Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ramps and Bacon Buttermilk Biscuits...

After I first discovered ramps I went a little ramp crazy, I wanted to use them in every possible way before their season came to an end. Unfortunately beyond a few obvious uses I wasn’t quite sure how to use them in a way that truly showcased them. No point using them in a recipe simply to replace onions, I thought, if I was going to use them I wanted them to steal the show!  During the course of my ‘ramp-age’ I searched the web in desperation for any interesting recipes. I very quickly came to the realization that few people out there had any better ideas than myself. None anyway that I found particularly inspiring or creative. I’d already made a ramp pesto (recipe to come) and aside from pickling them or simply grilling, sauteing, or broiling them to serve as a garnish to some kind of charred meat there didn’t seem to be much experimentation going on.  How strange I thought, since Ramps are apparently the new ‘foodie’ thing (Don’t get me started, on that ‘sub-group’) that nobody could come up with anything more innovative then serving this delicious member of the onion family as a garnish!

There was one bright spot that kept appearing throughout my search however. Every once and a while I’d see a recipe pop up for Buttermilk Ramp biscuits. The recipes were all virtually the same though apparently authored by other people, and all used an un-godly amount of butter, some form of pig flesh - either bacon, ham, or something known as smoked pork jowl. Can you say ew with me? - heaping cupfuls of cow’s milk, and eggs. Not at all a vegan friendly item, but nevertheless the idea piqued my interest. After all vegans love biscuits as much as anyone else, so why should we miss out? and while I don’t eat biscuits often - nor do I seem to have that ‘head over heels’ love for them that some do - I too can’t help but fall to the tantalizing lure of a good biscuit from time to time.

So for a few days I mulled over the idea. Trying to figure out how to best go about my biscuit making. The first and hardest step was trying to decide what to do in place of the pig flesh. I briefly considered using store-bought tempeh bacon, but quickly through that idea to the wayside in favor of the quicker process of making my own bacon style bits, and now you see where yesterday’s recipe comes in to play. After that the rest came together quite naturally. Making a biscuit after all isn’t exactly difficult, though it can be time consuming, - and if you cook anything like me, - messy!

Originally I’d envisioned a flakier sort of biscuit, however these came out a bit denser then I’d planned. During the creation process I either used too much flour or over-mixed. Biscuits may not be a difficult task, but flakey biscuits it seems come down to an exact science. No matter though, because flakey or not these biscuits are fantastic. Their flavor is full bodied and the ramps infuse each bite with oniony goodness. The veggie bacon bites give the biscuits a little bit of sweet, and the whipped ramp butter soaks into the biscuits making everything rampy, buttery, and moist. You couldn’t ask for a better, heartier and more filling breakfast. My husband gobbled up six of these biscuits in one sitting! Oh and if you find this recipe makes more biscuits then you can eat before they spoil pop them in a zip-lock bag or air-tight container and freeze for a quick and easy breakfast another day. They reheat perfectly and taste just as good with regular old Earth Balance, or even better with Earth Balance Coconut Spread!

Ramps and Bacon Buttermilk Biscuits

4 C + 2 C All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
½ C Vegetable Shortening (I like Earth Balance)
1-2 C Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 ½ -3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Heaping Cup minced Ramps (bulbs, stalks, and greens)
1/2 Heaping Cup Veggie Bacon Bites plus more to serve

*** Note - Start off using 4 C flour and 1 C almond milk with 1 ½ Tbsp Lemon Juice. Increase flour, and milk/lemon juice mixture as needed until you reach desired consistency. You may not need the full 6 cups of flour or the full 2 cups of almond milk. ***

- Preheat oven to 425'F

- Sift 4 cups of the flour along with the baking soda, powder and salt into a large bowl. In separate smaller bowl use a knife to slice the shortening into small cubes. Place both the bowl with the flour and the bowl with the shortening in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.

- Combine Almond Milk with Lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes, until curdled. Once curdled return the milk to the fridge to chill until needed.

- Meanwhile prepare your ramps. Slice off root tips, clean and then mince. Spray a little non-stick spray into a small pan, and heat over medium heat. Add the ramps and saute until soft and fragrant. About 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

- Once everything is chilled remove from the freezer. Add the flour to a food processor, then add the cut up shortening and pulse to combine. After a few pulses the mixture should look course and pebbly.

- Add the almond milk mixture (1 C Almond Milk + 1 ½ Tbsp Lemon Juice) and pulse to combine. If the dough is too stiff add in more milk/lemon juice mixture. If the dough is too wet add in more flour by the ½ cup. You don’t want the dough to be too stiff or too wet, it should be a little sticky, not so sticky that it gets all over your hands and can’t form a ball, just sticky enough. As stated in the note add flour and milk/lemon juice mixture until you’ve reached the desired consistency. You may not need the entire quantity of either ingredient. When adding in ingredients use the pulse feature on your processor in short bursts don’t continually run the machine or you’ll overwork the dough.

- When the dough is the consistency you like add in the sauteed ramps, and the ½ C of veggie bacon bites. Pulse a few more times until just incorporated.

- Once the dough has been mixed, flour a clean counter top or other work surface. Plop your dough out of the processor and flour both your hands and a rolling pin.

- Roll the dough out to roughly 3/4 inch or desired thickness and using a biscuit cutter or clean glass or can to cut out your biscuits. When you have cut as many biscuits out as you can fit, remove them to a lightly greased cookie sheet.

- Scrunch the remaining dough back into a ball, and re-roll to desired thickness. Cut out as many biscuits as you can, then transfer them to the cookie sheet. Use a second cookie sheet if needed. Continue to repeat this process until you have used all your dough.

- Pop the biscuits In the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Alternately you can brush the tops of the biscuits with non-dairy butter or ramp butter (recipe follows) before popping them into the oven. Enjoy these biscuits spread with a generous dollop of ramp butter and a generous sprinkle of veggie bacon bites.

Ramp Butter 

½ C non-dairy Butter at room temperature
4-5 Ramps minced (bulb, stalk and greens)
Dash of White Pepper
Dash of Garlic Powder

- Spray some non-stick spray into a pan and heat over medium. Add minced ramps and saute for 5-8 minutes until soft and fragrant.

- Transfer to the bowl holding the ½ C of non-dairy butter. Whip together and add the white pepper and garlic powder to taste.

I personally prefer my butter to be of a more melted consistency. However if you like it a little firmer, and whipped, let the ramps cool to room temperature before adding to the non-dairy butter. Once cooled whipped the ramps and non-dairy butter together with the white pepper and garlic powder to taste. Enjoy spread over piping hot biscuits, English muffins, bagels or even toast!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, were these delicious! Unlike you, I am a HUGE biscuit eater. I love them drenched in all sorts of unhealthy toppings. This recipe was so delicious & - even though I haven't had this recipe in awhile - I am craving them something fierce!