Easy Cheese and Herb Scones

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“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

A friend came over for dinner last night. Or rather, I should say that a friend dropped by our little farmhouse at dinner time.

These aren’t the sort of occasions where I dress up, set the table, arrange flowers and choose suitable music.

Feeding friends at meal time is an extension of whatever Ben and I were planning to eat for dinner – padded out to fill the bowls or plates of however many people join us.

Last night it was just one extra mouth. I already had a big pot of homemade chicken and vegetable soup on the stove, but no bread for toast! Instead, I whipped up a batch of cheese and herb scones, which we ate hot from the oven with lashings of butter.

I love this savoury scone recipe. It’s so quick and tasty. Serve it with soup, stews or as an accompaniment to salads. It also works well for morning or afternoon tea, or with a cheese board.

Here’s the basic recipe:

Ingredients:  2 cups self raising flour sifted (self-rising for my USA friends or for each cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1/2 cup of cream, 1/2 cup of soda water or carbonated mineral water, 1 cup of grated cheddar or other strong cheese (add an extra 1/2 cup if you are a cheese freak), finely grated zest of one lemon, 1/2 to 1 cup of loosely packed fresh herbs – choose from one or several of parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, basil, dill, spring onions, salt and pepper.

Hint: You can also jazz your scones up with a little garlic, paprika, chilli, sundried tomatoes or olives. Just make sure you drain any additions well so that your scones don’t get soggy.

You could also make plain cheese scones by omitting the herbs and lemon zest.

Method: preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius if fan forced, or 220 degrees celcius if not.  You want a hot oven so the scones get a good rise.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. When I use basil I tear the leaves with my hands rather than cutting with a knife. This avoids bruising and blackening the leaves, and I always think it makes the flavour better.

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Chop all other herbs. My combination was what was in my garden – some lemon thyme, basil, parsley, spring onion and garlic chives.

Grate your cheese.

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Add cheese, lemon zest and herbs to your bowl of sifted flour, then measure in your cream and soda water. Grind in some salt and pepper. Mix lightly with a metal spoon to combine.

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Tip onto a floured board and pat out with your hands to about 4cm thick.

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Cut into squares with a floured knife and place on tray leaving room for spreading (I line my tray with baking paper). I also patted my scones into a slightly more rounded shape this time around as I placed them on the tray.

Sprinkle with a little cheese if desired.

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Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Time will vary depending on size of scones and oven temperature. Scones will sound hollow when you tap them if they are cooked through. The sides of the scones will also be dry with no stickiness, except perhaps some melty cheese!

Serve hot or cold. (Confession: We ate the first few with butter and vegemite before the soup was ready!) Enjoy 🙂

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Easy Lemonade Scone Recipe – for when friends drop by!

I call this recipe my ‘Hurry-Up Scones’.  I have much fancier recipes that call for delicate hands, careful measuring and so forth.  But I don’t have time for that today.  The phone has rung, friends are on their way, and my cake tin is woefully empty.  Hurry-Up Scones to the rescue!

Here’s the basic recipe:

Ingredients:  2 cups self raising flour, sifted, 1/4 cup of castor sugar (optional), 1/2 cup of cream, 1/2 cup of lemonade.

Method: preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius if fan forced, or 220 degrees celcius if not.  You want a hot oven so the scones get a good rise.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, add wet ingredients and mix lightly with a metal spoon to combine. Tip onto a floured board and pat out with your hands to about 4cm thick.  Cut into squares with a floured knife and place on tray leaving room for spreading (I line my tray with baking paper), or form into a round on tray and slice into wedges with a floured knife.

For individual scones, bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.  For the round, leave for  20 minutes, but drop oven temperature to 180 degrees after the first ten minutes.

Variations: 

Sweet – add a handful of sultanas and a dash of cinnamon or grated lemon rind, or a handful of chopped seeded dates softened in a tablespoon of hot water.

Savoury – substitute soda water for lemonade. Add a handful of grated cheese and some fresh dill or parsley (see picture below), or a handful of crumbled fetta, chopped sundried tomatoes and a little fresh basil.

These are great in lunchboxes, and travel well. I usually make a double batch, because they never seem to last long around here. (I say that a lot, don’t I…)

Today I made one batch of sultana scones, and one of cheese and herbs. We feasted after a walk around the wet farm in our boots. A hot cup of French Earl Grey tea and some scones in our belly, good conversation and shared laughter and we were ready for the rest of the day!