Honey Beer Bread

My son has become obsessed with making this bread. It is absolutely delicious and he can make it completely independently. He has experimented with several types of beers but his favorite is a light lager because the flavor it imparts is more subtle.

This recipe was adapted from Little Sweet Baker. We have made it several times to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches- a great combination. The bread is buttery and has a chewy texture. Great!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
  • 1 bottle of beer, of choice (330 to 355 ml) of choice, at room temperature (our favorite is Trader Joe’s light lager)
  • 4 T melted unsalted butter, divided (I melt the butter in the microwave in separate 2 T portions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  3. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then whisk in the baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, followed by the honey and beer.
  5. Stir all the ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.
  7. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove the bread to cool on a wire rack.

Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Tomato Gravy

Like my last post, this special and indulgent feast was also included in Food and Wine Magazine’s “40 Best-Ever Recipes” issue celebrating the 40th anniversary of their publication. I made it for the second year in a row to celebrate my husband’s birthday! 🙂

The recipes were adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock, the then chef at Watershed in Decatur, Georgia, and co-author Edna Lewis, the legendary Southern cook, his mentor and close friend. I modified the cooking techniques and substituted sunflower oil for lard. Last year, I made Lewis’ wonderful biscuits from this full menu, but, this year I served the chicken and gravy with sourdough biscuits.

The chicken is double-brined, first in salt water and then in buttermilk, and then fried in a cast iron skillet filled with oil (or lard), butter, and bacon fat. It was very tender and juicy. The creamy and rich gravy is reminiscent of Italian vodka sauce. Pretty delicious. 😉

We ate the chicken, gravy, and biscuits with macaroni and cheese (my favorite version), and iceberg wedge salad on the side. My husband’s birthday meal is not complete without his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. ❤

For the Fried Chicken & Tomato Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • One 3 1/2 to 5 pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces (I cut each chicken breast in half)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 oz, 180.7g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch (optional) (I included it)
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lard or solid vegetable shortening, for frying (I substituted 2 cups of sunflower oil)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 pound sliced bacon (I used 4 thick slices)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (from three 14-ounce cans)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

To Make the Fried Chicken:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the kosher salt in the cold water. Add the chicken pieces; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Drain.
  2. Put the chicken in a large bowl, add the buttermilk and turn the pieces to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. (The chicken can be refrigerated overnight at this point, if desired.)
  3. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag, combine the flour, cornstarch, potato starch, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and shake.
  4. Set aside 1/2 cup of the flour mixture for the gravy.
  5. Lift the chicken out of the buttermilk, wipe off any excess and set the pieces on a wire rack; let dry for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, to the flour mixture in the bag; shake to coat.
  7. Dry the rack. Shake off any excess flour and return the chicken to the rack.
  8. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet, melt the lard (I used sunflower oil) and butter over medium heat. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  9. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; reserve the bacon for another use. (I crumbled the bacon over our wedge salads.)
  10. Add the chicken, in batches, and cook over moderate heat, basting and turning, until golden, crisp and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Lower the heat if necessary. (I kept the cooking oil temperature between 300 and 340 degrees. I also completed cooking the larger pieces (especially the breast pieces) in the oven at 300 degrees, until they reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.)
  11. Set the chicken on a clean wire rack to drain.

To Make the Gravy:

  1. Transfer 1/4 cup of the chicken cooking fat to a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. (I chopped the onion and garlic in a food processor.)
  3. Add the reserved 1/2 cup of seasoned flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained tomatoes and thyme and stir constantly until blended.
  5. Whisk in the cream and milk until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes.
To Serve:
  1. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter.
  2. Pour the tomato gravy into a gravy boat and serve with the chicken.

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons single-acting baking powder or double-acting baking powder (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into pieces (I used bacon fat)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the lard just until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times.
  6. Roll out or pat the dough 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet.
  8. Pat the dough scraps together, reroll and cut out the remaining biscuits; do not overwork the dough.
  9. Pierce the top of each biscuit 3 times with a fork and brush with the butter.
  10. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes, or until risen and golden. Serve at once.

Note: The unbaked biscuits can be frozen in a single layer, then kept frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw before baking.

Buttery Sourdough Sandwich Biscuits

I usually eat my favorite Saturday morning fried egg over a bed of arugula with Swiss cheese and extra pepper. This biscuit sandwich brought it to the next level! The bacon was a nice bonus too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur flour. I grated the butter and modified the baking time. They were very buttery and full-flavored.

Yield: 6  3-inch biscuits

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection, with a rack in the upper third.
  2. Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Work the cold, grated butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
  5. Add the starter, mixing gently until the dough is cohesive. If necessary, depending on the consistency of your starter, add buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make the dough come together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (a piece of parchment works well), and gently pat it into a 6″ round about 1″-thick.
  7. Use a sharp 2 3/8″ biscuit cutter to cut four rounds, cutting them as close to one another as possible.
  8. Gently push and pat the scraps into a 2 1/2″ x 5″ rectangle. Cut two more biscuits.
  9. Push and pat the remaining scraps into a 1″-thick biscuit; it’ll be slightly smaller than the others.
  10. Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2″ between them; they’ll spread as they bake.
  11. Bake the biscuits in the upper third of your oven for 17 to 23 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
  12. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and serve warm.

Note: Once cooled completely, the biscuits can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for several days. Freeze, well-wrapped, for longer storage.

*To make smaller biscuits: The dough can be patted 1/2-inch thick, cut into 2-inch rounds, and baked for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown.*

Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

After reading the printed version, I received multiple emails from The New York Times about this dish. Sam Sifton was over the moon about this recipe and the book, Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking. He described the book as “excellent and invaluable” and noted that this was his favorite recipe in it. I had to try it.

I agreed with Sam Sifton. 🙂 Lemon-caper sauce is incredible! This wonderful dish was prepared very quickly and was packed with flavor. Tipton-Martin learned the sauce technique that elevates these smothered pork chops from restaurateur B. Smith.

I added additional flour to the sauce to make it more of a gravy. We used fresh bread to mop up all of the remaining sauce on our plates. I served the pork chops with sautéed spinach and roasted red and sweet potatoes on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking, via The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I slightly modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 4 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each) (I used 5 boneless pork chops)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 very small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T drained capers
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, plus 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • hot sauce, optional
  1. Dry the chops with paper towels, and season aggressively with salt, pepper and the thyme.
  2. Swirl the olive oil into a large skillet, and heat over medium until the oil begins to shimmer.
  3. Add chops, and cook until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate, and cover to keep warm.
  4. Drain most of the fat from the skillet, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over medium heat until sizzling.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until the aromatics soften, reducing the heat if necessary, about 1 minute.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the wine and chicken stock, raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and hot sauce to taste (if you’re using it)(I omitted it), and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s melted and the sauce looks smooth.
  10. Nestle the pork chops into the sauce, and allow them to warm up for a couple of minutes, then serve, pouring sauce over each pork chop to taste.
  11. Garnish with more fresh parsley.

Indian Butter Chickpeas

This is an incredible vegetarian adaptation of the much loved classic Indian dish. It was also a fabulous weeknight dinner. I served it with steamed spinach which paired perfectly. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, used San Marzano tomatoes, and served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan. Great.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika or smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
  • 1 (13.5 to 15 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
  • ground cayenne
  • cooked brown or white rice, for serving
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
  • naan, for serving, optional
  • steamed spinach, for serving, optional
  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to medium-high; keeping the heat on medium ensures even browning without burning the butter.)
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook another 1 minute.
  4. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon or flat spatula, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot (or you can use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can).
  6. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to mash up the tomatoes if necessary to help them break down.
  7. Stir in chickpeas and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
  8. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  9. Serve spooned over rice, topped with cilantro, with warm naan and steamed spinach, as desired.

Danish Butter Cookies

Happy New Year! I have many recipes to share- beginning with the recipes for the holiday cookies that were new to my assortment this year.

My husband could eat Danish butter cookies on a daily basis. 😉 I decided to add them to my Christmas cookie assortment this year after seeing and episode about Scandinavian cookies on Martha Bakes.

This simple and pure version from Martha Stewart is most successful when using high-quality ingredients. I used King Arthur Flour and Plugra European-style butter. I adapted the recipe by weighing the flour and by using a cookie press to make the cookies instead of piping them. Nice.

Yield: about 40 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) best-quality salted butter, room temperature (I used Plugra)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 300 g (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla and egg, and beat to combine.
  4. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated.
  5. Transfer dough to a cookie press, I used the wreath disc, or into a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch star tip (such as Ateco #825 or Wilton #4B).
  6. Spritz cookie shapes or pipe dough into 2 1/2-inch rings onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake, rotating halfway through, until lightly golden around edges but still light on top, about 12 to 14 minutes for spritz cookies or up to 20 minutes for piped cookies.
  8. Transfer sheets to wire racks; let cool completely.

Perfect Apple Pie

This pie is Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s updated Perfect Apple Pie to her “Even More Perfect Apple Pie.” I had to try it because the filling is loaded with an enormous amount of apples. Yum.

She introduced me to a new technique which I was very surprised to have never seen before or thought of myself! She covers the pie with a foil dome to prevent the crust from over-browning. Absolute genius.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. The updated pie recipe modifies the baking temperature and cooking time, increases volume of apples (with a link on how to choose pie apples), decreases the thickness of the apple slices, omits the lemon juice and zest, and uses tapioca as the thickener.

The incredible mound of apple filling keeps the finished pie from becoming concave after baking. Beautiful and delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, or about 1/4 teaspoon ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 pounds baking apples (I used a combination of several types of apples)
  • 3 T tapioca flour or starch (I used minute tapioca)

For the Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
  • 1 T (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, optional
  • coarse or raw sugar for sprinkling, optional

To Serve:

  • vanilla ice cream, optional

Make the Filling:

  1. Combine sugars, salt, and spices in your absolutely largest bowl.
  2. Peel, halve, and core your apples and cut them into thin (scant 1/4-inch) slices, adding them right to the big bowl.
  3. Toss to coat the slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.

Make the Crust:

  1. Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside.
  2. In a large, very wide bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (If the butter becomes slightly warm, re-refrigerate until very cold.)
  4. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly.
  5. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop- even if it looks uneven.
  6. Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.
  7. Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and use your hands to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
  8. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk.
  9. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. (I make my dough a day in advance.)
  10. Once the dough is chilled and ready to go, roll out the first half on a well-floured counter into a 14-inch circle and transfer it to 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate.
  11. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim overhang to one inch all around. Refrigerate dish and dough until needed.
  12. For a regular pie lid, roll out the second dough half into the same sized circle, transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. For a lattice or woven pie lid, you can use the same sized circle, or you can just roll it into a rectangle at least 14″ in one direction, and then as long or wide you can get it in the other. Transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. (I made a 10-piece lattice top.)

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

To Make the Pie:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Stir tapioca starch into the apple pie filling.
  3. Pour filling into prepared bottom crust and use your hands to pack and heap those softened apples as mounded as you can get them, then add a few more.
  4. Pour any juices that have accumulated carefully over apples; do not leave any behind.
  5. Either place your second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips to lattice the top.
  6. Trim the top crust or lattice strips to the edge of the pie dish. Fold the overhang from the lower crust over to form a thick rim, and crimp it together with your fingers or a fork to seal it.
  7. Brush top crust with egg, then sprinkle with sugar if desired. If your top crust is in one piece, cut a few vents in it with a sharp knife.
  8. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the large baking sheet for easier cleanup, then transfer your prepared pie onto it.
  9. Bake for 75 minutes, turning once or twice for even color. If your pie is browning too fast, take a large square of foil, mold it over the back of a large bowl into a convex dome, then use that to cover the pie in the oven for the remaining baking time so it doesn’t brown much further. The pie is done when juices are bubbling visibly through the vents or lattice, or when the internal temperature reads 195°F. A tester inserted into the pie shouldn’t hit any overtly crunchy apple pieces. (I added an additional 10 minutes to the baking time t achieve the 195°F internal temperature.)

To Serve: Cool pie for at least one hour at room temperature before cutting into it. However, your filling will not fully thicken until it has fully cooled, ideally in the fridge for a couple hours. You can rewarm slices as you serve them, if desired. Leftovers keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and in the fridge for 1 week. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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