Have you planted fresh herbs yet? With Memorial Day weekend just behind us, you still have plenty of time to get going. Every time I snip some mint, rosemary or thyme from the little plants on windowsill, and I feel so satisfied with myself for saving cash on the packaged herbs I'd otherwise be buying from the grocery store.
With the nearly constant warmth and sunshine in Florida, I keep herbs all year round. Some are easier to grow than others, and believe me, I do the bare minimum to keep the poor plants going. Rosemary is the stalwart--nothing could bring that little guy down. My mint, even when I thought I'd taken all it had to give, managed to regenerate anew over several weeks and is now filled out with fresh leaves. I had thyme that grew tangled strands for months, but then was overtaken by miniscule flying pests and quickly capitulated. I've tried basil a couple times, but can't figure out how to stop the icky white bugs that glom onto the lush leaves.
One of the most recent additions to my herb garden are chives. One day, I figured it would be a better value to buy a whole plant for $4 rather than a little pack (of which I'd use a fraction for one or two recipes) for $3. The chives multiplied a few times over and seem so far invulnerable to pests (how these critters get up and into my fifth floor apartment is utterly baffling). Before I bought my plant, I didn't realize all the potential uses I'd find for chives: they add oniony flavor with no aftertaste to omelets, soups, dips and grilled food.
Like many herbs, chives are also a great match for goat cheese. Ever since I made this sweet potato version, Dorie Greenspan's recipe in her book, Baking, has been my go-t0 prototype for biscuits. It's totally uncomplicated, not overburdened with fat, and produces tall, flaky, irresistible results. Other herbs would work here too. Maybe rosemary, thyme, mint or a combination. I want to try a Feta version soon, as well. Although a new twist on this beet soup using carrots and golden beets inspired the biscuits, you could just as easily eat them with a summer salad. If you're contemplating your first herb garden, Ari of Baking and Books recently wrote a fantastic post on how to get started even if you don't have a yard--check it out!
Chive & Goat Cheese Biscuits
Adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
I used 2 ounces of goat cheese, but I think the recipe could support up to 3 ounces if you're especially crazy about it.
Makes 8 to 9 biscuits
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and a few grinds of black pepper together in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat it with flour. Using your fingertips (my preference) or a pastry blender, pinch and toss the butter and flour until you have a rough, sandy mixture with some pea-size lumps of butter, some ragged flakes and a variety of odd-shaped bits. Do not over work the butter.
Add the buttermilk and toss gently with a fork until most of the flour is moistened. Add the goat cheese and chives and continue tossing to distribute the cheese and chives. Knead dough inside the bowl 3 or 4 times so that you have a fairly uniform consistency and no dry bits of flour remain. Use a light hand and work the dough as little as possible. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle lightly with more flour. Flatten dough with your hand and roll it out into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Flour a 2 to 2-1/4 inch biscuit cutter and stamp out as many biscuits as you can, pushing firmly into the dough and flouring the biscuit cutter each time. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet. Quickly re-roll the dough scraps and make more biscuits until you've used it all up.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown on the bottom. Serve right away with butter.