Mini Cheddleton & Chive Scones

These little bite-sized scones are made with Cheddleton from the Staffordshire Cheese Company, which is a creamy and quite crumbly cheese with a nice tang. It goes perfectly with the freshly snipped chives that are in these little scones. These are very nice, served warm with proper butter.

Cheese chive scones

Ingredients:
250g of self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1tsp English mustard powder
125g cold butter – cut into small cubes
150g grated Cheddleton Cheese plus extra for topping with
2tbs finely chopped chives
120ml whole/full fat milk
1 egg beaten and a little milk to make an egg wash

Method:
Sieve the flour, baking powder, mustard and salt in a bowl with the paddle attachment fitted. Add the cold, diced butter and mix until the butter is mixed into the flour but still visible.

Add the cheese and milk and mix until just combined.

Form a flattish disc and wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C/425 degrees F

When you are ready to back, turn onto a floured board and roll out to around 2.5cm thick and use a small round cutter – around 2cm.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicon mat and brush the tops with a little egg wash and more of the grated cheese.

cheese and chive scones

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and well risen.

Best served warm from the oven with salted butter and perhaps a glass of wine.

Cheese scone butter

Gougères

These tasty little cheesy puffs are a perfect canapé to serve with drinks.

cheesy gougeres

Choux pastry is so easy to make and less likely to go wrong – like some other types of pastry I could mention!

I suppose some people are put off by having to use a piping bag, but if you buy a supply of disposable piping bags, it makes it so easy. I got mine from Amazon – they come on a big roll and will last for ages. However, you can also use two spoons or a small ice cream scoop if you don’t want to bother with a piping bag.

This is a savoury recipe for cheese choux puffs that are absolutely wonderful on their own, served warm with drinks, but so good when filled with something creamy and delicious.

Gougeres

The gougères themselves are made with a generous amount of good quality cheese and a little cayenne and nutmeg, which I think makes all the difference to the taste.

The gougères can easily be made ahead, frozen and warmed through before you want to serve them.

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
250ml/9floz water
150g Plain/all-purpose flour
160g grated Gruyère cheese, plus extra for the top
110g butter – diced
1tsp salt
¼tsp cayenne pepper
¼tsp grated fresh nutmeg
1 egg plus a little milk to make an egg wash

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200°/400°F and prepare a lined baking sheet

Add the water and butter together in the pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and dump in the four all in one go.

Beat together until fully incorporated and coming away from the sides of the pan.

Empty the mixture into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat for a minute to cool the mixture slightly before adding the eggs.

Add the eggs one at a time, madding sure each one is fully mixed in before adding the next one.

Add the cayenne and nutmeg and then the cheese, mixing until smooth.

Put the dough into a piping bag with a wide tip, or you can just cut the end off the disposable bag.

Pipe little mounds onto the lined baking sheet, using a wet fingertip to smooth away any points. For bite-sized gougères, they should be about the size of a cherry tomato, but you can make any size you like! Leave a gap of around 2 inches between each one to allow them space to puff up and out.

Very lightly brush each one with a little of the egg wash and top with extra cheese that has been finely grated. I use a microplane to grate a little cheese for the top, so it is super fine.

Cheese gougere close up

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until they are golden, well puffed up and light to the touch. They will deflate again if they are not cooked enough and need a few more minutes.

Gougere half

Serve warm from the oven with drinks.

Prawn and Avocado Vol-au-vents

Return of the Prawn vol au vent

prawn plate

The family Christmas party.  My earliest memories are of family Christmas parties – one on Christmas Eve and one on New Year’s day.  This consisted of my parents, maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles taking it in turns to hold the party.  The New Year’s day party sadly got discontinued (something to do with people feeling delicate and not in the mood), but the Christmas Eve one still goes on to this day.

My beloved grandmother who left us several years ago now, was famous, or rather infamous, for her 70s style prawn vol au vents.  Frozen cases filled with defrosted prawns and smothered with a lethal dose of Thousand Island dressing that came out of a bottle. Every year she made them and every year they were left on the buffet table. I used to feel sad for those sad rejects of Christmas.

Long after my grandparents stopped holding the annual parties, I used to wonder why no one ever ate them. She didn’t eat them herself as she suffered from Coeliac disease and couldn’t tolerate gluten.  I decided it was high time to reinvent the prawn vol au vent and make one that people would eat.  What’s not to like – crisp puff pastry, juicy prawns and maybe a bit less of the bottled thousand-island dressing.

When I thought about what to put in the pastry case, my thoughts turned to fresh prawn salads I have enjoyed and I don’t mind a nice 70s prawn cocktail either.  I was thinking dill, lemon and avocado.  These are more summery ingredients, but could still hold their own on a Christmas buffet table I think.

I’ve made my own cases here with store bought puff pastry, but you could easily do this with ready made cases, found in the depths of the freezers in the supermarket.  Another option is to make a larger one would be perfect served as an appetiser or lunch dish served with salad leaves.

Other optional extras could be to add skinned and de-seeded tomatoes, cut into tiny dice, but for my small bite sized ones here, I have kept it simple with prawns and avocados.

prawn closeup

Ingredients:
2 packs of ready rolled, all butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen, but kept fully chilled
450g/15oz cold water prawns/shrimp
2 ripe avocados
Juice of half a lemon
1 egg yolk and a little milk to make an egg wash
6 king prawns with tails left on to adorn the top (optional)

Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 tbs prepared horseradish
Juice and zest of the other half of the lemon
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of hot sauce (Optional)
Small bunch of dill, reserving some for garnish
Paprika (Optional)

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F

Place one sheet of the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and egg wash the top.

Place the other one directly over the top and cut out your pastry cases, they can be round, square, heart shaped, whatever you like.  Then with a slightly smaller cutter, press into the top layer of the pastry, taking care not to cut into the base layer.

Brush the cases with egg wash

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown and leave on a cooling rack to completely cool.

Whisk the dressing ingredients, except for the paprika together in a small bowl.

Scoop the flesh from the avocados and cut into dice, toss with the lemon juice in a bowl. Then add the prawns.

Spoon on enough dressing to moisten, but not swamp the prawns and gently turn to coat.  Fill the cases with the mixture and garnish with sprinkle of paprika and a little dill.  If you are making the larger version and really want to go all out, then top with a king prawn as well and be proud to bring back the prawn vol au vent!

Prawn closeup2