Biscuits in Bellevue: Dalton’s Grill

After we had spent a while debating which place to go to for a late lunch in my new part of town, he finally described it as “you know, the place I told you about that has different kinds of biscuits.” Well, why didn’t he say so before?

Dalton's Grill Steak Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Once we had the biscuit tie-in established, off we went to Dalton’s Grill. It was a little dark inside and definitely had the vibe of a little neighborhood joint, but the lady behind the bar was really nice. What’s more, the steak & biscuits was on special!

Dalton's Grill

They were simple but wonderful. The steak was tender and nicely seasoned. There was some sort of a sauce involved. And the biscuits were soft and fluffy but had enough body to hold their own against the steak. I also had slaw and a cucumber salad on the side that was terrific. Sweet and tangy.

All in all, a successful meal. We will be back!

Dalton's Grill

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Loveless Hootenanny

Loveless Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

I’m not sure if there is a common use of the word “hootenanny.” Here in Nashville, it probably is mostly used to describe some kind of music event. Like a picking party, but with more alcohol? Or singing? Or both?

Loveless Biscuits with all the Fixin's| Persnickety Biscuit

A few years ago, my team at work started having quarterly meetings, where everyone who works remotely comes into the office for a few hours. We talk about strategy and process and eat a meal or two together. There is no music, or singing, or alcohol, but we call it our Quarterly Hootenanny anyway. This most recent quarter, a request was made for biscuits made by yours truly. I begged off, claiming the hassles of packing and moving and no space in my kitchen to make anything right now.

One of my coworkers graciously offered to bring in Loveless biscuits, as he lives out that way. When he came into the office that morning, he was glowing. There was a large tin wrapped in a beach towel sitting on his desk. “Get one while they are hot, ” he said, since our meeting did not actually start for a couple of hours. He said that when he picked them up, they brought the container to the car with potholders. They were truly fresh from the oven.

Loveless Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Never one to do things halfway, he had gotten all the fixings. Butter. Three kinds of jam. Even Red-Eye Gravy. What is Red-Eye Gravy, you ask? First, it is really thin, more like an au jus than a gravy. Second, it is made with pork drippings and coffee. Yes, coffee. I had never had it before. Not exactly my favorite, I have to admit. But now I know. Here is a link to a recipe, in case you ever want to make it, because I don’t think I will.

Loveless Biscuits with Red Eye Gravy | Persnickety Biscuit

Regardless, the biscuits were warm and soft and fragrant and I had one before the meeting and one during. The jams that came with them – strawberry, blackberry, and peach – were homemade and amazing – perhaps even more noteworthy than the biscuits. My mouth is literally watering as I write this. Is that too much information? Too bad.

Loveless Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Moving Day Biscuits (er… scones?) – Sweet Sixteenth

Sweet Sixteenth Breakfast Sandwich | Persnickety Biscuit

It is important to plan a little treat for yourself occasionally. Especially in times of great stress. Moving Day qualifies. This would be my last stop on the farewell tour of East Nashville.

Sweet Sixteenth | Persnickety Biscuit

I planned it out far in advance. Sweet Sixteenth has these amazingly delicious breakfast sandwiches. They used to make them only on the weekends, but must have received many requests to offer them the rest of the week, because they are now available on weekdays, too.

They call them scones, but I think they are basically biscuits. I’m really not sure what differentiates the two and will have to explore that in more detail some day. For now, though, I’m just going to call this a biscuit sandwich. It is made with a cheddar cheese scone/biscuit that is heavenly on its own. I should know. I’ve eaten many of them over the years. Slightly sweet, fluffy, with a nice crisp outer layer and rich cheese. For the sandwich, they add a layer of egg casserole with bits of peppers in it – just enough to add flavor but not be hot.

Sweet Sixteenth Breakfast Sandwich | Persnickety Biscuit

When you order one, they literally call out “one to go” or “one for here” to the kitchen. Because that is the only item that comes from the kitchen. Everything else is in the cases out front. This is a tiny place where the counter is always manned by the couple that own it. When they want to go on vacation, they close up shop. Just like that. It is really quite charming. Thank goodness they were not on vacation on my Moving Day!

Sweet Sixteenth | Persnickety Biscuit

The breakfast sandwich was all I hoped it would be, everything I knew it could be. It came out of the kitchen quickly, wrapped carefully in paper and in a brown bag. I took it home for the last meal in my kitchen. I savored the flavors, the warmth, the large cup of coffee I got to go with it. Then I was ready to move to my new home.

Sweet Sixteenth Breakfast Sandwich | Persnickety Biscuit

Sky Blue – Worth the Wait

Em's Bowl at Sky Blue Cafe | Persnickety Biscuit

I have to admit, when we went to Charlie Bob’s, we were originally headed to Sky Blue Cafe. They have one of my favorite biscuit dishes. Then we saw the line and thought that Charlie Bob’s would be faster. It was not. At all. So this time I was prepared for a wait.

Sky Blue Cafe | Persnickety Biscuit

It was a lovely day, if a bit chilly. As long as you were in the sun, it felt great. Sky Blue is fairly small. There is no space to wait inside, so we joined the group standing outside at the side of the building. I noticed there were even people waiting in the lot across the street, letting the children run around.

Sky Blue Cafe | Persnickety Biscuit

We had not waited too long before a table opened up outside. Rather than wait longer, we snapped it up. M. grabbed a couple of sweatshirts out of the car and we bundled up at our little table, appreciating the warmth of the fresh coffee. We knew exactly what to order. Em’s Bowl comes with hash browns, a biscuit, egg, gravy and cheese. It is something to behold. M. got his with jalapenos.

Em's Bowl at Sky Blue Cafe | Persnickety Biscuit

The biscuit was great, as were all of the toppings. Yum. Yum. Yum. Such a great combination. This is the dish that inspired my own layered biscuit concoction in St. Petersburg. It is the kind of meal that either prepares you for the day or makes you want to go home and take a nap. In our case, there was packing to do, so back to work we went!

Em's Bowl at Sky Blue Cafe | Persnickety Biscuit

Five Tips for Festive Gifts

The question quickly arose: how exactly do you make biscuits look pretty, festive, and gift-ish?

Pumpkin Biscuits for Christmas| Persnickety Biscuit

I spent quite a while figuring it out. While these tips are about biscuits, they could easily be used for any baked gifts.

  1. Think about the color of the biscuits.  I made pumpkin biscuits, but you could easily use sweet potatoes or cheddar cheese or even beets or orange, to lend a lovely tint and flavor. Also think about adding fresh herbs or fruit or chocolate chips to add a bit of texture and additional color.Pumpkin Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit
  2. Add some sort of spread, like the maple cinnamon butter I made to go with these. You could make a simple honey butter or get more fancy and use a strawberry butter, herb infused butter, or homemade jam.Maple Cinnamon Butter
  3. Carefully choose the containers. I decided it would be nice to have a baking dish that could go right into the oven for reheating, so I got some of these paper baking pans. They look elegant and are also practical. I could bake the biscuits and wrap them in place. I did find that the biscuits stuck to the bottom when I did a test run so I put a layer of parchment into the bottom. I also made a special trip to The Container Store (love that place!) for little containers for the butter.Pumpkin Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit
  4. Go bold with tags, stickers, and wrap. The “tags” that I used were actually cardboard coasters that I found at Target. So festive and bright! I just made a hole in them and pasted the note onto the back. I also found some round stickers that I used on the containers of butter. That added to the color and graphics of the package. The wrap was large cellophane bags from Michael’s. The bags were big, but I think the extra wrap at the top looked really pretty, tied with a bit of ribbon.Pumpkin Biscuits for Christmas| Persnickety Biscuit
  5. Add more information. Tell your giftees exactly what you have given them and what to do with them. People don’t always know the best way to reheat or serve something homemade. Give them some directions. Tell them that these were homemade by you. You want them to look pretty and professional, but you also want people to know that you made them!Pumpkin Biscuits for Christmas| Persnickety Biscuit

Are there things I would do differently next time? I suppose. I think the sides of the baking pans were pretty high. I would get lower ones or just add more biscuits. I would probably brush the tops of the biscuits with an egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper or sugar and cinnamon to make them a little prettier. I would make a different flavor, mainly because I like to give different things each year.

I believe the most important thing to remember, though, is that people really do love biscuits and they will be thrilled to get a package of homemade ones that they can just pop into the oven for a treat.

What about you? Do you like to give baked goods as gifts? What are your tips for making them look festive and pretty?

Charlie Bob’s Biscuits and Gravy

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

There are some places you just really want to like, whether it actually makes sense or not. Charlie Bob’s is like that for me. And I do like it. I’m just not sure how much of that is deserved and how much is folklore.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Let me explain. First, I found out about this place from the East Nashville “listserve”. Restaurants in the ‘hood often get a lot of discussion on the listserve and it is fun to be in on what people are talking about.

East Nashville Mural

East Nashville is all about the dogs – even on the murals.

Second, it has this blend of old diner style and new kitsch. Old sign, checkered tablecloths, old photos on the walls. But there is also a bar in the back and a tiny stage area for songwriter nights. All of the ingredients of a hidden gem.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Third, it is on Dickerson Pike. When I was growing up here, Dickerson Pike was known as one of the seediest parts of Nashville. Drugs. Prostitution. Violence. But as East Nashville has gotten cleaned up, so has Dickerson Pike. At least to some extent. M. and I recently did a photo safari down Dickerson Pike, attempting to capture some of the character, before it all disappears.

Dickerson Pike

So we have been to Charlie Bob’s twice now, for breakfast. The first time we were practically the only ones there and could wander around, looking at the interesting stuff on the walls. This last time they were busy so we stayed put in our booth. Our breakfast was good, but I told M. I would have liked it a LOT better if it had arrived about 20 minutes earlier. The service was incredibly slow on this visit. I was really hungry and got pretty grumpy, especially when the people at the neighboring table (who arrived 15 minutes after us) got their food first.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

So how were the biscuits?
Pretty good. They did not have the crisp “just baked” exterior that I like to find. I expect they were pulled from a warming drawer or something.

But the sausage gravy was really good! I think I hit on the distinction between good and better sausage gravy while at the Nashville Biscuit House. The better gravy is cooked with the sausage so that the flavors meld. I believe that was the case here.

The rest of the meal was good, too. Solid breakfast standards like super crispy bacon. It did not last long, though. We were too hungry. At one point, M. asked me a question about something and I did not even bother to answer. I just kept on eating. . . .

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuit| Persnickety Biscuit

Lately, I have been waking up at 4:30 am on a regular basis, knowing that attempting more sleep is futile. There is just so much to do. I’ve been sorting through everything in my house, figuring out what to throw away or give away, what to put in storage, and what to move to M’s house. He has been doing much the same, making room for me and my things.

I do try to sleep more but generally give up at 5:30 or 6 and use the extra morning time to get some things done. On this particular morning I decided to make biscuits with my extra time, because that’s what you do when you should really be packing.

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

Shelton Farms Flour

I had a bag of locally produced whole wheat flour from Shelton Farms that I had been wanting to try. I noticed that it was low in protein, like White Lily. They say that you want lower protein flour (2 g/serving) for biscuits and higher protein for breads, so this seemed perfect.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuit Dough| Persnickety Biscuit

I also had a Granny Smith apple in the fridge that needed to be eaten. I had been wanting to experiment with shredding apple into biscuits ever since I made the Paige’s Family Biscuit recipe. That one seemed to benefit from the larger chunks of apple in my second making, but I liked how the smaller pieces sort of disappeared into the biscuit in the first making, becoming part of the biscuit and not just an addition to it.

Finally, I have been following a very low tech biscuit making process for some time now. There is something very satisfying about that. Getting your hands into the flour, rubbing the butter. But I do happen to have, and to love, this wonderful food processor and have wondered if and how it might be of use in the biscuit making process.

There you have it – the perfect storm of flour, fruit, and appliance came together to inspire these Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

What is persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

It might be difficult to find a whole wheat flour that is low in protein. If that is the case, you may want to try using half of a regular WW flour and half low protein white. I’ve also heard of mixing in part cake flour to add the lightness. If you try one of these options please let me know how it turns out!

Shelton Farms Flour

I also added some ricotta cheese to this biscuit and believe that, and the grated apple, are what makes this biscuit so moist.

So how were the biscuits?

They turned out just as I had hoped they might. Nutty, moist, flaky, slightly sweet, lightly spiced. Perfect warm or cool, with butter or without. Seriously, you could throw one of these into a lunchbox and it would be a perfect snack – no reheating required. I took a couple into the office to share with coworkers and they are still talking about them.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

How were the leftovers prepared?

I only baked a few in the first batch and those were gone in hours. The remainder were cut out and put onto a cookie sheet to freeze, uncooked. After freezing, they were bagged up and saved.

Later I took them out of the freezer, placed them close together on a parchment lined baking pan, and baked them at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. I did not thaw the dough first. Note that is a lower temperature and longer time than if the dough were fresh.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuit Dough| Persnickety Biscuit

I brushed a little almond milk on them and sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top of that before putting them in the oven. The frozen biscuits baked up perfectly. My mother came over to help pack and it was the perfect thing to share with her.

Remarkably, there were still a few biscuits left after that, so I got creative with toppings and constructed this biscuit sandwich.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Bacon Brie Biscuit

If you want to make something similar, just slice the biscuit in half, put a nice slice of Brie cheese on the bottom of the biscuit, add a layer of cooked bacon and a few very thinly sliced apples, another thin layer of brie, and put the top half of the biscuit back on the stack. Warm the whole thing in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes – or until you notice the cheese getting nice and melty. Yum!

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Bacon Brie Biscuit | Persnickety Biscuit

>>> Click here for printable biscuit recipe.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low-protein (2 g/serving) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, frozen and cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup butter-flavored Crisco, frozen and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tart apple, peeled and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • About ¼ cup all purpose flour (for folding and cutting out dough)

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Put the first six dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse for 20-30 seconds to blend thoroughly.
  • Add butter to dry ingredients and pulse food processor 15-20 times until butter has been incorporated and the bits that remain are about the size of a pea.
  • Add shortening to food processor and pulse 15-20 times until shortening has been incorporated and the bits that remain are about the size of a pea. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  • Using the shredding attachment of the food processor, shred the apple. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to coat the apple and break up shredded pieces so that they are loose in the mixture. You do not want them to all stick together.
  • Combine vanilla, ricotta, and buttermilk in a small bowl. Whisk together.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Mix quickly with spatula or hands, turning bowl and gently scooping the dry ingredients into the wet. Add more buttermilk, if needed, to make dough moist but not too wet.
  • Sprinkle flour onto countertop or pastry board. Dump dough out of bowl onto flour. Sprinkle flour onto dough and rub onto hands. Press dough together and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Fold dough in half. Repeat three times. A pastry scraper can be really helpful to lift up the dough. Keep adding a little flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
  • Press out to about ¾ of an inch high. Using a biscuit cutter or tin can, cut out biscuits. Transfer to cookie sheet. Place biscuits close together on cookie sheet, or 1 inch apart if you want crispier biscuits. Press scraps together and cut out remainder of biscuits.
  • Put cookie sheet in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until tops of biscuits are slightly browned. If you wish, take the biscuits out of the oven a couple of minutes before they are done and brush the tops of the biscuits with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then return them to the oven.
  • Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, then break apart and eat!
  • Share with someone you love.