Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam

Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam RecipeFrying chicken is an art, and one which my Dad had more than mastered during his lifetime.  Dad made the best-ever fried chicken!  I don’t think he ever tired of that labor intensive task, possibly because of how much he loved to eat it, but most likely it was because he did it to please others.  Endless hours were spent at the stove frying dozens of breasts, legs, thighs, and wings, three cast iron skillets going at the same time.  Whether it was destined for Sunday brunch, a picnic, or an ordinary weekday meal, it was a special day when fried chicken was on the menu.  Creamy mashed potatoes, milk gravy, and flakey biscuits most often were among the supporting cast of sides when golden, crispy fried chicken made an appearance at our table.
Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam RecipeA couple of weeks ago, J’s significant other Michael (who was visiting us from NY) requested a fried chicken dinner before heading back to school.   It had been quite some time since I last pulled out the old iron skillets for the purpose of frying some birds.  Michael, who purports to be a better cook than me  - (Wink Wink), offered his help and together we made succotash, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits – all the required side dishes necessary to fully enjoy a fried chicken dinner.  Dad would have been proud.
Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam RecipeDuck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam Recipe
I have made countless biscuit recipes over my baking lifetime, and although many have been very good, I haven’t completely fallen in love with any particular one to deem it my ‘favorite’.  I am on a constant search for a biscuit that replicates those that my Grandma and Dad use to make.  Although the recipe I am sharing here is nothing at all like the one of my memories, it is a darn good biscuit, and one I know I will be making over and over again.  The first time I baked these little gems was the night we made our chicken dinner.  Wow, is all I can say!  They were so tender and buttery that they didn’t even need the gravy.  Of course that didn’t stop me from ladling it all over the top of the biscuits anyway.  For quite awhile now, I have had Duck Fat Biscuits queued up on my list of recipes to develop.   Well, finally, here it is.  A simple substitution of duck fat for the butter, and an even more fabulous biscuit was born.
Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam RecipeAs for the tomato jam, it too has been on my list of recipes to develop.  Last week while working on the recipe for these biscuits,  I became the serendipitous recipient of tomatoes from my friend’s garden.  She asked me to water her plants while she was on vacation, and offered in return all the tomatoes that were going to come ripe on the vines while she was away.
Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam RecipeDon’t you just love when a taste you have in mind for a recipe you are making turns out exactly as anticipated.  Such is the story with this jam.  A blend of Middle Eastern spices impart a savory warmth to the tomatoes, while the heat from dried Aleppo and Ancho chilies lend a spicy edge.  This jam reminds me very much of a chutney.  Jam/Chutney, either way, it proved to be the perfect topping for these biscuits.  I think you will agree that the way they compliment each other is just ‘Ducky’.  ( Ha, I couldn’t resist.)
Duck Fat Biscuits with Spicy Tomato Jam Recipe 


Source:  Biscuits adapted  from Heartland by Marcia Adams / Spicy Tomato Jam adapted from a recipe by Adam Ried

Peach Nectarine Cherry Pie

Peach Nectarine Cherry Pie RecipeYAY!  I’m back!!  A very long and event-filled 8 weeks has passed since last I posted.  During those weeks there was a Houseboat family vacation, a trip to Europe, a long weekend in Palm Springs celebrating Auntie Lil’s 90th birthday, and houseguests galore!  WHEW!  I will have plenty to share about all those wonderful things in a coming post but for now, let’s talk PIE!!!
Peach Nectarine Cherry Pie RecipeWhile I was in Europe, I ate my way through more pastries than the average vacationer.  As a baker I felt it my obligation to do some research while I had the opportunity.  But in truth, it was mostly about how much I love sweets and baked goods.  And, when I wasn’t eating pastries, I was doing a face plant into scoops of gelato.  Yes, I love ice cream/gelato even more than pastries and so I ate it at every stop, sometimes even twice a day.  True confession – one day I had two big scoops of gelato before noon.  No excuses, apologies, or regrets.  :)
Peach Nectarine Cherry Pie RecipeAll that said, by the time I re-entered the States, I was more than ready for some good old-fashioned American desserts.  The farmers market stalls were brimming over with ripe stone fruits, making it impossible to choose just one as the star of this pie.  This is absolutely my favorite ‘fruit’ time of the year.  I could eat plump, meaty cherries all day long.  Since nectarines and peaches are also right up there at the top of my list of irresistible summer cravings, I decided to feed that craving with a single pie, harnessing the juicy, sweet-tart lovely-ness of all three fruits.

Quick, get to the market while cherries, nectarines, and peaches are at their best.  Then make pie!
Peach Nectarine Cherry Pie RecipeNotes:  I do not peel the nectarines but feel free to peel away.  The 1/3 cup sugar added to the fruit is approximate.  I prefer to allow the fruit and natural sugars to shine and so I opt for less sugar.  If your fruit is lacking in sweetness or you prefer a sweeter pie, add 1/2 cup sugar to the fruit.  This pie crust recipe is very generous, making enough dough for a double crusted 9 1/2-inch pie.  If using a 9-inch pie dish, use the extra pie dough scraps for cinnamon and sugar pie crust cookies.  





‘Intensely’ Chocolate Streusel Muffins

Chocolate Streusel Muffins RecipeWhere have I been you ask?  I’ve been living life!   When my schedule gets particularly busy, I am glad this blog is just a hobby and not a job.  If it were a job, I would have been fired by now.  But since I am my own boss, I gave myself permission to take some time off.   My precious Girl, my one and only, graduated college a couple of weeks ago.  The school she chose to attend was a bit of a mixed blessing.  It was in New York, which is literally on the other side of the country, but what better city to be in when visiting your kid. Continue reading

Berry Crumble ‘Mini’ Pies

Berry Crumble 'Mini' Pies RecipeMarrying the love of my life came with sacrifices.  We met in my hometown while he was there on business, and if we were going to pursue our relationship, I would have to move to Los Angeles.  I fell hard and quickly, and my bags were packed just nine short months after our first date.  I never looked back, which if you knew me then, was completely out of character.  If an award was given for ‘least likely to move away from home’, I would have won it.  I was a homebody, spending more time with my parents during my late teen years than with friends.  A bit strange, I’ll admit.  From the first glance into H’s eyes, I was smitten.  A current much stronger than my desire to stay close to home carried me swiftly to the West Coast.  My Dad cried when I told him I was moving to California.  My mom did not.  At least she didn’t cry in front of me.  Being the sixth of ten children, she had probably grown impervious to the whims of her children by then.  Maybe she thought it was just an impetuous move, by an infatuated young girl, caught up with the prospects of life in the City of Angels.  Or perhaps, when you have that many kids, giving one up to migration is less traumatic than when you have an only child. Continue reading

Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Honey Pecan Pralines

Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Honey Pecan Pralines RecipeImagine how delighted I was when my 16 year old nephew called to ask if he could come hang with me for a couple of days.  He  doesn’t live nearby, so our time together is spotty, and as he grows older this precious time together becomes even more sparse.  Of course I welcomed him with opened arms. Continue reading