To me, home cooking is coming home to a favorite meal on the stove or feeding myself with a simple sheet pan dinner. It’s a comforting and soothing balm. It’s my Nana leading a team of family for Thanksgiving or as simple as my Papa Boyd making cornbread in his cast iron skillet. It’s gathering around the table, saying grace (or not) and celebrating home.
I’m from North Carolina. I still have a slight drawl and an unrepentant weakness for butter, bacon fat and sweet tea. I am a home cook, trained by home cooks. Nothing sparks joy like simple and unfussy home cooking. Be it a strawberry cake, a hashbrown casserole or a roast chicken (fried chicken for Southerners), home cooking weaves through our daily lives and sustains us physically and psychologically.
Over the past year, home cooking has caused folks more than their fair share of angst and anxiety. Kids have rejected lunches. The smoke alarm has gone off. We miss having friends over and sometimes dread the drudgery of getting something on the table. And for some, distressingly, it means not having enough, or even anything at all to put on the table.
I don’t do fussy. I don’t believe in low-fat dairy. I don’t do trends. I don’t believe that a recipe with 28 ingredients tastes any better than one with six. I don’t think that a Michelin Star chef is a better cook than your mom. I don’t fool myself in thinking that my way is the right way or the only way. Though, I do believe that the way your mom, your Nana or your Papa Boyd made it is the right way. That’s what we all want anyway: home cooking memories.
I want to celebrate the home cook and the craft of home cookery. Home cooking can be therapeutic — just think of the aromatherapy of garlic, the repetition of chopping and the sound of pan frying. Whether you loathe cooking or you love it, let’s turn our kitchens into a refuge where we jubilantly and appreciatively feed ourselves, our families and our neighbors.
Southern Biscuits (yields six 3-inch biscuits)
When I think of Southern comfort, I think of a biscuit. Whether it’s slathered with butter, preserves or honey, there’s no better way to start the day or end it. These freeze well, so you can pull a few out at a moment’s notice and surprise your friends and family with a piping hot biscuit with minimal effort.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus a bit extra for dusting
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (remember to check the expiration date)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- One stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 ½ cups cold buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the dry biscuit ingredients together in a large bowl and gently whisk.
Use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut in the cold butter until it is about pea-sized.
Add the buttermilk slowly and mix until just combined. Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface.
Roll the dough out in a rectangle shape about 1 inch thick. Fold the dough in half. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the folding one more time. If the dough sticks to the surface, add flour to the surface or the rolling pin. Don’t add flour to the dough.
Press or roll the dough to be about 1 inch thick. With a round cutter, cut out biscuits. Flour the cutter after each cut. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined sheet pan. You can press remaining dough together for a few more biscuits.*
Bake for 8 minutes until the biscuits start to turn golden. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes. When golden brown, take the biscuits out of the oven and brush them liberally with melted butter. Bake for a minute or two more, then serve immediately.
*If you want to freeze your biscuits for later use, now is the time to do it. Freeze completely on the sheet pan, then transfer to a freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake, place the frozen biscuits on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Slather with melted butter. Bake for one or two more minutes, then serve immediately.