Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

I’ve always said: “Happiness is a warm, fluffy, buttermilk biscuit!”

Actually, that’s a lie – I’ve never said that before. But, I have felt that sentiment deep down in my heart for a very long time, and NOW I’m saying it… and I mean it! Seriously, a buttermilk biscuit is a beautiful, wonderful thing, especially when it’s fresh from the oven and slathered in butter. Part of the beauty of a buttermilk biscuit is that you can dress it up in millions of ways. Add cheese! Pop it on top of a chicken pot pie! Slice it in half and use it to sandwich a delicious piece of fried chicken!

(Stop drooling on your keyboard. It’s unsightly.)

ANYWAYS. When I was brainstorming some menu ideas for a wedding shower I was helping to throw, I knew I wanted to make a biscuit sandwich of some sort. A biscuit sandwich fulfills many of the requirements for food at a brunch: it’s dainty, it’s cute, it’s carb-y to soak up all the mimosas in your stomach. I wanted to add a couple other elements, too – something Italian (I met the bride while working in her dad’s Italian bakery nearly 20 years ago), something cheesy (please tell me I don’t need to explain the need for cheese?), and something to give it a real savory/spicy edge. Mission accomplished!

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)
makes about 16 petite sandwiches, with jam left over

For the jam:
1 pound strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
1 cup brown sugar
2 T water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (white, if you have it)
a healthy pinch of kosher salt

For the biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
generous 1/2 t kosher salt
3/4 t coarsely ground black pepper
8 T butter, super cold, and cut into cubes
2 oz gruyere cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk

For the sandwiches:
16 thin slices of prosciutto
arugula

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

1.) Start by getting your jam going on the stovetop. Add all the jam ingredients to a small sauce pan, stir well to combine, and set over medium heat. Let the mixture come up to a boil; turn the heat back just a bit (you don’t want it to be a hard boil, but you want more action than a simmer), and let the mixture cook down until it’s nice and thick. Keep an eye on it, and stir often, and it should take about 45 minutes.

2.) While the jam cooks, make your biscuit dough (and preheat your oven to 425°). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and black pepper. Using a pastry blender (or two knives, or your hands), cut the butter into the flour mixture, until there are still some bits of butter the size of small peas. (More thorough biscuit-dough-making directions are here.)

3.) Add the grated cheese to your flour/butter mixture, and use a fork to toss it all together until the cheese is evenly distributed. Then, drizzle the buttermilk around the bowl, and use the fork to lightly mix everything, until a shaggy dough starts to form.

4.) Lightly flour your countertop, and dump the dough out on to it. Working quickly, press the dough together into a lump, and then shape it into a square that’s about 3/4″ thick. Remember, the goal is to handle the dough as little as possible, so it doesn’t get overworked and it stays COLD!

5.) Cut the dough into 16 neat squares. (You can also cut traditional round biscuits out of the dough – I just find the rolling of scraps to be cumbersome, and the constant handling of those extra pieces can result in a tough biscuit. So, I go with squares.) Place the biscuits on to a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits have risen nicely, and are a light golden brown on top.

6.) While your biscuits bake, finish up your jam. Dependent on what kind of texture you want, you can do a few things: leave it as is (for a super-chunky jam); mash up the strawberries with a potato masher (for a finer, but still chunky, jam); or blend the jam with an immersion blender (or in a traditional blender, for a much smoother jam). Let the jam cool completely.

7.) When your biscuits are done baking, let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

8.) Time to assemble the sandwiches! Gently slices the biscuits in half, and then spread jam on both sides of the biscuit. Layer on a piece of prosciutto, a small bunch of arugula, and then the top half of the biscuit. Serve at room temperature.

These sandwiches really have a lot of flavor going on – but it all ends up working really nicely together. The biscuits are nice and savory from the gruyere, and a little spicy, from the pepper. The prosciutto is smoky and salty, and pepperiness of the arugula complements the biscuit, and the strawberry balsamic jam adds just enough sweetness to round it all out. They’re rich and delicious, but small enough not to be too filling and heavy.

A couple items of note:

1.) You’ll have lots of jam left over. Use it on EVERYTHING – your morning toast, a slice of toasted baguette slathered in goat cheese, drizzled into your yogurt, eaten directly off a spoon. It will last for several weeks in the fridge.

2.) If you’re making these sandwiches for a party, make the biscuits ahead and freeze them. Once the biscuits are cut, lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and pop the baking sheet into the freezer. After 3 or 4 hours, when the outsides are completely firm, toss them all into a ziploc freezer bag, and keep them frozen until you’re ready to use them. Bake from frozen, but allow about 25 minutes for them to bake. (This is also a good idea if you just want to keep biscuits on hand for quick breakfasts or snacks – you can bake as many or as few at a time as you like.)

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

If you’re still feeling apprehensive about attempting homemade biscuits, just DO IT. It takes a little practice and finesse, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be so glad you tried it. You can do it!

A world of buttery, flaky, deliciousness awaits you,
Tina

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Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar

If you are in need of a super quick, easy, and delicious summer dessert, I’ve got you covered. This crumble takes just a couple minutes to throw together, and can be easily changed up to accommodate whatever you do or don’t have on hand. Best of all, it’s just as easy to make for 20 people, as it is to make for 4!

Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar

Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar
serves 8

1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
two 6 oz containers of blackberries
two 6 oz containers of raspberries
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 T balsamic vinegar
generous pinch of kosher salt

For the crumble:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oats (quick-cooking or regular)
1 cup sugar
10 T cold butter, cut into cubes
generous pinch of kosher salt

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar

1.) Preheat the oven to 375°. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and kosher salt for the crumble. Add the butter cubes, and work the butter into the flour mixture (either with a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands) until the mixture resembles wet sand. Pop the crumble mixture into the fridge to chill for a few minutes.

2.) Add all the berries to a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt, and use a rubber spatula to very gently fold everything together (you don’t want to break the berries up too much!), until all the berries are evenly coated in the sauce.

Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar

3.) Spoon the berry mixture into eight ramekins (I used a 9oz size) – or spoon it all into a baking dish. Spread the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the berries, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the crumble top is nicely browned.

4.) Allow the crumbles to sit for about 10 minutes, then top with vanilla ice cream, and serve!

Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar

I know, I know… it sounds a little weird to put vinegar into a dessert, but you’re just gonna need to trust me on this one. Once the balsamic combines with the brown sugar and cooks down, it is deliciously sweet – with just a touch of acidic edge, to balance all the sweet fruit and the sugar in the crumble topping. You can thank me later.

Mixed Berry Crumble with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar

We all agree that a warm fruit crumble without ice cream is a sin, right?
Tina

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

So, have you hopped on the kale bandwagon yet? If not, I have another delicious kale recipe to tempt you with… and this one has the added appeal of CARBS! If adding a bunch of bread to your vegetables doesn’t make them more appealing to you, then I have to assume you are broken, and I feel very sorry for you. (Kidding! I mean, I guess you don’t HAVE to love bread… but you probably should, I think.)

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

ANYWAYS. The first incarnation of this recipe occurred a few weeks back. I was making some delicious grilled artichoke subs for dinner (recipe forthcoming!), and I ended up pulling the insides of my baguettes out, to make room for more artichokes. I could not, in good conscience, throw out perfectly good bread, so I was going to freeze it to make breadcrumbs with at a later date… but then it occurred to me that I could toast it up, and use it to make a panzanella salad! As luck would have it, I had a fresh bunch of kale in the fridge (it’s a staple – I ALWAYS have kale in the fridge), so I decided to make a kale panzanella. After a bit of tweaking, I’m finally ready to share the recipe with you!

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
serves 2

one bunch lactinato kale*
3-4oz good bread, cut or torn into bite-size pieces**
half a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh parmesan (not grated!)
3 T olive oil, divided
juice of half a lemon
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T whole grain mustard
1 T honey
kosher salt
pepper

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

*I find that lactinato kale is the most palatable (texture-wise), especially if you’re trying it out for the first time. Lactinato kale (also called dinosaur or tuscan kale) has flat, broad, dark green leaves that are kind of pebbled in texture… most other varieties are lighter green, and curly around the edges. They all taste pretty much the same, in my opinion!

**You want to use a good, hearty bread for this salad; now is not the time for regular sliced bread. I prefer not to use the crispy crust of the bread (I would use a soft baguette, or a loaf of ciabatta or other good Italian bread), but you certainly can if you’d like to!

1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Line a small baking sheet with foil, and spread your bread pieces out on it. Toss the bread with about a tablespoon of olive oil (I used my olive oil mister, and it worked nicely), and toast it in the oven until it’s golden brown and crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Allow the bread to cool slightly.

2.) While the bread toasts, prep your kale. Remove the leaves from the tough stems, and discard the stems. Stack all the kale leaves together, and use a sharp knife to cut the leaves cross-wise into 1/2″ strips. Wash and dry the kale as necessary (a salad spinner is optimal, here).

3.) Add the kale to a large bowl, and add one tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. Use your hands to work the oil and lemon juice into the leaves, until they’re all thoroughly coated and beginning to soften, about a minute or two.

4.) For the vinaigrette, add one tablespoon each of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, whole grain mustard, and honey to a small bowl. Add a pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper, and whisk to combine.

5.) Pour the dressing over the massaged kale, and toss it with tongs to evenly distribute the dressing. Add the cooled bread, and toss it with the kale. Divide the kale and bread mixture in to two bowls, and then top with the cherry tomatoes and fresh shavings of parmesan.

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

I have tried several different dressings with this particular salad, and this one was definitely the winner. It’s got a bit of sweetness, a little bite – and some texture from the whole grain mustard. I also really, really love the pairing of the hearty kale with the crispy bread… it just works! Of course, you could switch up the toppings of this salad however you like (olive, artichoke hearts, cucumber, bell peppers), but I love the sweet tomatoes and salty parmesan together. I promise this salad will make a kale lover out of the most ardent kale hater!

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

And then you get to feel smug and virtuous all day, because YOU ATE KALE,
Tina

Holiday Recipe Roundup!

Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us! And by “holiday season”, you know I really mean “eating season” – so, put on some elastic-waist pants, grab a big blanket to wrap yourself up with, and let’s get to work making your Thanksgiving menu, shall we?

After more than two years of posting recipes to the blog, we’ve got QUITE the collection of dishes to round out your holiday meal. You won’t find much in the way of sweet potatoes topped with mini marshmallows, or how to prep and roast a giant turkey (I’m more of a ham girl, myself), but you WILL find plenty of delicious recipes that will add something new and fun to your meal (when all else fails? Sprinkle your dish with pomegranate seeds! Festive!). I’ve broken this (gigantic) list down into several categories: Salads, Sides, and Desserts. A good amount of them are quick and easy to make, most will impress the hell out of your friends and family, and ALL of them are delicious. Feel free to send me the leftovers of any of the following:

Salads:

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Lemony Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed onion dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Vidalia Dressing

Beet Salad with Honey Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Goat Cheese Salad Dressing

Ina’s Ranch Dressing

Side Dishes:

Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Honey Balsamic Carrots

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Smoky Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

balsamic roasted potatoes.

Balsamic Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Dried Cherry Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Chutney Vinaigrette

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

Green Beans with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Bacon Creamed Corn

Beer and Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Desserts:

Classic Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Nutella Rugelach

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies (you could absolutely use apples instead of pears, if you wanted to!)

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Mini Salted Caramel Icebox Cakes

Chocolate Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Brownie Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Pots de Creme

no-bake nutella cheesecakes.

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecakes

I am going to TRY to get a couple more Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah, or other holiday) worthy recipes up on the blog over the weekend/early next week… but I can’t promise anything, as I might find myself too busy “taste testing” the desserts I’m making for all our Thanksgiving gatherings to get to the computer. I mean, do you think someone ELSE is going to test the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies to make sure they’re not poisonous?? No ma’am, it’s all on my shoulders. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

I hope you’ve found something that looks delicious enough to add to your holiday meal, and I hope your holiday weekend is filled with tasty feasts, and stretchy waistbands.

Bring on the pecan pie and mashed potatoes,
Tina