A Housewarming

We had a little housewarming party on Saturday. We bought beer and made spiced nuts and and stocked up on whiskey. That afternoon Sam baked homemade crackers and rushed around building recessed spice shelves. I roasted eggplant, baked a failed bundt cake, and bought far too much cheese. My sister Rachael came early with paper napkins and salami; my friend Tracy was in town from the Bay Area and swung by with her friend Joy; couples and singles and even baby Oliver came over to say hello. Some stayed for hours, some a few minutes. Regardless, it all felt like a pretty big deal. This was our house. Finally.

It’s certainly not news to either Sam or I that we’re very different party people. I’m a planner and a list-maker and feel most comfortable prepping things days in advance whereas Sam’s most frequent line is “we’ll figure it out,” and he often begins a project 2-3 hours before a party. Usually without a recipe. And you know what? It’s always just fine. Not really just fine, it’s usually quite wonderful.

But in the thick of it, if I’m not planning and list-making, I feel untethered. Which is silly, because really, we’re talking about a gathering of friends here, not a race for the presidency. Sam believes the more you stress about a party, the more you miss what it’s really about. It should be enjoyable. He was reminding me of this around 10 a.m., 11 a.m., again at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. It was that kind of a day. And as much as I hate to admit it, he was right. Everything turned out just fine: we had way too much cheese, and lots of leftover food. As with most parties, folks gathered in the kitchen after a few hours. Right around this time, Sam began making his almost-famous-in-some-circles Casselberry Biscuits. Fancy olives and dark chocolate brownies step aside: everyone fell for these simple little biscuits comprised of not much more than butter, sugar, flour, nutmeg and raisins. I’ve begged Sam for the recipe for a good 9 months now. He’s finally given in. Today’s a big day.

I actually had Casselberry Biscuits for the first time in Oakland. Sam and I had a dinner party in my tiny apartment and, of course, I over-planned and Sam decided to whip them up at the very last minute. My friends still ask for the recipe. I think part of their charm is that you cook them in a skillet on the stove-top, so they’re always warm. And the recipe makes quite a lot of them, so they continue to replenish themselves throughout the night. This becomes more and more important the later it gets and the more dark porter you drink. I know this to be true.

Sam pre-cuts the biscuits before the party and lays them in a pan with wax paper separating each layer. An hour or so into the party, he heats up a skillet and starts cooking the biscuits, setting them out on a big plate for folks to grab. The raisins get all warm and soft, the nutmeg becomes fragrant, and the outsides gets brown while the inside stays delightfully soft.  We eat them right out of the skillet but you could certainly have them with just a little butter or your favorite jam, too.

Many people ask about the name. Casselberry is a town outside of Orlando, Florida where Sam and his family lived when he was a boy. His mom, Nancy Tanasy, made these biscuits often and Sam remembers helping in the evenings with Sydney Poitier movies on in the background. I thank them both for bringing them into my life. And I know I have friends in a few different states who are saying the same thing right about now.

 

Casselberry Biscuits

Casselberry Biscuits

  • Yield: 40-50 biscuits
  • Prep time: 20 mins
  • Cook time: 25 mins
  • Inactive time: 1 hr
  • Total time: 1 hr 45 mins

Because this recipe makes quite a few, I offer you some advice: first, don’t underestimate how many people will eat. They will eat many. Second, they’re easily freezable and you can keep them pre-cut in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and pull them out whenever a craving strikes. Sam has made these with currants instead of raisins and even added a little citrus zest. These are a forgiving biscuit. Sam laughed as he watched me make them because I was being quite precise with the flour measurements. These aren’t a moody dessert. Don’t fuss over them. Don’t stress over them. They’ll turn out just fine.

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup raisins

Instructions

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg and milk, and mix until combined. The mixture will seem chunky at this point, but don’t worry it will smooth out once you add the dry ingredients.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, excluding the raisins.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.  At the very end, add the raisins and stir just long enough to incorporate them into the dough. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for one hour.  After chilling, roll the dough out about 1/2 inch thick on a well-floured board.  Cut into shapes with a sharp cookie cutter.

Lightly brown the biscuits on a hot, greased griddle or skillet, about 30 seconds-1 minute per side.  Serve warm.

Comments

  1. olga

    megan - these look so good! sounds like you had an amazing housewarming.. btw, i'm in town the 2nd weekend in april for my bachelorette weekend. would you like to join us for a brunch or lunch?
    would be amazing to meet you in person!

    1. megang

      Hi Olga!
      Yes, yes, yes I'd love to get together and meet you in person, too. Let's chat closer to the date and figure out a good spot to meet up. Hopefully it'll be warming up a touch by then (fingers crossed)

  2. Ssam

    You're welcome, world.

    (Thanks, Mom.)

  3. olga

    If you have a good brunch spot to recommend, please do so! I trust you fully!

    1. megang

      I'll start thinking on it, Olga!

  4. kickpleat

    Oooh, these sound very similar to the welsh cakes that I absolutely LOVE. They're also cooked on a skillet and they're one of my most popular recipes. I'll have to try this version (though I think some orange zest in these would be pretty sweet). Congrats on the housewarming and feeling at home!

    1. megang

      Ohh, Welsh cakes. On your blog, J?

  5. tracy

    thank you thank you thank you!
    THANK YOU!

    not only for the lovely party (underline the word lovely 5 times) but OMG SAM!!! You let Megan share your recipe. I'm pretty sure these babies saved me from a hangover the next day. Could not get enough!

    Go team Sam & Megan. Much love to you two! xo

    1. megang

      Thanks, Tracy! Yes, I think they saved me from a hangover, too. I might've set a personal consumption record that night (of biscuits, not booze). xoxx

  6. Evi

    I love how people are so different in their cooking! I'm a planner as well, while my Sam (same name!) is just like your Sam. =)

    Can't wait to make these, they sound delicious!

  7. Janet

    Can you please have another housewarming party this weekend? A House Keeping-Warm Party? I want all of these things.

    Thanks for sharing, Sam! You da man.

  8. Molly

    It sounds like your cheese "gaffe" and these biscuits have something in common: There is no such thing as too much cheese as there is no such thing as too many of these biscuits.

    Love the sound of a warm biscuit off the heated cast-iron pan. Heck, it sounds like that's why those skillets were invented.

  9. Katie

    Congrats on the new home! It looks so cute.

    I'm like you: I can't imagine not planning *everything* out for a party...that way, I feel like I can relax, mostly, when guests arrive. I also clean *every* inch of my place--even the tub, which turned out to be a good thing when a friend showed up to a dinner party fresh from a hike and needed to shower.

    Ok, so I'm intrigued. What is a "gypsy life"?

    1. megang

      Hi Katie! Yep, I'm a cleaner, too! Gypsy life in the sense that they moved around A LOT growing up. When I asked Sam about the town in Florida, it turned out he'd lived in many little towns in Florida...

  10. Suzanne Perazzini

    I loved reading about the story of your housewarming party and your house looks gorgeous. I hope we get to see a few sneak views of the inside.

  11. Stacy

    I am so much like you when planning a party (and also most other times...). Sam, however, sounds much like my fellow. Nice how that works out. ( : Congratulations on your new, warm home, and thanks for the scrumptious-looking recipe!

  12. Jessica

    Congrats on the beautiful house and thanks for the recipe!

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Jessica. Judging from the recipes on your beautiful blog, I think you'd like them quite a bit. Have a great almost-weekend, ~m

  13. brandi

    love the shot of the house - it has such charm! and the color is gorgeous.

    i've never seen a biscuit recipe like this, but i'll definitely be making them soon. biscuits are a big deal in our family - it's nice to have new variations.

  14. Kasey

    Have I told you that your house looks positively adorable, Megan? I feel like this is the life you're meant for! And, do I even need to mention how perfect your environment looks for writing? Love that Sam's sharing some recipes. We made a riff on that mushroom/fennel salad we had at your house that one time and are totally obsessed. The man can cook!

    1. megang

      Oh, thank you Kasey! It is a great writing environment, true. I've gotten lots of good work done here, already. Janet was just here visiting and asked all about the adjustment and it's been pretty minimal ... a sign, as you mention, that it's all working out just fine. And yes, wasn't that fennel/mushroom salad awesome? Would love to replicate, but of course, Sam just wings it and doesn't have a recipe. xox to you and M.

  15. Hope Johnson

    At the risk of sounding like a big dork, I've been waiting for your house-warming! I'll make these infamous casselberrys instead of my normal pikelets next time.

    1. megang

      Oh thanks so much, Hope! Very curious about these pikelets you speak of, but think you'll like the casselberry's, too. Happy Sunday to you!

  16. ileana

    Sounds like a lovely party, and that's a cool blue color for your home. Thanks for the recipe - I've never seen biscuits like these!

  17. Sarah

    Happy housewarming! Making a home---no matter gypsy-life-style, or in a real bricks-and-mortar place of your own----is such a pleasure, and I bet you're amazing at it.

  18. Danielle

    Visiting that adorable house is on my list of must-dos for 2012. xoxo

  19. Sunshine

    My two year old daughter, who does not generally eat dessert, saw me reading this post and said, "mommy, I thisa one". MANY times. So, we are going to try these together as she likes to cook with me :-). Thank you!

    1. megang

      Hi, Sunshine. Hooray! Great. Happy New Year, and I hope you enjoy them. ~Megan

  20. Megan M

    I stumbled upon this recipe rather late. But was just wondering, when you say that they are freezable, do you mean before or after you cook them?

    1. megang

      Hi, Megan. Sorry for the late response! Either, actually. But generally we freeze them before they're baked and bake them off from frozen. Enjoy!

Join the Discussion

Spring Desserts

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing. 

Read More
Cherry and Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake

Cherry and Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake

Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.

Read More
For Now, For Summer

For Now, For Summer

We walked to the library last week and I had a strange realization standing in line watching Sam check out his usual massive stack of books: Will I ever have the time to read stacks of books again? I used to be much more of a reader than I am today -- a fact I'm not at all proud of. But when evening rolls around and the more formal workday ends, I find emails and other odds and ends creep in. Walking home from the library, I began obsessing over free time for reading, asking Sam if we'd ever be those two old people who study bird manuals and can recognize birds on walks. I want to have the time to read bird manuals someday. For now though, we're young and we're working a lot. We did sneak away on that one-night camping trip I told you about, and cooked some interesting, haphazard meals which I hope to share with you soon. For now though, for summer: a strawberry dessert recipe.

Read More
Good and Simple

Good and Simple

Much like friends, types of Sunday mornings, or books -- there are many different kinds of desserts. Sometimes you may be in the mood for a light French cake piled high with summer fruit. Other days, a thick slice of fragrant pound cake will do. And then there are those days when you crave a rich chocolate mousse that you share after a night of good conversation and a little too much wine. But let's be honest. When it comes right down to it, the most basic and unassuming dessert of all is sometimes the only one that will do. A good and simple affair. Vanilla ice cream. So I want to talk about that today--about a dessert that withstands the test of time, that will always be there for you. A dessert that is far from trendy, that doesn't play favorites or  trick you into thinking it's something that it's not. It's a good foundation. A solid beginning.

Read More
Visions of Greatness or Something Like It

Visions of Greatness or Something Like It

[ Pie. if you've been around here much in the last few months, you know that I make pie. A lot of pie. And I'm particularly excited to share this pie with you today because it helped me break out of a rut. A pie rut. A baking rut. A Marge inspiration rut.

Read More