SEPTEMBER 10, 2012

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

CARRIE MASHANEY, CHEF DE CUISINE, SPINASSE

Carrie Mashaney, chef de cuisine of Spinasse, in Seattle, Washington, wants to give a shout-out to her hometown. “Yeah! Tell everyone I’m from Carpenter, Iowa,” she exclaims with pride. “The 100 people that live there will be psyched.”

Mashaney left the Corn Belt 13 years ago to attend culinary school in Seattle; finding that the city suited her, she never left. But cooking school wasn’t a fit for the chef, who dropped out after a year, then enrolled in the baking and pastry program at a local community college. Following an externship in France, she returned to Seattle where she has lived and worked since.

She has cooking in her blood: Mashaney’s mother owned a restaurant in Iowa. “I grew up in the kitchen,” she says. “I washed dishes at the restaurant and grew up watching Great Chefs of the World.” And though she may have grown up in the industry, Mashaney says, “There’s always so much to learn. Trying something that you’ve never tasted before--it brings me back to being a child, that feeling of experiencing something for the first time.”

Mashaney and her husband, also a chef, make breakfast together at home every morning. She frequently makes biscuits, which inspired her Sous Chef Series recipe. Topped with griddled ham and paired with a tomato salad, they're a fine way to start the day.

TRACK THIS CHEF

Carrie Mashaney's:

DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Keep It Cold

When Mashaney makes biscuits, she chills the flour and the butter in the freezer for 15 minutes before combining them, a trick she picked up from a pie-making class she once took.

Use Your Hands

For ultraflaky biscuits, Mashaney prefers to mix biscuit dough with her hands rather than using a pastry cutter or food processor. She uses her fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture is in pea-sized lumps, then adds the buttermilk.

MAKE THE
Buttermilk Biscuit and Ham Sandwiches with Tomato Salad

YIELD

4 servings (2 biscuits per person)

INGREDIENTS

Biscuits
Cold unsalted butter, 1½ sticks (cut into ½-inch cubes)

All-purpose flour, 3 cups plus extra for rolling

Baking powder, 1 tablespoon

Baking soda, ¾ teaspoon

Salt, 1 teaspoon

Granulated sugar, 1½ teaspoons

Buttermilk, 1½ cups

Melted unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons

Thick-cut ham steaks, 2 (about ¾ pound)

Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons

Tomato Salad

Extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons

Champagne vinegar, 1½ tablespoons

Fresh mint leaves, ¼ cup (finely chopped)

Fresh flat-leaf parsley, ¼ cup (finely chopped)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cherry tomatoes, 2 cups (halved)

EQUIPMENT

Measuring cups and spoons
Chef’s knife
Mixing bowls
Cutting board
Fine-mesh sieve (or a flour sifter)
Wooden spoon
Rolling pin
Ruler
Bench knife
3-inch biscuit cutter
Baking sheet pan
Pastry brush
Metal spatula
Wire cooling rack
Whisk
Large skillet

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 450°. On a small plate set the

  • Unsalted butter cubes

Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Set the fine-mesh sieve (or use a flour sifter) over a large metal bowl and add the

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar

Freeze for 15 minutes. Remove both the butter and flour mixture from the freezer and use your fingers to pinch the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly, until most of the butter is worked in and there is a variety of small and large pieces of butter within the flour mixture. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add

  • 1¼ cups buttermilk

Use the wooden spoon to stir the mixture together until it becomes hard to stir, then switch to using your hands to gently toss and turn the mixture until only a few dry spots remain, drizzling in the remaining ¼ cup of buttermilk a little at a time as needed.

2. Sprinkle a cutting board with some

  • All-purpose flour

Turn the dough out onto the floured board and press it into a rough rectangle shape. Lightly flour the top and use a rolling pin to roll it into a 12-inch by 14-inch rectangle that's about ½-inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Turn the dough so the long edge is parallel to the long side of the cutting board. Roll the dough into a ½-inch thick rectangle and repeat the folding. Roll again, this time rolling the dough only slightly into a 10-inch by 12-inch rectangle about 1-inch thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can (you can gently push the dough back together and flatten it by hand, then cut out more biscuits. Discard the remaining dough. Place the biscuits on a nonstick baking sheet (or a parchment paper-lined baking sheet) and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the biscuits from the refrigerator and use the pastry brush to coat the tops with the

  • Melted unsalted butter

Place the biscuits in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 425°. Bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway through baking. Remove from the oven and use the metal spatula to transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

4. Make the tomato salad: In a medium bowl, whisk together the

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Champagne vinegar
  • Chopped mint
  • Chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Add the

  • Halved cherry tomatoes

Gently toss to combine and set aside.

5. Use the biscuit cutter to cut out 8 circles from the ham. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ham-steak circles

Cook until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Use a metal spatula to transfer the ham steaks to a plate to cool.

6. Separate the biscuits horizontally into two parts. Add a browned ham steak to biscuit bottoms, cover with the top half of the biscuit and serve with tomato salad on the side.

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