Food + Drink

Small Victories: One Biscuit Recipe, Three Ways

“I can’t wait to cook my way through this amazing new book.” That sentiment was uttered by none other than Ina Garten—and the book she’s speaking of is Julia Turshen’s new cookbook Small Victories.

As a writer, recipe developer, and co-author for bestselling cookbooks such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, Mario Batali’s Spain…A Culinary Road Trip, and Dana Cowin’s Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, it’s no surprise that Turshen has come to publish a book of her own. Small Victories is the new bible for celebrating home cooking triumphs, offering valuable lessons for both novices and advanced chefs alike.

One of my favorite parts about this cookbook is that not only are there 100+ recipes, but there are also hundreds of recipe variations and tips to demystify the process of truly great cooking. A great example of this is Julia’s Everything Biscuit recipe: it’s one biscuit recipe with seven spin-offs (eight, if you include her Country Ham with Henley Mustard Sauce on page 151).

I tried out the original recipe and two of the variations—the Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits and the Croque Monsieur Biscuits—but some of the other options include a Cinnamon and Sugar topping and Jalapeño Popper Biscuits.

Julia Turshen's Small Victories: Everything Biscuits and Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

Everything Biscuits from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories

  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp onion flakes
  • 4 cups [480 g] all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 Tbsp [110 g] unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in [12-mm] cubes and chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups [360 ml] buttermilk, plus more for brushing

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (You can skip this if you’d like, since all of the butter in the dough will keep the biscuits from sticking, but I love anything that makes cleaning up easier).

In a small bowl, stir together the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and onion flakes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk more than you think you should—this isn’t just to combine the ingredients but also to aerate them. Plus, how much easier is it to clean a whisk than a sifter, amiright?? Using your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture, rubbing it between your fingers until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the buttermilk until the mixture becomes a shaggy dough—no need to overmix here. Stir in half of the poppy seed mixture.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it out so that it’s about 1 in [2.5 cm] thick. Using a 20-in [6-cm] round cutter (or a juice glass), stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Pat the dough scraps together (do not overwork the dough), re-roll, and cut out more biscuits. You should end up with a dozen biscuits.

Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the biscuits for about 1 hour. Baking them from cold will yield flakier biscuits (the butter will be slower to melt and will create more distinct layers); but if you don’t have time, don’t worry—the biscuits will still be very good.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450°F [230°C].

Right before baking, brush each biscuit lightly with buttermilk and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining poppy seed mixture.

Bake the biscuits until they’re risen and golden, 15 to 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through baking. Serve warm!

FOR CHEDDAR AND SCALLION BISCUITS, add a handful each of thinly sliced scallions and coarsely grated cheddar cheese to the dough (leave out the poppy seed mixture).

FOR CROQUE MONSIEUR BISCUITS, add a handful each of diced ham and coarsely grated Gruyere cheese to the dough. Don’t add the poppy seed mixture to the dough.

Julia Turshen's Small Victories: Everything Biscuits and Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

Julia Turshen's Small Victories: Everything Biscuits and Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

Julia Turshen's Small Victories: Everything Biscuits and Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

From left to right: Croque Monsieur Biscuit, Everything Biscuit, and Cheddar Scallion Biscuit.

Julia Turshen's Small Victories: Everything Biscuits and Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

Obligatory close-up. Yum. Carbs.

I actually couldn’t find buttermilk at my local grocery store (so odd), so I ended up replacing it with sour cream (thinned out with milk), and then brushed heavy cream on the top of these during the last five minutes of baking. The end result was still wonderfully flaky and moist biscuits. I love that Julia’s recipes are no-nonsense and approachable but predictably delicious, and that she prioritizes making clean-up easier.

All three biscuit variations came out deliciously, with my personal favorite being the Croque Monsieur spin-off—I’m a sucker for sweet and savory combos. Julia provides so many other ideas for enjoying these biscuits, which makes me think that a biscuit brunch party is in order.

Check out the rest of her delightful cookbook here, and share your own photos of these biscuits (or anything else you make) with the #SmallVictoriesCookbook hashtag!

Photography by Irene Kim Shepherd

Irene Kim Shepherd

Assoc. Manager of Visual Content at Chronicle Books, photographer, and overall aesthete. See more of her work at irenekly.com.
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