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Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Food has been a struggle for me the last couple months. After discovering that my body cannot process dairy during the completion of my month long vegan challenge back in June, it has not been easy for me to go dairy-free. Perhaps it seems a little counter-intuitive, but going vegan for a month was much easier than trying to be dairy-free for the last two months. In part, I think this may be because my month long vegan challenge was a personal choice and becoming dairy-free was a decision my body made for me.

Food and I have been at odds since, fighting the dance of siblings as we bicker over what I should put on my plate.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

I do fairly well when I eat alone in the confines of my apartment, cooking up meals for one in a place where I can control the amount of dairy in the refrigerator and cupboards. The real struggle begins the moment I step out of my safe haven. Restaurants have become the enemy; an unwanted challenge as I sift my way through what I can eat and what I can't eat on the menu, feeling little more than an irritation as I ask the waitress pointed questions and make half a dozen omissions and substitutions from the list of entrees.

I struggle with food because it puts my family in an awkward position as they try to make meals around my new disorder. My mother creates the most wonderful food—the vast majority of it made with dairy in one form or another—and I'm conflicted over asking her to leave it off the menu or keeping it on, since I don't want to deny anyone else the pleasures of her cooking. I struggle with food when my boyfriend casually suggests making macaroni and cheese for dinner, forgetting for a moment that I can't eat it, and making us both feel bad about the comment for different reasons—him, for making me remember my love for macaroni, and me, for refusing him a beloved food.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

I struggle with food because so many of my favorite foods are now forbidden. Just because I cannot eat milk, cream, or cheese, doesn't mean I stopped enjoying them. I have cravings for fettuccine Alfredo and rich chocolate ice cream that refuse to disappear, no matter how much I will them away.

I struggle with food because I still want to share new and exciting desserts that are infused with cream and butter because, let's face it, cream and butter never stopped being delicious. In my own kitchen, I'll sometimes substitute margarine or alternative milks for recipes, but there are still occasions when I'll refuse to make pie without a buttery, flaky crust. I'm continuing to juggle this new world of food, trying my best to create recipes that work for me and you.

This journey has a long, long way to go, but I'm trying. Perhaps a little more time is all I really need.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits are packed with flavor. A basic biscuit dough is infused with freshly chopped basil leaves, caramelized leeks, and coarsely ground black pepper. While baking, the biscuits rise, becoming buttery and flaky. These biscuits make a wonderful side for a bowl of soup or casserole, but can stand alone for moments when a biscuit spread with a little butter is all you really need. For tips on creating mile-high biscuits, check this out!

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Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Yields 10-12 biscuits

1 medium leek, finely sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 57 grams) cold butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, lightly packed
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (78 ml) milk

In a small frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the finely sliced leeks, sauteing until the leeks are golden in color and caramelized. Remove from pan and allow leeks to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles a coarse sand. Mix in the fresh minced basil and cooled leeks. Gradually pour in the heavy cream and milk, mixing until just combined.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and bring together until it forms a ball. If you need to knead the dough to bring it together, do so but no more than 10-12 times. Flatten the dough ball into roughly a 1-inch thick square (or rectangle) and, using a knife dipped in flour, cut the dough into evenly sized squares. Place biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are lightly browned.

Serve warm, with a pat of butter if desired.

Reader Comments (18)

These sound absolutely delicious. Would be excellent for sandwiches...
I don't have nearly the intolerance you describe, but I have some sensitivity to dairy. One of my favorite products is coconut yogurt, which I have used in baking as well as have for breakfast. Best of luck, and these biscuits look divine.

09.3.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
These sound awesome! Yum!
Hi !!
Yummy... do you think they can be frozen ?
09.3.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
Laura-- Yes, they can be frozen! Make the dough and cut it into biscuits. Then place the biscuits on a baking sheet and place into the freezer until frozen. Remove from the freezer, place the biscuits into an air-tight bag/container, and freeze until you are ready to bake them. Thaw the dough before slipping the biscuits into the oven.
09.3.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
When I was in my twenties, I started having major problems with dairy products. If I had them at all, I felt awful - stomach aches (and all that goes with THAT, ugh). All the signs pointed to lactose intolerance. Like you, I sadly wrenched myself away from cheese, milk, ice cream etc. It was hard but I definitely felt better. After a few years, I took a trip to Great Britain where I tried dairy again because when faced with blood pudding or eggs, toast and milk for breakfast, the latter just sounded better - even if it hurt my stomach.

Imagine my surprise to discover - I didn't get sick! When I returned to the States, I switched to organic dairy only - and raw when possible. I don't drink milk every day or overindulge but I can now use dairy without any ill effects. It's like a miracle.

It's wise to take a break (two weeks- a month) to clear out your system. Sometimes our body rebels when we overload with something it doesn't need and dairy can definitely have an inflammatory affect on our bodies. Then, introduce one new thing at a time, like raw cheese or milk or maybe even ghee. Venture into goat and sheep cheese. Goat milk is also far more digestible than cow.

Just offering a little hope to a fellow dairy lover... :)
09.3.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonna
I was lactose intolerant during my childhood days. As a teenager my body did not have a problem with milk (or lactose) at all. But since about a year I started noticing my body has difficulties with lactose products again, and I know I feel better and have more energy when I don't eat lactose at all. But it's so damn difficult, and I just don't want to give up on some of my favorite foods. But there's a whole world out there with dairy-free alternatives, and in the end it is definitely worth it. It's just not easy to addapt, and frustrating at some times. You can but whatever you want, but when you want to eat out, like you said, it makes every thing so complicated. So I suppose I know how you feel (in a way), and I just want to tell you you and the people around you will get used to it. There are plenty of delicious things out there you cán eat, so let's try to focus on those things instead of dreaming about what you can't (definitley easier said than done though). I wish you the best of luck with trying to understand your body and learning to cook in a new way. Give it some time, experience in the kitchen and I really hope you will get used to it soon!
09.3.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrederike
As I was reading this I could only think of a few dairy items that can be easily switch out. The main ones were milk and butter. Everyone knows there are a ton of milk substitutes out there, but then I started to wonder what would you substitute for butter. And then you mentioned cream, cheese, and ice cream. Then I suddenly felt awful. :( What do you usually replace with butter and cream? When you crave ice cream what do you do? Sorry if this is being nosey, but curiosity it getting the better of me. I'm not intolerant or allergic to anything, so I don't know how going through stuff like that feels and it's got me curious.

Terrific looking biscuits by the way :)
Becca-- There are a few that can be easily switched out (like margarine for butter), but some ingredients prove tougher. Instead of ice cream, I'll hunt out sorbets (or just drink chocolate almond milk), I'll use coconut milk when a recipe calls for heavy cream (but only with desserts), and I've given up on my hunt for an alternative cheese (which is sad because I love cheese).
09.4.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
I don't know if I am on track but have you tried Indian food? We have a large variety and maybe you can experiment with some dairy free desserts.
Yes it can't substitute for what you like but still..
09.4.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmita
I can't even begin to imagine a life without dairy. It sounds like such a struggle but at the same time, on a more positive note, you must be learning so many new things about how to cook. And these biscuits look delicious and totally dairy free :-)
09.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf
I can totally relate! I became lactose intolerant 2 years ago out of the blue -- dairy was my main food group!!! It was a struggle for me at first too but once you get into a groove it's really not bad at all! i sometimes still feel the way you mentioned about restaurants but am much more confident now than before (aka it's MUCH easier with time!) There are so many substitutions that are REAL and apparently for lactose intolerant you should be able to eat any other milk products besides cow (apparently cow's milk is the only with lactose in it!) and i've recently heard about clarified butter (ghee) which could work for some lactose intolerants!!! i am severely intolerant and was worried to try it for a long time since it affects me so much -- but i'm so glad i did because it opened up a lot more possibilities.

try stuff out -- it will take time but i've found for me that dairy free is worth it. sometimes sad - yes! but worth it. Good luck as you figure this out!
you can do it! : )
09.5.2012 | Unregistered Commenteranne
also - quick note --- i've found Cabot cheese (cow's milk / Cabot is the brand) but made NATURALLY lactose free! tastes delicious! (it is known as a nicer vermont cheese) trader joe's has a great soy mozzarella! it tastes good. TJ's also has lots of goat and sheep milks but for gouda, brie (!!!!), feta and other delicious options. if you find you can have sheep and goat's milk then you'll have plenty of options!

just trying to help! :)
09.5.2012 | Unregistered Commenteranne
I am also milk-free and not by choice. I have spent the last 10years searching out alternatives. The main thing you have to figure out is if you are lactose-intolerant or need to be completely milk-free. This makes a huge difference.

The recipes on my blog are all made milk-free, I just write them with regular ingredients. I have done a lot of looking and substituting and researching. I can give you a hand getting the hang of this milk-free world if you need it. Just shoot me an email.

Don't lose hope! You can still have it all!
09.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy Holtz
I have baked lots of biscuits but not this combinations. Caramelized leeks and basil sounds interesting.
So what did you substitute for the butter cream and milk in this recipe?
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaige
Paige-- In order to make these biscuits dairy-free, I used a dairy-free margarine (Earth Balance brand), used soy creamer for the heavy cream, and soy/almond milk for the milk in exactly the same amounts. I hope you can enjoy these biscuits now too!
02.17.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Hi Just wanted to say I have had dairy issues most of my life. But for me the more fat removed the worse it affected me. I can use
butter and whole fat cheese and one brand of sour cream (Daisy). While whole milk is not an option and until this year every brand of yogurt I had tried was a no go. Even whole milk yogurt. But different yogurts have different bacterial flora. And the bacterial flora in your gut is what has to digest your food. Thanks for the recipes and beautiful photographs.

02.17.2014 | Unregistered Commentergaye

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