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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Gruyère, we salute you!
Because we are classy dames, my mother and I have been speaking more French lately. We've been calling each other mon frère for years, and now the odd bon jour and bonne nuit have begun to pop up in our daily phone conversations. But our favorite French word by far is Gruyère. (Can you blame us? I challenge you to think of a word that is more fun to say.) Recently, it's taken the place of a greeting:

Mom (answering phone): Hello?

I also have another reason to love this fine cheese. The ten pounds I gained during the summer of 2004 can, I believe, be solely attributed to the Little Rae's Bakery Gruyère and thyme scones sold at City Grind Espresso in the lobby of City Hall. They're cheesy but not greasy, thymey but not overpowering, and are sprinkled with rock salt and coarsely ground black pepper. They are perfect when microwaved for exactly twenty seconds (a tip from the City Grind guys). I don't know who Little Rae is, but she makes a fine scone.

I've been contemplating an attempt to make my own version of the Gruyère and thyme scone, and this weekend's visit to Katie seemed like the perfect opportunity. We adapted a drop biscuit recipe from Cook 1.0 (by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks) to great success. It was one of those "Wow, did this really come out of my kitchen?" moments. And while we didn't quite replicate the scones of days gone by, I feel confident that I could gain at least ten pounds in biscuits this fall.

Basic drop biscuits with Gruyère and thyme
adapted from Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen by Heidi Swanson
(This recipe makes 18 big biscuits.)
You will need:
4 cups flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (yes, that's two sticks) chilled butter, cut into small chunks
2 cups milk
1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, finely grated
1 or 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

The cool thing about Cook 1.0 is that it gives you a basic recipe and then a bunch of suggestions for adapting it to your tastes. You could make the basic drop biscuits by following the recipe and leaving out the cheese and thyme. Anyway, we used the proportions for the Parmesan and basil biscuits in the book, and it worked quite well. Since we were using dried and not fresh thyme, though, we did reduce the amount of herbs called for. You could easily make these with fresh thyme or another herb; the book calls for half a cup.

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl (you will probably want to use the largest mixing bowl you have). Add the butter and cut with a pastry cutter (or a combination of two knives, a knife and a fork, and a wire whisk, all of which we attempted. It's pretty torturous without a pastry cutter) until the mixture is the consistency of "tiny, sandy pebbles." (The book also suggests using 25 pulses in the food processor, which would be way faster.)

To this mixture, add the milk, cheese, and thyme and stir until ingredients are just combined. The mixture will be very thick and difficult to stir. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown on top.

Now: take a bite, and everyone say "Gruyère!"

posted by shan at 8:03 PM;


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