PS - I made that coffee mug!!
There are certain recipes every kitchen-savvy person should have in their repertoire for last-minute emergencies. Go-to dishes that can pinch hit and are flexible enough for myriad uses and adaptations. For me, biscuits are it. They can find a place in nearly any meal and once a good basis is established, they can be manipulated to fit a whole host of scenarios. My biscuit recipe is adapted from Baking with Julia, a cookbook I'm not sure I could live without. Seriously... go buy it right now. You won't regret it.
These biscuits can be made in advanced and frozen. Just be sure to keep them in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. To reheat, place them in a paper bag in a single layer, close the bag by folding up the open end and bake for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.
Makes 8 3.5" Biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt (preferably Kosher)
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with two knives or a pastry blade. Stir in milk. Mix until just combined.
2. On a well-floured surface, turn out dough and dust with flour. Pat the dough out with hands until it is 1/2-inch thick. Fold dough in half, then in half again. Pat until the dough is 1/2-inch thick. Do this at least two more times, making sure not to overwork the dough. Folding the dough will help to give it "lift" and layers.
3. Use a 3.5" biscuit cutter to cut-out biscuits. Re-fold scraps and pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thick again (you'll probably end up with a little ball of dough left - pat it down and make it into a mini-biscuit). Brush the tops of the biscuits with an egg wash (one egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water or milk). Let the biscuits rest for 5 minutes.
4. Place biscuits on a greased cookie sheet (or better yet, on a pizza stone hot from the oven) and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until biscuits have risen and appear golden on top. Place on a cooling rack. Enjoy!
Some more ideas: Serve these biscuits at breakfast with butter and jam or at dinner with herb compound butter (you could even dust the tops with a little herbed salt before baking). These biscuits are a great companion for strawberry shortcake - just sprinkle some sanding or demerara sugar on top of the dough after the egg wash. For a savory kick, try adding 1/2 tablespoon of dill and 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese to the dough, or add 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning and use these biscuits to sop-up melted butter at a seafood bake. Herb fans should try adding sage, a la this guy.