Southern Biscuits and The James Beard Outstanding Chef Award

June 19th, 2019

Ashley Christensen James Beard 2019

I am beyond excited about the results of this year’s James Beard Awards ceremony.  The winner of Outstanding Chef of the year is Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh North Carolina. Her empire has expanded to several other restaurants in Raleigh.  We spend a lot of time in the Raleigh area because our family is there.  Eating at Poole’s Diner has been on our bucket list, but it hasn’t happened yet.  The lines are long and reservations are not taken.  We even have a kitchen connection.  Our DIL Kristen’s brother David is one of the line cooks at the restaurant.  We will make it in there one of these days.  Her other local restaurants are Death and Taxes which specializes in Wood Fired cooking, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey for fried chicken, biscuits and waffles, Chuck’s for burgers, Poole’s side Pies for Pizza and Fox Liquor Bar, a subterranean drinking den.  The chef is multi-talented.

Chef Ashley Christensen’s first restaurant, Poole’s Diner hit the mark for traditional Southern fare with a creative edge.  Her signature macaroni and cheese au gratin is the most popular item on the menu.  You can find the recipe here.


But the reason I am thrilled by Ashley Christensen’s recognition  is because she is a good person.  There is no cheffy persona in her wheelhouse.  She has turned her celebrated life toward good works.  She was quoted as saying  “I think that philanthropy, through restaurants, will ultimately end up being my life’s work.”  She works for both the Southern Foodways Alliance and the Frankie Lemmons School for Disabled Children.  The local Stir the Pot fund raiser is also one of her projects.  Supporting her community and other chefs is what she is all about. IMG_9041

In honor of her Southern roots, I want to share this biscuit recipe that I have found to be a winner.  I could never find Ashley’s biscuit recipe on line, but I have a feeling that it might be close to this one.  The flakey layers are obvious in these biscuits.  It is important to keep the butter cold while working the biscuits.  Instead of cutting the butter into the flour, which will warm the butter, the stick of butter is frozen and then grated directly into the flour and stirred in.   Working and turning the dough a few times ensures that it is not overly handled and produces many layers.  Making these biscuits puts me in mind of Edna Lewis, Ashley Christensen and all of the Southern cooks that have made our region recognized for its creative cuisine.  Congratulations to Ashley Christensen, a North Carolina native.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (Frozen) 
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the dry ingredients.

With a box grater, grate the frozen stick of butter into the flour mixture.  Stir into mixture. Add the buttermilk and stir just until combined.

Dump the mixture onto a floured board.  Lightly flour top of dough and shape into a rectangle.  Gentle fold into thirds like a letter.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold again.  Repeat several times.

Gently flatten dough to 1″ thick.  Using a 2 3/4″ biscuit cutter, cut out about 3 biscuits.  Pull dough back together and cut the remainder into biscuits.  You will get about 6 biscuits.

Place biscuits on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush the tops with melted butter.


Southern Biscuits

May 5th, 2014

Southern Biscuits 3

So much of what  Southern cooking is about is how its women were able to provide filling and nutritious meals for their families.  When I think about the Southern table I think about the history of putting food by; women sitting on their porches shelling butter beans, the steaming pots of water waiting on the stove for those ball jars full of strawberry jam ready to be sterilized and the rendered lard waiting to be mixed with flour and buttermilk for the morning biscuits.  And if there were leftover biscuits, they would be used as a topping for that old stewing hen.

Southern Biscuits 2V

We have come a long way from the times when putting food by was a necessity for survival, but making biscuits is still a primal instinct to me.  There is nothing like rising early in the morning, lighting the oven and mixing the simple ingredients for biscuits. I love the put-put sound of my knife as it slashes through the butter and shortening cubes in the flour.  I make a floury mess in the kitchen as I pat the dough onto a board and cut the biscuits into shape.  Traces of flour cover the refrigerator door handle as I reach for the buttermilk and my clothing is dusted in flour.  After the biscuits are in the oven, David enters the kitchen, takes one look around and says “You must be making biscuits”.

Southern Biscuits Pan 2

My biscuit making skills are still a work in progress.  A recipe that I have been using lately comes from Alton Brown.  He uses regular flour and a combination of butter and shortening and buttermilk in his biscuits.  It is a good basic recipe. Watching the Food Network a while back, I saw Sunny Anderson talk about her Grandmother’s biscuits.  Her Grandmother shared her recipe with her, but the recipe never came out the same for Sunny.  So watching her Grandmother carefully one day she noticed that her Grandmother’s flour looked different.than they flour that she used.  Her Grandmother’s flour had little yellow flakes in it.  She neglected to tell her that she used Atkinson Flour with Butterflakes.  Sunny shared her recipe here.  I also found a new flour that I used in my biscuits this time.

Southern Biscuit Pan 1

King Arthur has a Pastry Flour Blend that duplicates many of the Southern flours used by previous generations of southern cooks.  It is softer and produces lighter biscuits and scones.  It is also great for flaky pie crusts.  It is not recommended for yeast risen baked goods.  I found it easier to handle and loved the results in my biscuits.  I have yet to use it in pie crust, but am anxious to try it.

Southern Biscuits 4

My biscuits were light and tender and went well with my freezer strawberry jam.  But I just may try the Atkinson flour blend to compare the results.  I would be interested to know if any of you have a favorite biscuit recipe.


2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.