Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.....Revealed. Nailed it!!!!

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits are heavenly.   People have been looking for the recipe for a long time and as the Red Lobster web site says......the recipe is a secret.

Sure....they tantalize with some tips  "we will share a couple of well-kept secrets for making our much-loved biscuit: do not over knead the dough and make sure you use baking soda as one of the ingredients."  

There are a lot of recipes out there that try to emulate the product.  Most use Bisquick or some version of that type of biscuit.  But.....they are wrong.

Reverse engineering the product, I realized that one of the main ingredients was missing from all of these recipes and that Red Lobster has been lying to us for years.  I don't blame them.....the biscuits are to die for.   What is the missing ingredient?   YEAST.  The texture of the rolls shows that they are clearly yeast raised, yet they do have the properties of baking soda and baking powder raised rolls.  

What type of rolls have these characteristics......Angel Biscuits....So I went back to one of my old cookbooks and brought out a recipe and tweaked.  Messing around in the kitchen, doing what I like to do.....cook.  I have nailed it.  

Here is now revealed the super secret recipe for Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Dust Bunny Queen


Cheddar Bay Biscuits

1 package of yeast or about 2 1/4 tsp
1/2 cup warm water   
4 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached all purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk (bring to room temperature)
1/2 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 to 1/3 cup melted butter
garlic powder
parsley flakes
kosher salt.

Mix the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and set aside in a medium warm place while preparing the rest of the recipe.   I use yeast from a jar that I keep in the fridge and not packets, so I am guessing that the 2 1/4 tsp is the amount of a package.

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup.  Don't just dip or scoop it out because then you will have compacted flour.  You want it to be light and fluffy.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mix with a whisk to combine.

Cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. I just use my fingers to combine and lightly rub the mixture together between my palms.   Toss in the cheddar cheese and mix into the dry flour mixture with a spoon.  You might want more cheese, but be careful.  Too much cheese will make the biscuits heavy in texture.

Stir in the buttermilk and yeast water mixture with a wooden spoon until mixed. The buttermilk is better warm or room temperature than cold from the fridge.  You don't want to kill the yeast. Don't beat or over-mix otherwise it will be tough.  This must be what they mean by don't over knead.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Melt the butter and mix with about 1/4 tsp garlic powder or garlic granules and some parsley flakes and set aside.

Pre heat oven to 450.  Grease a cookie sheet or use cooking spray.  Drop by 1/3 cup measures onto the greased pan.  I just eyeballed it, so I'm guessing that it is about 1/3 cup.  I imagine that the cooks at Red Lobster use something like an ice cream scoop so that the biscuits are all the same size.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. ....or not if you don't want the extra salt.   Bake for 12 minutes or until nicely golden on top.  Brush with more butter while still warm if desired......I do!


You may need to experiment with the amount of flour since brands of flour differ in the amount of moisture that they have and you may end up with different textures of dough depending on the brand you are using and the time of year you are cooking.   No problems......just eat the mistakes and try again.

Next time I cook this I might use butter instead of shortening or even try lard.

Also I may use fresh garlic sauteed in the butter instead of dried garlic.

Fresh chives may be nice instead of dried parsley flakes.

My husband gets so irritated with me when I insist on tweaking the recipes.  I say...
Hey, if I wasn't tweaking the recipes you would have THIS ONE!!....Have another biscuit."

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Clam Chowder for a Snowy Day

As the weather has dramatically changed from a balmy Indian Summer, where the days are still in the mid 70 degrees and the nights dip to a crisp mid 30 degrees, to the normal October/November weather of sub freezing at night, snow and wind during the day......the mind drifts to soups, casseroles and stews.   Long slow cooking that keeps the house warm.  Long slow cooking that is also frugal and filling.

So today...

New England Style Clam Chowder

My soups are almost always in a free form style based on how much I have on hand and how many servings I want to end up with.  Soup, for some reason always ends up making way more than I need.  So instead of describing the recipe in,  about or approximately measures, I'll try to be a bit more precise.

3 small  (6.5 oz)cans of chopped clams (small cans because our store doesn't carry the large restaurant style and you want as many clams as you can in your chowder.  Otherwise, you might as well be making potato soup.)
3 to 4 slices of meaty bacon diced
4 to 6 small potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces (enough to make about 3 ro 4 cups  of diced potatoes.  Dang it! I wasn't going to give 'about' instructions)
1 cup of diced onion
1 stalk of diced celery
1 small carrot cut into small diced pieces (less than 1/2 inch.  You can leave off the carrots if you like or are a die hard traditionalist.  I like them)
Garlic or garlic granules  (Oh heck....about 1/2 tsp)
2 cups of milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half or better yet whipping cream)
3 tbsp flour 
2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp dried parsley
Salt to taste

In a large stock pot saute the bacon until moderately crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon and leave the drippings in the stock pot.  Put in the onions and celery, salt, pepper and parsley.  Saute until soft and limp.  Add the flour and butter and stir, creating a roux.

Meanwhile drain the clams reserving the juice.  Add more water to equal 3 cups of juice and water.  Slowly stir into the onion, celery mixture.  Add the potatoes and carrots and let the soup simmer on low for about (darn it, I just can't help myself) 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are just beginning to be tender.  You don't want to cook them to mush or else you WILL have cream of potato soup with clams in it.

At this point, you can stop and put the soup in the fridge for later or just plow on.   Add the clams and simmer for a few more minutes.  Slowly add the milk and bring to a slow simmer stirring frequently for 10 minutes or just until warm and thickened.

If you feel the soup is too thin, you can take some of the hot liquid and mix with another tbsp of flour and then return to the pot to simmer.  Be careful, you are making soup. NOT wall paper paste.

Serve with fresh rolls, or garlic bread sticks and a crisp green salad.