Friday, March 1, 2013

"Tomato Cheese Biscuits" for "National Flour Month"

Another month has passed us by, today is March 1st and it is the beginning of another busy month. With St. Patrick’s Day, first day of Spring, Daylight Savings Time begins, Passover, Easter Sunday, and my mother’s birthday, I will have just enough time to bake my mom a special treat using flour. Oh, I forgot to mention that March is also known as “National Flour Month”. Come, join me as we take a look at many different types of flour and how can we use it?  

Flour is an essential ingredient in baking and cooking. In European and American culture it is a defining ingredient that is used for making breads, pies, cakes, cookies, pastries, pancakes, and can be also used as a batter for frying foods. When brought together with the help of a few basic ingredients flour can be transformed into a delightful treat. Flour is a fine powder made by grinding grains that is high in starch. It is commonly made from wheat but also can be made from corn, rye, barley, and rice. Ground legumes and nuts such as soy, peanuts, almonds, and other tree nuts are also called flours. Grinding stones from Italy, Russian and the Czech Republic have been found embedded with starch grains, suggesting that many years ago people processed roots from cattails and ferns into flour.

In today’s world we have different types of flour that comes in many varieties of flavors, textures, and colors. Some of them I know you have used but some you haven’t and may want to try experimenting with. All purpose flour or plain flour is the most widely used. Bleached or non-bleached, that is the question? Bleached flour is when they put bleaching agents to whiten the flour which also gives it more gluten-producing potential. In my opinion, I use only non-bleached, but it is your preference. 
Bromated flour is another type that also has bleaching agents added to its finely milled flour. Bromated flour has been banned in much of the world, but remains available in the United States. Then there is cake flour, Graham flour, Pastry, Cookie, or Cracker flour, and Self-Rising or Self-raising flour, and Wheat flour. Some other types include; Corn, Rye, Tapioca, Brown Rice, Noodle, Buckwheat, Chestnut, and Chickpea flour. Did you know that Pillsbury began its annual “Bake Off” in 1950 to promote its “Flour” line?

Besides using flour for baking my family uses it as an egg and bread technique for frying fish, chicken, pork, and vegetables. Flour is added to the breadcrumb mixture as that will help the egg and breadcrumbs stick to the food. It also helps the fish, etc. not stick to the frying pan, and makes your foods crispy. 

My recipe this week is a perfect way to celebrate “National Flour Month” with “Tomato Cheese Biscuits”. A savory, cheesy biscuit--delicious--served with a flavored spiced butter. This biscuit is delightful as an accompaniment to a warm bowl of soup.  Enjoy! 

Tomato Cheese Biscuits

Ingredients: For Biscuits
2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
1 tbsp. of baking powder
2 tbsp. of cold unsalted butter
1 cup of grated medium cheddar cheese (white or yellow)
1 cup of Buttermilk
1/4 cup of Delallo sun-dried tomato paste (6.5 oz jar)
1 Egg yolk, fork beaten

Ingredients: For Spiced Butter
1/2 cup of unsalted, softened, butter
2 tbsp. Chopped fresh chives
1 tsp. of Chili powder

Directions: For Biscuits
Combine flour and baking powder in large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add Cheddar cheese, buttermilk, and paste. Stir until soft dough forms. Press (do not roll out) mixture onto lightly floured surface to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut 2 1/4 inch rounds from dough with biscuit cutters. Arrange, just touching, in greased 9 x 9 inch pan. Brush tops with egg yolk. Bake in 450°F oven for about 15 minutes until tops and bottoms are golden. Let stand in pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire to cool.

Directions: Spiced Butter
Combine butter, chives and chili powder in small bowl. Makes 1/2 cup of spiced butter. Serve with biscuits. Yields: 10 biscuits.


Till Next Time………………….

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