2/10/13

Yogurt Biscuits and Masala Chai

Here’s a first in Bon Appétempt history: spoiler alert.

This post discusses—in vague-ish terms—the season one finale of Homeland; as well as the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, and perhaps, eventually, the delicious biscuits and chai tea I made yesterday morning.

I’d like to begin by saying that I can't completely understand the hype surrounding Homeland. In my (humble?) opinion, it's good and super entertaining, but not life-changingly so (like, say The Wire is), and every once in a while, Mandy Patinkin will say something in a certain way that reminds you that he’s Inigo Montoya (You killed his father, prepare to die.). This is no knock on Mandy Patinkin. He’s great. This is just how brains work.
But I did really appreciate the season one finale, particularly the very real sense of desperation that ensues when Carrie (Claire Danes’ character), who felt so sure she was right about Brody, is made to believe that she couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s heartbreaking as a viewer to see this unfold—knowing that she was right and watching as she gets absolutely no credit for it, let alone any validation. In fact, she gets the opposite. Since she has no proof that she was right, she’s left feeling utterly unhinged, like she can’t trust herself. What a horrible place to be, right?

And then, the other night, Matt and I watched Searching for Sugar Man, which I loved and highly recommend you see, and I couldn’t help but think about how natural it is, as an artist—but also simply as a human being—to desire recognition. And also, how sweet it is to finally get it, even if it takes almost 30 years.
As I was pondering all of this, I was reminded of something Kara posted (which I’m going to borrow. Thanks so much, Kara!) about Vincent van Gogh, who, to bring this full circle, suffered from bipolar disorder (just like our main character, Carrie, in Homeland does) as well as, during his lifetime, an acute lack of recognition.

 From the Writer's Almanac, March 30, 2012:

“It's the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, born in Zundert, Holland (1853), a painter and also great letter-writer. He wrote about art, of course, but also friendship, religion, prostitutes, interior decorating, and his love affairs. His letters are often lively, engaging, and passionate; they also frequently reflect his struggles with bipolar disorder. He wrote: ‘I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.’ And he wrote: ‘What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.’"
I think this is one of the reasons I love cooking so much. So much of our day involves quietly making an effort and not being recognized for it. (I mean, wouldn't it be nice if, every once in a while, confetti dropped from the ceiling after you unloaded the dishwasher at 7am?) But when you take the time to follow a recipe, the recipe just about always gives you something back. Take these biscuits for example. They may not appear as feathery or as pretty as Heidi Swanson’s, but they were delicious—buttery and just a tad sour from the yogurt. I enjoyed pulling them apart—like one might do with an Oreo—and eating each half while they were still warm. I enjoyed a second one with a touch of butter and strawberry jam, though that was kind of gilding the lily, especially since, after reading this, I’d been inspired to make chai tea. (Not that exact chai tea, but a different version that called for fewer ingredients, most of which I already had in the pantry.)

So, where does this leave us? Homeland is fun, Searching for Sugar Man is incredibly moving, and there is magic and beauty in the heart of every eccentric nobody.

Spot of tea, anyone?
Yogurt Biscuits via Super Natural Every Day
makes 12 biscuits

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt flour)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1 1/2 teaspons fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny cubes
1 1/3 cups Greek-style yogurt

Preheat the oven to 450F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place an ungreased baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well.

Combine the flours, salt, and baking powder in a food processor. Sprinkle the butter across the top of the dry ingredients and pulse about 20 times, or until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles on a sandy beach. Add the yogurt and pulse a few times, or until the yogurt is just incorporated. Avoid overmixing; it's fine if there are a few dry patches. Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead five times and press into an inch-thick square. Cut in half and stack one on the other. Repeat two more times--flattening and stacking, then cutting. Add more all-purpose flour to prevent sticking when needed. Press or rollout the dough into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle, but no thicker; if the dough is too tall, the biscuits will tilt and tip over while baking. Cut the dough into twelve equal biscuits.

Transfer the biscuits to the preheated baking sheet leaving 1/2 inch between each biscuit. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply golden and the biscuits are cooked through. I like to eat them hot, split throught he middle, with a touch of butter on each half.

Spiced Tea (Masala Chai) via Saveur
makes 4 1/2 cups 

1⁄2 cup evaporated milk
5 tsp. sugar
6 black tea bags
5 pods green cardamom, crushed

Bring milk, sugar, tea, cardamom, and 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat; let steep for 5 minutes. Strain and serve hot.
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21 comments:

  1. I kinda feel like Searching for Sugar Man was my favorite movie from 2012. xoxo

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  2. I love your analogy about cooking and baking, that we are almost always rewarded for our efforts. I'm not sure if I've ever quite thought about it that way, but I've certainly felt that without realizing it, probably nearly every time a recipe turns out well. (And hurrah for chai; perhaps my new favorite old thing.) And Searching for Sugar Man is going on the short list.

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    1. So glad you related! And yes, please watch SFSM and get back to me so we can discuss. :)

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  3. I completely agree! Cooking and, for me, particularly baking are incredibly rewarding. I would go so far as to say that it's one of the reasons I do it. it's so rare to find a pursuit in which a positive outcome is so often achieved.

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  4. The human need for recognition must be why I expect Adam to compliment my cooking immediately upon taking the first bite. If he doesn't, I sit there getting increasingly agitated until finally saying, "WELL??"

    We'll watch the Sugarman doc this week! I recognize you as a good judge of cinema!

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  5. This was a lovely post. And that movie looks great! Thanks for the recommendation.

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  6. Another beautiful piece of writing Amelia. Once again enjoyed it very much.

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  7. Searching for Sugar Man is so great! And these biscuits looks innnncredible.

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  8. Wow, this is beautiful. Again, what a dismount.

    Will tell you when I've seen SugarMan. How is the new table???
    xoxo

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    1. The new table is FABULOUS! Wish you and Tim could stop by for dinner tonight!! xo

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  9. We just watched the Homeland finale last night, so this was funny timing. We, however, watched it while eating take-out pizza which doesn't merit a mention.

    Poor Claire, I mean Carrie.

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  10. Love that your final thought there is exactly the kind of thing that comes to you when you slow down enough to make/eat/drink a breakfast like this. Even better that you took the time to direct our attention to it. :)

    I haven't yet watched Searching for Sugar Man but jumped at the chance to see Rodriguez perform last year after I'd seen just the trailer and could tell it was something special. He was terrific, of course. Thanks for the reminder to watch it soon!

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  11. I really wish confetti would fall from the ceiling every time I did the dishes. I think I expect that response every time, and am disappointed to only find a dirty dish forgotten in the living room. Lovely reflections here, and I've been meaning to try those biscuits for a couple of years... your photos are motivation to make them soon.

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  12. This reminds me (in a round-about way, because it's not really about the natural desire for recognition) of the fact that Maggie Smith has NEVER watched an episode of Downton Abbey. She says she does the show "for the delight" of it. It's remarkable, isn't it? My first thought was--how does she know what her character is like, all put together, then? All edited? I mean, wouldn't she want to know how she comes across to other people so that she can stay consistent as the show progresses? But then I thought--well, nobody gets to see themselves edited in real life. I don't know how *I* come across to other people. She's just subjecting her character to the same treatment--the same uncertainty and fragmentation--that every human being gets, no matter how famous. You know? But I ramble. Happy weekend!

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  13. Katherine! I love this so much. Thanks so much for sharing. It makes me like Maggie smith even more, which I didn't think was possible. It also makes me feel just a tad bit sorry that she's one if those non-Downton watchers though!!

    ;) ;)

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  14. Johnny Depp hasn't seen ANY of his movies either! And these biscuits do looks so good.

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  15. Baking powder has aluminum?

    I agree about Homeland. I'm afraid it's just another 24-ish exploitation of people's fears and seeing the Constitution as a roadblock. Dealing with terrorism requires brains and centered decision-making, not more emotion....

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  16. Hi, this recipe is really nice I tried it last week. Its really good and more it smells pleasant. Thanks for this delicious one.

    Get More Instagram Followers

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I love hearing from you guys. Thanks!