Biscuits and Rhubarb Salad!

A Mother’s Day Hug

I write this on May 12, the birthday of Edward Lear. In addition to many other works, Lear wrote (and illustrated!) “The Owl and the Pussycat.” My late mother started reciting this poem early in life—and it was one of the last things she forgot as she succumbed to dementia.

(To hear me read it in her style, visit my YouTube channel.)

I thought about the owl, the pussycat, and my mother this morning as I drove to Chicopee, Massachusetts, to cook on Mass Appeal. Appropriately, today’s show was devoted to Mother’s Day.

It was one of the most delightful editions of Mass Appeal I can remember; the mothers of both of the hosts participated (and got makeovers!), and a happy spirit reigned.

I prepared two dishes that struck me as suitable for Mother’s Day. The first was a biscuit recipe from Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. I discovered the book and the recipe while trying to satisfy my southern sister-in-law’s craving for biscuits earlier this year.

It’s a simple, satisfying formula that produces puffy, delectable biscuits. Thanks to Nathalie for giving me permission to reprint it here.

Since rhubarb is just starting to pop up in my area, I also made a recipe from my forthcoming rhubarb book. This salad combines sweet and tart flavors and provides the mouth with a lot of satisfying textures: crunchy nuts, soft rhubarb, creamy cheese.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers—those who are mothers, and those who have or had mothers. (That should take care of pretty much everybody!) Enjoy the day—and these recipes….

 

Nathalie Dupree’s Two-Ingredient Biscuits

Ingredients:

about 2-1/4 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily)
about 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
melted butter for finishing

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silicone, or brush the sheet with melted butter.

Whisk 2 cups of the flour in a wide, large bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the flour with the back of your hand. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the cream with a rubber spatula. Use broad stokes to pull the flour into the cream. Mix the batter just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is remaining flour, add more cream.

Lightly sprinkle a board or silicone sheet with some of the leftover flour. Turn the dough out onto the board—it will be messy—and sprinkle the top with more flour. Using your floured hands, gently fold the dough in half and pat it into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Flour the dough again if you need to, and fold it in half again and pat it out again. If it’s still clumpy fold it for a third time—but don’t over work it.

Dip a biscuit cutter in flour and use it to cut out biscuits, starting from the outside edges. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for 6 minutes; then rotate the pan in the oven and bake until the biscuits are light golden brown, another 4 to 8 minutes. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and brush them with melted butter. Serve warm.

Makes about 8 to 12 biscuits, depending on how big you cut them.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

for the strawberry vinegar:

strawberries (don’t use too many at a time or this will take forever)
enough distilled white vinegar to cover them
equal amounts of sugar and water

for the salad:

1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon strawberry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups spinach
toasted pecans to taste
feta cheese to taste

Instructions:

The day before you want to eat your salad (or any time up to a year before!) start the vinegar.

Place the berries in a non-aluminum pan. (A porcelain dish is great.) Cover them with the vinegar, and leave them to soak, covered, overnight. If you forget them for a day and wait 2 nights, they will still be fine.

The next day (or the day after that), gently strain the juice through cheesecloth. You may squeeze the berries a little, but don’t overdo; letting the juice drip out on its own is best.

Measure the juice. Then measure a little under 1-1/2 times as much sugar and water as juice (i.e., if you have a cup of juice, use just under 1-1/2 cups of sugar and 1-1/2 cups of water) into a saucepan.

Cook the sugar/water mixture until it threads. Measure the resultant sugar syrup. Add an equal quantity of berry juice to it, and boil the mixture for 10 minutes. Strain this boiled vinegar through cheesecloth, and decant it into sterlized bottles. Cork or cover. Stored in the dark, strawberry vinegar should keep its color and flavor for up to a year.

When you are ready to start your salad, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is preheating toss the rhubarb and sugar together in a bowl, and let them sit for at least 10 minutes.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and place the sugared rhubarb pieces on it. Bake until the rhubarb just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove the rhubarb from the oven and set it aside.

In a small bowl or jar combine the vinegar, salt and pepper and oil.

Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Add the rhubarb, the pecans, and the feta; then remix the salad dressing and toss it over the salad. Serves 4 as a side salad.

And now the videos!

Two-Ingredient Biscuits

Strawberry-Rhubarb Spinach Salad

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