April 13th, 2013
I love Martha Stewart.
I kept my first ever issue of Martha Stewart Living on my living room table—a piece of wood propped on cinder blocks— for months, its worn pages evidence of my need to have it close at all times. I was 22, living in my first shitty NYC apartment. Nobody understood my obsession with the magazine. I’m not even sure that I did. I was, after all, still making taco beef over instant mashed potatoes for dinner. But it spoke to something inside, something developing.
I’ve gone to graduate school, taken culinary classes, edited a cookbook and developed many recipes since those days. I’ve learned a lot, but my first and most enduring teacher has been Martha Stewart. Her unapologetic commitment to technique, aesthetics and high quality ingredients have guided me. They held me to the highest standard when nobody else was around to do so, as I forged my own, unconventional career path in the food world.
Martha’s ethos provided form when my own ideas about food and cooking were shapeless. I don’t know that I would be here today, writing this if Martha hadn’t urged me along through the pages of Living and, later, as a new parent struggling to fit her passion for food in a suddenly new context, Everyday Food.
Martha has taught me so much. And now she’s teaching you, too.
I was recently invited by my friends at KitchenAid to celebrate the second season of James Beard Award-nomiated Martha Stewart’s Cooking School and the first season of Martha Bakes, both airing on PBS right now. I was over the moon. So much so that I shared a horrible picture of myself with the woman, just to prove it happened. (My high has worn off just enough for me to refuse to reprint the picture here, but feel free to follow One Hungry Mama on Facebook to see for yourself.) After graciously meeting everyone in the room, Martha did what she does best: teach.
In her signature serious but effortless style, Martha whipped up amazing buttermilk biscuits while sharing tips for making sure that ours come out as good as hers. Use room temperature eggs and buttermilk, make sure your butter is cold, don’t overwork the dough. She dropped that she’s newly obsessed with Italian “00″ flour (and, yes, I promptly picked up a 5 lb bag). Then we ate the creamiest scramble I’ve ever had, made with perfect eggs from her surely perfect chickens.
Jam made with berries picked on her property and apricots shipped to her from a friend in California who grows them.
You know, a typical breakfast, no biggie.
We may never live like Martha and our food may never quite look as picture-ready—which is fine; that’s not the point—but we can cook with the same intention. And, if you ask me, that’s what Martha’s two PBS series are about.
Both shows, which premiered last week, air on PBS (check your local listing for times). Make sure to catch this week’s episodes and get caught up on PBS.org where full episodes of both the second season of Martha Stewart’s Cooking School and the first season of Martha Bakes will also be available for viewing.
Martha’s Buttermilk Biscuits
(can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
Makes 1 dozen
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 3/4 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining.
2. Pour in the buttermilk; using a rubber spatula, fold buttermilk into the dough, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until the dough just comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky; do not over mix.
3. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. With floured fingers, gently pat the dough into a round about 1 inch thick, pressing in any loose bits. Do not over work the dough. Use a floured 2 1/4-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits as close together as possible. (Use one cute edge as the edge for the next biscuit.)
4. Place the biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart on an unlined baking sheet. Generously brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the biscuits are golden and flecked with brown spots, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
*Note: There is nothing in these that isn’t safe to serve to children younger, but I recommend this beginning at 10 months as a finger food. If kiddo is managing soft finger foods earlier, feel free to share age-appropriate bites as a fun treat for practice!