I met Mary Martha Greene on the Lowcountry Weekly porch during Water Festival several years ago. Mary showed up just in time for the opening night fireworks display with a tin of cheese biscuits in her hands. It was a very large tin, loaded with the lightest, most delightful cheesy morsels I have ever tasted. And, she was willing to share the recipe! We immediately became fast friends. Over the years, I don’t remember one single lunch date or party with Mary when I didn’t return home with a baggie or bundle of her yummy cheese biscuits. As it turns out, our Mary has more than one delicious recipe in her repertoire and she’s sharing them in her very first book, The Cheese Biscuit Queen Tells All.Mary has written a food memoire with stories about her family, southern recipes and sweet remembrances. Of course, her famous cheese biscuits are the star of her book. I do hope you’ll be able to join Mary on Thursday, May 6 from 7 until 9 p.m. at the USCB Performing Arts Center for the launch party of The Cheese Biscuit Queen Tells All.Mary will be in conversation with Terry Sweeney for a short interview before her first book signing. Champagne and cheese biscuits will be served. The event is free and open to the public. Mary’s book retails for $24.95 plus tax and is available at all of our local bookstores as well and many downtown shops. You can preorder your copy at www.thecheesebiscuitqueentellsall.comand books will be available for sale at the launch party on May 6. I’m looking forward to purchasing my very own signed copy. Congratulations, Mary Martha!(Photo by Karen M. Peluso Fine Art Photography)
Aunt Mimi’s Famous Cheese Biscuits
Makes 10 to 12 dozen
4 sticks Land O’ Lakes margarine, at room temperature (see notes)
4 cups (1 pound) freshly grated Kraft extra-sharp Cheddar (see notes)
4½ cups all-purpose flour (see notes)
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Set aside 3 ungreased baking sheets. Let the margarine and cheese come to room temperature, about 1 hour. (You can also warm both in the microwave for 20 seconds on high—you want them to soften, not melt.) Using a stand mixer on medium-high speed, cream the margarine. Place half the cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until it forms a ball or cream it by hand. Add the ball of cheese to the margarine and blend until the mixture is fully combined and creamy. Repeat with the other half of the cheese. Cream together the margarine and cheese until the mixture is smooth, has a light orange color, and resembles fluffy buttercream frosting. Add the ground cayenne pepper and the paprika, if using. As the mixer continues to run on medium speed, gradually add the flour (see notes), ½ cup at a time, to the cheese mixture. After you have added 4½ cups of the sifted flour, return any additional flour to the bag for the next batch. Place the Rice Krispies in a strainer with medium tolarge holes, if you have one, and shake any small pieces and sugar out of them. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the Rice Krispies to the mixture, 1 cup at a time. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons or balls from a #70 scoop onto the baking sheets. Press down lightly on the balls, making them about ¼-inch thick. Bake until lightly golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. (Mimi would bake for 10 minutes and then switch the baking sheets between the top and bottom racks so that they would brown evenly on the top and the bottom.) Remove from the oven. If you have a partial sheet of biscuits, they will not require as much baking time, so adjust as necessary, probably around 15 to 16 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, transfer the biscuits to paper towels spread on a clean countertop to absorb the grease. Set aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
As soon as they have cooled, serve or transfer the biscuits to airtight containers so they do not reabsorb any grease. Biscuits will keep in a tin on the counter for up to a week or can be frozen in the airtight containers for up to two months. Mimi used to reheat them for a few minutes on a baking sheet in a warm oven to “freshen” them up, and then act like she’d just baked them when anyone dropped by to visit. NOTES: Use Land O’Lakes and Kraft brands for best results. While Mimi always used margarine in her cheese biscuits, I now use 2 sticks of butter and 2 sticks of margarine. I find that using butter only makes them too greasy and not light and fluffy, like Aunt Mimi’s biscuits. It also makes them spread out too much. Do not use pre-grated cheese; it contains a wax coating that will ruin the consistency of the biscuits. Using a large, slotted spoon, fluff the flour in the bag before measuring it out. Sift it and then remeasure the flour.