South Park Self

say cheese

My grandmother (maternal, for the use of) was generally a dreadful cook, firmly in the lesser British tradition of stodge, overcooked vegetables and the general, fixed conviction that being terribly serious about the quality of the food you produce is some sort of decadent European vice and not to be indulged at any cost. (I identify this in sharp contradistinction to the greater British tradition of gloriously hearty fare, which has given us apple pie, superlative pork products and infinite varieties of pudding and cake, and should be celebrated in legend, song and heaped second helpings). I remember with some vividness the particular stodge-bent which led Gran to offer any serious meal with both rice and potatoes in the main course, and with both cream and custard for the dessert. Also, her scones used to be over-baking-powdered to the point where they squeaked on your teeth, and she made pastry which has been an inspiration to me my entire life mostly because I'm damned determined never to reproduce anything resembling hers. It was always a bit leathery, and she used to sugar the hell out of it. Eek. I was greatly fond of my Gran, but not of her food. It's a source of both amazement and pride to me that my mother is a good cook in the teeth of the odds.

One thing that Gran did do well, though, was a cheese scone thing - more of a savoury muffin, really - which originated, I believe, with a great-aunt, and which I have both adopted and adapted to the point where Gran probably wouldn't recognise it and would regard with suspicion and disdain its culinary exuberances. (I have regarded with suspicion and disdain its baking powder excesses and have reduced them forthwith). This is quick and easy and really rather good in its overall effect, a marvellous recipe for making at the drop of a hat when you have guests for tea - I inflict it frequently on the unsuspecting, mostly recently egadfly and his Nice Lady in one of their characteristically flying Cape Town jaunts. Since I promised Iza, herewith the recipe.

Gran's Improved Randomised Cheese Scones

  • 360ml flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Whatever other spices grab your fancy – I like a tsp. of smoked paprika, you could try cumin, coriander, dried mustard, etc. Cheese does need a bit of underlining with something that delivers bite.
  • Approx. 1 packed cup grated cheddar or other sharp cheese (you can actually vary this fairly safely, I like them more cheesy than this, and a Parmesan/cheddar mix is a particularly good effect)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tblsp oil (olive oil is preferable for flavour)
  • 180ml milk (buttermilk or sour cream is even better, you could probably also try yoghurt)
  • Bits! Optional, but I like to add any combination of chopped chives, other chopped herbs, chopped spring onions, fried bacon bits, fried red onion bits, toasted pine nuts, chopped peppadews, etc. You could add cooked vegetable bits (e.g. pumpkin or grated baby marrow) for a muffin-like effect. These are also quite good with small chunks of feta or chevin crumbled into them, or, more accurately in the case of chevin, glodged.

  1. Preheat oven to 400oF.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together.
  3. Beat egg, oil and milk together and chuck into dry ingredients. (All the best quick-and-easy recipes don't mind if you chuck stuff in together more or less wholesale - my banana bread recipe, courtesy of Michelle, actually specifies "sift dry ingredients and chuck in.")
  4. Mix (not too savagely, this requires a few goes with a wooden spoon, not a food processor) to make a stiff batter, and stir in cheese and whatever bits you’re flinging in. I usually add a bit more milk if it’s too stiff.
  5. Drop into greased muffin tins in generous dollops, these are better if they’re a bit larger - at least two-thirds fill the tins.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot if at all possible, with butter. They respond quite well to being bunged into a hot oven for a few minutes to refresh them if you're eating them a day or so later. Warning: seriously moreish. They make a damned good accompaniment to soup, too.
What is grated baby marrow? I believe that what I would call grated baby marrow is indeed something quite different in SA.
Baby zucchini, yes? Or probably any kind of young and tender squash would work.

These sound like an amped up version of something we used to eat at my maternal grandma's house, and I think Pioneer Woman does a reasonable version, too. These sound way tastier though, I'll be giving them a whirl, thank you extemp.
Indeed, baby zucchini. You could also use cooked pumpkin or butternut; if you use baby marrow you can probably use it raw, supposing you grate it fine enough. I recommend the bacon bits, or even small chunks of chorizo or ham.

This is clearly a recipe of our Grandparents' Generation. They can't have imagined us comparing notes like this through this forum :>.