Since most Louisianians are nurtured to embrace an extraverted social life, getting together is second nature to life in the Bayou State. But as often as bombastic parades and revelries help build our communities, spending time over at ya mom’s house is just as important.
On this week’s Louisiana Eats! we’re joined by a group of guests who want nothing more than for you to be comfortable in your own home.
Nancy Vienneau tells us how the monthly gatherings at her house turned her neighbors into friends; David and Lesley Solomonson help build an inexpensive liquor cabinet; and Johnette Downing keeps the kids entertained with upbeat songs about Louisiana cuisine.
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
from Nancy Vienneau's Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook
2 medium sweet potatoes (to make 2 cups cooked sweet potatoes)
4 cups self-rising flour
1⁄3 plus 1⁄4 cup raw sugar (such as demerara or turbinado), divided
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, divided*
10 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1⁄4 cup pecan pieces (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Wash and dry the sweet potatoes. Place them on a baking sheet in the oven and bake until soft, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove, allow them to cool, and then scoop out the insides.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl add the self-rising flour, 1⁄3 cup sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the sweet potatoes, 1⁄2 cup buttermilk, and butter pieces. Working with your hands, mix all the ingredients, rubbing the butter pieces into the flour. Work quickly; soon it will all come together in a mass.
If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. Beware of overworking the dough—it will toughen.
Dust a cutting board or counter with flour. Roll out the dough to 1⁄2 inch thick and cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter. Place on the baking sheet close together (sides touching is fine).
Place pecan pieces into a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Pulse the nuts until they become finely ground. Pour into a small bowl. Add the 1⁄4 cup sugar and whisk until well combined.**
Brush the biscuit tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk and sprinkle them with the ground pecan and sugar mixture. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen 2-inch-round biscuits.
*If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own. Add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to the same quantity (1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) of whole milk.
**You may omit this step if desired.