Monday, December 6, 2010

Julia Would Approve (Biscuits and Chowda)

Before we start, we must talk about this bowl. I found myself wondering if it was an ash tray or an artistic expression of a coconut husk. It was one of my mom's flea market finds. Thanks, Mom!

We talk about Julia a lot, do we not? Many of us grew up watching and listening to her warble her way through French technique but not without a relaxed “what the hell” attitude. I truly adored how messy she was.

I pick up her biography, Appetite for Life written by Noel Riley Fitch, every so often and randomly open it up to a new place. I’ve never done that with a book before, but I guess it’s because any where you read in this book, you will find something fascinating. It’s a joy to read.

Early on in the book they talk about her childhood (duh) and peppered in among people’s descriptions of her growing up -and her delightful shenanigans- are recipes. One of them is her mother’s Buttermilk Herb Baking Powder Biscuits.

This recipe stood out to me for it’s simplicity and that it was dear to her heart. Her mother was supposedly not a very good cook and when asked about her mother’s cooking this was the recipe she gave a newspaper to print.

Well, if Julia liked them, I knew I would like them too. But there was a problem.

I didn’t have half the ingredients. Oh, and I was lazy, which caused me to not want to walk outside and snip a few sprigs of whatever herbs were left in my dying garden.

So we ended up with plain biscuits.

And then I didn’t have vegetable shortening, I only had butter. Darn.

And I didn’t have buttermilk, so I winged it and added some vinegar to regular milk.

My son can’t eat eggs, so I left those out.

You’re probably thinking, “This sounds like a flop”. Oh contraire, Dear Ones, they were simply heavenly. Best biscuits I’ve ever made, which isn’t saying a lot because my biscuits are generally like bricks or out of a can, soooo….

They truly were delish. I wanted to pad my bra with their fluffy goodness, powder my face with one of its million flaky layers, or simply crack one open and rub its buttery goodness on my elbows. Bizarre? Who cares.

What did I serve these with, you say? How ‘bout some chowda’? (I watch The Perfect Storm last night and I can still hear Clooney, with his dreamy, husky voice, going on about longitudes and latitudes in a Boston accent.)

How about some, the-clams-are-too-damn-expensive-so-I-had-to-buy-fish-chowder? Divine.

I think I actually liked the fish, (I used rockfish, a deep sea type of red snapper), better than clams. It was so tender and flakey…kinda like the biscuits- sorry, but I can’t get over the triumph that was the biscuits. I don't think Julia would mind that I totally changed the recipe. I mean, I'm sure she improvised many times. I felt her approval as the dough stuck to my cookie cutter and I flung flour across the counter and onto the floor.

So here’s the deal. I’m going to give you Julia’s mother’s recipe but in bold I will put my changes AND I will give you my original recipe for my fish chowda. And if you call right now, you will get a forever lazy snuggy free!…just kidding, sorry. I mean, seriously, who wears that? With the zipper in the back? Really?

Buttermilk Herb Baking Powder Biscuits

Julia Child’s mother’s recipe from Appetite for Life.

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

4 tsp. double-acting baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

8 tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening (I used butter)

4 tbsp. fresh minced chives (did not use)

4 tbsp. fresh minced parsley (did not use)

2 eggs (did not use)

1 ½ cups buttermilk (I used milk with 2 tbsp. vinegar added)

Cut shortening (or butter) into dry ingredients, until it is in small pieces, stir in herbs. Mix together all wet ingredients (it says in the book that many Yankee homes did not use the eggs) and briefly mix into dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix. Turn onto surface and knead (I barely kneaded it, for fear of my classic brick-style biscuits) and pat to ½ inch thick. Cut into rounds (make sure you flour your cutter) and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Amazing.

Foodie House Fish Chowda

original recipe

(I don’t really measure much, so this is my eyeballed version. I’d say by eyeballs are 95% accurate)

½ sweet onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

3-4 sliced uncured bacon, diced

3 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. “Better Than Boullion” organic chicken base

4 cups chicken stock (or fish stock)

1 cup cream

2 med. organic russet potatoes, diced

1 cup frozen organic sweet corn

1-1 ¼ lbs. rockfish or snapper, cut into bite-size pieces (use what you like, really)

salt and pepper to taste

Render your bacon in a heavy bottom pot. Leave the drippings. Put in onion, carrot and celery. Cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add butter and let it melt. Sprinkle flour over veg and bacon and stir in. This is the roux. Cook this mixture together for about another 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock, bullion and cream. Let this cook for a good 10 minutes. You want to see the stock thicken. Stir quite often.

Add your potatoes and corn and let cook until potatoes are tender but not mushy. Taste the soup for seasoning, as the potatoes tend to absorb the salt. Ten to fifteen minutes before you serve the soup, gently simmer the fish pieces in the soup. It’s very important you do not over cook the fish.

Serve with the luscious biscuits…if you’re feeling healthy (which you won’t if you make this meal) eat a salad.

Love ya, Foodies!


  1. Looks so good! I have a biscut recipe I've been meaning to try but a bit afraid to! I love your bowl looks cheery. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. Your chowder looks so good--especially in that cool bowl! Julia's biscuits are the perfect side. I want to dunk one right in! I like how you winged certain ingredients that you didn't have--I do that a lot too.

    They have a snuggy with a zipper in the back now? lol

  3. Those biscuits look great. I have to admit that the bowl makes me a little edgy. Something about it just make me feel squiggy inside like the soup is going to tumble out. *I* think it is an ashtray and it sorta makes me want to go have a cigarette

  4. Funny girl! I really would look at you strangely if you padded your bra with these, but I am glad they turned out so well. Both recipes look great.

  5. I never buy buttermilk anymore because you can just make it at home. I'm not sure if I prefer vinegar or lemon juice... both seem to be fine.

    These biscuits look incredible! Great post, darling!

  6. Great job Lauren!! and I think if Julia taught us anything it was nothing can't be fixed. She would have loved that you made the best of the situation and came out with a wonderful biscuit! Who knows, you might start a whole new line of ladies wear Laurens secret! If you get hungry your bra just goes down a size!
    You are just too funny!

  7. The biscuits and chowda both sound heavenly. And, I love, love, love the bowl!!!! Really have to find the time to go to Goodwill and browse for some of these finds. I see all the fun stuff other bloggers have and get really tired of my same old dishes... And, I did just clear some space for some newbies... Just an fyi if the clams come into the budget - Rachael Ray did a piece on Captain Parker's on Cape Cod. It's right down the street from my sister-in-law's house and is the FIRST place I go when we get there. Best clam chowder I've ever had. And, Rach got the recipe so it's on Food Network. Hope your week is wonderful!!! Kate

  8. So going to try these biscuits...though may skip the stuffing the bra. =)

  9. You make me laugh everytime I read your blog! :) The biscuits look sooo good. I'm in serious need of a tasty biscuit recipe, I've been craving them lately. Thanks for the recipe! :)

  10. I love a baking powder biscuit - my grandma had a great recipe, and this one looks fab too! Love that it is impervious to substitution. And with the CHOWDA! Yum! (BTW - did you know that Target is selling a Snuggie for dogs? Really. Dogs.)

  11. That bowl was made to hold chowder. I mean chowda. I love that you talk about Julia and George in this post. Julia. What can one say about her? Anyways, great recipe.

  12. When I opened your blog page I only saw the first photo, I was looking at that bowl in wonder. Very artistic indeed! Both your biscuits and chowda look incredible! I like the snuggie in theory but wouldn't be caught dead in one even in the privacy of my own home.

  13. LOL eyeballs are 95% accurate.
    Great recipe, love the fish!

  14. What a beautiful presnetation! Perfect with Julia's biscuits...and YES, she would approve! :)

  15. Butter over shortening any day of the week. I think that was probably an EXCELLENT substitution. I so want to pick up that book on Julia's life. I saw it at the store yesterday, and I should have given myself a treat! Thank you so much for sharing the biscuits and that chowda. I hope the rest of your week is full of joy!

  16. I will have to try your version, because if yours was that good, why would I need to try Julia's?

    I like that bowl. Do you think it was broken and then filed down?

  17. Ohhh I love Julia so much! Her show is always so fun to watch, especially when she flings things around the kitchen or forgets what she's doing. The fact that she was so brilliant just makes her even more charming. Your biscuits and chowda definitely did her proud. :D

  18. Wow, I'm impressed by anyone who makes major adaptation to baked goods--I'm too scared!! And the chowda...oh man! Creamy soups make me sing with joy. There's nothing more comforting or belly-warming (is this a word?). Hope you're having a great holiday season in Houston, Miss Lauren!!

  19. I must make these biscuits! For eating and padding/powdering! I need all the help I can get!:) hahaha I always crack up at your writing. It is pretty much the highlight of my day.

  20. the bowl looks really artistic. and it's contents looks delicious. ;) i should try this out soon.
    Thanks for sharing.


Thanks for stopping by Foodie House! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them here or email me. I appreciate your support and LOVE hearing from my readers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...