I woke up this morning excited. There was somewhere I just had to be. Torrential rain couldn't stop me. (Or the other 60 people in the room.) I went to a biscuit-making demonstration by Nathalie Dupree, author of 11 cookbooks about the South, cooking and entertaining, and host of over 300 Food Network shows. She recently published a new cookbook, Southern Biscuits (squee!). Imagine my excitement. You can get it at Amazon.com for almost half-price! Oh, well. At least mine is signed! Of course, if you're a long-time reader of my blog, you know the title of my blog is actually from Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, a book I cannot recommend strongly enough.
It's easy to see why Nathalie Dupree is such a wildly popular television personality. She has great warmth, charm and humor.
"You don't make biscuits to eat healthy. You make biscuits so that after you're dead and gone, people will lay in bed and think, 'Oh, if I just had one of [insert your name]'s biscuits, I could get out of bed!"
Everyone aspires to the biscuit they grew up with,and that biscuit is different for everyone. Some like them flaky, some like them fluffy (like me), some like them crispy on the outside, while some like them on the tougher side all the way through. I grew up with a fluffy biscuit with a buttery top, and on holidays, an enormous never-ending biscuit that fills the pan -- what my Granny Sue calls "pone bread".
I learned a lot about the chemistry of biscuit-making, that acidic liquids make a fluffier biscuit (buttermilk, lard & shortening), while butter makes them tender; the difference in a Southern flour, a Northern and a Midwestern flour (Southern is best for biscuit-making, of course); and how to study your finicky oven and figure out how it bakes so that you can make your biscuits just right by turning the pan around mid-bake, or adding a second pan underneath.
Working from Mary Haglund's kitchen at Breakfast of Course! (B.O.C.) in Downtown Winston-Salem, she praised the establishment: "This place is REAL. Every item of food found in this kitchen is REAL. I mean real cream, real butter. There is something to be said for a restaurant that has real food these days."
Her book is chock-full of biscuit recipes, some named "fool-proof", some flavored, such as Pimento Cheese Biscuits, others from famous restaurants in her home of Charleston, SC, like "Cracklin' Cat's Head Biscuits" from the Pirate's House Cook Book, and Gullah Biscuits. I'm eager to try the Sweet Potato Pumpkin Biscuits and the cheese straws, but I think I'll forego the Coca-Cola Biscuits. There's even a chapter called "Gilding the Lily" full of gravy, herbed-butter and jam recipes.
Another favorite quote from the day, "You want to be remembered for making two things well, and so you need to fill them full of butter and cream: mashed potatoes and biscuits. No one ever says, 'Oh, I wish so-and-so were here with her hamburgers.'" Amen.
|Nathalie Dupree: "And here's another tip -- |
Don't wear black while making biscuits."
|Mary's biscuits with cured |
country ham from Ronnie's.