Christmas Gifting: Cheddar Cheese & Blue Cheese, Cranberry & Pistachio Biscuits

recipe

cheese cookies

When I look back at what I was like when young, I find myself drawing parallels between myself and a certain young character from the television show Modern Family. No, sadly it wasn't smart Alex, hot Hayley or adorable Luke, it's actually Manny. Yep Manny who dresses like an adult and quotes lines from books. I wasn't as learned as he but I think he and I would have been friends.

When my friends were reading Dolly magazine, I was reading Cleo and instead of going to nightclubs or pubs, I went to hotel bars to drink cocktails. I've always had older friends and when my parents went away for a short trip and left my in the house aged 17, instead of having a rip roaring drunken party, I threw a dinner party and invited 10 friends over.

cheese cookies

It's a meal that Miss America still remembers to this day as he loved the blue cheese salad that I made. I remember it for a few other reasons. It was my first dinner party ever and I was stressed as I could be. I was mostly in the kitchen stressing over the dishes while everyone enjoyed themselves in the dining room. I was also heavy handed with the blue cheese in the salad and when I finally got to sit down and eat the salad I almost gagged. Completely unused to how strong the blue cheese that I bought was, I had generously apportioned it and it was strong stuff. My older friends were much more familiar with it and loved it but I gently pushed it away quietly. I learned a few things that day: don't serve a dish without first trying it and don't choose dishes that will have you stuck in the kitchen the entire time.

I've since come to love blue cheese and so does Mr NQN so it's often found in our fridge. I had somewhat of a lovely bounty sent to me recently where I received three large blocks of 2013 award winning Grand Champion Australian cheeses awarded by Dairy Australia. There was a Champion Hard Cheese - Mil Lel Superior Parmesan by Lion Dairy & Drinks, the Champion Blue Cheese - Old Telegraph Road Heritage Blue by Jindi Cheese and the Champion Cheddar-Style Cheese - Pyengana Cheddar by Pyengana Dairy.

cheese cookies

Now the first instinct would have been to eat these straight or with some home made lavosh. But as these were such generous portions I really wanted to make batches of cheese biscuits to give to friends for Christmas. My friend P Bella gave me a recipe for cheddar cheese biscuits (cookies for American readers) which were beautifully crumbly and cheesy and I used this to base a blue cheese, cranberry and pistachio biscuit.

There was much testing and tasting (no hardship really except as far as putting on weight was concerned) until I was finally happy with the results. And I bring these to you in case you want to put out some cheese biscuits for Christmas or box these up for friends. I also tell people that these are really good if you pop them in a warm oven for 5 minutes or so just to crisp them up before serving them. Or you can freeze them, thaw them out and bake them fresh. As for me, I'm off to do some exercise now but not until after I sneak in a couple of these biscuits!

So tell me Dear Reader, what television character do you relate to most? And which cheeses are your favourite? If you could judge any sort of food, which one would you want to judge?

cheese cookies

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

  • 125g/4 ozs cheddar cheese

  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

  • 125g/4ozs butter, cold and cut into cubes

  • 2/3 cup plain all purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch or cornflour

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1.5-2 tablespoons lemon juice

cheese cookies

Step 1 - In a food processor, chop the cheese and parmesan into small crumbs (or you can grate it but this is easier). Add the butter, flour, cornstarch or cornflour, baking powder and cayenne pepper and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the lemon juice and pulse until it just comes together.

cheese cookies

cheese cookies

Step 2 - Line a clean surface with parchment and empty the mix onto the parchment and shape it until it becomes like a sausage. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or so or in a fridge for a few hours. You can also freeze these and thaw when needed.

cheese cookies

Step 3 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two trays with parchment and slice into half inch wide discs. Place these an inch apart as shown as they will spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then allow to cool completely before removing from the tray as they will be quite delicate.

cheese cookies

Blue Cheese, Cranberry & Pistachio Biscuits

An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella

  • 125g/4 ozs blue cheese

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

  • 125g/4ozs butter, cold and cut into cubes

  • 1 cup plain all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch or cornflour

  • 1/4 cup white superfine or caster sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped

cheese cookies

Step 1 - In a food processor, chop the cheese and cranberries into small crumbs. Add the butter, flour, cornstarch or cornflour, sugar and baking powder and and process until it comes together. This is a wetter mixture that the cheese biscuits above.

cheese cookies

Step 2 - Line a clean surface with parchment and empty half of the mix onto the parchment and shape it until it becomes like a sausage. Roll in the pistachio crumbs until the sides are completely coated in them. Repeat with the other half of the biscuit mixture. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or so or in a fridge for a few hours. You can also freeze these and thaw when needed.

cheese cookies

cheese cookies

Step 3 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two trays with parchment and slice into half inch wide discs. Place these an inch apart as shown as they will spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then allow to cool completely before removing from the tray as they will be quite delicate. Store in an airtight container.