It just so happened that I celebrated my birthday when I visited Nice this last April (pictures to come this week). Clearly, I’ve never had it so good. I didn’t make myself a cake, I didn’t plan my own party. I just had to choose the restaurant, which is actually kind of a big deal if you are on vacation with your friends. I mean, if the biggest thing you have to worry about is which fabulous restaurant to pick among hundreds, I’d say you’re doing pretty well, but it’s still a lot of pressure, trying to make everyone happy and all that. But I didn’t worry too much. It was my birthday.
Anyway, we went to this place called Terre de Truffes (Earth of Truffles, I think) that was totally dead (it was a Wednesday night). After debating outside for a few minutes, we decided to chance it and walked in. And we were glad.
I’ll just say this. After a full thirty minutes of poring over the menu and exclaiming over the food and gasping repeatedly at the bountiful subtler-than-garlic-but-better-than-garlic-if-you-can-believe-that offerings (things like fresh sea scallops with shaved truffles, truffle saffron reduction and truffled romano potatoes and truffled caramel baba au rhum), we finally decided. And really, there was no way we could have gone wrong. I had never had truffles before, and it is likely that I will never have such a truffle experience ever again. Especially considering the bill for three…but it was totally worth it.
So imagine my surprise when I got home. My mother had bough a whole bottle of truffle oil without even knowing my newfound truffle love! Needless to say, I was very pleased and even more pleased when I found this truffle biscuit recipe.
These biscuits are easy to prepare and turn out very flaky. Make sure your biscuit dough is cold, and you’re golden. Add some accompanying flavors and you have a whole meal deal. Plus the experience of a truffle lifetime. I’m sure you could make them with regular olive oil too, but really, just get some truffle oil. It will change you for the better.
Truffled Parmesan Biscuits with Ham, Asparagus and Pesto
Adapted from aspicyperspective
For the biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to sprinkle on top
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
¾ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon shaved truffle (or 1 teaspoon truffle oil)
⅓ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter, or egg wash
For the rest of it:
1 cup pesto, fresh or jarred (I used a dehydrated sundried tomato pesto)
12 slices ham, proscuitto, or whatever else you have around
4 or 5 asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces
Heat oven to 450ºF with the rack in the center.
Using a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and shortening, then pulse until it resembles course chopped nuts. Add the buttermilk, truffles and Parmesan, then pulse again until it forms moist clumps.
Dump the wet dough onto a well floured surface. Flour your hands and press the dough into an even rectangle, 1 1/4 inch high. Use a 2-inch cutter to cut the biscuits. Gather the scraps, press and cut again; you should have 12 biscuits all together. (Try to cut as many in the first round as possible. The second batch will be slightly tougher.)
Using the melted butter or egg wash, brush the top of each biscuits and place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Lightly sprinkle them with sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes.
While the biscuits are baking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or truffle oil) in a frying pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, chuck in the asparagus and season with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until the spears have turned bright green and are slightly tender. They should not be super soft.
While the biscuits are warm, crack them open and smear them with pesto. Then layer a piece of prosciutto and three asparagus chunks on each biscuit and place the top back on.