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When I heard that #LetsLunch ‘s May theme would be cross-cultural culinary creations, I  beamed with delight, knowing exactly where to look. My dear friend Sandra Gutierrez’s excellent and powerful new cookbook compares and contrasts Southern and Latin American cuisines. With her deep roots in North Carolina as well as in Latin America, and her body of work as a food writer, editor, and cooking teacher, she brings insight, knowledge, and fantastically-good recipes to her book, The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. I love these biscuits with Sandra’s plush, gorgeous avocado butter, which has a burst of oregano and sparkles with fresh lime juice. Since ‘too much’ doesn’t apply when considering options for enjoying treats like this one, I set out a little chunky tomato salsa for color, contrast and delightfulness. (Sandra’s book offers her recipe for pico de gallo, a fine go-to fresh tomato relish perfect for the up-coming tomato season. For a brunch spread, I plan to cut this dough into smaller two-bite biscuits and fill each one with either country ham or pimento cheese, making a snazzy little meat/meatless hand-held item. I found the poblano chili pepper as well as the ancho chili powder in my local Food Lion supermarket, and loved the color and sizzle it added to these biscuits. When I was posting the photo of this excellent book’s cover, I realized that what you see here is the beautiful Sandra in her North Carolina kitchen, cutting out a batch of these very biscuits! You’ll love the photo of this recipe in her book, and I love knowing that Sandra styled and photographed all the recipes. It’s a fascinating read, a cultural and culinary resource, and an abundance of marvellous which illuminate what Latin cuisine is, what its key ingredients are and how to use them, and how to cook great food. Sandra’s reputation as a fantastic cooking teacher is well deserved, and her voice transfers beautifully to the pages of this book. For #Let’sLunch and for cooking pleasures at the intersection of Southern sensibilities and vibrant Latin American flavors, spend some time with Sandra Gutierrez at The New Southern-Latino Table.

Sandra Gutierrez’s Chile-Cheese Biscuits with Avocado Butter

From The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South.  Copyright © 2011 by Sandra A. Gutierrez. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

“Moist and light, these new-Southern morsels deliver just the right combination of spice and comforting goodness. Self-rising flour is made from Southern soft wheat flour to which baking powder and salt have been added; it has less protein and gluten than all-purpose flour. The addition of just a little bit of fat and liquid yields fluffy, tender biscuits. Poblano chiles add a mild heat. Queso seco is a Mexican dry-aged cheese that tastes similar to Parmesan; you can find it in most grocery stores. I learned to make biscuits from my Southern friends, who taught me to handle the dough with respect and loving hands. Serve these mildly spiced biscuits with this creamy avocado spread that melts in the mouth.

For the biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup grated queso seco (use Parmesan cheese in a bind)
  • 1 teaspoon ancho (or pasilla) chile powder
  • ¼ cup chilled lard, bacon fat, or shortening
  • 1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 1–1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

For the avocado butter

  • 2 Hass avocados
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch dried Mexican oregano (optional)

Preheat the oven to 475°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cheese, and chile powder. Using a pastry blender (or two knives), cut the lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse sand. Stir in the chiles. Gradually add the buttermilk, mixing the dough with a wooden spoon or your hands just until it holds together (you may not need all of the buttermilk). Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently a couple of times. Pat it into an 8-inch circle (about ½ inch thick). Using a well-floured 2 ⅛-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 12 biscuits (you’ll need to gather up the dough and pat it down again lightly after the first biscuits are cut to get all 12). Place the biscuits, with sides touching, in a 10-inch springform or cake pan. With your knuckle, make a small indentation in the center of each biscuit; brush the tops of the biscuits with the cream. Bake for 18–22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

To make the avocado butter:

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a medium bowl and mash into a smooth paste. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper, and oregano (if using) and stir until combined.

Serve the hot biscuits with avocado butter.

Makes 12 biscuits and 1 ½ cups avocado butter”

For more #LetsLunch festivities, check out these posts from my brilliant blogging buddies:

Cheryl’s Goan Pork Curry Tacos on A Tiger in the Kitchen

Lisa’s Jewish-Chinese Brisket on Monday Morning Cooking Club

Lucy’s Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango on A Cook and Her Books

Emma‘s Kimchi Bulgogi Nachos at Dreaming of Pots And Pans

Grace‘s Taiwanese Fried Chicken at HapaMama

Jill‘s Southern Pimento-Stuffed Knishes at Eating My Words

Joe‘s Grilled KimCheese Sandwich at Joe Yonan

Linda‘s Project Runway Pelau: Rice & Beans Trinidad-Style at Spicebox Travels

Lisa‘s Sunday Night Jewish-Chinese Brisket at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Rashda‘s Mango Cobbler at Hot Curries & Cold Beer

Renee‘s Asian-Spiced Quick Pickles at My Kitchen And I

Steff‘s Chicken Fried Steak at The Kitchen Trials

Vivian‘s Funky Fusion Linguini at Vivian Pei

 ….and check back for more additions: It’s not even nearly LUNCH-time yet…

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
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  3. Belinda Smith-Sullivan Reply

    You don’t have to be southern or Latino to want to gobble this right up. Yum!!

  4. cookingwithcc Reply

    These look great! I got the book while we were in NY, but haven’t had a chance to experiment out of it yet….now I guess I’ll have to! Thanks Nancie!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Glad to be of service in nudging toward this book. You will not be mad at me. And good timing; farmer’s markets and produce stands and picnic season: Sandra’s food suits summer spectacularly. (I will now deactivate my alliteration program; left it on all night…

  5. Ellise Pierce (@cowgirlchef) Reply

    Chile, cheese, biscuits, avocado, butter. My top five. Seriously. How can this not be the best thing in the world???

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Why thank you, oh inspiration-of-the-entire-May #LetsLunch thang! I am eager to see your book, and I am thrilled that you stopped by and are a fellow traveller on the Avocado-Butter Trail.

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  9. Jill Warren Lucas Reply

    Sandra’s whole book is an adventure in delicious fusion cuising, but this one really is a winner!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Right you are, Jill! This recipe introduced me to ancho chili powder, and now I’m seeing ways to use in all sorts of dishes.

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  13. Vivian Reply

    I’m definitely going to dip into my bacon fat reserve for this recipe, yum! And thanks for introducing us to this book, sounds lovely and look forward to trying out other recipes from it.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      I love that you have a bacon fat reserve. Growing up, nobody in my North Carolina universe didn’t have a (metal) crisco can or small pyrex bowl of bacon fat right next to the stove. I didn’t know about cherishing and making good use of chicken fat until I moved up to New York City in my late 20’s. You’re my kind of cook, and I think you will love Sandra’s book.

  14. spicebox travels Reply

    Wonderful! The avocado butter might find its way into just about everything I make this summer.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      I’m with you! Gorgeous and luscious at the same time. Next time I will up the ancho chilis. It has a fine fiery note, good for mainstream eaters. But if guests are fiery-food-friendly, these biscuits could set the world on fire, in a good way.

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  16. Lucy@acookandherbooks Reply

    The biscuits and beautiful and the avocado butter sounds divine. Must try! Thank you for sharing this cookbook!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      My pleasure, Lucy. So glad you stopped by, and I think you will greatly enjoy Sandra’s book, both with your eyes and on your table.

  17. Pingback: Sandra Gutierrez’s Chile-Cheese Biscuits « Cookingwithcc's Blog

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Wow! What a sweet shout-out, to both of us. You’re most kind and I am honored. Sandra will be thrilled as well; I’ll pass the word. I just went and “liked” you on Facebook. Your classes sound excellent; keep up the fine work, sharing your love and knowledge of food, glorious food.

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