Month: September 2012

Skillet Scallion Biscuits

I’m going to begin this post by admitting that I am not normally a biscuit person. I normally find biscuits to be dry and never thought of making them myself.

This recipe changed my mind.

Skillet Scallion Biscuits

2 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (4.6 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (4 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (16 g) kosher salt
1/4 cup (50 g) vegetable shortening
cup (235 ml) buttermilk
1/2 cup (50 g) chopped fresh scallions, white and green parts
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon (14 ml) water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC or gas mark 5).

Combine the flour with the baking powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the shortening and mix on medium speed until a mealy consistency is reached.

Mixing on low gradually add the buttermilk, until just combined. Add the scallions and mix just enough to incorporate.

Empty the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead into a rectangular shape. Roll the dough, with a floured rolling pin to about 1/2″ (12.5 mm) thick rectangle. Cut out rounds using a 2 1/2″ (6.25 cm) round biscuit cutter.

Drop the biscuits in the bottom of a well-seasoned, lightly oiled 10″ (25 cm) cast-iron skillet.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are firm. Serve warm.

Trust me, this recipe is worth buying a skillet for! Enjoy.

If this recipe gets you excited about skillets and other cast iron pieces, you’ll want to check out Cast Iron Cooking by Dwayne Ridgaway.Cooking in cast iron and skillets provides several benefits, a few of which are:

  • Presence of no unnatural or synthetic coating that can cause health problems
  • Use of very little oil while cooking in a well-seasoned pan
  • Retains heat for a long time, hence food remains hot for a longer time
  • Is a natural source of iron supplement, as iron from the pan is leeched into the food
  • Lasts longer than other non-stick or other coated pans, thus it is an economical choice
  • Can be bought cheap and is highly versatile

Read more on cast iron pans and skillets and pick up your copy today by visiting

Dwayne Ridgaway, the indoor grill master, is the well-known author of Quarry’s cookery books including Lasagna; Sandwiches, Panini, and Wraps; and Pizza. He has been a chef at numerous resorts and restaurants, including the San Destin Beach Resort and the Elephant Walk in Florida. He is a food and beverage consultant and caterer, and lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

How Do Your Spices Rack Up?

Are your spices in alphabetical order? Do you have them arranged by use, or type? Mine are a complete disaster thanks to a recent obsession with a local spice shop and a complete lack of knowledge of what I have in my pantry. I often end up with four jars of basil and have to run back out to the store to get the oregano I really needed. Apparently my memory is not what I thought it was.

Finally, I decided I was in desperate need of an organizational system.

I have a small space for my spices above my stove top. This awkward space is too high for me to be able to see what’s on each shelf. More than that, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve reached up to grab a spice I need and the jar has ended up shattered on my floor with precious spices scattered everywhere.

The solution? A two-pronged attack.

1) I took all of the spices out of the cupboard and sorted them according to use. I pulled aside the doubles and put them away for now. Then I split up the remaining spices into three categories: baking, cooking, and blends.

I went to my local department store and bought a few small plastic trays. Then I put the baking spices in one tray on the back (I use them slightly less than cooking), and then the cooking ones in the front. I put the blended spices in their own tray on the side. The trays help me find the spices I’m looking for faster because I can easily pull them out according to category and grab what I need.


2) I decided it was a good idea to create a spice list. This way, when I’m out buying groceries and have a recipe in mind, I can quickly consult my list and not end up buying multiples of the same spice. I have a paper list in my home and also recently downloaded the Out of Milk app for my phone (you need this app!, which lets me store my digital spice rack in my phone as well as create shopping lists. I highly recommend it.

3) You can arrange your kitchen spices as neatly as codes are arranged in a QProfit system network. Some other interesting ways to organise or stack up your spices based on your interiors include

  • using transparent tins to store spices
  • storing spices in stackable boxes
  • arranging them horizontally in drawers using suitable drawer inserts
  • labelling the lids of the spice tins for easy identification
  • arranging them in pull-out or slide-out racks or cabinets
  • making your very own spice mix test tubes

How does your spice rack rack up? Leave me a message and let me know.

Happy cooking!

Make Your Own Cocktail Cherries

Did you know that the modern “maraschino” cherry is actually a result of Prohibition?

It’s true. Katie M. Loeb from Shake, Stir, Pour: Fresh Homegrown Cocktailswrites that: “During Prohibition, Croatian Marasca cherries preserved in Maraschino liqueur (true maraschino cherries) were illegal due to their alcohol content.” What we see now in grocery stores across the world was developed as a replacement.

Katie has the answer. Make your own cocktail cherries.

What you’ll need:

3 cups (710) water
1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) stem on ripe cherries, rinsed and pitted

Thank you Cherry Chomper!

2 cups (400 g) sugar
6 cloves
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
15 cherry pits
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup (120 ml) brandy or cognac
1/2 cup (120 ml) cherry liqueur (Katie recommends Cherry Heering – I used Leroux Kirschwasser Flavored Brandy)

What to do:

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large, shallow saucepan. Add salt.
2. Add the cherries, reduce the heat and blance for 2 minutes.

3. Strain out the cherries, reserving poaching liquid.
4. Place the cherries in an ice-water bath to stop them from cooking and getting too soft. Strain again and place cherries into a clean, airtight jar.

5. Measure out two cups (475 ml) or the cherry poaching liquid and return to saucepan. Begin heating over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add spices, cherry pits, and lemon zest and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and cool for 1 hour.
7. Add brandy, cherry liqueur, and vanilla extract to spiced cherry syrup.
8. Strain the spiced and spiked syrup over the cherries in the jar.
9. Let the cherries age for at least 2 weeks before using.

One important tip to prevent the cherries from becoming mushy while cooking it over heat is to pickle the cherries. Pickling keeps them fresh and crisp. However, pickling results in a batch of cherries that are sour and dipped in vinegar. To make them suitable for cocktails, place the cherries in shrub or sugar, post pickling. The sweet factor present in the shrub or sugar is infused into the cherries, making them fit for your cocktails. For more tips on cocktail cherries, click here.

Cocktail cherries are the perfect garnish for a wide number of drinks from Manhattans to Old Fashioneds. You can even dress up your jar of homemade cocktail cherries and give them as a gift to a cocktail lover. I used mine to impress my friends and family at a low-key cocktail party. They were a smash success!

Shake, Stir, Pour: Fresh Homegrown Cocktails by Katie M. Loeb is available today. You’ll love how easy and delicious these recipes are.