When a snowstorm approaches and people fear being snowed in, there is a rush at the market for staples such as bread. Why not make yor own? Baking is a warm activity on a cold winter day, and quick breads are easy to make.
Quick breads such as biscuits and cornbread use baking powder instead of yeast, so you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise. Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, cornbread, especially Southern cornbread, is supposed to be savory, not sweet.
Try the biscuits and sliced cornbread with a simple creamed chipped beef, and enjoy during a snowstorm or anytime. These recipes don’t require a lot of kitchen skills, so almost anyone should be able to make them.
2 cups flour2 ½ teaspoons baking powder½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)1 stick of butter (or half-cup of light olive oil or vegetable oil*)2 tablespoons of butter (optional to place on top of biscuits)¾ to 1 cup of milk or buttermilk**
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter or shortening until the texture turns crumbly, similar to cornmeal or sand. You can use a fork if you don’t have a pastry cutter.
Add milk slowly while stirring.
Knead dough until it pulls from the side of the bowl, about a minute. If the dough is still sticky, add a teaspoon of flour, and knead until it stops sticking to your hand. Do not overknead, or the biscuits will be hard.
You can roll the rough out to ¾- to 1-inch thickness on a floured surface. You can use a floured pastry cutter or a glass to cut out the biscuits. However, I prefer to roll them into 2-inch balls with my hands.
Place them on a baking sheet that is greased or covered with non-stick spray, and place a sliver of butter on top of each biscuit or brush the tops with olive oil. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 11 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
* If you wish to make a vegan version, substitute vegetable oil for butter and use soy milk or the water from boiling potatoes or pasta instead of milk.
** Buttermilk will make extremely light, delicious biscuits that are similar to rolls.
1 cup corn meal1 cup flour1 tablespoon sugar3 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon salt¼ cup oil2 tablespoons oil1 cup milk1 egg beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Mix ¼ cup oil, egg, and milk together, and add to dry ingredients. Mix for about a minute until uniform, but do not overmix. Allow the batter to rest for five minutes.
Grease 9x9x2-inch cast iron pan (preferably, but you can do it with any pan, including disposable aluminum) with two tablespoons of oil, and place into oven for five minutes or until hot. You can also heat the pan on top of the stove until the oil is hot. This will create a brown crust with a nutty flavor. Pour the batter into the pan in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Creamed Chipped Beef
1 cup chipped or dried beef2 cups milk4 tablespoons butter3 tablespoons flour1/4 teaspoon flour
Tear apart the beef into small strips.
On medium heat, melt butter in a saucepan. When it bubbles, incorporate flour one teaspoon at a time and stir until blended. Add pepper.
Add the chipped beef and sauté for a minute. Add the milk gradually, a few tablespoons at a time, and stir while it comes to a gentle boil and thickens, about five minutes. You may substitute cooked chicken, bacon, ham, sautéed mushrooms and other vegetables for chipped beef.
Serve over freshly made biscuits or sliced cornbread.
Cei Bell is the recipient of the Leeway Foundation 2015 Transformation Award for Literature. She has published cooking recipes in “The Philadelphia Daily News” and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House “Served With Love” cookbook.