These “secret biscuits” aren’t a secret anymore ”“ but they’re always tasty.

Secret biscuits

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 stick butter, chilled

1⁄4 cup heavy cream

2⁄3 cup skim milk

Dash of sea salt

Combine flour, baking powder and sea salt. Add cold butter and cut it up in the flour mixture with forks or a pastry blender. Crumble butter to pea size or smaller. Add oregano, ketchup, cream and skim milk. Mix until just combined. Make dough quickly into a ball.

Chill for at least 15 minutes. Dough should be rising already and be lighter. You should be able to see this and feel it.

Pinch off a 1- to 2-inch ball of dough, and flatten it to about half an inch. Neaten up the sides and make a little “x” in the middle with a knife. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10 to 12 minutes ”“ until the biscuits puff up and get golden brown around the edges.

Makes about 12 biscuits. Bake them in batches of six, in a preheated, 400-degree oven, putting the dough back into the fridge in-between batches.

Sandwich casserole

1 or 2 cans of soup ”“ cream of mushroom or cream of chicken

2 cups of milk

Sliced bread

Sandwich filling: tuna or chicken salad, sliced meat, sliced sausage

Cheese usually, although you may sub in what you like, maybe sliced tempeh or another meat dotted with butter or drizzled with oil

Heavily grease a large pan, 9-by-13 or larger, and line the bottom with slices of bread. You may cut whole bread into halves if needed around the edges.

Heat the soup and add milk instead of water ”“ the cup in place of water, and add another cup of milk. If you’ve lined a really large pan with bread, you may need two cans of soup.

Lay sandwich fillings on the bottom slice of bread. Then lay the top piece of bread over filling. Mark sandwiches in some way if you are using different fillings for different people.

Lay cheese ”“ or your substitution ”“ on top of the bread on each sandwich. Pour warm or hot soup over the top, carefully, so the cheese remains on top of each sandwich.

Bake at 350 until the sandwiches become puffed up and lightly browned. Cut and eat immediately.

Scalloped Potato Skins

11⁄2 pounds of potatoes

1 or 2 stalks of celery

2 or 3 green onions or shallots

1 to 3 “stalks” of chives

2 cloves of garlic, smushed, peeled and chopped

1 onion

2 cups of grated cheddar cheese

1⁄2 pint of sour cream

1⁄2 pint broth

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3 slices of bacon or more, cooked, cooled and crumbled


Bread crumbs

Bake or boil potatoes. Do not peel them. When the potatoes are soft but still have some body left, slice the potatoes into 1⁄2-to 1-inch thick pieces, and line the bottom of one or two heavily greased pans or cookie sheets with raised sides.

Thinly slice celery, green onions or shallots, chives and onion. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and cook flour in it for two minutes, stirring. Add chicken broth, and stir until sauce has thickened. Let sauce cool to warm and quickly stir in sour cream. Pour sauce over sliced potato skins.

Sprinkle with cheese. Then sprinkle with the sliced vegetables mentioned above, plus garlic and bacon. Dot with butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees, until cheese has melted and bread crumbs are golden brown, usually 20 to 30 minutes.

Eat immediately ”“ but be careful as the potatoes retain heat well.

30-minute Pot Pies

4 pie crusts, homemade or store-bought, top and bottom for 2 pies

4 cups gravy or white sauce, homemade or store-bought (but make sure you like the taste of a store-bought product before adding it to your pie) low sodium if possible

4 carrots, sliced

4 potatoes, sliced and usually peeled

2 small onions, sliced

2 cups celery, sliced

2 cups green peas

4 cups cooked meat, sliced


Before making these pies, find out how much your pie pans will, hold and make sure you are not planning on putting in more than your pans can hold. Your average 8- or 9-inch glass pie pan can hold between 6 and 8 cups, but there are many factors, like how tall the sides of the pan are, and if you are planning on making an intentionally larger pie, like an extra tall apple pie, for instance.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease two pie pans. Put bottom crust in pans.

Make sure sliced vegetables and meat are thin, so they will cook quickly, and that sliced meat and vegetable pieces are mouth-sized. Place ingredients evenly in both pies, so every slice gets some of the ingredients. Pour gravy or white sauce over the top. Dot very lightly with butter. Place top crust on, and flute the edges together with the bottom pie. Cut small holes or vents in the top pie crust.

Bake for 30 minutes ”“ until ingredients are hot and vegetables are cooked and the crust is a light golden brown.

Old-fashioned Reliable

Pie Crust

11⁄2 cup flour

1 stick butter, very cold

1⁄4 cup ice water

Cut up butter into small pieces. Add to flour in a cold bowl. Crumble the butter to pea size or smaller. Stir in ice water. Make the dough into a ball.

Flatten dough into a small disc shape (like a small, but flat, Frisbee), and wrap with plastic wrap or wrap well with parchment paper, so it doesn’t dry out. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes, but for best results, an hour. Make sure that the dough feels really cold, because this helps it be flaky.

Roll out to cover your pie pan size, plus a little extra for the sides ”“ to make a fluted or thumbprint edge.

This recipe makes one pie crust only.

— Mel Baker is an experienced chef, caterer and cafe manager. She resides in York County and has published “The Noisy Oven” since 2006. Email her a [email protected]