Every January, without missing a beat, I have my annual visit with Dr. Slater, my general practitioner. We have had a long-term patient-doctor relationship that has spanned many years through all of my restaurant openings and the births of my two children. He’s great, but, he is the kind of doctor that I wish was a little more loose with his prescription writing (pad-happy, as I like to call it), but in the end I appreciate him because he always looks out for my best interests. He saves me from myself – if that makes sense. For instance, one time last year I went in complaining of what I was certain were panic attacks hoping for “something just to chill me out just a little bit.” Instead of leaving with a prescription for some little blue pills as I was hoping, I got a forty-five minute lesson on meditative breathing exercises and was told to quit caffeine.
Although my weight seems to be exactly the same every year, no matter what shoes or clothes I am wearing when I weigh in, and my blood pressure always lands on the low side, he still scolds me about my diet. My diet consists primarily of whatever cuisine I am working on or am obsessed with at the time. A few years ago when I was working on the opening of ACME Southern Kitchen, my weight was up three pounds from the previous year and he mentioned it to me. I told him it was surely because I had been working on the recipe for our Angel Biscuits and had been baking and eating them for months. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, I was eating biscuits, trying to get the recipe just right, I told him.
“Well I hope that’s not it,” he said, “it’s just not good for someone to eat that many biscuits and that much butter Terryl. Let’s hope it’s not reflected in your cholesterol values as well.”
He’s really not much fun now, is he?
“Well you’ll be glad to know I have quit eating all those biscuits,” I announced at this years physical.
“Good!” Glad to see you are making some good food choices and taking a personal interest in your well-being,” he said. “What caused you make the change?”
“I closed the Southern restaurant,”
“I see, still a good decision,” he said.
“Yes and financially an even better one,” I replied. “That place would have sent me to the poor farm had I kept it open much longer.”
“Or sent you to an early grave if you kept eating all that fried chicken and waffles,” he replied.
I still think about that fried chicken and those big buttermilk waffles, the red beans and rice, smoky collard greens and…oh…those amazing fried green tomatoes. I miss Acme Southern Kitchen, and still think it was not only a terrific little place to eat ,but also some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the kitchen. We still sell those Angel Biscuits down at Café 222 on all of our benedict dishes or you can order the Biscuits and Gravy where they are smothered in thick, chunky, pork gravy. We also sell a version of them at Bake Sale Bakery, although we have fancied them up a bit with chunks of ham and chives.
Here’s the recipe if you want to make them at home. They are a bit more work than a drop biscuit, as they are a yeasted dough, but if you make them the night before, let them proof in the refrigerator overnight, and bake them in the morning, you will no doubt agree that they are indeed heavenly.
Acme Southern Kitchen’s Angel Biscuits
2 TBS + 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
6 TBS Warm Water (110-115 degrees F)
12 Cups Self-Rising Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Shortening, room temperature
4 Cups Buttermilk, room temperature
1 Cup Butter, room temperature
Butter, softened or melted, for finishing
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk 10 cups of self-rising flour, baking soda, and salt in a large shallow bowl.
Break the shortening and butter into pieces and scatter over the flour.
Work in by rubbing fingers with the fat and flour as if snapping thumb and finger together until the mixture looks like small peas.
Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of one hand.
Stir the yeast mixture into the buttermilk and pour this mixture into the hollow, stirring with a long wooden spoon.
Add flour as needed to make a very damp, shaggy dough.
Flour a clean working surface and turn the dough out onto the flour.
With floured hands, knead the dough by folding in half, pushing out, refolding and turning the dough clockwise until the dough is tender (like a baby’s bottom), about 10 minutes by hand.
Shape and refrigerate.
When ready to use, roll dough out into a 1/3 or ½ inch-thick round.
Fold in half and roll or pat out again until 2/3 to 1 inch thick.
Let dough rest 10 minutes.
Repeat with second half as desired.
For each biscuit, dip a 3-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edges and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter.
Let double at room temperature, about 30 minutes depending on temperature of kitchen.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the biscuits on the middle rack of the oven.
After 5 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back.
Continue baking another 4 to 5 minutes as needed, until a light golden brown.
When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with butter