When I first had a kitchen of my own I didn't know much about cooking or baking and I certainly didn't know anything about gourmet food. I could make a few basic things of course, but my food education was limited at best. My mom did most of the cooking when I was growing up, but she has always worked full time and is a fairly picky eater so between the two, the dishes she made focused on easy, quick, and basic. It's not that I didn't like a bunch of things, but I had never been exposed to a lot of things. As far as I knew mustard was only bright yellow and in a squeeze bottle and yellow onions were the only variety available. I had never had lamb, olives only came pre-sliced in a can, tomato sauce = pasta sauce, and mild cheddar cheese was pretty much the only kind we ate.
When I was in that first kitchen I had a couple of things going for me: 1. I was willing to try most things, and usually willing to give them a second or third shot -- just to make sure about something I liked or didn't like. 2. my then-husband had a more diverse palate than I did and was interested in cooking - -thus we got a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine.
Flipping through those magazines each month was an education in itself. Just to see all the varieties of food and techniques and flavor combinations was mind boggling. Eventually we started making some of that food and my culinary journey was beginning.
Fast-forward 10 years (holy crap it really has been 10 years) and I have come a long, long way. Chris, my soon-to-be-husband is awesome in the kitchen and just as happy experimenting with a new complex recipe as he is to bake a fish fillet and serve it with rice and seasonings. And of course I have turned into the crazy baking lady.
Now, the reason I am telling this whole story in a post about cheesy biscuits is that the recipe is in my April 2002 Bon Appetit magazine (what, nobody throws those things out do they?) Chris and I were talking about what to have for Valentine's Day dinner and I suggested cheesy biscuits since I have not had them in a long time and I wanted to prove that my cheesy biscuits were far better than anything that Red Lobster could offer. Once I suggested cheesy biscuits Chris found a recipe for clam chowder and our meal was planned.
This recipe was my gold-standard biscuit recipe for years and years. Way before I even knew about biscuit techniques and cold butter and gentle mixing, I was making this recipe and everyone was gobbling it up because you just can't go wrong with 2 packed cups of extra-sharp cheddar cheese in a biscuit. I eventually started making my regular buttermilk biscuits instead of these cheesy biscuits which is why Chris had never experienced the cheesy goodness, but now that I have rediscovered the recipe these biscuits should make another appearance soon.
4 cups unbleached flour
8 tsps baking powder
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces
2 cups, packed grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
Preheat oven to 425. Blend flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor, Add the butter and pulse until it resembles course meal. Pour the mixture into a big mixing bowl and use your hands to work in the cheese. Add the whipping cream and stir with a fork or your fingers until it begins to come together. Then knead briefly to bring it all together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick round. Use a biscuit cutter to get biscuits the size you want (2 inches is good) and bake on ungreased baking sheets for about 15 minutes.