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Black Pepper and Brie Biscuits

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 1/3 tablespoons ( 1/3 cup) shortening or unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 ounces brie, rind removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add shortening and cut it into the dry ingredients, using 2 knives, a pastry blender or your hands. Work the shortening in well, until is reduced to pea-sized pieces. Add the buttermilk and mix briefly, just to incorporate it. It is important not to overwork the dough or the biscuits will not be delicate and light. Gently mix in the brie and black pepper. The dough will be fairly sticky.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease with 1 teaspoon of the melted butter. Place the dough on a floured surface and pat with your hands to about 3/4-inch thick. Cut biscuits using a 2-inch-round glass or cookie cutter. Dip cutter into flour between cuts. Re-roll scraps for more biscuits. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Serve warm.

Variation: Substitute 3/4 cup Asiago for the brie and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil for the black pepper. Makes 12 to 16 2-inch biscuits.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

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