Bon Appetit’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits

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I made Bon Appetit’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits last week, and they were pretty dang good. A little tang from the buttermilk, plenty of layers, crisp tops and soft centers ready to fill with a pat of butter or a spoonful of jam.

I made a few changes to BA’s recipe. For one, I kneaded my biscuits together fully by hand, instead of using a pastry cutter, or the food processor BA suggested. You’ll find directions below for hand-kneaded biscuits, a slight adjustment from BA’s version. I did look back at BA’s video after setting my biscuits in the oven, and felt like I over-kneaded my dough. If you make these, by hand or in the food processor, be sure to leave decent-sized butter chunks in your dough, and allow the dough to stay crumbly.

I also cut back the butter a tiiiiiiny bit, removing 2 tbsp from the dough, and skipping the butter-brushed tops altogether. Some might call this heresy, but I felt there was a ridiculous amount of butter in the BA recipe and wanted to dial it back, if only a bit. I’ve written up the recipe with the full amount of butter, so you can decide for yourself how much to include.

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Plum Jam

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Here’s a simple plum jam with just three ingredients– four, if you decide to add a dash of vanilla. I love recipes like this. Simple, classic, and incredibly delicious. The plums are naturally high in pectin, and using an appropriate amount of sugar lets them gel.

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Lemon Meltaways

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Lemon meltaways are a tender cookie made from a shortbread base. They’re coated in powdered sugar, crumble easily, and are designed, as the name suggests, to melt in your mouth. Lemon meltaways can be sweet or tart– this version stays on the sweet side, getting its lemon flavor from zest, and just a teaspoonful of juice.

Lemon Meltaways

I based my recipe on this one from Stella Parks of Serious Eats. The Serious Eats version calls for tapioca starch instead of corn starch, for a more delicate, meltier cookie. I used corn starch, which is more of a pantry staple for me than tapioca. The cookies still tasted great to me, and I didn’t notice any missing melty qualities. However, if you do have tapioca starch on hand, I’d go with the Serious Eats recipe for something more tender.

Lemon Meltaways

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Classic Shortbread Cookies

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Shortbread cookies are a favorite of mine because they are so simple to make. Classic shortbread recipes contain only three ingredients– butter, sugar, and flour.

Of course, the variations are endless. You can swap the white sugar out for powdered sugar, for a finer crumb. This seems to be the standard in most modern shortbread recipes, and this is the version you’ll find in this blog post. Some recipes will use lower-gluten cake flour, or swap a little bit of flour for cornstarch or tapioca starch, which results in a crumblier, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Flavorings include vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon or orange zest, chopped nuts and even dried lavender flowers.

Classic Shortbread Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

Shortbreads tend to be a holiday cookie in the US, but they also pair well with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee.

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Victuals: A review and two recipes

Above, a photo that I snapped of the inside cover of Victuals the day it arrived at my doorstep– I wanted to share the beauty of this book the minute I saw it. 

Ronnie Lundy’s Victuals (pronounced “Vittles”) is a chronicle of a 4000+ mile journey through Appalachia, a story and a history told through food. It’s part cookbook, part edible atlas. It winds its way through Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina, and pays homage to the traditions of Europe, West Africa, and the pre-colonial Americas that come together in the food of the Mountain South.  It’s a book filled with seasonal and regional recipes, but also a history of the land and the people of Appalachia. Victuals reflects a confluence of climate, culture, industry, and ethnic heritage.

Personal history also plays a huge part in this book. Ronnie Lundy grew up in Appalachia. She vividly remembers her “summers up home” in Kentucky, and recipes like the swing shift steak come directly from her childhood.

There are recipes for every season. There are recipes for bright vegetable sides and hearty meat-centric suppers. There are recipes for sweet desserts and salty snacks alike. There’s a roasted root vegetable salad that comes dressed with bacon and orange soghum vinegar. Kale potato cakes, spring ramp pot roast, miner’s goulash, and a speckled butter bean cassoulet with rabbit confit. A simple skillet cornbread, a luscious buttermilk brown sugar pie, salty cheese nabs, and the sweet-and-savory banana pudding you’ll find below. There were also a few odd but delicious-sounding pickle recipes I put on my list for the spring– picked ramps and pickled green strawberries.

The book is divided by key food groups and ingredients. Each section is devoted to a staple food– salt, corn, beans and apples, among others. The apple section is one of my favorites. It includes fried apples, cake, a sticky pudding, and a recipe for pork & kraut in cider gravy.

To be honest, I had no idea the food of Appalachia was so varied. Staple foods pop up repeatedly, but there’s almost infinite variation in the preparation and addition of seasonal produce. And while this book digs deep into food traditions, the recipes are modern and fresh.

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Matcha Ice Cream

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Is summer over already? It’s the first day of September and the last few weeks have flown by. I find it hard to believe— as I do at the start of every season— that it’s already time for the weather to change. Soon we’ll be trading in bathing suits for coats and sweaters, ice cream for hot cocoa. Matcha Ice Cream

But let’s not think about that just yet. September is actually the warmest month of the year in the Bay Area. The highs are in the high 70s and we’re just settling in for a long Indian summer. Today we’re making another ice cream recipe to get us through the last sweaty days of the season.

Matcha Ice Cream

This matcha ice cream is cold, creamy, and sweet.

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Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler + Finding Your True Style

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler from Kitchen in the Hills. This is a classic southern recipe that's simple to make and perfectly delicious! #peachcobbler #summer #dessert #baking

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Note: This is a recipe post, but it’s also a personal post. If you’re just looking for the recipe, you’ll find it at the bottom of the page.

For the first two years of this blog, I wrote cheerfully about healthy recipes with trendy ingredients. I tried to muster up enthusiasm for things I wasn’t really excited about making, but had convinced myself food blogging was all about. I tried very hard, but it didn’t always feel right.

I’ve done the quick-and-easy recipes. I’ve done the health-conscious recipes. But at heart, I’m all about old-fashioned comfort foods, homey recipes, bits of nostalgia we all grew up with.

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler from Kitchen in the Hills. This is a classic southern recipe that's simple to make and perfectly delicious!

It’s the most down-home Southern food that makes my heart leap in my chest, that has me rushing to the kitchen to make it. It’s spicy Indian stews and curries, particularly South Indian, that bring back fond memories of childhood. It’s the sweet treat or the lovingly baked yeast bread that soothes me when I’m frustrated or flustered.

Patience. Time moves more slowly in the South, and the food takes a little longer to prepare. I grew up in Florida around a lot of good food, with a family that ate home-cooked meals, together at the table, every single night. I grew up eating a lot of Indian food lovingly cooked by my Mom. I also ate a ton of hearty American fare, the stuff most American childhoods are filled with. Watermelon and french fries and Tostitos pizza rolls. And these foods I grew up eating are the ones that inspire what I cook today. Occasionally I’ll put a tropical twist on something, and that’s also deeply me– my childhood in Florida or trips overseas to visit my grandparents in the Indian tropics.

Time to reclaim my roots.

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