It’s been a busy week. Like many other newspapers, mine is extremely short staffed. That means very busy days.
So when today — my day off — came, I wasn’t sure if I was going to pull a recipe together for Let’s Lunch, my virtual lunch date group.
But as I saw the entries for our theme — High Tea — I realize that I shouldn’t give up so easily.
So I went to the fridge. There wasn’t much in it — time for a grocery trip? — but I did find a wedge of Cougar Gold cheese.
OK, here’s some background. Cougar Gold is made at the Washington State University Creamery. In the 1930s, the creamery explored different ways they could store cheese. By the 1940s, they figured out that they could store the cheese in tin cans. The result was so good that they called it Cougar Gold.
Not the cheese I used today, but as it was packed in April 1998 and aged for a good 13 years, it’s sure to be delicious!
This particular wedge of cheese I had also has story. My husband is a WSU alum, having received both his bachelors in marketing and his MBA there. This particular wedge of cheese was packed in 1997 and aged for 18 months. He purchased it in 1999. We just opened it about a month ago. It was amazing. Here’s how Jerome described it:
Cracked open a 14-year-old can of Cougar Gold today. The can was dated July 19, 1997. I probably purchased it in January of 1999 during one of my visits to Ferdinand’s at WSU (he was finishing his MBA at the time) A very satisfying experience — mellow, yet still very sharp, very crumbly and somewhat creamy.
Anyway, the cheese held its own during the month it was in the fridge. And there was still a wedge left.
I browsed the rest of the kitchen. I saw the shallots. Then I remembered a cheese shortbread recipe I read in How to Cook Everything. I decided to take that recipe and modify it for the flavorings I had.
I first sauteed the shallot in a little bit of olive oil to mellow out the flavor. Then I took the all ingredients (flour, egg, cheese, salt and cayenne pepper, butter and the shallots) and blended them with a pastry blender until it was a coarse meal.
Afterwards, I rolled the dough into two inch balls and put them on parchment paper I placed on a cookie sheet. I started with bare hands, then I remembered the technique I learned from my mother-in-law — so I wore latex gloves. And as expected it worked like a charm!
After 10 minutes at 400 degrees and cooling them for another 15 minutes, I had shortbread. For something I improvised, it wasn’t bad! Some of it didn’t turn out — they were crumbly — but that was a reflection of perhaps not incorporating all the dry ingredients with the binding ones (so I better work on using that pastry blender better!).
In the end, I had a nice shortbread and with a cup of Mad Hatter tea that I purchased from the White Heather Tea Room in Victoria, B.C. and I had a perfect high tea moment in my kitchen, a nice end to what was a busy work week!
Cougar Gold and Shallot Shortbread
adopted from How to Cook Everything
1 tsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
8 tbsp (1 stick) of butter, cold and cut into cubes.
1 cup of Cougar Gold cheese (any well-aged sharp white cheddar will work well)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp paprika or cumin (optional)
- Heat the oven to 400.
- Heat a small skillet with 1 tsp of olive oil (or to taste) over medium heat until the pan starts shining. Add the minced shallot and saute until the shallot is softened and golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a pastry blender. You can also mix the ingredients in a food processor. In both cases, don’t over mix! The mixture should look like a coarse meal. If baking later, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
- Foam the dough into two-inch balls. Put the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper two inches apart.
- Bake until the balls puff and are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with additional paprika (if using) and enjoy!
#LetsLunch is a group of food bloggers who gather virtually every month to write around a different food theme. Check out the other delicious High Tea posts below:
Cathy’s Sweet Potato Tea Bars at ShowFood Chef
Cheryl’s Cheese and Onion Sarnie at Tiger in the Kitchen
Charissa’s Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches at Zest Bakery
Grace’s Taiwanese Tea Sandwiches at HapaMama
Emma’s Brown Sugar Shortbreads at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Karen’s Saskatoon Berry Tartlets at Geofooding
Linda D.’s Mesquite Hemp Cocoa at Free Range Cookies
Linda S.’s Tea and Kaya Toast at Spicebox Travels
Lisa’s Little Lemon Meringue Tarts at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Patrick’s Welsh Rarebit with Onion Marmalade & Mushrooms at Patrick G. Lee
Rashda Khan’s Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Tidbits at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Rebecca’s Millionaire’s Shortbread at GrongarBlog
Steff’s High Tea for Real Life at The Kitchen Trials
If you want to join us send a tweet with the hashtag #LetsLunch. We’d love you to join us next month!