As you know, Girlfriend start middle school last week. Which has been terrific so far. Her school is within walking distance (at last!) and I can’t tell you how awesome it is not to have to drive to and from her school each day. At the moment, I am walking with her to school and I walk back home with her after school. The plan for the near future is for her to walk to and from school by herself. She is very excited about that concept. She’s definitely growing up–wow!
She is enjoying the concept of having different classes and different teachers throughout the day, and she really likes having a locker. And, we got her a new lunchbox (after 5 years her other one was, frankly, disgusting). And the new lunchbox is pink. Which is intriguing, since pink has been the worst color in the universe according to her for the last several years. Much newness.
When we got her the new lunchbox, I secretly hoped it would usher in a new era of school lunches. I will admit that the one thing I dread each school year is lunches. It is always a struggle to give Girlfriend a lunch that she will eat. At home she will happily eat anything we give her. At school, though, things magically lose their taste and texture. The things that are supposed to be hot aren’t hot enough in the thermos. The things that are supposed to be cold aren’t cold enough, even with a cold pack. Fruit gets bruised in ways that make them completely unappetizing to her. Carrots sticks are too dry once they reach school. She isn’t a fan of dips. She has never liked sandwiches, even though she will usually eat each component of a sandwich on its own (meat, cheese, bread, lettuce). Except she won’t eat those things in a lunchbox. It makes me crazy. The school lunch thing makes me want to tear my hair out. And don’t get me started on lunches offered in the school cafeteria–those are awful and mostly packaged and contain pre-made things that contain mystery meat and all sorts of things we try to avoid in our meals. Also, food allergies eliminate school lunches for her anyway.
Another thing: over the years we have had her pack her own lunch. Having her pack it doesn’t seem to make a difference.
This year, as with every year previously, we are approaching things a bit differently. This year’s plan includes looking at different ways to prepare familiar ingredients. And, we are going to do a week by week menu. Each week will focus on one main item, to be supplemented by various sides. Over the weekend, we will have her think up a main item she would like to eat each week, we will prepare them in advance, and then have her pack them. As part of this effort, I am going to start a new feature on the blog: Lunchbox Mondays. Each Monday I will post something that has been successful in her lunch. Hopefully these posts will be useful for my readers, too!
This week she requested savory cheese biscuits as the main course. She saw a version of them somewhere and thought they looked good. These are good because they are basically a cheese and herb sandwich in a different form. I developed a recipe for them using the fresh herbs that are available right now. If there are no fresh herbs available where you are, use a tablespoon of dried instead. And there is a bonus: not only are these good for lunch, they are an excellent after-school snack or a side for dinner!
I borrowed the method for the recipe from one of my baking goddesses, Shirley O. Corriher. Shirley is a biochemist who analyzes how and why things work in cooking and baking. She is the author of two extremely important and helpful cookbooks, CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, and BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. I had the pleasure of watching her demonstrate some of her baking techniques in June at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference in Austin, TX. In her demonstration, she talked about the “Touch of Grace” biscuits that her grandmother used to make. These biscuits were always light and moist–the perfect biscuit. She went through the steps of her grandmother’s recipe and discovered that the recipe made a wet batter versus a dry batter. This wet batter is then rolled in flour so you can handle it, and then the balls are placed into a cake pan. This wet dough creates biscuits that are at once light and moist. I used this method for these biscuits–and it works like a dream! Not only that, it makes for quick preparation and clean up–no rolling and cutting. Thanks Shirley!
Note: I edited to add the cream–which I mistakenly left out of the original post.
Savory Cheese Biscuits, Gluten-Free
Yield: 9 biscuits
- 2 cups (280 g) Jeannes Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour mix
- 1 TBL baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 5 TBL unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
- 1 C (about 60 g) grated cheese of choice, loosely packed (I use cheddar)
- Handful (about 20 g) fresh herbs of choice, chopped (I use basil) or 1 TBL dried
- 1 C (240 ml) buttermilk buttermilk or milk mixed with 1 TBL vinegar
- 2/3 C heavy cream
- 1/3 C Tapioca flour for dusting
- The recipe for the flour mix can be found at: http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2009/11/the-story-behind-my-gluten-free-flour-mix/
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 C/gas mark 7. Grease an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan with butter.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.
- Add the butter pieces and, using your fingers, squish into flour mixture until it looks like sand mixed with different sized pebbles.
- Add cheese, and mix with hands until combined.
- Add herb(s), mix with hands until combined.
- Add buttermilk and cream, and using a spoon, stir until mixture is wet and lumpy--kind of like cottage cheese.
- Place tapioca flour into a medium bowl. Scoop out a scant 1/3 cup amount of batter and form into a loose ball with your hands. Place the ball of batter into the tapioca flour and roll until covered. Shake the excess tapioca flour off of the ball by lightly tossing it between both hands and place ball into greased pan.
- Repeat procedure until all of the batter is used. You should get 9 balls out of the batter. I place them into the pan so 8 balls line the perimeter (lightly touching each other) and 1 ball is in the center. They will puff up as they bake and fill the pan.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until biscuits are puffed and golden.
- Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. May be eaten immediately or warm or cooled.
- Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
PS: You will notice that I am using a different recipe format. I am trying out a new program that puts the recipe into a form that is more easily recgonized by Google. One thing I have discovered about this program, though, is that it doesn’t allow apostrophes. Which means I can’t use the apostrophe to indicate the possessive form for Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose flour. Sigh.