Tag Archives: brunch

US Southern Style Biscuits

I knew that I’d miss southern biscuits when I moved to Australia because their interpretation of the word ‘biscuit’ is a cookie.  The closest thing that I can find to a true southern biscuit here is a scone, but even they aren’t the same since they are sort of a cross between a dinner roll and a biscuit and have sugar in them.

I’ve resorted to making my own here so I thought I’d share the best recipe that I’ve found from Neal’s Deli in Carrboro, North Carolina – just down the street from my alma mater the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  On a recent trip back to Chapel Hill my friends and I decided to try out the biscuit at Neal’s deli to see how it stacked up against it’s local rival, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen – and boy it did.  The secret to their biscuits is using quality local butter and buttermilk from the Chapel Hill Creamery  down the road.

There are a couple of secrets that I have learned to making good biscuits:

  1. Use shortening and butter.  Using butter alone will not achieve the fluffy texture that you need.
  2. Freeze the dry mixture before incorporating the buttermilk – the colder the butter the fluffier the biscuit because cold butter will release more air than room temperature butter which creates pockets of air inside the biscuit.
  3. Folding the dough like a letter (as described in the recipe below) creates layers within the biscuit that are necessary to achieving the desired flakiness.

 Neal’s Deli Buttermilk Biscuits recipe adapted from Food & Wine 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (or bi-carb soda in Australia)
  • 2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter—3 tablespoons thinly sliced, 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk (can be made by mixing 1 tbsp white vinegar with 1 cup plain milk)


Preheat the oven to 475F (250C).  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  In a large bowl, whisk the 2 cups of flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Using your fingers, rub in the sliced butter, leaving large flakes of coated butter.  Freeze the mixture for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the buttermilk until a raggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and press or roll into a 9 in. by 7 in. rectangle, about ¾ inch thick.  Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter, then fold the rectangle in half to make a little package.  Press or roll out the dough to a 9-by-7 inch rectangle again.  

Repeat the folding process once more, then roll the dough out one more time to a 9-by-7-inch rectangle.  Using a 3 ½ inch round cutter, stamp out 4 biscuits.  Pat the scraps together and stamp out 2 more biscuits.

Arrange the biscuits on a large baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter.  Bake for about 14 minutes, shifting the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden and the biscuits are cooked through.


Hot Cross Bun French Toast & Easter in Australia

Obviously it’s been a while since Easter but this was such a hit that I thought I’d share it anyway just in case there are any hot cross bun fanatics out there that are already gearing up for next Easter!

We spent Easter this year on Coochiemudlo Island in Queensland, Australia, which is about a 45 minute drive plus a ferry ride from Brisbane.  Since this was my first Easter in Australia I decided to wholeheartedly embrace the Aussie traditions of hot cross buns and chocolate bilbies.

Cadbury Chocolate Bilby - the Aussie take on the Easter Bunny

I ended up averaging about a hot cross bun a day for the month leading up to Easter because I loved them so much but by the time I got to Easter Sunday I was starting to toy around with the idea of a hot cross bun bread pudding or breakfast sandwich….then I came across the hot cross bun french toast idea in the Coles supermarket monthly magazine and decided that it was going to be the easiest way to get a little crazy with my hot buns.

Hot Cross Bun French Toast adapted from Coles Supermarket Autumn 2011 Magazine


  • 3 eggs
  • 250 ml milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 pack of day old hot cross buns (with or without fruit, or choc chip!)
  • 50 g butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, to serve


Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until incorporated.

Cut hot cross buns horizontally into 3 segments.  Soak each of the slices in the egg mixture for a minute or two, until saturated.

Melt butter in the frying pan and cook bun slices over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and the egg is cooked.

Repeat until all buns are cooked.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Coconut Lime Banana Bread

I’ve made this banana bread three times in the last three weeks so it’s definitely time to share the recipe.

It’s a basically banana bread with a tropical twist because it has a hefty amount of lime juice, rum! (optional) and some coconut.  The obsession with this bread all started when we bought too many bananas after cyclone Yasi hit Queensland because we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to buy them for a while, at least not at $3/kilo.  I ended up having a few left over bananas at the end of the week that were too brown to eat but just perfect for banana bread.  My boyfriend’s cousin bakes all the time and said that this recipe had her stamp of approval so we tried it and loved it.  I’ve been buying extra bananas every week now hoping that no one will eat them and I’ll have another excuse to make the bread…and so far so good because it’s happened for the past 3 weeks!

Coconut Lime Banana Bread

Recipe Adapted from Cake Bible



  • 8 Tbs (120g) softened butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 normal sized)
  • 3 Tbs buttermilk (I make my own with 1/3 cup milk + 1/3 Tbs white vinegar)
  • 1 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ cup shaved coconut


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs rum (optional)
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs fresh lime juice


Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).  Lightly grease a loaf pan and line the base with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer.  Stir in the eggs, mashed banana, buttermilk and lime juice and combine.  Sift the salt, ginger and flour into a mixing bowl with the bicarbonate of soda.  Stir into the batter and combine until smooth.  Stir in the coconut. Spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle with a little more coconut.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Allow cake to stand for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

Meanwhile, heat all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir for about 5 minutes to form a smooth syrup.

Coat the top and sides of the cake with the glaze.  Serve while warm or at room temperature.

BOF Frittata

We were all supposed to make a Tortilla for French Fridays with Dorie this week, which is essentially a frittata with potatoes.  My boyfriend’s mom taught me what she likes to call the BOF cooking method this week, which means Bottom Of the Fridge.

It’s perfect for the end of the week when you have little bits of this n’ that left in the fridge and need a way to bring them all together.  Frittatas and tortillas are one of the many perfect ways to bring a bunch of random BOF ingredients together cohesively into a dish because the egg bonds all of them together in one nice savory slice.

We didn’t have any potatoes in the BOF this week so what we made for FFwD is technically just a frittata.   We were also only cooking for 3 so we didn’t bring out my new frittata pan that I got for Christmas, and instead we used a quiche pan.

Since we totally deviated from Dorie’s recipe this week I’ll post how we made our BOF frittata.

Dallas’s BOF Frittata


  • Chopped mix of vegetables from the Bottom of the Fridge (We used pumpkin, zucchini, mushrooms and peas)
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Cheese (we used feta)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Dash of seasoning (we used lemon pepper, but Herbes de Province would be great)
  • Fresh herbs (we used Italian parsley & chives)


Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

Coat the vegetables in olive oil and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browning and tender.

Top off with peas and fresh herbs.

Beat the eggs with the cream.  Add whatever seasoning you like – we used Dallas’s favorite, lemon pepper but some French Herbes de Province would be lovely in this. Stir in the grated cheese.

Pour the egg mixture over the roasted vegetables in the greased frittata dish.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until the eggs have set to the point where the frittata doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan.


Other BOF cooking method ideas:

  • Stirfry
  • Fried rice
  • Soups
  • Pasta

FFwD: Gérard’s Mustard Tart

Dorie described the origins of this tart in such a storybook way that it made me excited to make it.  The recipe comes from her friend Gérard Jeannin, who owns a Bed & Breakfast just outside of Dijon.   Dijon mustard is really the star of this tart, which I never thought to mix with carrots, fennel, eggs, and cream.  Gérard actually started using carrots and fennel in this trationally tomato topped tart because he wanted to make it even when tomatoes were not in season.  It turned out to be a winning combination!

I’ll admit it – I’ve never made a tart, much less a tart shell from scratch so I knew this one would be a challenge.  After reading the list of ingredients on pre-packaged tart dough that would make Michael Pollan run for the hills, I decided to try making my own, using Dorie’s simple ingredients and copious instructions.  I also read all the P’s & Q’s about this recipe to get as much extra help as possible and it paid off!

The tart dough was of a kryptonite consistency, as some described in this week’s P’s & Q’s.  I put off rolling it out for an extra day, mainly because I didn’t have a rolling pin.  When I got around to rolling it out I decided to use a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc – I just got back from a girls’ weekend in Napa and a wine bottle was the first thing I could think of to use!

The bottle worked surprisingly well and I was able to fit the dough perfectly in my brand new tart tin without stretching it, just like Dorie said.  I froze it for an hour to be extra careful and then baked it in the oven at 400° for 20 minutes, covered in foil and weighted with rice, since I didn’t have any pie weights.  It shrank a bit but I was pretty happy with my first attempt.

I steamed the matchstick sized carrots and fennel in my bamboo steamer to bring out that French-Vietnamese flair.

The filling was the easiest part to make – just whisked together the eggs, crème fraiche, mustards, salt & pepper.  For the mustard, I used Trader Joe’s Dijon and Dijon Whole Grain Mustard, which said ‘Imported from France’ on the bottles so I thought they’d work well enough to be the stars of this tart.  I can’t say that the smell of the dijon made me cry so they probably weren’t up to Gérard Jeannin’s standards  but I did use fresh rosemary from my work colleague’s garden – thanks Cristy!

Check out that crust!

Arranging the carrots and fennel strips on top was the most fun and then I popped it in the 425° oven for 30 minutes and it came out perfectly.

All in all this tart was a success and my boyfriend and I enjoyed it with a bowl of tomato and roasted red pepper soup on a chilly night.  I’ll be eating the leftovers tomorrow for lunch!

We aren’t allowed to post the recipes in this blog group so if you want to try the tart, check out Around My French Table.