Cheese and Parsley Scones on Midwinters Day

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The shortest day at Fat Weka Farm, Otago Peninsula

I started the shortest day with a walk on the loop track that Peter has created on our land. In 45 minutes to an hour we can now climb up from the valley and take in the stunning views of our Otago Peninsula from many aspects.   I mention the shortest day because it was very close to the longest day when I last posted. I have been a busy person over the summer and autumn with setting up our Fat Weka Farm AirBnB and as co-ordinator of the Wild Dunedin Festival of Nature.  Now it is time to get back on the blogging horse, and do a midwinter post.

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With my Bed and Breakfast and cooking at the local Penguin Cafe I have become an expert scone maker. “Practice makes perfect” is certainly true when it comes to scone making. My Cheese and Parsley scones have proved very popular and are perfect comfort food and great to serve with a soup as a midwinter warmer. The recipe makes 9 large cafe sized scones but at home I can make 12 scones from this mix.

Cheese & Parsley Scones

Preheat oven to 220ºC or 200ºC fan bake – hot oven and they take approx 12 minutes to cook.

Ingredients:

3 cups of Self Raising Flour
½ cup of chopped parsley (large stalks not included)
1 cup of grated or chopped parmesan shavings

1 cup of grated tasty cheddar cheese and extra for topping of scones

½ tsp of salt

60g butter

1 egg

approx 1-1½ cup of milk to mix (at home I use kefir to get an even lighter scone mix)

Method:

Sieve the flour to add air through the flour, add salt, and work the butter into the flour.

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At home I chop the butter into cubes and use the pastry cutter to further cut and press into the flour finishing off with squishing the butter pieces into the flour by hand.

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This is important for adding air into the scones as the butter pieces melt leaving space that creates lightness (as it does for flaky and puff pastry).

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However in the cafe I need to shortcut this process and grate the butter into the mix and then smeer the butter through the flour by hand. You can use a food processor but this can easily make the butter too fine for scones.

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Now add the grated cheeses and chopped parsley.

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Whisk an egg into the milk.  The egg helps to add a richness to the dough and they keep for longer.

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Use a kitchen knife to mix in the milk and egg to make a wettish very soft dough finishing off using your hands to create a ball.  Make every knife action count and avoid over mixing. I use a folding action to mix rather than stirring. Over mixing at this point will make your scones tough and chewy.

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Sprinkle flour onto a board or your bench and with flour on your hands gently shape the dough to approximately 3cm height.  Cut into 9 or 12 pieces and place on baking paper on an oven tray. If you like the edges soft just place them closer to each other on the tray.

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With a little milk brush the top of the scones, top with grated cheese and a parsley leaf if desired.

Bake for approx 12 minutes.  To check if they are cooked look underneath and see that their bases are cooked and just like bread has a hollow sound when tapped.

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Variations:

  • Add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to give a little heat either in the mix or very sparsely sprinkle over the cheese topping
  • Replace ½ cup of the flour with ½ cup of rolled oats soaked overnight to add a nutty taste to scones (this will reduce the quantity of milk for the mix)
  • Use this recipe as the base for savoury scrolls…but these I should cover in another post…

Parsley - a super food not simply a garnish

Parsley is a year round herb.  I am still picking bunches for the cafe at mid winter.  To have it available year round means you need to let it self sow.   It will be left alone wherever it wants to grow in my garden and encouraged because I wouldn’t want to ever run out of parsley for the picking.

 

 

 

 

Parsley – a super food not simply a garnish

The humble parsley – who would guess it’s actually a super food rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.    Yet how many times do you see it looking sadly discarded on a plate at a restaurant?

Curly Leaf parsley – not quite as strong a flavour as Italian flat leaf for cooking



To grow parsley at the start can be tricky but once its established you will always have it.   It doesnt like being transferred as it has a root system like a carrot, but I have had better luck if the seedlings are really little. One plant will usually last for two seasons.    I let parsley run to seed and in my garden wherever it lands it stays.   It seems to thrive in partial shade but it also grows in the sunny sites.


Gremolata 

My son, Gus the chef, let me into this secret of creating a fresh bouquet for dishes that have been slowly cooked, especially casseroles.   It’s really easy and so effective.

Finely chop parsley, half a clove of garlic and zest from a lemon and add last minute to your dish so that the aroma is still there when you take it to the table.   Now that’s a garnish!





I was reminded again of  Gremolata last night when I  attended chef Alison Lambert’s 3 hour cooking class celebrating spring.   Alison introduced us to this topping as a final garnish/flavouring for her oven roasted carrots.   

Alison gave us a wonderful night’s entertainment talking about living and working in Europe for 10 years, giving us handy hints that I will pass onto you (promise) and a gorgeous two course meal featuring a Greek lamb dish with pasta…yum! (might make that for the next family gathering).   Alison is the Dunedin Farmers’ Market chef and like me she stands by herbs stating that they can change dishes from ordinary to something extraordinary.    

I am sure, like me, you will now have new respect for the humble herb parsley. 

Parsley is said to assist in treating PMT, menopause and easing cramps. Eating parsley everyday is claimed to reduce blood pressure.  It’s probably the richest herb source of Vitamin K and is loaded with vitamins A, C and B that strengthens the body’s immune system, stimulates digestion of protein and fat.   It is a diuretic that helps to rid the body of sodium and a good source of folic acid as well as iron. Chlorophyll found in parsley is a good cure to stop and avoid bad breath – that’s why it is recommended that you eat it after consuming garlic.