Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Subtle: Chive Blossom Biscuits

Saturday we picked up our first CSA share at the farmer’s market. The farmer apologized for a slow start; it’s been a cold spring here in the Pacific Northwest. Our first batch contained a very large and impressive bok choy, a bunch of chives, a bowl planted with several varieties of basil, and a chicken.

The chives were a pretty bundle, with lots of blossoms attached. I popped all their little heads off, and chopped them up. Then I stood looking at them, wondering just what to do with these poor little fellows I’d just hacked to oblivion.

For some reason, through my mind floated an old memory of some biscuits my husband had made. I really have no idea what made me think of them. All I could remember about them was that the recipe came from a package of self rising flour, and that they were amazing. I checked my current package of self rising flour. No biscuit recipe. I dug through the clutter in my brain for the name of that brand of flour—maybe I could look at the company’s website and they’d have posted the recipe.

I weeded through 1980s song lyrics, memories of a series of tennis lessons taken at age 9, the first few stanzas of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and some old Barbie outfits. Martha Washington? No, that was cornbread batter, I think. Old Mill? No, that’s not right. Finally I gave up in despair and turned to a book that was one of the first presents my husband ever gave me: Around the Southern Table. I think it had been remaindered, but he knew my love of cookbooks with lots of chatty introductions, and this one has that in spades.

There was a biscuit recipe that had adjustment comments if you were using self-rising flour, so it seemed serendipitous. And indeed, they turned out to be serendipitous. I cut them out with an old biscuit cutter we got from Alex’s mother, which had come, at some point, from Rumford baking powder, given away as a promotion, no doubt. It’s about an inch and a half in diameter, which makes a very nice nibbly biscuit for having with drinks, or with soup or stew.

I mixed them up, cut them out, and baked them. The result was an oniony flavored biscuit, but with a slight sweetness that I didn’t expect. I hadn’t used any sugar in the recipe, but there it was: a faint, almost honey flavor. Is this because the chive blossoms were so fresh, and came from organically grown chives, or is it that chive blossoms always have this sweetly ethereal quality? I can’t say, but I can recommend chive blossom biscuits. Their onion flavor is milder than even chopped chives would give, and there’s that gentle undertone of flavor that slips in and surprises you.

Chive Blossom Biscuits
adapated from Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk
makes approximately 20 1 ½” biscuits, which will serve four adults and one three year old as a snack

3 cups self-rising flour
½ cup + 2 tablespoons butter, chilled
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
¼ cup chopped chive blossoms
Preheat oven to 475.

Combine flour and butter in a bowl, rubbing together with your hands until the mixture is well-incorporated and crumbly. Add the buttermilk. Depending on the weather, you may need a little more or less. The original recipe called for ¾ of a cup, but I found I needed a tad more. Add it slowly, and let the feel of the dough be your guide—it should hold together, but there should be bits that don’t feel like participating. That’s OK—you’ll assimilate them when you roll it out.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and very gently pat all the bits into a whole. Roll out very quickly with a rolling pin to a thickness of about ½”. Using a cutter, stamp out the biscuits. Do NOT rotate the cutter at the end of the cut—you’ll seal off the edges and they won’t fluff up; cut straight down.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until just turning golden.


Cate said...

Mmmm, warm biscuits slatered with soft butter. Yum. Never knew chives had blossoms...

TD said...

We actually used blue cheese butter, which kind of overpowered the chives but we couldn't resist. I mean, really, blue cheese butter. Yeah, you have to let them go pretty long to get the blossoms, but unlike other things when they go to seed (lettuces, for instance), the stalk part of the chive is still edible even once the blossom has formed. You can get two "harvests" out of them.