Raised in coastal North Carolina, Grandma Bertie never lost her Southern accent, even though she spent much of her adult life in West Virginia. She never lost her taste for regional delicacies, either, including hush puppies (which I compared to shoe leather) and spoon bread (which I liked better, despite its mushiness).
To remember her for Mother’s Day, I made her recipe for Cheese Biscuits, adapting it for a food processor. I’ll never outgrow my taste for this classic. Her handwritten instructions recommend, “A nut placed in the center of each [biscuit] is attractive.” I suggest serving these warm with strawberry jam if you have it — she would have liked that, too. Happy Mother’s Day to all the grandmothers and mothers out there! One day, I hope your progeny makes your recipes.
Grandma Bertie’s Cheese Biscuits (ca. 1915)
1/4 pound (about 1 cup) cheddar cheese, cut into small pieces
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
About 2 tablespoons milk
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse the cheese and butter together until well mixed.
3. In a bowl, using a fork, mix the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.
4. Add the cheese, butter, and milk to the bowl of flour. Mix until it comes together into a dough, adding more milk if necessary. [You could do this a food processor but it’s a bit harder to control]. Do not over mix.
5. On a countertop or other clean work surface, pat the dough into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or overturned glass (I used a 2 1/2 inch glass) to cut out 8 biscuits.
6. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown on top, about 10 minutes.