Sunday, June 17, 2018

Welcome Guest Nora Page & Pimento Cheese Biscuits #bookgiveaway

LESLIE: Always a delight to welcome a new guest to the Kitchen, especially one with a new series! Today's guest, Nora Page, writes the Bookmobile Mysteries, set in Catalpa Springs, Georgia. And she takes her biscuits as seriously as her protagonist, librarian Cleo Watkins, takes a due date.

I have such fond memories of my childhood bookmobile that I'd read this for the nostalgia alone -- but I suspect the humor and the food would keep me coming back!

She is also the author of the Santa Fe Cafe Mysteries, written as Ann Myers. 

One luck reader will win a signed hardcover of Better Off Read. Leave a comment below for a chance to win! 

Pimento-Cheese Biscuits by Nora Page

Many thanks to Leslie and the Mystery Lovers Kitchen crew for inviting me to guest post! I love recipes and include one in each of my mysteries, so this was a fun post to think about (and to 
taste test).

The Bookmobile Mysteries star septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins. Cleo has a lot on her plate in the first book, Better Off Read. A toppled tree takes her main library out of circulation, and the mayor threatens to shelve the damaged building permanently. Then a patron is killed, and Cleo steps in to help catalog clues.

Cleo’s busy, but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying some good southern food. She’s a skilled cook and a master of biscuits. I, however, have long searched for the perfect biscuit recipe. My mother makes raised biscuits with yeast. They’re fabulous, don’t get me wrong! I also have a go-to drop-biscuit recipe. They’re easy and good, but not “the one.”

The pimento-cheese biscuits I’m sharing today have the elements I crave. They rise high and pull apart in buttery layers. That’s a key: a good helping of butter. I acknowledge this after years of searching for the unicorn that is the health-food biscuit.

Cleo would argue these biscuits do qualify as a healthy treat. Pimento is a vegetable… She’d slather on extra butter or pimento cheese or smother them in sausage gravy.  

Do you have a recipe quest? Any favorite food you wish you could perfect at home or already have? I’d love to hear about it!  

Nora will choose one lucky reader to win for a signed hardcover of Better Off Read(US addresses only.) Leave a comment below for a chance -- the winner will be chosen on Wednesday, June 20.)

Pimento-Cheese Biscuits

Makes about a dozen small biscuits, using a 2½ inch round biscuit cutter.

Biscuit tips: Keep everything cold. If your kitchen is warm, stash ingredients and even mixing bowls in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon paprika or mild red-chile powder (optional)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced into ¼ inch cubes, plus 1½ tablespoon melted butter
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup pimento, drained and diced  
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese


Preheat your oven to 425°F with a rack positioned in the middle.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cold butter cubes and work them in using a pastry cutter or, better yet, your fingers. You’re aiming for a mostly sandy texture but also leave some pea-sized buttery lumps and flakes, which will help make layers. Reserve the cheese for a later folding step.

Get your fingers floury. Work the butter in by hand.

Make a well in your dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and pimentos and gently mix and knead until you have a shaggy dough. As in all stages, try not to overwork the dough. Turn it onto a floured counter and roll into an approximately 12-inch square.

Now to the folding, which also makes layers. Fold the lower third of the square to the middle, like folding a business letter.

Fold the dough like a letter.

Next, fold the upper third up the middle too. You’ll have a rectangle. Fold this the same way: up from the bottom (of the long end) and down from the top, creating a stubby square with layers.

The folded square. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.

Reroll the dough out to another 12-inch square. Sprinkle on the cheese and lightly press it into the dough. Repeat the folding steps above (make a letter, then a square). Roll out to another 12-inch square.  

Don’t forget the cheese (as I have done, although those were good biscuits too).

You’re ready to cut! Before you do, some tips on preserving your layers: Use a sharp biscuit cutter or knife. The rim of a glass or a dull cutter could squish the sides and stop your layers from rising. Cut straight down and up. Don’t turn and twist the cutter. If you have scraps, gently gather them together and knead, roll, and cut. For fewer scraps, cut your biscuits into squares.

Transfer your biscuits to a parchment-lined or oil-sprayed baking sheet, spaced about an inch apart. Brush with the melted butter.

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for a few minutes if you can stand to wait and then serve.

 Take time to breathe in the cheesy, buttery aroma.

Nora Page enjoys rainy weather, the perfect biscuit, and quiet evenings in with her husband and cat. You can often find her in the company of books. Stop by and visit at her website . You can follow Nora on Facebook or Instagram 

As Ann Myers, she is also the author of the Santa Fe Cafe Mysteries. 

Better Off Read is available for order from your favorite local bookstore or online at Amazon