Cheesus Christ

cheesyI’ve always, to the dismay and confusion of my sweet-toothed mother, been something of a savoury kid. I’m serious. I’ve eaten salt and vinegar crisps until I have lost all feeling in my lips and tongue. Once, when I was a child, I stole a huge jar of gherkins from the fridge and ate the entire lot while sitting on my swing set. Trust me, unorthodox amount of pickles + swings will result in a phenomenal, earth-shattering heartburn, don’t try it at home. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that surprisingly, from the age of around three, I have in fact had the cravings and habits of your average pregnant woman.

And if you like savoury things, well, cheese is pretty much the God of savoury isn’t it? The Just and Wise Ruler of the Salty Kingdom. And we should worship him in all his many incarnations, soft, crumbly, firm, vintage, blue and… scone-y. So say we all.

These scones are ridiculously easy. If you can stir and operate an oven then you should be pretty much okay. They also taste SO GOOD, super light and cheesy and delicious.

RECIPE:

  • 420g self raising flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp grated black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 50g butter, chilled
  • big bunch of fresh herbs (I used thyme, but most things will work, basil, oregano, chives etc)
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 50g strong cheddar, grated
  • 250ml milk

Preheat your oven to 220’C/200’C fan and line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt, pepper and cayenne and mix it all together. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub it into the flour mix. You use exactly the same motion as you would if you were a gangster ominously motioning someone to pay up, just the other way round. Carry on gangster-ing up your kitchen until there are no mega lumps of butter left.

Add your grated cheese and tear in your herbs. Thyme is my favourite, but you could use pretty much anything. Herbs with bigger leaves will need to be chopped finely or they look kind of swampy. Add the milk and stir it all together. The mixture will be a little bit on the dry side but if it seems excessively floury add a tiny drop more milk.

Put some flour on a work surface and gently knead the dough together. Don’t over do it, just make sure the mixture is holding together.

Pat the dough flat, it should be about 2cm high and then cut it into approx 5cm rounds. You don’t need a cutter for this, use anything, a small cup, a bowl, a wine glass… or even just roughly with a knife. You should get around 10-12 little discs.

Pop them on the baking tray and into the oven for about 12mins. Give them plenty of space above them in the oven because they should rise nicely.

And there you go (almost) instant cheese gratification. Amen.

100_0796These would be really nice with a hot bowl of soup. Or, as the boyfriend informed me, with some “chive creme fraiche”. Because yes, he is the campest straight man on the planet.

cheesus

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When in doubt, blame your friends.

parmesan shortbread

So… I have a slightly embarrassing confession to make today. What I actually wanted to do my next post on was home-made pizza dough. There’s nothing better than home-made pizza. Unless, of course, you have a terrible hangover, are hiding in your duvet fort and crying about your evidently misspent youth. Then, obviously, the convenience of a delivery is preferable. But ONLY then.

Think about it, what’s not to love about DIY pizza? You get to pick your own toppings (however ridiculous, and I am talking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here…) arrange them however you want, make a giant mess and generally indulge your inner child for the day. This was my plan. I had a couple of friends coming over for the evening and thought this might be a good opportunity. If only I had known how misguided I was…

It was all going well until the pizzas came out of the oven. My back must have been turned for about five minutes and then… the unimaginable happened, a complete and utter betrayal.

They ATE them.

No, seriously, they ate them INSTANTLY. There are no photographs, no evidence that these pizzas ever even existed in the first place other than a few crumbs, some lingering food babies and the distant memory of perfection.

At some point, I will have to do Dough 2 (The Rise of Dough) just to prove I am not going all Emperor’s New Clothes on you but for now I have decided to give you parmesan shortbread instead. Mostly because, on a gorgeous, sunny day like this, there is nothing better than wine and when there is wine there is nothing better than cheesy, melt-in-the-mouth yumminess to go with it.

RECIPE:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g parmesan, grated
  • 100g soft, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • fresh thyme (optional)

Word to the wise here – please do not use pre-grated parmesan. Why? It tastes of sawdust.

Mix all the ingredients together, either by hand or in a food processor, until they start to come together in a clumpy mass (technical term). Tip this on to a slightly floured work surface and knead it for about 30 seconds or until the dough is smoother and less crumbly.

Half the mixture and roll each half into a long, sausage-like cylinder. Wrap tightly in cling-film and pop in the fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180’C/160’C (fan assisted). The brief sojourn in the fridge should make the dough much easier to cut into little coin-shapes about 1/2 inch thick. Ladies might like to take this opportunity to relieve their innermost penis-envy. Freud eat your heart out.

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I like to press tiny thyme leaves onto them, more for prettiness than anything else, and then pop them in the oven on a baking sheet lined with baking paper for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes before eating them, if you can wait that long.

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There you have it! Tiny little morsels of yumminess and sophistication. The perfect wine-soaker-uppers. You could almost pretend you are a proper grown-up after making these. Almost.

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