Monday, March 31, 2014

The Lime Shortage

photo from Wikipedia
Have you heard all the news stories about the lime shortage? Bad weather in Mexico (where we get most of our limes, at least in my part of the US) is causing supply to decrease and prices to skyrocket. I used to pay about .25 per lime at ShopRite, but on my most recent visit limes were $1 each. I couldn't bring myself to pay a dollar for a small, blemished piece of fruit. It's funny how as soon as I knew I couldn't get limes for a cheap price I had a strong craving for limes and lime juice. Salsa, margaritas, Thai food, chicken tortilla soup... all of a sudden I craved every single recipe that involved limes.

Shortly after I went into shock over lime prices, the media was flooded with explanations. Apparently the next crop of limes will be ready in May, so there may be some price relief in the short term.

In the meantime, I celebrated when I found a 5 pound bag of limes at Costco for $9 last night. Did I need five pounds of limes? No. Will I find a way to use them? Probably. I may even share a few. Apparently they're worth $1 a piece.

What are your favorite lime recipes? I'm hoping this batch of limes will last me a few weeks into April, so I'm looking for some good ways to use them. Anyone else feeling impacted by the lime shortage?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Buttermilk Biscuits

Apparently I love biscuits. There are several biscuit recipes on this blog, including two different versions of cheddar bay biscuits (here and here). And don't even get me started on the scones (in cinnamon raisin, cheddar, and blueberry), which are pretty much a cousin to the biscuit.

What can I say? I love a buttery biscuit (or scone!).

I love that biscuits can be served at any time of day, come together quickly, and they play nice with one of my favorite ingredients: butter. In addition, you can make a large batch of biscuits and freeze the unbaked biscuits for a quick bread option anytime. Just add a few additional minutes to the baking time when baking from frozen.

The key to a good biscuit is not overworking the dough and making sure you add enough salt and fat (in this case butter) to get the taste and texture right. I like to use a food processor to sift my dry ingredients, mix in the butter and finally mix in the wet ingredients. Then I knead the dough very, very briefly (as in, no more than five times) and start cutting my biscuits.

I love this recipe because the biscuits are buttery, flavorful, fluffy and they rise very well due to all the baking powder. I baked a dozen for Sunday brunch and they didn't make it through the day.

If you're looking for a good, basic biscuit recipe, this is it. If you have no willpower, I strongly suggest you park some of these biscuits in the freezer for future meals. I had a hard time resisting them and I was happy when my brother took a few home and saved me from biscuit overload. Enjoy!

A note on ingredients: I use kosher salt, salted butter and aluminum-free baking powder. You can find aluminum-free baking powder among all the other options in the baking aisle. 

Buttermilk Biscuits
makes about 1 dozen

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder, cut into small pieces
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup buttermilk
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted, for topping biscuits after baking

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor (or in a large bowl with a whisk) pulse/blend together flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add butter to food processor and pulse (if working by hand, use a pastry blender) until mixture resembles wet sand (about 10 pulses). Don't overmix!

Pour in buttermilk and pulse (or stir, if working my hand) until the wet and dry ingredients are just blended. Don't overmix!

Turn mixture out onto a a floured surface and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Knead three to five times and then gently pat into a rectangle-ish shape about 1" thick.

Cut biscuits with a round mold or the top of a drinking glass. I use a 3" biscuit cutter.

At this point you can either freeze the formed biscuits (flash freeze them on wax paper on a tray before piling them into a freezer-safe bag) or you can put them on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the tops of hot biscuits with melted butter. Serve warm and enjoy!

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