I first met Dave at Food Obstructions where I was blown away by his risotto ball dish – I still think about them! He has a really inventive style of cooking using seasonal ingredients and you can find more about it at Dave’s Kitchen. I’m happy to have him on The Spice Route. Get ready to learn a lot you didn’t know about black pepper and get a really delicious recipe too!
Where do you live? Brooklyn, NY
What do you love to do? Cook and write about it (on daveskitchen.com).
What’s your spice? Black Pepper
But black pepper’s role as a supporting player, as the picker-upper and rounder-outer of every dish in the cookbook, shouldn’t let you think that it lacks flavor or depth of its own. It is a berry, after all (well, technically, a “drupe”), and a good-quality black peppercorn has a complex fruitiness of its own. It holds up well as a featured flavor and can take a starring role in dishes like black pepper ice cream or like the black pepper and fresh herb biscuits for which I’ve listed a recipe here.
What else? Like every Midwestern kid, I grew up thinking of pepper as the stuff in the shaker, next to the salt on the kitchen table. It was a real awakening the first time I used freshly ground black pepper instead of the grey sawdust poured from a McCormick’s tin. Such aroma! Real heat! Actual flavor! It opened a small window into a larger universe of food and flavors, much bigger than the convenient, pre-packaged world of the suburban supermarkets I grew up with.
What’s your favorite vegetarian recipe using it? Black Pepper and Herb Biscuits
Makes 10 to 12 biscuits
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ tsp salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as fennel, parsley, chives, tarragon, or a mix of several of these
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry knife, two table knives or a food processor, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the largest chunks are the size of small peas.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, gently stir the herbs and pepper into the buttermilk. Continue stirring, until the flour and liquid are evenly combined and a loose, crumbly dough is formed. Pour onto a lightly floured board. Using your hands and a bench knife, gently knead until it holds together as a single ball of dough. Be careful not to over-knead, or knead too vigorously, so that your biscuits won’t be tough.
Pat or roll the dough to a ½ inch thickness. Cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter. Gently pat together and recut scraps until all dough has been used. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until tops are browned and bottoms sound hollow when tapped. Serve hot, slathered with butter and honey.