January 19, 2014

Breakfast at home: Biscuits & Gravy Skillet Breakfast

Have you ever wanted to have biscuits and gravy for breakfast, but also wanted it to be super easy? The answer, which you have surely already guessed, is to cook them in the same pan. I saw a picture of this somewhere on the internet, and decided to make it using my own recipes, instead of boxed mixes.

Technically, the only real time-saver here is that you do not need to get out a baking sheet for the biscuits (or wash the baking sheet afterward) but it still feels like a win. You want to scale your batch of biscuits to just as many as will fit in your skillet, otherwise you'll have to break out the baking sheet anyway. This was a very hearty breakfast for two, using 340 grams of sausage, and half of a slightly modified version of my classic biscuit recipe (ie, a biscuit recipe calling for only one cup of flour). You can find the classic biscuit recipe in this link. Ah, but you've noticed that I said a modified version of that recipe: well, it couldn't be a simpler modification - I simply added a little extra milk (two to three tablespoons) so that you have a sticky, wet dough, instead of a regular biscuit dough. That's because I decided to go with a "drop biscuit" method rather than a rolled/patted biscuit - but I also note that you don't have to use drop biscuits for this - the regular biscuit method would also work just as well (although it does require an additional step of patting out the dough and cutting it into biscuit shapes of your choice).

So, after all of that talk about biscuits, what about the gravy? Well, you need to start with the gravy, of course, since it goes on the bottom. You can use any white sausage gravy that you like - perhaps this one from my previous, more traditional Biscuits & Gravy post.

Preheat your oven to 425-450 F (depending on how hot your oven runs), with a rack in the middle position. Make sure your skillet will actually fit in your oven - this can be a problem with larger skillets and apartment-sized ovens, and it really sucks. Make sure yours fits, even if you have to scale your recipe down to a smaller pan size.

Start with the gravy, which you make in your skillet, on the stovetop. Good white gravy takes time for the raw flour taste to cook out of it, so the gravy won't be at all harmed by continuing to simmer on low heat while you mix the biscuit dough.

So, now that your gravy is (gently) bubbling away on the stove, take three minutes (give or take) to whip up a batch of biscuits. If you're using drop biscuits, as soon as they are mixed, you can use a tablespoon to dollop the dough evenly over the top of the gravy. Try to to this quickly, so that the biscuits cook evenly. If you are patting out your biscuit dough and cutting rounds, once the biscuits are all cut out, lay them onto the gravy.

As soon as all the biscuits are in the skillet, move the skillet to the oven (uncovered), and set your timer for 15 minutes. If the biscuits are golden, like these ones, take them out and spoon them into serving bowls, along with the gravy itself, of course. If your biscuits are still pale, maybe crank the broiler on and give them another few minutes.

The biscuits will be amazingly tender, acting a bit like a steamed dumpling. The bottom of each dumpling is thoroughly drenched in gravy flavour, and you will not need a knife to cut them; just scoop up delicious mouthfuls of biscuit and gravy with a fork or spoon, as you see fit.

Now, if you're the sort of person that doesn't consider it breakfast without eggs, just poach or fry up some eggs while the biscuits are in the oven, and serve them right on top of the dished-up biscuits and gravy.

January 08, 2014

Orange Ginger Zander

Happy 2014 from Always In The Kitchen! Shall we start the new year with some fish?

This is a slight adaptation of Anne Lindsay's Teriyaki Orange Fish Fillets (from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking). I note that the amount of soy sauce called for in the recipe was virtually undetectable in the finished dish, and recommend that if you want an actual teriyaki flavour, you will need to substantially increase the soy. I'm going to try it with triple soy next time, to see if it can earn the "teriyaki" in the name. I might add a little sesame oil, too, just to enhance the Japanese flavour profile, but even as is, it is a very nice dish.

You can use any mild fish for this - I used zander (also known as pike-perch) but halibut, basa, sole, or tilapia would all work nicely. The fish cooks very quickly, so do not start cooking until your accompanying dishes are almost ready to serve.

For the orange component, I used clementines (zest and freshly squeezed juice). I wish I had kept some long strands of zest for garnish, and I will next time, just for the prettiness of presentation.

Orange Ginger Zander

Serves 4
Total Prep & Cooking Time: 12 minutes

4 boneless fish fillets (or eight small ones)
zest from an orange (or clementine)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 tablespoon less-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar (may not be needed if the juice is very sweet)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Combine zest, juice, onion, soy sauce, ginger, and sugar (if needed) in a small bowl. Pour half into a skillet that is just large enough to accommodate the fish fillets in a single layer. Lay the fish in the sauce, and pour the remaining sauce over the fish. In a separate bowl, combine the water and cornstarch and stir until smooth.

Turn the burner to high and bring the liquid just to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to a bare simmer and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the dish to simmer for about 5 minutes (it's okay to peek, just try not to let too much steam evaporate), or until the fish is just cooked (it may be quicker if you have really thin fillets).

Remove the fish to a plate, and bring the orange sauce to a boil again. Stir the cornstarch and water to ensure it is smooth, and then add the mixture to the orange stirring well. It will thicken almost immediately, but keep stirring until the sauce regains some of its translucence, to ensure that the cornstarch doesn't leave a raw flavour. Spoon the sauce over the fillets, and serve immediately. Rice is a lovely bed for the orange sauce, but gingered noodles would also be delicious.