Monday, June 13, 2011


            It’s leftover time in New Jersey.

G. frondosa
            I’ve just discovered that my freezer, which on first glance appears to be brimming with bread, is in fact harboring remnants of last year’s harvest. There’s several bags of pre-simmered Grifola frondosa (Maitake) mushrooms, many containers of non-descript whatsits, and enough sour cherries to pie up half of Weehawken.

            With strawberries now in season, those cherries have gotta go. Some will undoubtedly make it into a Father’s Day pie (or 2 or three), but there are plenty of extra.            

Which turns out to be a good thing, since my latest cassava flour experiments have turned towards biscuits, which Leslie and I love with sweetened, macerated fruit.

            Pie cherries aren’t the sort of thing one would normally eat uncooked – they’re extremely tart. However, when they’ve been steeped (macerated) in sugar for several hours before freezing, they’re actually not bad. To thaw them quickly (like I did tonight so we could  have dessert before the biscuits cooled) I break off chunks and simmer in a saucepan, adding sugar to sweeten and thicken.

            (I love sugar, and I can’t help thinking, every time I dump a batch into a recipe, that in the late 1960’s sugar had the same reputation among food kooks that gluten does today: “Terrible stuff… known carcinogen … no one should eat it …. Causes bad behavior…” all of which was, and is, Bovine Excrement. Some – diabetics – need to limit and control sugar, just like we who have CD or gluten sensitivity need to excise gluten. For the rest there’s no reason for deprivation.)

            Which brings me to the biscuits.
Despite the "Health food" (brown) appearance, they taste great

            I’ve always loved Bette Hagman’s Featherlite biscuit recipe and have blogged about it in the past. However, her biscuits do stale quickly, and since I have abundant cassava flour and the incentive to invent with it, I struck off in a new direction. The one difficult-to-locate item in my ingredient list (in addition to the cassava flour) is Goya brand coconut pulp. It’s in my local Latin grocery and I hope it’s in yours ‘cause it really boosts the flavor. If you can’t find it, use butter or plain solidified coconut oil.

Cassava-coconut biscuits
By Charles Luce


50 grams butter
49 grams sorghum flour
39 grams King Lion Cassava flour
30 grams ivory teff flour
20 grams buttermilk powder
17.5 grams Goya coconut pulp
12 grams granulated sugar
5 grams potato starch
4.8 grams baking soda
4.4 grams Bakewell Cream
2.3 grams tapioca starch
1.8 grams Xanthan gum
1.2 grams salt
1/2 cup whole milk


1)         Adjust an oven rack to the center position and place a flat cookie sheet on it. Preheat oven to 400 F. Set out a 10” X 12” sheet of baker’s parchment and a piece of plastic wrap about the same size. Dust the latter lightly with rice flour.

2)         Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Pinch off lima-bean-sized chunks of butter and coconut pulp and drop into dry ingredients. Stir and toss the flour with your fingers as you “pinch in” the shortenings to make flat flakes.

3)         Add the milk and stir with a fork until dough comes together in a very shaggy, moist ball. Turn out onto the plastic wrap and spread out to a sheet that’s 3/4” – 1”  thick. You can pat down the surface if you like smooth-topped biscuits but I like to keep mine rough.

4)         Using a circular cookie cutter, slice out biscuits and place onto the parchment. (I like to make mini-biscuits of 1” diameter but size is up to you. You can also use a square cookie cutter, or free-form the biscuits.)

5)         Slide the parchment onto the cookie sheet. Bake for @ 12’, or until the edges of the biscuits are just touched with brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

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