Cheddar and Chive Bread

Cheese and Chive Bread 2

Prior to the big feasts in a week or so, it is a very much a soup time of year.  Nothing like a bowl of soup, cosy and warming to keep the chill out.  What I really like is something special to go with it to make a proper lunch rather than a simple token something to eat.  As I ever, I want a feast.  Earlier this year I shared the recipe for some cheese scones which were fabulous with my quick pea soup.  This bread is along similar lines but a little more versatile and could well be your star guest over Christmas.  Not only is it perfect with soup or any starters, but a warm loaf of this presented alongside cold turkey or ham will turn leftovers into something properly special.

I made this with the last of my Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar which you may have seen feature in a couple of recipes recently – a knockout steak, cheese and sweet onion relish toastie and butternut stuffed with leeks and cheese.  In both cases this super tangy, full flavoured cheddar was king which, considering Barbers have been making this cheese since 1833 is unsurprising.  To get to the point, they  have really got the hang of it and their cheese is fantastic.

I make this bread with my regular white loaf recipe and if you omit the cheese and chives that is exactly what you will have, a good everyday loaf should you need one.  If you have some blue cheese hanging around over Christmas then use this instead for your bread with some chopped rosemary in place of the chives – it is a sensational combination.

Cheddar and Chive Bread

I usually use this amount to make two loaves, one cheddar and chive and the other gorgonzola and rosemary.  The 125g cheese is enough for one loaf, simply double that and the chives if you are making both loaves cheddar and chive. You could of course leave the second loaf plain and have it for breakfast.

500g strong white bread flour

10g fine salt

10g dry instant yeast

50g soft butter

300ml luke warm water

125g strong cheddar, cut into small cubes (this is enough for one of your loaves)

Small bunch of chives, finely chopped (this is enough for one of your loaves)

Mix the flour, salt, yeast, butter and water into a dough and knead for 10 minutes either by hand or with a stand mixer.   Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise somewhere warm for at least an hour or until doubled in size.  Split the dough in two and roll each out into a rough A4 rectangle, scatter over the cheese and chives and roll up into a log shape squidging the cheese into the dough as you go.  If you are leaving one of the loaves plain just form it into whatever shape loaf you like.  Place these onto a lined and floured tin, cover with a tea towel and leave for a further hour.  Preheat the oven to 200.  Slash the top of the loaves a couple of times if you like and then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, some of the cheese may leak out but that is part of the charm and those bits will be delicious for whomever gets to them first….

Cheese and Chive Bread

 

Pea Soup with Cheese and Chive Scones

Pea Soup and Cheese Scones

I love a bit of thrift, nothing more satisfying than using up bits and pieces that might otherwise find their way into the bin.   So it was with my pea soup here.  We had a baked ham for supper and whilst there wasn’t enough to make another supper for four there was a small chunk left plus the water I cooked it in.  I always intend to use this liquor for some useful purpose but must confess it often sits in the pan on the back of the hob until it has to be thrown away.  Today I was determined however and with the addition of a bag of frozen peas and a couple of spring onions sautéed in butter it has made a delicious soup, just the warming ticket for a breezy day.   You could add a swirl of cream, something I rarely turn down with soup, but here I’ve used a few little bits of the leftover ham.

Wanting to jazz this frugal lunch up a bit, but not wanting to go shopping I decided to make some scones.  There is always flour and cheese around and I happened to have bought some buttermilk the other day to make a cake with.  I split my usual scone recipe between cheese and chive to go with the soup and the other half sweet, sugar topped ones to greet the children with when they get back from school this afternoon.  The left over cheese scones will be filled with the last of the ham for their packed lunches tomorrow.  I hope this doesn’t sound hideously smug but – hurrah, everything used up and stretched further than I had anticipated.  Good stuff.

Pea Soup

This is barely a recipe however,  I sautéed two chopped spring onions in a teaspoonful of butter until soft then added a 400g bag of frozen peas.  I added a litre of the leftover ham poaching liquor and heated until the peas were just cooked.  Whizzed with a hand held blender until smooth and served with some chopped ham.

Buttermilk Scones

I often have a carton of buttermilk in the fridge, it has a great shelf life and works a treat in many bakes or, of course, soda bread (Seedy Soda Bread, April 2013).  The recipe that follows is my usual (sweet) scone one.  As mentioned I split the recipe and added 60g of grated strong cheddar and a small bunch of chopped chives to one half.  To the other I added 40g golden caster sugar.  Both I brushed with milk before baking and sprinkled a little more sugar over the sweet ones.

450g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

100g cold butter

85g caster sugar

1 carton buttermilk ( they are either 284 or 250ml, if the latter you may need an extra splash of milk)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Sift the flour and salt together and rub the butter into it until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Then add the sugar and buttermilk and mix together until it just holds as a dough but don’t handle it more than you have to.  Form into a round and pat or roll out until about one inch thick.  Cut out and put onto a floured baking sheet, brush with milk if you want and scatter over a little extra sugar.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen.

 

 

Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt

Cheese Biscuits

I remember dinner parties when I was a child – those were the days of going the whole hog – long dresses, velvet jackets, hair up and that 1970’s phenomenon – a selection of puddings.  Now, what was that all about?  If it wasn’t enough that you would wade through a starter and main course, there would always be cheese served with biscuits, grapes, a jar of celery and whatever else but then a choice of puddings.  Perhaps oranges in caramel, a lemon soufflé – the chilled kind rather than oven baked – chocolate roulade or profiteroles.  Always three, always cold.

So different from how we entertain now.  When we have friends for supper, I might make a big stew, pie or paella which can be served at the table (no hostess trolley) with perhaps a salad to follow.  Then depending on our mood, the weather and many other vagaries, cheese (sometimes served with the salad) or a pud.  Rarely both as I am incapable of leaving one or other alone if presented with them both and will then feel like a beached whale at the end of supper.  What I would do with three puddings I don’t know….well I do.  I don’t often serve a starter but prefer to offer something with drinks beforehand.  I can’t quite bring myself to call these canapés as I am not dextrous enough to create those little masterpieces you see in smart restaurants.  No, spiced cherries in bacon, a little onion tart or these cheese biscuits with rosemary salt.

Can there be anything more fantastically savoury and moreish to have with a cocktail than a little cheese biscuit?  That tang and crunch just go perfectly.  These ones are crisp with a good bite from strong cheese and a kick from the cayenne.  Despite the feisty flavour my children adore them.  Make a load to stash away in your freezer ready to whip out when entertaining over Christmas.

As you can see from the photograph I served these with a Negroni and I thought they went together perfectly but naturally the choice of drink is up to you.  Admittedly, one of the friends I gave a Negroni to made a face like I’d give her soapy water to drink and gave me the glass straight back.  You can’t please everyone…..but at least she loved the cheese biscuits!

Cheese Biscuits 2

Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt

100g soft butter

100g self raising flour

100g strong cheese, grated (I use 50/50 parmesan and vintage cheddar)

A pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180.  Whizz the flour and butter together, add the cheese and cayenne. Mix to a dough and form into a roll, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up a little as this will make the cutting easier.  Cut into thin slices and put onto a parchment lined baking tray.  Pound the rosemary in a mortar with a pinch of sea salt and sprinkle a little of this onto each biscuit.  Cook for 13-15 minutes until golden on top.  Cool on a wire rack where they will crisp up.  Makes about 25.