When I married my husband, a sweet Southern boy from North Carolina, I had the privilege of getting to know his parents as well. Both were raised on North Carolina tobacco farms, and neither had left the Tarheel State for any length of time. My mother-in-law has the (well-deserved) reputation at church for being a wonderful home cook: as one family friend described it to me, she “sets a fine table.” Naturally, I just knew she’d make good, old-fashioned, Southern biscuits, and my mouth watered at the prospect of being let in on the secret family recipes. So, on one visit to their home, I asked my mother-in-law, ever so meekly, if she wouldn’t mind sharing the recipe for the delicious biscuits that graced the breakfast table. She had a glint in her eye as she stood up from the table and said, “Well, sure!” I think I said something like, “Well, you don’t have to show me right now,” when she opened the freezer and took out a bag of Pillsbury frozen biscuits. Yes, the kind in the blue bag with the dough boy on the front. The kind that can be whipped out at any time, in individual servings. Apparently, after years of cooking for her family, my mother-in-law was taking a well-deserved break from the kitchen, and my father-in-law used to tease my husband that the only time she ever cooked was when he came home.
Now, the Pillsbury biscuits are just fine, of course, but these Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits (Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, p. 228) had a little more going for them. They’re listed in the cookbook as a breakfast item, but we ate them alongside the Roasted Potato Leek Soup, and they turned out to be just right alongside that for dinner.