Winter

Goats Cheese, Chorizo & Chilli Scones

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One of the only things my mother has ever truly mastered in the kitchen, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying so, is the humble scone. I didn’t exactly grow up in a home-baked household – my mum didn’t teach me the culinary basics and she certainly isn’t the kind I’d call to request fondly-remembered childhood recipes, years later. She has a go, bless her, with varying results, and I can’t fault her for that. Scones though, that’s different. Years of practice have lead to success, and somehow I don’t think anyone’s can beat hers. 

We hail from Bristol, all of us, the Neales (though my sisters and I have all given up the name, the characteristics are forever embedded). But since we all left home, my parents have moved even further into depths of the West Country, and now live in the quaint little seaside town of Sidmouth, Devon. As you can probably imagine, scones (plus the obligatory clotted cream) are a very important part of their lives. 

As a child with diabetes, baking with mum never consisted of fairy cakes and Rice Krispies folded into melted marshmallows, but being the great mum that she is, she was determined that we’d still give kitchen creation a go. After a short dalliance with peanut butter cookies packed with a teeth-squeaking amount of Canderel,  we almost always defaulted to scones. We thankfully stuck to caster and simply halved the sugar content, and we packed in raisins to make up the shortfall. I always ate the scones hot, straight from the wire rack, twisting and pulling the two halves from each other with my fingers and dabbing on too-cold butter before it was ready. The texture was, and still is, something that dreams are made of: soft, buttery and comforting – the three characteristics that describe most of my favourite things in life.

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Because of all that, scones are a fairly regular occurrence in my own kitchen. As always, I favour savoury over sweet, so more often than not I’m packing in leftover cheese and morsels of salty, fried pork, cut through with a bit of garlic or a wilting spring onion or two. Whatever’s in the fridge, basically. And that’s how we got here, today: a dreary Sunday filled with fluffy socks, the Observer Food Monthly and linen laundry. January budgets and an enthusiasm to just be better has lead me to another of those fridge-raiding meals that’s somehow managed to become something quite delightful. Nigel would be proud. See also: Beetroot & Carrot Gyoza from a few weeks ago.

Mostly, I eat scones on their own, but they also work amazingly well on top of stews and chillis, as an inventive alternative to rice, bread or potatoes – indulgent and packed with flavour. 

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Previous experiences with scones… the first bacon and stilton, I think, followed by gorgonzola and spring onion atop a beef and ale stew

And in the spirit of frugality, these babies freeze like a dream. Portioned and unbaked, they’ll last in the freezer for up to three months. Just defrost them thoroughly before putting them in the oven. If anything, a bit of time in the freezer improves their texture. For us, there was no need for freezing this time, Matt and I devoured two for a low-key Sunday lunch, spread with soft, salty butter and garnished with a scoop of last night’s fiery coleslaw. Two more are currently sitting in a tin for tomorrow. Take that, January. 

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Goats Cheese, Chorizo & Chilli Scones
Serves 4
Soft, buttery and comforting - a quick, cheap and easy alternative for lunch
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 315g Plain Flour
  2. 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  3. ¼ Bicarbonate of Soda
  4. 1 tbsp Sugar
  5. 115g Salted Butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  6. 120ml Natural Yogurt
  7. 1 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
  8. 100g Goats Cheese
  9. 100g Chorizo, chopped
  10. 1 Onion, diced
  11. 2 Birdseye Chillis, chopped and deseeded
  12. Pinch of Black Pepper
  13. 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 220ºC.
  2. Combine your flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar. I used golden caster sugar because it was all I had, but you could use normal caster or granulated without a problem.
  3. Make sure your butter is very cold, in fact, freeze it if possible. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix until the butter is in roughly pea-sized lumps. If you're using a mixer or processor this'll be easy enough, but if using your hands just rub the butter into the flour, trying to handle it as little as possible - you don't want it to melt!
  4. Add the yogurt and mustard, mix to combine, and then follow with the goats cheese, chorizo, onion, chilli and black pepper. The mix should come together to form a rough, sticky lump - this is what you want.
  5. Turn the lump out on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a smooth ball. Flatten so as to form a round cake, 4-5cm high. Divide into 4 or 8, depending on your preferred portion size.
  6. Brush the beaten egg over your scones and place on the middle shelf of the oven.
  7. After 17 minutes, remove your scones and poke them in their fattest part with a skewer or fork. If it comes out clean, transfer them to a wire rack to cool. If still raw in the middle, pop back in for two minutes at a time until the skewer comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy warm with lots of butter.
Notes
  1. Can be frozen in portions before baking. Defrost thoroughly before putting in the oven. Will last for up to three months.
  2. Eat within 48 hours of baking.
whip until fluffy https://whipuntilfluffy.com/
You can mix things up a little by switching your extras. In place of goats, use blue cheese or parmesan. Try bacon or ham, or throw in half a tin of sweetcorn or some sorry-looking herbs languishing in the fridge door. There are loads of variations to be enjoyed and the formula is simple. Get creative and enjoy. For example, these Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones by Joy the Baker look awesome.

Got a favourite scone recipe? Share it with me down in the comments or over on Twitter @whipuntilfluffy. Let’s talk soon!

What to Eat in February

What to Eat in February

Vegetables: brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, squash, swede, sweet potatoes, truffles (black), turnips.

Fruit: blood oranges, clementines, kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges, passion fruit, pineapple, pomegranate, rhubarb.

Meat & Fish: guinea fowl, partridge, turkey, venison, clams, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters.

As I write this, there’s a storm out. When I look up, the grey is clearing, making room for bright blue skies with candy floss clouds, but I still hear the rain sploshing on the windows and the doors banging in the draft. It occurs to me that this kind of sums February up, the last month of Winter. Times are a-changin’, but probably only in small increments for another 28 days, when dull and biting February will buckle to bright and breezy March and spring’s first days allow us to shake off our winter coats and leave them in the cupboard. January may have been bitter, but it’s ok, hope is on the horizon.

For me, February is all about roots. It’s our last chance to make the most of those knobbly, earthy gems before Spring brings greens and we’re all gushing about asparagus and pea pods, before anyone who’s anyone is leaving those muddy, scraggy guys to rest in favour of their prettier relatives. I’ve got a lot of love for those roots, so in February I like to make use of what’s left, think parsnips, turnips, jerusalem artichokes. And of course, that nubby diamond in the rough, celeriac.

For this month’s recipe, I went with what was in stock. Sweet potatoes and a butternut squash, jewel-like against a browned spiced chicken, rubbed in moroccan flavours, topped with charred cauliflower. All in one pot, softening in each other’s juices, speared with fresh rosemary. Killer one pot chicken dishes are usually my husband’s forte. Caribbean, French, North African flavours, he’s mastered them all. This is the stuff winter is made of, for us. Marinated and cooking in it’s own fat, alongside a smidge of lard and a bit of stock, all dryness is banished from the bird and the flesh comes away from the bone like butter. A one pot is easy to put together, saves on washing up and looks as impressive as a roast with a tenth of the effort. Perfect for a lazy February afternoon, when all you really want to do is snuggle under a blanket with your book. Add a tumbler of wine and you’re in for a warming, seasonal treat. Probably a mid-afternoon snooze, too.

What to Eat in February

One Pot Spiced Chicken with Smashed Squash, Sweet Potato and Charred Cauliflower (enough for two)

1 Small Chicken
1 Butternut Squash
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
Half a Head of Cauliflower
Half a Lemon
Fresh Rosemary to Garnish
30g Lard
Oil for Cooking

For the rub:
2 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
2 Tsp Caraway Seeds
2 Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
2 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

What to Eat in February

If I’m making a one pot chicken dish, I generally find it cheaper to buy a whole chicken and joint it myself. I’m planning to do a post showing you how I do that, but for now, put your trust in Delia. She starts her instructions with “this is nothing to be afraid of” and I wholeheartedly concur. Save your chicken wings and freeze them alongside the carcass, which you should roast off in a hot oven and keep to make stock out of when you have two or three saved up. Whole chickens are very economic, especially if you can save cash with a multi-buy, joint them and freeze the individual pieces for later. You can always buy your chicken ready jointed at the supermarket, no judgement here, and obviously I don’t need to lecture you on the benefits of bone-in, skin-on thighs and legs vs breast fillets, right? Right.

Once you have your chicken pieces, measure out your spices. Here, I find it easiest to use an electric spice grinder, but a pestle and mortar is a good work out and will make you feel like you earned your supper. Alternatively, use the end of a rolling pin on your chopping board, just make do with what you have. When you have a fine mix, add in your oil and mix, you should end up with a thickish, red paste, still relatively dry. Roll your chicken around in it, rub it into all the crevasses. Set aside for later.

What to Eat in February

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Put a large saucepan full of salted water on to boil. In the meantime, peel and cube your squash. Those buggers can be tough, but don’t let them win. This video from The Shiska in the Kitchen should help, if you need. Next, do the same with your sweet potato. When the water comes to the boil, dunk your veg in and turn down to a simmer. Find yourself an overproof dish big enough to hold all your ingredients. I went with a Le Creuset Shallow Casserole (love of my life) which is 26cm across. Pop in a glug or two of oil, veg or olive, and heat. When the dish is good and hot, place the chicken in. Leave it in there, sizzling, while you drain your vegetables. They should’ve been cooking for around 5 minutes at this point. Cover and set them aside. Brown your chicken in the dish for around 4 minutes on each side. Turn off the hob.

Place your knob of lard into the dish with the chicken. Transfer your root veg into the dish and arrange it around the meat. Scatter over  some fresh rosemary. Chop your cauliflower into little florets and arrange it around the outside edge. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and cover. Place inside the oven on the middle shelf. Cook for 30 minutes. When your timer beeps, reach in and remove the lid. Mix things around a bit. If you’re worried things are getting too dry (each bird will release a different amount of fat, after all) you can simply add a cupful of chicken stock. Cook for a further 30 minutes or until the edges of the veg are turning a deep brown. If you’re worried about the chicken, just stick a fork in and if the juices run clear, you’re all good. To serve, mash any large chucks of squash or potato roughly with a fork and sprinkle with more fresh rosemary.

What to Eat in February

Take the dish to the table and tuck in. It’s a fairly filling meal for two, but if you want to flesh it out, add some buttered rolls as a side and you might end up with some chicken leftover for lunch in the week. The spice and richness of this meal pairs well with a red wine, as you may find that a white is delicate for the robust flavours. Personally, I wouldn’t call this a really spicy dish. It doesn’t blow your head off but leaves more of a background warmth instead. If you did want something cooling to cut through it though, a blob of sour cream with a little lemon juice mixed through would do nicely.

Other dishes to eat in February:

Farfalle, Pancetta & Kale from Food&_
Roasted Winter Citrus from Joy the Baker
Celery Root and Cauliflower Puree with Garlic Greens from Gourmande in the Kitchen
Warm Brussel Sprout Salad from A Beautiful Mess
Jerusalem Artichoke and Cheese Gratin from Lavender and Lovage
Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Ravioli from Eva Kolenko
Pomegranate, Pear & Kale Salad from Chasing Raspberries

Tell me, what are you eating this month?