Sunday, 18 November 2012
Winter Cheese Tea
Homemade Cheese Scones & Butter - Selection of Cheese (Here, Welsh Tintern & Scottish Cheddar) - Homemade Parsnip Crisps.
A winter cheese tea is for eating in front of the fire on a Sunday afternoon, just as it begins to get dark outside. It's a different twist on a cream tea of scones, cream and jam; the winter tea has warm, cheese scones, a selection of cheese and - because parsnips are now in season - a snack of homemade, salty parsnip crisps.
I wanted to make a winter cheese tea with local (Essex) cheese, but, having searched for this, I've discovered that I can't actually buy any Essex cheese anymore. Apparently, cheese is no longer produced in the county - and I'm disappointed by this, because not only do I want to buy local produce (and support local producers) where I can, but I'd also like to know as much as possible about where my food comes from and how it's produced. If the farm is local, I can discover a bit more about it.
But - it seems that I just can't buy local cheese. I know that, for centuries, cheese used to be produced along the Essex coast; cattle and sheep would graze in the salt marshes (I've heard that cheese from sheep was particularly prized) and the old farmhouses used to have cheese lofts where the cheeses would be stored. However, by the late twentieth century, farming on the coast - and in the county - had become dominated by arable farming.
So, I'll have to look outside the county for cheese and for this tea I've included Scottish cheddar and Welsh Tintern cheese (cheese with shallots and chives). That's cheese from outside the country!
I've made the cheese scones with the cheddar - and the parsnip crisps I've made by baking flakes of parsnips with olive oil in the oven. When the crisps are baked, I've shaken them with crunchy sea salt. I like to serve them warm.