Black Pepper Biscuits (with bacon and eggs)

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Mmm, biscuits. Definitely not my area of expertise when it comes to baking. Not that I’m an expert in anything baking-related…but if I were, it definitely wouldn’t be biscuits. I think this is the second time I’ve ever made them. Not like cookies, which I’ve made dozens and dozens of when it’s not even Christmas time. For sure not like banana bread, a loaf of which was practically always camped out on the kitchen counter, because somebody (*cough*little sister*cough*) couldn’t keep up with her banana eating. And certainly not like cake, which I make every time someone I know has a birthday. Including myself, to the dismay of my poor grandmother.

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But the thing about biscuits is you can make a meal out of them and feel less bad about it than making a meal out of cookies or banana bread or cake. Which I absolutely encourage on occasion, but sometimes, you just need some protein with your butter and flour. Usually on weekend mornings. These biscuits are the perfect thing to make on a lazy Sunday. They don’t take much time at all – less than half an hour total. You can fry up the bacon and eggs while they’re baking. Then slice them up, add more butter if you’re a total sucker for butter like I am, and enjoy this wonderful grease-fest of a breakfast. And then take a walk. Or a nap. They both work wonders.

 

Black Pepper Biscuits

Adapted a teeny bit from Honey & Jam

Makes 12

 

3 cups all-purpose flour (she recommends White Lily…I used generic brand)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 (1 stick) cup cold salted butter

1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. You can also bake these in a cast iron skillet if you have one – which is probably much preferred to a baking sheet.

Grate the butter into a small bowl on the large-holed side of a cheese grater. Put it in the freezer. (I can’t believe I’ve never thought to grate butter for scones or pie dough before…it really does work well.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in with a fork. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough 5-7 times in the bowl, and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough down until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Fold it over and pat it down again. Fold the dough over a second time, and then cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or floured glass, or rectangles with a bench scraper or sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet or in the cast iron skillet. Top with more freshly ground black pepper. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you’re not going to use all the biscuits at once, freeze the dough in individual already-cut biscuits before baking. Bake them directly from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

 

For each person you’re serving:

2 slices thick cut bacon (I used pepper bacon, because I’m a pepper fiend)

1 egg

 

While the biscuits are in the oven, fry your bacon to desired doneness. Transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain most of the grease, and then fry your egg in the bacon fat. Seriously. Do it. It’s the weekend.

Cut a biscuit in half and top with bacon, egg, salt and pepper, hot sauce if you want. Maybe some green onion or parsley. Anything goes.


Sweet Potato Hash

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Three and a half months ago, freshly graduated and completely unprepared for post-school life, I started a new job. My first big-girl, real-money, professional-but-doesn’t-feel-professional, corporate job. The first month was a blur of “Can you show me how to do this again?” and “What’s the next step?” and “Who’s that?” and “I’m confused.” It passed in the blink of an eye, and yet I’m pretty sure I got almost nothing done. I asked before I did anything – otherwise, without fail, I would skip a step, or send the wrong thing to the wrong person, and then risk having to go back a few steps. Mess up, and the mistake is on the record forever, in the incorrect email I’d sent, polished and displayed in a glass case for the half dozen people cc’d on the message. I’m sure the people one or two steps above me on the totem pole got sick of my endless questions. I got sick of them.

But then, after about six weeks or so, I felt like I had things figured out. I knew what the next step was, and what I needed to do to make it happen. Or so I thought. I was like a high school freshman after Christmas break – a semester under my belt, I totally had things figured out, right? Wrong. I forgot the important part – I was still a freshman. Still the newest person on the team, still able to make a mistake any second and be completely oblivious to it. Just like Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, “In fact, being – forgive me – rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.”  (Yes, that just happened. I quoted Harry Potter. And I know you liked it 🙂 ) And that was just it. I’d gotten cocky. I had it all figured out! But then when I messed up, and I would, because I had next to nothing figured out, it was bad. People would have to go back and redo their work, or do mine for me. Not a fun thing to have on my conscience.

So I picked myself up from my ever-growing mistakes, and started asking questions again. But this time was different. I knew what to ask, who to ask, what the answer would mean, and what my next move should be. And that’s when I really started learning, and figuring things out, and doing things without checking first. And doing them right. On the first try. Now I’ve been working there three and a half months, and I can’t believe how high my level of knowing what to do is compared to when I started. And it’s growing every day. This week has been an especially good one. Sure I’ve made mistakes (like marking some email SUPER URGENT that my boss was cc’d on…apparently they weren’t urgent. But the project was due three hours ago!). But this week, I’ve also been doing things without being reminded. I’ll do them, tell the person in charge of the project I’m doing them, and get a “Thanks for remembering!” in response instead of a “No no no no no we send to this person now, and you have to do that to the file first.” I’m finally more of an asset than a liability when it comes to getting stuff done.

In the midst of my constant mistake-making, this dish (and variations of it) was one thing I knew I could always get right. Terrible segue. I’m sorry. But still. You can’t mess this up. You can use whatever you have on had. No potatoes? No problem. Throw that questionable broccoli in there. Half a bell pepper? Good idea. Cabbage? Let’s be friends. Bacon? Let’s be best friends.

Chop up a small sweet potato, toss it in a large frying pan with some butter. Or olive oil or whatever fat floats your boat, but I really like butter for this one. And some red pepper flakes, because is there anything they don’t make better?

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The sweet potato will take a while to cook. Once it starts to get soft, throw in some chopped onion and garlic, and let everything get a little crispy. Make a space, and plop some more butter in there.

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Crack an egg in that delicious, buttery space. Fry it up to your liking.

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And pat yourself on the back for getting dinner totally right.

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Sweet Potato Hash

Makes enough for one hungry person

A couple tablespoons butter, for the pan

1 small sweet potato, chopped

red pepper flakes

1/4 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 egg

Melt some of the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the chopped sweet potato. Once that starts to get soft but not charred, add the onion and garlic. Cook until everything starts to blacken a bit, but be careful to not burn the garlic.

Make a well in the center and melt the remaining butter in it. Crack the egg into the well and fry it however you like. Dump it all on a plate, salt, pepper, and hot-sauce liberally, and enjoy!