Virginia Willis Blog

What’s in Season: Five Spice Pork Chops with Ginger Plum BBQ Sauce

Plum BBQ Sauce on www.virginiawillis.com

What’s in Season?

Plums, peaches, and apricots are starting to appear at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Peaches are undoubtedly one of my favorite stone fruits. Given that I grew up in the heart of Peach country in South Georgia, my affinity for them may as well be part of my DNA. While they did not grow peaches, my grandparents had a plum tree on their property. I remember standing with my sister and eating plum after plum straight off the tree, sticky juices running down our chins. Those sweet treats were the best plums I had ever tasted — and tasted since, but I am certain nostalgia and food memories are coming into play. Once we’d had our fill of fresh plums Meme would make jelly. She would stew the fruit until it was completely falling apart. She’d then strain the pulp overnight in a linen sack, and the juices would slowly drip into a wide, shallow enamelware bowl. Once the juice was collected, she would cook the mixture with sugar to make jelly. The results were crystal clear, garnet red, and glistening, perfect for a buttery buttermilk biscuit. (more…)

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Summer Fruit Desserts: Cornmeal Skillet Cake

Summer Fruit Desserts on www.virginiawillis.com

 Summer Fruit Desserts

When it comes to summer fruit desserts my go-to recipe is a batter cobbler I learned from my grandmother. When I was a little girl nearly every summer I went camping with my grandparents in their motor home. Over the years we traveled from Georgia all the way to Newfoundland on the East Coast to Saskatchewan in the Northwest. We visited Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and Niagara Falls — and everywhere in between. If the weather was nice, my grandfather and I would walk the woods and forage for berries once we made camp. He and I would return with stained hands and mouths and present a precious bucket or bowl to my grandmother. She would use our harvest to prepare a cobbler in her cast iron skillet in the simple, compact kitchen of the camper. I remember enjoying bowls of buttery crust mixed with warm fruit and rivulets of melting vanilla ice cream while sitting at the picnic table listening to the crickets and watching the glow of the fireflies. My grandmother’s simple cobbler seemed to be the finest dessert imaginable. So, cobbler is more than just a dessert to me; it represents special memories with family members that I dearly love.  (more…)

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Swordfish Steaks au Poivre with Tomatoes and Basil

World Oceans Day on www.virginiawillis.com

World Oceans Day

It’s World Oceans Day! On June 8th each year, we celebrate the ocean, its importance in our lives, and how we can protect it. World Oceans Day helps raise the profile of the ocean and inspire more involvement in aiding to conserve this amazing resource we all depend on. The Ocean Project recognizes that there is one global ocean that connects us all. The health of the ocean and its inhabitants depends on what we put in it. (more…)

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Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits

Mayonnnaise Drop Biscuits on www.virginiawillis.com

Drop Biscuits

There’s been basket after basket of biscuits in my life of late. I shared my thoughts on “Love and Biscuits” with SouthernKitchen.com in celebration of Mother’s Day. Last weekend  I made Country Ham Biscuits and offered them in a segment with folks at Fox & Friends, along with a Pimento Cheese recipe while at the Kentucky Derby. Then, over the past few days I have been asked multiple times about Drop Biscuits — so I figured it would be a good idea to share a recipe with you.

Drop Biscuits are like biscuits with training wheels — you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough. The recipes for Drop Biscuits are wetter than biscuits you roll and punch out with a cutter.  Usually they contain more milk or buttermilk than a traditional biscuit recipe. There are many different kinds of drop biscuits — this one is made with only THREE ingredients.  Butter is replaced with mayonnaise — and the combination of milk and mayonnaise creates a very similar flavor profile as buttermilk.

Mama made these often when we were growing up. After I attended culinary school, I admittedly became quite snobby about using store-bought ingredients in recipes. I wanted to make the mayonnaise, not buy it. This type of recipe seemed one short step above a baking mix. Now a little older and wiser, I appreciate it for what it is. I understand Mama was putting freshly baked bread on the family table, and that was really important. I now ask for them whenever I go home to visit and enjoy every delicious bite. 

Check out this quick video  on how to make Mayonnaise Drop Biscuits — they are so easy! I know you are going to love them.

How to Make Tender Biscuits

The main ingredient in biscuits is wheat flour. Wheat flour contains two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. When you combine flour with liquid, the proteins create a strong and elastic sheet called gluten. Flours vary in their protein levels, which affects the texture of baked goods. Gluten gives structure to yeast breads, but is not recommended for tender cakes, biscuits, and quick breads. Southern all-purpose flour is milled from soft red winter wheat that has less gluten-forming protein. 

Most national brands of all-purpose flour are a combination of soft winter wheat and higher-protein hard summer wheat. White Lily contains approximately nine grams of protein per cup of flour, whereas national brands can contain eleven or twelve grams of protein per cup of flour. If you live outside the South, White Lily is available online or in some specialty shops in other parts of the country. For results similar to those of Southern flour, substitute one part all-purpose flour and one part cake flour for the amount of Southern flour in a recipe.

Mayonnaise Drop Biscuits on www.virginiawillis.com

What is Self Rising Flour?

This recipe for Mayonnaise Drop Biscuits calls for self rising flour. Self rising flour is all-purpose flour that is generally low in protein and contains a leavening agent and salt. It is widely available in the South, but less so in other regions of the country. If you have a recipe that calls for self-rising flour, use the following formula to convert all-purpose into self-rising: to 1 cup of Southern all-purpose flour, add 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.

Howdy Texas!

Nathalie Dupree and I are traveling across Texas for Central Market Cooking School along with a veritable slew of Southern chefs and cookbook authors over the next few weeks. There are a few seats left for our Fort Worth class. I am also teaching a solo class in San Antonio. And, yes – she and I will be teaching, you guessed it — how to make biscuits!

You KNOW it’s going to be a hoot — Nathalie and I traveling across Texas?!  Make sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to keep up with our shenanigans. 

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

 

Mayonnaise Drop Biscuits on www.virginiawillis.com
Mayonnnaise Drop Biscuits on www.virginiawillis.com
Print

Mayonnaise Drop Biscuits

Makes 6
Prep Time 5 minutes
20 minutes
25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 cup whole milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking mat.
  2. Combine the flour, mayonnaise, and milk in a bowl. Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

Southern classics on www.virginiawilllis.com

 

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Easy Entertaining: Kentucky Derby Party Tips

Kentucky Derby Party Tips on www.virginiawillis.com

Kentucky Derby

Derby Days! I am thrilled to be the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Today, I want to share with you my Kentucky Derby Party Tips so that you can host your own celebration — without running yourself like a horse on the track! (more…)

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