fresh thyme from the front porch
ricotta scrambled eggs mise en scene: 6 eggs from Fall Creek Farms, salt & pepper to taste, 1/4 cup raw milk, 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta, fresh thyme, 1 T butter
Supfast! Breakfast for supper. The bacon looks burnt. It isn’t. Black forest bacon gets rad like that.
L’oeuf. Huevos. Ovos. Ei. Ouvo. Eggs. They are important, and I purchase an inordinate amount each week from the farmer’s market. They are abundant, cheap, and a great source of protein. Our household of two easily goes through two dozen eggs a week. In our defense, I have a mean baking addiction and am in the habit of doling out baked goods to whomever crosses my path. But really, I just adore eggs. They are sensual: the velvety yolk of a pierced poached egg over grilled asparagus or eggs benedict, fried eggs over easy on a ham sandwich, a soft boiled egg with toast soldiers.The language of eggs is it’s own kind of poetics: albumen, meringue, quail, ovos moles, frisée au lardon, hollandaise, deviled, bibimbap, globular, pickled, huevos rancheros, custard, soufflé, eggnog, runny, emulsion, sunny…This veritable egg poem runs through my mind, and I think of the egg as a metaphor: as life, as creation, as frailty. One of the most common yet sumptuous ingredients, it is their humility, simplicity, transformative properties, and ubiquity that I find fascinating. From meringue to mayonnaise to my father’s deviled eggs, the forms that those fragile ellipses can take seem endless. Just this past week I’ve made three quiches (two with duck eggs…), soufflé, egg yolk dressing, and three tarts with egg-cheese fillings…I never struggle to use up eggs. Ever.
Tonight’s incarnation was one of the most humble forms the egg can take: scrambled. Scrambled eggs was one of the first things I learned to make as a child, but these are evolved scrambled eggs. The addition of fresh herbs, cheese, a bit of butter, and a splash of milk make these impossibly creamy, perfect for thick slices of toast. Or in our case thick, chewy bacon & sky high biscuits.
About these biscuits. Today I drove out to Fort Oglethorpe, GA to a little place across from a gas station called “The Big Biscuit Barn”. The marquee outside reads simply:
PRAISE THE LORD
Fair enough. Any faith that directly involves biscuit consumption knows some things, in my opinion. And these biscuits, cut with a pineapple can, are indeed big. These are about as classic as southern biscuits get: White Lily self-rising flour, Crisco, and buttermilk. I’m not one to go in for such processed ingredients, but these biscuits definitely have nostalgia on their side if you’re from around here. That said, it is my goal to pull a Darth Vader and adapt this recipe using unbleached flour + leavening agents, local buttermilk, and either butter or some combination of butter & organic vegetable shortening. Then I’ll show up at The Big Biscuit Barn, draw my rolling pin like a light saber, and declare “Now I am the master.”
That said, do not get me wrong, these are great biscuits. And the Biscuit Lady’s biscuit making class is something I think anyone in the greater Chattanooga area who has a vested interest in baking biscuits should take. And I mean, seriously, who doesn’t have a vested interest in baking better biscuits? She has some super secret techniques that anyone, no matter their ingredient preferences, can benefit from. I’m very excited to try them out on my own recipe(s), and I’ll give you the gist of it below. Feel free if you have any questions regarding the technique. If you do take the class you will come home with quite the biscuit haul. I had a giant ziplock baggie of the biscuits I made, seemingly the size of my head, plus two gigantic cinnamon rolls made out of biscuit dough that she prepared in order to demonstrate the versatility of the dough and all the wildly sinful things you can do with it (herbs and cheddar… sugar, butter, cinnamon… apple pie filling…etc). In short it was very educational, nostalgic (I actually drove out through Rossville, where my Grandmother lived and teared up on the way… so yeah), and delicious. I will be going back.
The Bicuit Lady’s Sky High Biscuits
- 2 cups White Lily self-rising flour not packed
- 1/4 cup Crisco packed
- 7/8 almost a cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a heavy bottom baking sheet with canola oil.
- Combine your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cut the fat into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it resembles course meal and there are no pieces of fat bigger than a pea. Stir in the buttermilk until just combined. Let this sit out to proof for 20 minutes. While not absolutely necessary, it is said by the Biscuit Lady that this results in bigger biscuits. I believe her. But if you don’t have time for proofing, no worries. They’ll still be excellent biscuits.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured work surface and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Form dough into a rectangle with the narrow side facing you, about 1 inch thick. Fold the dough in half, folding the far side of the dough toward you. Turn the dough clockwise, gently pat back out in a rectangle and repeat this three more times, careful not to pat out the air pockets created by the folding, as these are essential to a light, tall, flaky biscuit. After the forth fold, shape your dough into a nice circle and make sure your work surface has enough flour to roll the dough out. Using a rolling pin gently “bounce” your dough out from the middle until about 2 inches thick, sheen with a little flour, just to smooth dough, and continue to roll out until 3/4 inch thick. Using a floured biscuit cutter of your choice, cut the biscuits out starting from the sides. Do not twist your biscuit cutter as this will seal the sides of the biscuits and prevent rising. Gently place biscuits onto your greased sheet pan. Let proof again once cut for another 20 minutes. I’d never heard of proofing biscuits before either. It’s a secret. Well, it was a secret.
- Depending on the size of your biscuits bake for 8-12 minutes. Check them often the first time, baking until just golden. If your biscuits are done on the outside and doughy on the inside, your oven is too hot. (I advise everyone to buy an oven thermometer. They are dirt cheap.)
- Brush tops with butter if desired. Praise the Lord. Eat a biscuit.
*Cool biscuits completely before storing in an air tight container. To reheat biscuits, lightly wet tops and microwave or put in the oven. Reheating in the oven will make them dryer.
*All Natural Sky High Biscuits* a.k.a. Darth Vader Biscuits
(these are unbelievable, hands down the best biscuit I’ve ever eaten or made, better than the Biscuit Lady’s, if I do say so myself)
- 250 grams 2 cups King Arthur unbleached cake flour (or unbleached AP flour)
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup 1/2 a stick unsalted butter, cold
- 230 mL 1 scant cup/ 230 g buttermilk (I use Cruze Farm’s)
- Heat oven to 425°.Mix the dry ingredients before cutting in the butter. I cut the butter in cold with my fingers, crumbling it until no pieces larger than a pea remain but there are still lots of nice little bits of butter. You can also use a pastry cutter or two knives.Pour in the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon until just well combined, no more, no less. At this point you can let your biscuit dough rest for 20 minutes if you desire. I personally rarely do this. But go for it if you’re feeling patient! It is said to result in higher biscuits.After mixing scrape your biscuit dough out onto a well floured work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and dust your hands with flour. Use as little as you can to keep it from sticking to everything.
- Gently form it into a rectangle with the narrow end facing you. Roll this out to 1″ thick with a rolling pin. Roll from the center using a light bouncing motion. Don’t bulldoze the dough. A gentle touch is key. You can use your hands to pat it out instead of a rolling pin, but I prefer using a pin.
- Fold it into thirds by folding the farthest end towards you then folding it again, like a business letter. Turn clockwise. Roll this back out to about 1 1/2″ thick and fold it in half. Turn clockwise once more, roll out, fold in half, and then form the dough into a nice round circle. Roll the circle out to about 1″ thick.
- Cut biscuits using a floured biscuit cutter (tip: to get the flour to stick to the cutter I smear just a bit of biscuit dough on the inside of it and then flour it, reflouring after cutting each biscuit…and remember, don’t twist your biscuit cutter or you’ll seal the sides). Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once cut you can let them rest again for 20 minutes. Or not. I don’t.
- You can brush the tops of your biscuits with butter or cream if you want. I don’t, but I might if I were making them for others (my other half doesn’t count).
- Bake for about 15 minutes for 3″ diameter biscuits. Cool slightly. (I never do. I eat them piping hot.) Peel back the tender, flaky layers. Slather with cinnamon-sugar butter. Or jam. Or nothing. Praise the Lord. Eat a biscuit.
Soft-Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Thyme
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
- salt and pepper to taste
- Beat the eggs with the milk, thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Melt the tablespoon of butter and scramble eggs in butter over medium low heat. Low and slow scrambling prevents your eggs from getting dry. Once they are cooked to your liking, take them off the heat and stir in the ricotta until just mixed in but pieces still remain. Season to taste.
How To Fry Thick Cut Bacon:
- Low and slow. Place bacon in a cold pan and turn heat to medium-low (I fry my bacon on 4 out of ten on a ceramic cook top). Fry ten minutes on each side, and then two additional minutes per side. Yes, it takes a long time, but the result is worth it. Crispy, chewy… perfect bacon.