Purple Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits


Words and photos by Amber Breitenberg, special to EdibleDC

I'm from Norfolk, Virginia, where, though we sometimes forget it, our roots run deeply Southern. I grew up quite familiar with the sweet potato biscuit, a classic southern side that goes perfectly with a thick slab of Virginia ham. This time of year sweet potatoes are quite ubiquitous in my CSA share and I had been planning to make a batch to go with some maple rashers we were saving from The Rock Barn.

I happened to end up with a couple purple sweet potatoes and thought how cool it would be to make the classic sweet potato biscuit with a purple hue. I never would have guessed how vibrant and beautiful they would turn out, and obviously delicious. I love simple recipes that will make your guests say "that must have been so hard to make!" and then of course I get to explain that in fact it was quite easy--even bettter-- most of the ingredients came from our local farmers.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use a Gluten Free substitute like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup baked sweet potato
  • 3 Tbs honey


Preheat over to 400°F. Poke holes into sweet potato using a fork. Place sweet potato on baking sheet covered in aluminum foil in center of oven. Bake for 1 hour or until a fork can be easily inserted into the center of the sweet potato. Once cooked, scoop out the insides of the sweet potato and discard the skin. Place in refrigerator to chill.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Place in refrigerator to chill.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add the sweet potato and continue whisking (I prefer to use a hand mixer or you can throw everything into a food processor to make sure everything is well mixed)

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently until moist (you may need to add one or two additional tsp of buttermilk if the dough seems too dry).


Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour.

Fold the dough in half twice and reroll to about 3/4 inch thickness. Cut dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter. Combine edges and reroll dough until all of the dough has been used.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Place dough rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until you can see the dough beginning to flake.

Remove biscuits and let cool for several minutes before eating.

*These are best served right out of the oven and in my opinion do not store very well. So when you make them plan to have friends over to enjoy them with you or be prepared to bring a few to your neighbors.

Amber Breitenberg-Finished-0024
Amber Breitenberg-Finished-0024

Amber Breitenberg is a food and lifestyle photographer living in Washington, DC. Through her blog, A Little Terroir, she shares the stories of our local farmers and producers and offers some lessons she has learned along the way about living and eating with a sense of place. @alittleterroir

A Calming Tonic for a Busy New Year

Hannah Hudson Photography

Hannah Hudson Photography

By Susan Able. Photographs by Hannah Hudson.   

When Rano Singh welcomes you into Pansaari, her Indian spice store and grocery located on buzzy 17th Street's restaurant row, you know you have arrived someplace special.

Rano Singh, Pansaari

Rano Singh, Pansaari

The walls are covered with tiles imported from her native India, lined with long shelves of the freshest spices. Behind an inlaid marble bar, amazingly fragrant chai tea, South Indian coffee and her own kombuchas are served, as well as Indian food. A committed locavore, Singh buys her lemongrass and mint from a local farm, and the honey is from a beekeeper in Washington, D.C.

Pansaari feels more like the living room of a friend with very comfortable Indian furniture. It’s a place to linger in conversation and soak in the smell of fresh spice.

Singh explains that in India a “pansaari” is the spice grocery. The first consult for ailments is to the pansaari for spice-based remedies. Tonics, such as fennel water, are commonly used. On a cold winter night, Singh offered up a glass of 100 Jor Bagh, a calming tonic with a recipe unique to her family in Jaipur, India. Based in Ayurvedic nutrition, Singh considers this a balancing drink for digestion—all the various ingredients, which are steeped into a tea, have healthy and unique medicinal properties.

“I just feel better after I drink it,” explained Singh, who has a glass after her daily yoga. “It balances me.”

A Tonic Recipie:  100 Jor Bagh

Recipe by Rano Singh.  Makes 2 gallons.

A glass of 100 jor bagh. hannah hudson photography

A glass of 100 jor bagh. hannah hudson photography

This calming tonic is as tasty as it is soothing. It is important to add the ingredients in the proper sequence to preserve the essential elements. It makes 2 gallons, which will last up to a month if refrigerated.

  • 2 gallons spring water
  • 2 cups fennel seeds (if you have a choice, choose the largest ones)
  • 12 stalks lemon grass, washed and chopped—root, leaves and all
  • ½ cup cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 6 bunches mint
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4–6 lemons

Take a large pot, add the 2 gallons of spring water and bring it to just under a boil. Add the fennel seeds and chopped lemon grass. Bring to a full boil for 3 minutes and turn off the heat. Add the crushed cardamom and cinnamon and let it steep for an hour.

Bring the pot to a boil again and add the mint bunches; cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the mixture steep for 6–8 hours.

Strain the solids out. To the liquid, add the honey and stir it well until it dissolves. Add the juice of 4-6 lemons, to your taste. Drink chilled from the refrigerator or slightly warmed as a tea, but no ice. It dilutes the mixture and is frowned upon in Ayurvedic tradition.

Pansaari is located on the lower level of 1603 17th St NW, Washington, DC. www.pansaari.com

Make a Spicy Kale Pie for National Kale Day

Kale PieRecipe by Chef Brad Walker, Boundary Road and photography by Kate Headley. From our Winter/Holiday Issue 2014.

Spicy Kale Pie

Serves 8

5 pounds uncooked kale, remove the leaves from tough stems

12 dried chile peppers

4–5 cloves garlic, shaved

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup, shredded Parmesan cheese

Sauté chile peppers and garlic until aromatic in 3 tablespoons olive oil, then add kale and season with salt and pepper. Allow kale to cook down to desired tenderness, then turn off the heat and add lemon juice. Squeeze excess liquid from kale until it is quite dry. (Pro tips for this: Many people use a clean old dish towel that they've dedicated to squeezing greens like kale, spinach or collards--because, well, it will be green. Others use lots of paper towels to wring it dry. You can also use a potato ricer if you have one, which acts like a big press to drain the kale dry.)

Prepare a crust for a double pie. Use your favorite pie crust recipe and prepare dough for a 2-crust 9-inch pie. Line a 9-inch pie pan with one rolled-out piecrust and blind bake or pre-bake the crust according to your recipe until it is golden brown, lining the pie with pie weights if you have them or use rice or beans to weight the crust down.

Layer Parmesan and kale in the pre-baked crust. Roll out the top layer of crust and place over pie, crimping the edges; cut a few vents, then brush with beaten egg and bake for 40 minutes at 350°F.

Brad carving goose 2

Chef Brad Walker, the chef/owner of Boundary Road prepared a holiday meal for friends in last year's Edible DC Winter/Holiday Issue. Boundary Road offers a seasonal menu from from Chef Walker whose pedigree includes Central, Proof, Cashion's Eat Place and Fiola. Boundary Road, 414 H St NE, Washington, DC, www.boundaryrd.com

Based in DC, Kate Headley is a nationally recognized photographer and was named a ‘Top Photographer’ by Martha Stewart Weddings. Kate is known for her attention to detail and editorially driven imagery and has shot two covers for Edible DC. www.kateheadley.com