Each summer, friends and I get together to cook a meal. A few years ago, it was a tribute to Julia Child, in honor of what would have been her 100th birthday. The next year was an Italian theme. The year after that was Middle Eastern. This year was American Southern. And, oh, what a meal it was.
Fried chicken, collard greens, biscuits, honey butter, sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon, jalapeno cornbread, creamy grits, red velvet cake and mint juleps. YUM.
I was responsible for the mint and simple syrup for the mint juleps.
Simple syrup is just that- so simple. Pour one cup of water and one cup of white sugar into a saucepan, stir and heat over medium high heat until it boils and all the sugar is dissolved. Take it off the heat and let it cool and you’ll have liquid sugar- great for iced tea iced coffee or cocktails.
I was also responsible for the honey butter and biscuits.
Flavored butter is actually also pretty easy. Whip the butter with the flavoring you wish and then let it cool/set up in the fridge. I used the very good butter (8oz) and added probably about 1/4-1/2 cup of honey and a pinch of salt. I did it to taste. And , oh, did it taste good. Sweet, creamy…. blissful on warm biscuits. Looked pretty as well.
The biscuits were a bit of an issue for me. I made two different sets, using two different recipes. What I wanted to re-create were the big, fluffy, buttery, crave-them-all-the-time biscuits from Sweet Cheeks Q but neither of my recipes did that. I suspect my baking soda wasn’t activating in the buttermilk. I bought new baking soda the next day but haven’t tried again yet.
One of the biscuit recipes had me laminating the dough (no, not through the machine making it impervious to water), which I haven’t done before at home but which was pretty easy to do. Basically, it means that you push pieces of soft butter into the dough, fold the dough over itself and then roll it out again. It means that as it bakes, the water in the butter releases steam, which creates layers in the dough, leading to layers in the biscuits (think: croissants).
So what that looks like is this:
Roll out the dough. Smear soft butter around the top.
Fold one third over.
Fold the other third over.
Fold the bottom third up.
Fold the top third down. Now roll it back out into the same size as you started with and do it again, two more times. Then cut the biscuits.
See how they didn’t really rise? Oh well, the honey butter made them tasty.
I was also responsible for the dessert. I made a red velvet cake. It was delicious. And red.
I made a small cake for my kids to take to OGWO’s house for the overnight.
This was a three layer cake which was kind of fun to put together.
The final product.
So delicious. The sweet, slightly chocolatey cake, offset by the tangy, creamy frosting. Yum.
The fried chicken, grits and collard greens were the result of my friend C’s day of cooking.
Our other friend, C, provided the appetizers: hush puppies and mini-corn dogs. Brilliant. He also made the brussles sprouts and jalapano cornbread. It was a gorgeous meal, with so much fun, laughter, friends and such. good. food.
Best night of the summer!