CHEF VIRGINIA WILLIS' LIGHTENED-UP PIMENTO CHEESE
as seen in "Lighten Up, Y'all"
Makes about 2 cups to serve 16
4 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly grated (about 1 cup)
4 oz. light Cheddar cheese, freshly grated (about 1 cup)
1 sweet onion, grated
1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. chopped pimientos, drained
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Japanese or English cucumbers, for accompaniment
To make the pimento cheese, combine the cheeses, onion, mayonnaise, and yogurt in a bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the pimientos and hot sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cut the cucumbers into 1-inch-thick rounds, discarding the ends, but leaving the skin on.
Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop the seeds and some of the flesh out of each round (be careful not to go all the way through) to form a small cup.
To serve, fill each cup with about 1 teaspoon of the pimiento cheese. Serve immediately.
Serving Note: It is traditionally served cradled in the curve of a celery stick. You can also employ bite-
size cucumber cups, cored cherry tomatoes, or even slices of radish.
CHEF VIRGINIA WILLIS' BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Makes about 9 biscuits
2 c. White Lily or other Southern all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine sea salt
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
¾ to 1 c. buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 500°F.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk, and gently mix until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat 8 or so times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.)
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out ½” thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 2¼” round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked.
Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet or in an 8” x 2” round cake pan. If the biscuits are baked close together the sides will be moist. If the biscuits are baked further apart, the sides will be crisp.
Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool just slightly. Serve warm.
Reprinted with Permission from VirginiaWillis.com