Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cornmeal biscuits, an earthy chicken salad and a few garden surprises...

When we moved into the house out here in Minnesota last year, most of the landscape plants had already dropped their flowers and it was just greenery left behind. Now that we've come to being here almost a full year, it has been fun seeing the surprises that are springing up - take this beautiful flower for example!

While we were not able to get a garden in the ground this spring (we are getting things prepared for one next year though!), I did get a few pots worth of herbs and vegetables onto the deck and they seem to be doing quite well! In fact, I spotted our first tomato with lots of flowers beside it to hopefully continue the trend.

On a whim this past spring, I also picked up a small packet of chive seeds to give them a go as well... by this morning we finally had just enough to harvest (we started them a bit late in the season!) and make these Cheddar Cornmeal Biscuits with Chives as a side for dinner tonight.

I'm more of a fan of drop biscuits as they are less messy (no rolling!) and can go from bowl to oven in just a few minutes. However, we were both quite happy with how these came out and it didn't take that much extra time, especially with a little help from the food processor! I love crunch, so we used a more coarse stone-ground cornmeal for these, but don't let that stop you from giving them a try if you only have a finer meal. Since there is not a ton of butter in the dough, use your best extra-sharp cheddar to ensure a well-flavored biscuit. Besides adding a mild tang, sour cream adds the moisture needed to bind the biscuit dough together, keeping them tender and light. We also added just a tablespoon of honey to add a kiss of sweetness (and also gives them a little color), but it is not required and can be left out if desired.

Now, instead of hauling out the rolling pin and biscuit cutters, the dough is just patted out into a thick rectangle and cut into squares. No scraps or re-rolling needed... how easy is that? If you want to be a little naughty, you can always brush a bit of melted butter on top once they are baked, but we were happy enough with them as is. You can see the pearls of cornmeal in the finished biscuit (especially if you view the larger picture) - they added a light crunch, but they do soften a bit and are not hard little nuggets. The chives added an innocent onion-y background that just seemed to fit in naturally with the bite from the cheese and the moist biscuit.

To go along with the biscuits, I made this Curried Chicken Salad with Nectarines that we served on a few leaves of crisp romaine lettuce. You'll need about a pound of cooked, shredded chicken (this ends up being roughly 3 cups) - I just poached a few chicken breasts in broth, but you could also pick up one of those handy rotisserie chickens from the market to speed the process along. For a juicy sweetness, cubes of fresh nectarines are added with the chicken, along with crunchy celery and green onions. Nectarines are basically fuzz-less peaches, but do tend to be a little smaller and a touch sweeter.

To moisten the salad, a combination of mayonnaise, buttermilk and lemon juice is whisked together. If you wanted to further lighten this up, you could use a combo of sour cream and plain yogurt, to replace the mayonnaise, but I thought the mayonnaise brought a needed richness. Besides the obligatory salt and pepper, we added just a sprinkling of hot madras curry powder to ground the salad with an earthy flavor - not too much though as it can be pretty pungent. To finish off the salad, we scattered the top with a handful of toasted sliced almonds for a nutty crunch. This could also stand up to a spicier bed of greens like arugula or watercress if you had some on hand - I also think this would be tasty served in a pita or wrapped up in a tortilla for an on-the-go lunch.


  1. What a surprise. Also I like that quick salad. Perfect for a warm summer night.

  2. those biscuits look great and i've got a ton of cornmeal just waiting to be turned into something new.

  3. both of these look and sound very tasty.... and what a beautiful colour the lily is...

  4. The daylily is gorgeous, lucky you!

    And the biscuits sound delicious. I would also like the chicken salad, but my husband claims to not like fruit in salad. :-( I'll make it for myself one night when he's off playing softball!

  5. Your flowers are gorgeous!


  6. Sometimes I wonder if I'm capable of thinking outside the box. Here in the south, where chicken salad is a big deal, the fruit of choice is grapes. Then you go and use nectarines and it sounds so completely perfect, I'm thinking why did I never think to do this??? Especially since I practically inhale nectarines. Did you find that the dressing was enough for all that chicken?

  7. Helene - I agree!

    Kickpleat - You'll have to let us know what you think!

    Bumblevee - Thanks!

    Sarah - You could halve the recipe and give it a try!

    Courtney - Thank you!

    Quinn - It was on the the light side for sure. If you want a heavily dressed salad, I would suggest upping those ingredients by one and a half.

  8. Joe, your recipes are always fabulous! Thanks for another winner that I'm adding to my rotation. :)

  9. Colleency - I'm glad you came back to let us know! Thanks!