sour cream and flaky cheddar biscuits
makes 9 biscuits plus 1 snack
2¼ cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons (4 grams) kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
Heaped ¼ teaspoon onion powder
12 tablespoons (170 grams, or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, diced
4 ounces (115 grams) sharp cheddar, cut into ¼-inch cubes (heaped ¾ cup)
¾ cup (180 grams) sour cream
Flaky salt, to finish
This is the kind of biscuit you might make once on a whim, but should you make the “mistake,” as I did, of sharing it with family, friends, or perhaps an entire pre-kindergarten classroom, do know that it will not be the last time you make them—because puddles of crispy cheddar cheese you can pick off in salty, lacy chiplike flakes make an impression on people. Initially, I’d intended to add spinach (just a handful of fresh leaves, chopped harmlessly small) for more of a breakfast-in-one-heartycube effect, yet, strangely, nobody in the four-year-old set seemed pleased with this when I offered to do so next time. Having tested it both ways many times since, I’ve realized they’re not wrong.
If you, like me, love an accordion-like biscuit, with layers that spring tall, begging to be pulled apart in small, buttery squares, then the quarterthen-stack technique here (which I first learned from the wonderful Claire Saffitz) is so gloriously simple, you won’t want to make breakfast biscuits another way. With no fancy folds or turns, and not even a rolling pin required, this has not-really-a-morning-person, aka me, written all over it.
Heat the oven to 400°F (205°C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, black pepper, and onion powder. Add the butter to the bowl, and use your fingers or a pastry blender to squash the pieces into flatter bits, pinching and tossing until the mixture has tiny clumps throughout. Stir in the cheddar, then the sour cream. (The mixture will seem crumbly, but it will come together, I promise.)
Flour your counter, and dump the dough and any unmixed floury bits onto it, kneading it once or twice to bring it together. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick square. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide it into quarters; then stack the quarters. Repeat this process, patting the dough into a thick square a second time, re-flouring the counter if needed, and stuffing any loose scraps of dough between the layers.
Transfer the dough slab to the prepared baking sheet, and pat it into a ¾-inch-tall square. Place the tray in the freezer and keep it there for 7 to 10 minutes, until it’s cool and semi-firm to the touch. Remove from the freezer. Use a sharp knife to trim ¼ inch from each side, and squish these pieces into a bonus biscuit you do not need to tell anyone about. Cut the newly trimmed large square into nine approximately 2-inch-square biscuits, and space them out on the sheet. Sprinkle with flaky salt. (If you’d like to bake them another day, freeze them at this point. Let them warm up at room temperature for 15 minutes—they will not fully defrost—before baking.)
Bake the biscuits for 16 to 19 minutes, until they are deep golden brown at the edges and some cheese is melted in crisp puddles around the edges. Eat right away.chicken with rice, chorizo, and tomatoes
2 to 2¼ pounds (about 1 kilogram) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 or 5)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (40 grams) olive oil, divided
4 ounces (115 grams) cured Spanish chorizo, diced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
¼ cup (60 grams) white wine, or 2 tablespoons (30 grams) white-wine vinegar
One 14.5-ounce can (410 grams) diced or crushed tomatoes, or 1¾ cups diced fresh tomatoes
1½ cups (250 grams) uncooked white rice, any variety
2 cups (475 grams) chicken broth
This is one of my family’s favorite dinners, and it’s the absolutely coziest, while also feeling like a triumph, in that way that one-pan meals do. There’s tender, almost-falling-apart chicken thighs, chorizo, tomato, a little smoky heat, and broth-soaked crispy-bottomed rice, and I have never, not even once, suggested we have it for dinner and been turned down. It started as a distant cousin to an arroz con pollo, but it’s also a tiny bit paella, and tiny bit Basque chicken—but it’s absolutely none of these accurately in the end. Pared down in a pandemic kitchen, this dish turned out to be about what we reliably had around. It’s forgiving of swaps, but cured chorizo is my favorite here, because it infuses everything with an inky red oil, and it keeps longer than either bacon or pancetta in the fridge.
I come from a long line of home cooks who cannot make rice without burning it (rice nights meant a pot soaking in the sink until morning), but here we’re trying to turn shortcomings into an asset. The rice shouldn’t be burned, of course, but cranking up the heat at the end and moving the pan around the burner gives it an intentional crust. These chewy and crunchy caramelized bits at the bottom steal the show.
If there are leftovers, I use a fork to separate the chicken from the bones, nestle it in the rice, and heat it up the next day in the microwave for the least sad work-lunch ever.Prep the chicken:
Spread the chicken thighs on a plate, and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan (it should hold 3 to 4 quarts and have a lid) over medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Brown the chicken on both sides—it takes about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes on the second. Transfer it to a plate.Cook the chorizo and rice:
If the pan looks dry, warm the last tablespoon olive oil in it. Otherwise, just add the chorizo, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it’s beginning to crisp. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and paprika, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, and cook until it’s almost all reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes plus 2 teaspoons salt. If they’re fresh, cook for 5 minutes, until they begin to lose their shape and look a little saucy; this may happen 1 to 2 minutes sooner with canned tomatoes. Add the rice, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes in the tomatoes and spices. Nestle the chicken thighs back into the pan, including any juices that collected on the plate. Pour in the broth, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible simmer, and cover the pan. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender, and the chicken is cooked through.
(If your rice is undercooked, add ¼ cup water and cook for another 5 minutes.)To get the rice crispy:
With the lid on the pan, increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, moving the pan around every minute or so, allowing the bottom to color evenly, until the rice is dark and crispy underneath. You’ll hear it crackling in the pan. Remove it from the heat, and let it rest with the lid on for 10 minutes. The steam that collects helps it to loosen.
Serve the chicken with the rice, scraping up stuck bits from the pan with a thin spatula.thick molasses spice cookies
makes 22 to 24 cookies
2⅓ cups (305 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup (12 tablespoons, 6 ounces, or 170 grams) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
½ cup (150 grams) molasses (see note)
⅔ cup (145 grams) packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons (45 grams) finely chopped crystallized ginger
6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated or turbinado sugar, for rollingnote
You can use either unsulphured or blackstrap molasses here; I’ve tested it with both. If you can’t get molasses where you are, use treacle. As for the egg yolk, I tested this recipe several times with a whole egg and with just a yolk and vastly prefer the yolk-only version: it’s less crunchy and better holds the pillowy shape that I like in a molasses cookie.
These cookies are my winter obsession. I had been on the hunt for a thick, soft-but-not-too cakey, deeply spiced, and a little kicky dark-molasses cookie for as long as I could remember. I tried dozens over the years, but none were exactly right. Over the pandemic winter that left us devoid of parties and all the usual holiday cheer, I decided that I would at least get this one perfect. (I also ran my local store out of molasses and ground ginger, and begged my friends to swing by so I could fling samples off the balcony down to them—don’t worry, we’re not high up—because we were, at one point, blockaded by cookies.) Do you know what it’s like for your apartment to smell like a gingerbread house blew up in it every day for the whole month of December? It was, despite the larger circumstances, a very good time, and at the end, I had these: my forever molasses cookies, and soon, perhaps, yours, too.
Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, spices, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until fully mixed. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the melted butter, molasses, brown sugar, yolk, and candied ginger. Whisk these together in the center a couple times (until the egg yolk is dispersed); then switch to a spoon or rubber spatula to continue mixing. The dough will be very thick!
Scoop the dough into balls—I either use a medium cookie scoop (1½ tablespoons) or take just shy of 2 tablespoons of dough for each. Roll each in your hands briefly to shape it into a ball, then into the granulated or turbinado sugar for coating.
Space the cookies evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet (they barely spread), and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. You want what looks like a quite underbaked cookie. It will feel totally soft on top; you will be sure it’s raw. But if you lift a cookie, you’ll see that it’s one shade darker underneath. They’re done. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. The cookies set as they cool. If you cut into one in the first 15 minutes, you’ll yell, “Deb! These are raw in the middle! How could you?” But after that, you will have a more cookielike, perfect texture—crisp outside and tender inside.
You can chill the dough in the fridge for an hour or even several days before baking it, but let it warm up a bit at room temperature before scooping (trust me, I broke two cookie scoops learning this the hard way). Store the cookies in an airtight container to retain their softness. They keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, but their texture is best in the first week.
Copyright © 2022 by Deb Perelman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.