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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Buttermilk Biscuits w/ Chocolate Gravy (inspired by Last in a Long Line of Rebels)

Buttermilk Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
I always find it funny that as somebody a little older than the recommended age for a book, I can enjoy it so much. Such is the case with Last in a Long Line of Rebels. Recommended for ages 9 to 12, 5th grade and up, I'm slightly out of that age range...and  yet, I enjoyed every last page. I'd say that's a credit to the well-written story infused with mystery, history, intrigue, and a cast full of fun characters.

This is the story of 12-year old Lou Mayhew and her quest to save her 175-year old family home. With the help of friends, family, and a whole lot of gumption, she dusts off old family secrets and legends in the hunt to find some gold that's been long rumored to be buried on her family's land. It was a quick read from front to back that I thoroughly enjoyed.

But was there food? Oh yeah, there was a ton of food. This novel is set in the South...and every Southerner I know loves them some good food. There were mentions of grits, sausage biscuits, chicken salad, burgers and onion rings, fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, coleslaw, apple pie, chili fries, sugar-cured ham, turnip greens, sliced tomatoes, iced tea, caramel apples and cotton candy, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, toast, peanut butter milkshakes, pot roast, and jalapeño & vinegar potato chips. You know, to name a few things.
Buttermilk Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
But the food that I knew I would make as soon as it was mentioned was biscuits and chocolate gravy. They actually made an appearance twice in the book (once fairly early on and once towards the end). This traditional Southern breakfast has been on my must-try list for ages, and I figured that now would be the perfect time to give them a try. And can I just say, how can one go wrong when pouring thick, rich chocolate over buttered biscuits still hot from the oven? The answer is—you can't. These were pretty amazing.

I also thought it would be fun to get the perspective of somebody in the age range that this book was recommended for, and my 11-year old son said he'd be happy to read it and let me know what he thought. Here are his thoughts...

I really liked the book. I thought it started off a little slow, but then it picked up. Soon everything was exciting and suspenseful. I didn't want to stop reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. My favorite parts were when everything started to come together to reveal an unexpected finish. It was worth the wait. Plus, it made me hungry.

Oh yeah, that's my kid alright.

Buttermilk Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
Serve this rich chocolate gravy over hot-from-the-oven buttermilk biscuits for a classic Southern treat.
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast sauce bread chocolate American Southern

Ingredients (15 biscuits + a scant 3 cups gravy)
    for the buttermilk biscuits:
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening + a little to grease the pan
    • 1 cup cold buttermilk
    • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, divided
    for the chocolate gravy:
    • 2 2/3 tablespoons (1/3 stick) unsalted butter
    • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup cocoa
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
    make the buttermilk biscuits:
    Preheat the oven to 450° F. Grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet with a thin layer of shortening.

    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut and rub in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles the size of peas. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the buttermilk until combined.

    Turn out onto your work surface and knead 3 or 4 times to incorporate as much of the flour as you can. Pat the dough out until it is 3/4-inch thick. Use a 2-inch cutter to cut out biscuits and set them into the prepared skillet. Brush the tops of the dough with a thin layer of the melted butter.
    biscuit dough
    Slide into preheated oven and bake until golden brown, 14-16 minutes.

    make the chocolate gravy:
    While the biscuits are in the oven, melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Whisk in sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and salt. This is going to form into a damp, lumpy mass that will most likely get stuck inside of your whisk - that's okay.

    Gradually pour inhalf of the milk, whisking as you go until it is incorporated, then add the remaining milk. Bring to a boil, whisking almost constantly to keep it from sticking or boiling over, and let bubble (still stirring) for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
    buttering the hot biscuits
    finishing it all:
    As soon as you remove the hot biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with more of the melted butter (you may not use it all). Serve chocolate gravy over the biscuits while they are still hot.

    -just slightly adapted from Paula Deen
    Buttermilk Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

    Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre

    Last in a Long Line of Rebels
    author: Lisa Lewis Tyre
    publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
    age range: 9-12

    source: TLC Book Tours
    hard cover: 288 pages

    "foodie" read: It wouldn't be classified as a foodie book, but there is definitely plenty of food mentioned throughout—most of it delicious Southern fare that made me want to head straight into the kitchen.

    random excerpt: "I noticed the kitchen table for the first time. A sugar-cured ham sat in the middle, surrounded by antique bowls of fried okra, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and turnip greens. There was a platter of sliced tomatoes next to a basket of hot yeast rolls." (p.104)

    teaser (from tlc page): Debut novelist Lisa Lewis Tyre vibrantly brings a small town and its outspoken characters to life, as she explores race and other community issues from both the Civil War and the present day.

    Lou might be only twelve, but she’s never been one to take things sitting down. So when her Civil War-era house is about to be condemned, she’s determined to save it—either by getting it deemed a historic landmark or by finding the stash of gold rumored to be hidden nearby during the war. As Lou digs into the past, her eyes are opened when she finds that her ancestors ran the gamut of slave owners, renegades, thieves and abolitionists. Meanwhile, some incidents in her town show her that many Civil War era prejudices still survive and that the past can keep repeating itself if we let it. Digging into her past shows Lou that it’s never too late to fight injustice, and she starts to see the real value of understanding and exploring her roots.

    about the author: Lisa grew up in a small town in Tennessee surrounded by her crazy family and neighbors. She learned early on that not every child had a pet skunk, a dad that ran a bar in the front yard, or a neighbor that was so large his house had to be torn down to get him out. What else could she do but write?

    She's wanted to write for as long as she can remember. She thinks this is because she comes from a long line of storytellers. She loved listening to her dad tell her about the escapades of his youth, like how he “accidentally” pushed his brother out of a two-story window, and “accidentally” shot his aunt’s chicken with a bow and arrow. Apparently he was accident-prone.

    One of the stories they told her involved the name of her piece of the country. She lived in a tiny spot that the locals called Zollicoffer. When she asked why it had such a strange name, they said it was named after General Felix Zollicoffer who had camped nearby during the Civil War. One day she happened to ask her mom where exactly the camp had been. That’s when she pointed down the road and said, “Probably over there. That’s where some kids in the 50’s found GOLD.” And just like that, LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS was born.
    Last in a Long Line of Rebels author Lisa Lewis Tyre
    connect with the author: website | facebook

    recipe inspired by the book: Buttermilk Biscuits w/ Chocolate Gravy


    I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.