Biscuits & Kidney Beans

Yesterday, in an attempt to entertain myself by imposing arbitrary lifestyle contraints, I decided not to use my computer. Yes, it's true, I composed this with pen and paper. Laugh it up at my affectation. The point is that instead of looking to the internet for proportions of flour, butter, and milk, I followed The Joy of Cooking (1972 edition) recipe for biscuits. It calls for kneading the dough "a scant 1/2 minute." (I do love this book's diction. It has so many instructions it creates its own semantic universe in which every term has precise meaning.) I had never realized kneading might be an important part of making biscuits; I thought one was supposed to handle the dough as little as possible. It turns out kneading is how they're made flaky.

I may have rolled the dough too thin. The recipe says to roll "until the dough has the desired thickness." That was a quarter of an inch in my case. They only rose to about half an inch. My brother commented that they looked English. They do look more like I imagine scones should look than they do biscuits. But they're too thin to be cut in half. So they aren't even scones really. But I like them. There's something really nice about the way they get stale. They get stiff and just a bit chewy. In this stale state they're perfectly suited to eating with hot liquids such as tea or soup. And they're the sort of thing you would put in your knapsack before setting off into the forest.

I made these to go with a pot of kidney beans seasoned with sambar powder. This came about because I couldn't find the cayenne chili powder I wanted to use. (The sambar powder consists mostly of chilis.) I'm not sure it's the greatest combination, but it was an improvement over kidney beans without the seasoning.

2 cans cooked kidney beans 1/2 cup water 2 tablespoons cooking oil 1 large onion 2 cloves garlic 3 teaspoons sambar powder 1 teaspoon dried oregano salt to taste

Chop onion into medium pieces roughly 1/2in square. Chop garlic as finely as possible. In a medium pot on medium-low heat, fry garlic in oil. When it is just browning, add sambar powder, dried oregano, and onions. Fry onion until well softened, maybe 20 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom every minute or two with a rubber spatula. Add kidney beans and water. Simmer for ten minutes and then serve.

27 January 2011