Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This just goes to show that sometimes you should disregard advice, even when it’s your own. Over the years, I have periodically been suckered into making drop biscuits and other savory quickbreads, lured by the promise of freshly baked bread for dinner on an ordinary weeknight. But I’ve never met one that didn’t disappoint me; in the end, no matter what seasonings were involved, they just tasted dry and baking-powdery, not like real bread. Finally, about a year and a half ago, after another unsatisfying attempt, I wrote, “Remind me to stop trying non-sweet quickbreads. I just don’t like them that much.”

Luckily, I didn’t listen to myself, and when I saw this recipe at Everybody Likes Sandwiches, it looked so good I bookmarked it and made it despite my previous pronouncement. And it was so good! I don’t know whether the strong flavors of the onion, dill, and cheese just blocked out the usual baking-powdery taste or whether the recipe was just better constructed than others I’ve tried—or did my use of real buttermilk (rather than the more convenient milk + lemon juice substitute) have something to do with it? (I am so proud of myself—between making blueberry buttermilk cake [twice!], ranch dressing, and these biscuits, I have nearly used up an entire carton of buttermilk before its expiration date, for once.) All I know is that I made the recipe as written (though I substituted fresh dill for the dried originally called for), it was very easy, and the biscuits turned out just lovely, savory and moist. I snuck a tiny bite of one off the cooling rack, just to taste-test, and ended up eating the whole thing right there, standing over the counter, without butter or anything. Then I ate two more at dinner, dipped into carrot-potato soup, which they went perfectly with. I froze the remaining biscuits to eat with the leftover soup, but I imagine these would also make great snacks or breakfasts. I assume I’ll find out, because I can tell these little gems will be something I’ll turn to again and again. Not only will they be a great boon to my menu planning, because A is much more happy to eat soup if there's something to dip into it, but they are also infinitely adaptable with different herbs, cheeses, and other add-ins—though at present I see no need to deviate from the perfect marriage of cheddar, onion, and dill.

At last, quickbread victory is mine!

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup red onions, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried)
A hearty grind of black pepper
A large handful of grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (my mixture looked a little dry, so I may have added just a splash more)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, red onions, dill, black pepper, and cheese. Stir in the buttermilk and oil and mix lightly until combined.

3. Using a tablespoon, drop heaping blobs of dough on a parchment-covered or silicon-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Yield: The original recipe says 6–9 biscuits; I got 10.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. They’re best when fresh from the oven, but I stored one on the counter in a plastic bag and ate it the next day and it was still good (if anything, the flavors had deepened). Then I threw the rest in a freezer bag, froze them for about a week, and heated them up in the microwave; those were fine with soup, but not the same as the fresh ones.

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