My dad has a joke he makes whenever someone his age has a birthday: “Don’t buy any green bananas.”
I buy green bananas every week, but I’m only 41. The thing about buying green bananas is that eventually they become yellow bananas, perfect for snacking or slicing on to your yogurt and granola. And then those yellow bananas become speckled bananas, perfect for making banana bread.
Three recipes, that’s where I draw the line when it comes to sharing recipes from a cookbook. Anything beyond that, and I’m no longer advertising a book that you should buy and I’m just poaching recipes for my own gain. So it’s with great sadness that I post my third and final recipe from Marion Cunningham’s wonderful Breakfast Book. Together we’ve made her raised waffles (a recipe I actually got from Kim Severon’s SpoonFed but it comes from The Breakfast Book) and her Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins. Now comes another muffin recipe, but a peculiar one; a muffin that’s more fruit than muffin. And that’s what makes it great.
If one day I go on trial for food crimes, I think I’m getting 20 years added to my sentence for the following: during my 3 months on New York’s Upper East Side, I never once–not ONCE–visited the famous Kitchen Arts and Letters, one of the city’s (and the country’s) greatest cookbook stores. I still hang my head in shame.
Thankfully, when I went back to New York recently for a few book events, I remedied this most outrageous crime. And my visit there became a highlight of my trip.
Ok, so you read the last post, you read to yourself “vegetarian chili, sweet corn bread” and thought “eh, I’m not that impressed, I’m moving on with my day, I’m going to read about Anderson Cooper’s gayness and Katie Holmes protecting her kids from Tom Cruise’s Scientology.” That’s your prerogative. I won’t judge.
But you won’t be clicking away so fast when I tell you what I did with that leftover cornbread the next morning. It’s almost pornographic, what happened, so parents, please shield your children’s eyes.
Once upon a time, my friend Patty told me that the best biscuits she’d ever had in her life were at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky. “They were huge,” I remember her saying, “and buttery and fluffy and AMAZING.”
When Patty told me this (back in 2009), I was working on a project that required me to research all different kinds of biscuit recipes. And so, after hearing this, I reached out to Lynn’s Paradise Cafe to see if they would share their biscuit recipe. I strongly suspected that they would say “no.” Instead, a very nice woman–also named Patty–sent along the recipe and said, “I hope that you enjoy them.”
Andrew Carmellini, in his new book American Flavor, shares a biscuit recipe that he calls “the world’s best biscuits.” This is a bold claim, even for a chef as revered as Carmellini, but in his defense, when he started serving biscuits (and fried chicken) at his pre-The Dutch Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde, the critics gushed. In fact, while working on a different book proposal, I called Carmellini to have him coach me through biscuit-making on the phone. The man knew his stuff.
Chef Anita Lo, who you’ll meet on next week’s episode of “Someone’s In The Kitchen With,” made a point to say that her mentors were David and Karen Waltuck, the proprietors of the legendary restaurant Chanterelle. This fact stayed with me after Chef Lo left my apartment and when I found myself, a few hours later, in the Strand cookbook section, I saw a copy of the famous Chanterelle cookbook which doesn’t focus on the food that they served the customers, but the food that they served the staff. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Staff Meals” and I bought it right away.
It’s a good thing to know how to make biscuits. I mean, at what point of the day would you say “no” to a hot buttermilk biscuit, fresh from the oven? The answer is: “No point of the day, Adam. I would eat a biscuit any time.”
I’m right there with you, imaginary person. I love biscuits and I try to make them whenever I can, especially on Sunday mornings when I send Craig to the store to buy eggs. “Buy some buttermilk too,” I often say because, really, if he buys buttermilk, I have everything else I need to make biscuits. To make fresh biscuits all you need is butter, buttermilk, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. Everything else is technique.