This morning I had a little bit of time to spare, so I decided to bake biscuits. Want one?
But before you dig in, I have to mention that registration for spring Clark College classes just opened. Please join me in the kitchen! I'll be teaching Seafood Primer, Quiche, Sensational Salads for Spring, and Muffins & Scones II. Current class listings can always be found in the Cooking Classes, Book Signings & Appearances sidebar on the right.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
2 teaspoons nigella seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, shredded
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, chives, parsley, nigella, salt, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Toss in the cheddar. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Transfer to a work surface and knead a few times until the dough just holds together. Lightly flour the work surface, pat the dough into a 1-inch thick circle, and cut using a 2 ½-inch round cutter. Arrange the biscuits a couple of inches apart on parchment-lined baking trays. Gather the scraps, knead once or twice, and roll, cut, and arrange on baking trays in the same manner. Lightly brush the biscuits with the cream and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes, or until golden brown.
Makes about 2 dozen small biscuits. Work quickly and with a light touch to prevent the butter in the pastry from melting. Dip the cutter into a little flour between each cut to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Serve biscuits warm, possibly stuffed with a slice of good ham. Nigella, which can also be known as kalonji or charnushka, tastes very much like thyme and is available at Indian markets and at Penzeys Spices. Biscuits keep for a day or two in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.