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Top Pick Of The Week

March 11, 2008

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Ham Biscuits

Callie’s Charleston Biscuits stuffed with country ham. It’s love at first bite...but, don’t call us fickle if we say the same about each of the flavors.

WHAT IT IS: Southern-style biscuits in four varieties—Buttermilk, Cheese, Cinnamon and Country Ham.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Each biscuit is handmade, from the finest ingredients.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Where can you get biscuits like these? At no restaurant or bakery in our town, that’s for sure!
WHERE TO BUY IT: CalliesBiscuits.com.
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Callie’s Charleston Biscuits:
Southern Comfort Food

CAPSULE REPORT: Hear the word “biscuit” and what do you think? If you’re British, it’s a cookie, and logically so: the word comes from the Latin bis coctum, twice cooked, that also gives us that delightful cookie, the biscotti. But  in America, biscuits are soft quickbreads* the size of rolls, browned and beckoning from the bread basket. Biscuits, particularly buttermilk biscuits and and cheese biscuits, are very popular in Southern cuisine. Serve them as a side dish (chicken and biscuits) or as breakfast bread with butter or gravy (in the South, gravy trumps jam on biscuits, and biscuits covered in country gravy can be the main course). Or, pile them into a bread basket. Just the thought of a biscuit conjures up as big a smile as a hot fudge sundae.

*A quickbread doesn’t need yeast to rise.

Even in the land of good biscuit makers, the biscuits of Callie White, a Charleston, South Carolina caterer (she catered Reese Witherspoon’s and Ryan Phillippe’s wedding reception), were in such demand that she had no choice but to make them available to fans nationwide. Now, you don’t have to dream of a trip to Dixie’s finest biscuit emporiums to get your fill of buttermilk, cheese, cinnamon and country ham biscuits. Callie’s biscuits arrive on your doorstep frozen. You can enjoy them at Easter dinner (or breakfast), or on any day of the year. Just take them out of the freezer whenever the biscuit muse demands, and in 20 to 30 minutes you’ll be in biscuit heaven. Read more about why these biscuits are so good—and see photos of the other biscuits—in the full review below.

     
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Make Your Own Great Southern Food

Bon Appetit Y'All Southern Cooking - Craig Claiborne The Gift Of Southern Cooking - Edna Lewis
Bon Appetit, Y’All: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking, by Virginia Willis. The author, who has cooked for the White House, Aretha Franklin and Jane Fonda, uses her French culinary school training to make “refined” Southern cuisine. Click here for more information or to purchase.
Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking, by Craig Claiborne. The New York Times food writer, a graduate of École Hôtelière in Switzerland and a Mississippi native, takes on Southern regional cooking, from Soul food, Creole, Cajun and Tex-Mex to barbecue. Click here for more information or to purchase.
The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks, by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Recipes and anecdotes from Lewis, a Virginian and the grande dame of Southern cooking, and her admirer, an Alabama restaurateur. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Callie’s Charleston Biscuits: Southern Comfort Food

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

Introduction

When you’re a caterer  with customers who constantly beg for your recipe, of course you can’t hand it over. But, you do the next best thing: You enable them to buy it by mail order, whenever they want, so wherever they are, they need never be without. That’s how Charleston caterer Callie White branched out into the biscuit business. Biscuit making is still an artisan business, though, just like catering; each biscuit is made by hand if you want to make the best.

Biscuits - Tray
A tray of hand-shaped cheese biscuits. Biscuits are
mixed and baked in small batches.

Fortunately, daughter Carrie Bailey-Morey partnered with her mother to launch Callie’s Charleston Biscuits in 2005. One bite and you’ll know why they received rave reviews from markets across the Southeast, as well as from the Charleston locals who were beseeching Callie for the recipe. Now, they can order to their heart’s delight, give corporate gifts, send gifts to friends, even enroll them in the Biscuit Of The Month Club.

Callie points out that a true Southern biscuit is a far cry from what most Americans are used to, given the supersized biscuits doled out at fast food restaurants. A Southern biscuit is about two bites.

Callie says that the trick is to use the best ingredients and “not mess with them too much.” What makes Callie’s Biscuits different is that absolutely no machinery is used except an oven—no electric mixers or other blending equipment. “Everything is done by hand,” says Callie, “and it is of the utmost importance that you don't overwork the dough. When you use machinery, you loose some of the fluff and heft that is needed for a fabulous biscuit.”

In fact, hand-mixing (akin to kneading) is a skill. The biscuit maker “feels the dough” and knows when to stop. You will taste the difference!

Biscuit Varieties

The basic buttermilk biscuit recipe includes self-rising white lily flour (of utmost importance- says Callie), whole buttermilk, butter and Callie’s signature cream cheese. More ingredients are added to create the other varieties.

Buttermilk Biscuits
These “everyday” biscuits are still fancy enough for special occasions. Leftover biscuits can be toasted and enjoyed with butter and yes, jam. We toasted our leftovers and enjoyed them with goat cheese.

Cheese Biscuits
Made from top-quality sharp Cheddar cheese and dotted with fresh chives, these biscuits are simply delish—we could make a meal of them. The chives make a huge and marvelous difference: If you make your own cheese biscuits, be sure to add them next time.

Cinnamon Biscuits
And for dessert, we’d have the Cinnamon Biscuits. Other folks might just enjoy them for breakfast or brunch. It’s a cinnamon roll made into a biscuit, layered with brown sugar, butter, and of course, lots of cinnamon. The effect is a donut without the yeast and the fryer fat: fresh, clean and redolent of cinnamon/sugar fragrance and aroma.

Cheese Biscuits
Heavenly cheese biscuits, packed with snipped chives.

Country Ham Biscuits
This is the biscuit that started it all, with customers clamoring for the recipe. Ham biscuits are big business in the South. The biscuits are sliced horizontally, spread with butter, jelly or mustard, and filled with pieces of country ham (a dry-cured ham, rubbed with salt and other seasonings, then lightly smoked). Callie’s finely chops an artisanal Virginia country ham, making it easier to bite; spreads the biscuits with Dijon mustard butter. Country ham is a wee bit on the salty side if you’re used to bland, boiled ham—but not overly so. We loved these biscuits—sometimes we ate them as is, sometimes we added a tad more Dijon mustard, sometimes some pepper jelly.

Serving Suggestions

Cinnamon Biscuits
Cinnamon biscuits, as fragrant and delicious as pastry.
They may look big in the photo, but they’re just two
bites apiece.

Breakfast Or Brunch

  • Any flavor—or a mixture

Lunch And Dinner

  • With soup and salad courses
  • In the bread basket
  • As mini-sandwiches
    (Country Ham is already a mini-sandwich; you can slice and fill Buttermilk and Cheese.)

Snacks And Tea Time

  • With butter or jam (as appropriate)
  • As mini-sandwiches

 

Biscuit Package
With gel packs, your biscuits will arrive frozen.

Shipping

Callie’s Biscuits are delivered in insulated shippers with gel packs, via FedEx 2nd Day Air. They arrive on your doorstep fully cooked, frozen and ready to be heated and eaten immediately, or placed in the freezer for the appropriate moment. A customized gift card can be included. Orders are shipped on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It can get busy during the holiday weeks, and this is a small family operation making biscuits by hand, so plan ahead.

Thanks to modern shipping, fine Southern biscuits are just a click away—if you live in the farthest reaches of the North, or just a few counties away in South Carolina. We’re headed to the kitchen right now, to bake up a mixed basket (one of each flavor) for breakfast.

— Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves biscuits (is there anyone who doesn’t?).

CALLIE’s cHARLESTON BISCUITS
Buttermilk, Cheese, Cinnamon & Country Ham Biscuits

  • 2 Dozen Biscuits
    Serves 8 To 10
    $33.90 To $45.90
    Depending On Flavor
  • Four Dozen Biscuits
    Serves 16 To 20
    $67.80 to $91.80
    Depending On Flavor
  • Other Quantities Available
  • Variety Packs Are Available:
    Ham & Cheese, Cheese & Buttermilk,
    Cinnamon & Buttermilk, etc.
  • Biscuit Of The Month Club
    3 Months, $197.55
    6 Months, $395.10

Purchase online* at
CalliesBiscuits.com

Or telephone 1.843.577.1198,
Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Eastern Time.

Callie's Biscuits
Order everything—you’ll love them!

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party with whom we have no relationship. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.



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