I don’t know….evaporated? Maybe there’s an expiration date on frozen pie crust. I didn’t think so, but maybe there is. If one of you out there happens to be a food scientist, maybe you can explain it to me.

But then, I’m also half convinced that the oven in our new apartment hasn’t been properly calibrated. Despite being an electric range like our last one was,  it takes longer to bake things in this oven than the allotted time for recipes–sometimes much longer. I’m planning on going out and buying an oven thermometer this weekend and testing the temps to confirm my suspicions. I’m hoping I’m wrong about that though.

Regardless, my plans for a deep dish chicken pot pie were screwed.

Chicken and Biscuits5

The problem was, I couldn’t just walk away. I’d already started making the filling. I’d involved myself. I was committed to this now.

After promptly shoving the misshapen blob of deceased, failed pie crust into the trash can, I took a step back and thought: How was I going to salvage this dish to my satisfaction? Technically, I could’ve just made the filling and served it all on its own. I just didn’t want to do that.

I had started cooking with the expectation that we were going to have chicken pot pie for dinner, not just chicken pot pie filling. I wanted the carbohydrate-stick to your-ribs-chicken pot pie-experience. You can’t get that with filling all on its own: that’s just called a chicken stew.

Chicken and Biscuits7

As a general habit, I try to always have a box or two of frozen butter in my freezer at all times. That way, I always have butter that’s cold enough to make two things whenever I want: pie crust, and biscuits. After the embarrassing defeat of my other failed pie crust, I wasn’t up for making another one of those just then. Biscuits were an easier and quicker alternative (especially considering I only had a few more hours left until it would too dark outside for me to take pictures.)

I still had quite a bit of fresh rosemary left from making the filling that was meant to go in my pie. So I  called an audible and decided that I was going to make rosemary scented buttermilk biscuits to serve with the chicken filling.

Fortunately, the biscuits came together VERY quickly and easily. I was in a frustrated, frenzied hurry so I actually handled and kneaded at the dough much more than I’m usually comfortable with when I make biscuits, and they STILL came out flaky and tender on the inside. With some chicken filling spooned on top of these babies, you really are in for what I like to think of as the quintessential winter comfort food that makes you want to take a nap as soon as it’s gone. So despite my snafu with the failed pie crust, I still feel pretty good about how I rocked this out. It turned out well.

Y’know, thanks to improvisation and stuff. Thus the name of the recipe.

(I’ll be taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #104, co-hosted this week by Mila @ milkandbun and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.)

*************************************************************************************

Improv Chicken and Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Food 52 & Serious Eats

Print

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • cups chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • sprigs rosemary
  • sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp. honey mustard (depending on taste preference)
  • cups chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 large rotisserie chicken)

For the Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs, 1 whole, 1 beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups (13 ounces) all-purpose or low-protein biscuit flour, such as White Lily or Adluh
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) frozen unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

For the Chicken:

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the bag of frozen veggies, cook for further 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more. Remove the vegetables from the pot.

Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is just starting to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the vegetables back to the pot, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Season with salt, black pepper, onion powder and the honey mustard. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cream, and chicken and return to a simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the mixture from the heat.

For the Biscuits:

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, cream, and whole egg.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and chopped rosemary. Using the large grates on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the flour mixture and toss gently with a spatula until fully coated. Working quickly and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until butter forms marble-sized pieces. Alternatively, add flour mixture and butter to food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times to form marble-sized pieces; transfer to a large bowl.

Add buttermilk mixture and gently mix with a fork until just combined; the dough should look somewhat dry and shaggy. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Form dough into a rectangle, lightly pressing and folding to bring it together; avoid squeezing or kneading the dough.

Fold dough into thirds like a letter. Using rolling pin, roll out dough and repeat folding once more. Roll out dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic and transfer to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Return dough to work surface, and, using a 3-inch round cookie-cutter and pressing down without a twisting motion, cut out biscuits as closely together as possible. Gather together scraps, pat down, and cut out more biscuits; discard any remaining scraps. Brush the top of each biscuit with egg-wash.

Bake the biscuits in a 400°F oven until risen and golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with the smothered chicken.

Fluffy Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

Yellow Layer Cake1

Is it too late to wish all you guys a Happy New Year? No?

Ok then, well… Happy New Year!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but the 12 Days of Christmas series always does sap a lot of energy out of me, and this year I was also doing it while we were in the process of moving to a new place. By the time I put up my most recent post on Christmas Eve, I was pretty exhausted and in much need of a break. So I took one.

I hope your year’s been off to a promising start. Mine certainly has.

Yellow Layer Cake3

Apart from the fact that the new (and sadly, the last) season of Downton Abbey always comes to America the first week in the new year, the beginning of January also marks the birthdays of several people in my family that are clustered together. This includes one particularly important person to me that I’d like to share a few words about in brief snapshots of my memory.

(This is going to get sentimental. Very sentimental. You’ve been warned.)

Yellow Layer Cake2

To the woman who let me and my sisters crowd around her on a bed while she read aloud from “Great Expectations” as our ‘bedtime’ story and made me discover my great and all-consuming love of books and subsequently, writing.

To the woman who would wake us up for school with a chipper rendition of “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bobbin Along” until we all laughed and forgot how sleepy we were.

Yellow Layer Cake7

To the woman who would pile us all into the backseat of our car and drive to chase sunsets (back in the days when gas was cheap as dirt, of course).

To the woman who when I cried and was sad, was always willing to rock and hold me and sing “You Are My Sunshine” until I felt better.

To the woman/wonderful cook who was nothing but completely encouraging and supportive when I made the hefty decision to start learning to cook for myself.

Yellow Layer Cake8

AND, to the woman who shares my opinion that yellow cake with chocolatey fudge frosting is the BEST type of cake there is.

It was your *bleep*th birthday: so I made you one.

And we both of us thought it tasted pretty awesome.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

Yellow Layer Cake4

Yellow cake is usually something that people don’t get unless it comes out of a box of cake mix. I’m not gonna knock yellow cake mix too hard; so long as you’re eating it in the first two days after it was made, then it’s actually pretty tasty.

But after making this recipe twice, I really must insist…there’s still NO substitute for yellow cake and chocolate frosting made from scratch. There just isn’t.

Even after running into a momentary setback with the new oven temperature in our new place, this cake recipe proved very forgiving and STILL came out great. The buttery richness that we all love to see in yellow cake really comes through with the 6 egg yolks, while the whites made it plenty moist and fluffy. And the milky, chocolate fudgey frosting…wow. I had to resist the urge to just eat it clear off of a spoon. The folks at ATK prove time and time again that they know what they’re doing.

I’ll be sharing my mom’s birthday cake with you wonderful people at the Fiesta Friday #102 party, co-hosted this week by Elaine @ foodbod and Julie @ Hostess at Heart– both GREAT ladies, with great blogs.

**************************************************************************************

Fluffy Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting


Recipe Courtesy of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

Print

Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour, plus extra for the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Frosting

  • 20 tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • Pinch table salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

For the Cake:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9-inch wide by 2-inch high round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, 1 1/2 cups of the granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla and egg yolks.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 30 to 60 seconds (the whites should hold a peak but the mixture should still appear moist). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the flour mixture to the now empty mixing bowl. With the mixer till fitted with the whisk attachment and running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir one third of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula. Lightly tap the pans against the countertop two or three times to settle the batter. Bake until the cake layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and cool before frosting, about 2 hours.

For the Frosting:

Using a standing or hand held mixer, cream the butter, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and salt together until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix until just combined, about 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the chocolate and mix together until smooth and creamy, about 10-15-seconds.

Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one (evenly leveled) cake layer on the platter. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the frosting evenly across the top of the cake with a spatula. Place the second cake layer on top, then spread with the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.