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Reviving classic food: Tweaking 4 well-worn staples

Sometimes, there just has to be room for innovation, no matter how much we like the old days and the old ways.

As kids, we may have pleaded for boxed macaroni and cheese, but today just the thought is, well, unappetizing. Our palates have hopefully become more sophisticated.

What would happen if we re-invented a few well-worn culinary staples? Maybe just a little tweak here and there. I think the world would still spin and the sun would still shine. And we’d have something delicious to add to our recipe collections.

So, take a gander at what’s new with cabbage, radishes, potatoes and biscuits.

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan, award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, the most recent of which is “Baking Chez Moi.” Read more on her website, doriegreenspan.com, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.

Herbed Cottage-Cheese Biscuits

2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup full-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup cold whole milk

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, chives, parsley, cilantro or a combination

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt (to taste) and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together cottage cheese and milk in a separate bowl.

Scatter butter and herbs over flour mixture; toss to coat butter with flour. Use fingertips or a metal pastry blender to rub, squeeze and/or cut butter into dry ingredients. You’re aiming for a lumpy mix with pieces of every size and shape, from pea-size to flake. It should look rough.

Pour cottage cheese-and-milk mixture over dry ingredients; use a fork to gently stir everything around until you have a soft dough. Squeeze a piece and it will hold together. Reach into bowl and turn, fold and knead dough — go easy, it’s not bread — just enough to bring everything together into a ball.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly, and either pat dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is between 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t rolled out evenly: A quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the cutter; your goal is to cut the biscuits as close to one another as possible, so you get the most you can out of this first round. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet as you work, spacing them at least an inch apart. Gather together scraps; lightly pat the dough out again, working it as little as possible, and cut additional biscuits, again as close together as possible; transfer those to the sheet. Repeat. Keep in mind you’re aiming for 10 biscuits.

Bake 14 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through, until the biscuits are tall, puffed and golden brown. Remove them from the baking sheet and serve right away.

Makes 10 biscuits, each with 170 calories, 4 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 1 gram sugar.

Note: Make these once, and the techniques will be yours forever. Don’t forget, with just a little tweak, the biscuit you love with gravy can be the biscuit you love with whipped cream and berries. It will be shortcake season again soon.

For these tender, nubbly biscuits, it’s important to use a deep, thin-walled 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter, which will allow a clean cut around the edges. Serve with butter; these are terrific for making sandwiches.

Variation: You can make more-traditional biscuits by replacing the cottage cheese and whole milk with 3/4 cup of buttermilk. (Or omit the cottage cheese and baking soda and increase the whole milk to 3/4 cup.)

If you like sweet biscuits, omit the herbs, use 1/2 teaspoon of salt and add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the dough.

Make ahead: Cut-out biscuits can be placed on a baking sheet, frozen and then packed airtight; they'll keep for up to 2 months and can be baked directly from the freezer.

Baked biscuits should be eaten straight from the oven (best) or within 2 hours. You can reheat the biscuits in a 350-degree oven, but the texture will be denser than for just-baked.

SPICY CABBAGE

1 green cabbage, about 2 pounds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound smoked andouille sausage, cubed

2 strips bacon, thinly sliced crosswise*

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1. Toss: Quarter and core cabbage; slice into thin slivers. Toss with salt and pepper, separating cabbage strands; set aside.

2. Brown: Set a small heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, tumble in sausage cubes and cook, stirring, until brown, about 3-4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out sausage. Drain on paper towels.

3. Crisp: Meanwhile, set a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, toss in bacon slivers and cook, stirring, until crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out bacon and drain on paper towels along with the sausage. Leave rendered bacon fat in the pan.

4. Caramelize: Tumble cabbage, onion and garlic into the hot bacon fat. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until the vegetables turn a deep caramel brown, 30-35 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, lower heat to prevent scorching.

5. Season: Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Tumble in sausage and bacon and toss until hot. Makes 4 servings.

* For ease in slicing, wrap the bacon in waxed paper; freeze 20 minutes.

Leah Eskin, Chicago Tribune

RADISHES WITH SOUR CREAM

AND CHIVES

2 cups radishes, scrubbed

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoon chopped chives

Cook radishes, covered, in a small amount of salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes.

In a separate pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.

Add 1/3 cup of the radish cooking water and the sour cream. Cook, stirring, until thick.

Add the radishes, lemon juice and salt and pepper and cook just long enough for the radishes to heat through. Sprinkle with the chives.

Makes 4 servings, each with 122 calories, 11 grams fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 1 gram protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 80 mg sodium.

Linda Cicero, Miami Herald/adapted New York Times recipe

Throw on some extra parmesan if you like a golden crust on top.

PESTO DOUBLE-STUFFED POTATOES

4 large Idaho potatoes, baked

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/3 cup prepared pesto

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut 1/2 inch from long side of each potato into bowl; scoop inside of potato, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell.

With fork or potato masher, mash cooked potato in bowl.

Stir in ricotta, pesto, salt and pepper until well blended. Spoon potato mixture into potato shells, divided evenly, heaping on top if necessary.

Lightly spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray; place stuffed potatoes on cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown and heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 4 servings, each with 290 calories, 12 grams fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 11 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 258 mg sodium.

Idaho Potato Commission

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