Monday, March 21, 2011

ingredient: CHEDDAR

There are streets in Brooklyn Heights named after fruit (Pineapple Street, Orange Street, Cranberry Street etc) and it has always been my dream to live on one. Then I found out that Cheddar is an actual village in England, and I have subsequently changed my life goal to move there. Imagine the return address stickers I could get!*

I bet Cheddar is a friendly town, because cheddar is a very friendly cheese. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like some version of this firm cow’s milk cheese, even if it’s just the bastardized pre-shredded Polly-O kind. Ok, scratch that, maybe Cheddar is an angry town, because people all over the world are buying and selling bastardized pre-shredded Polly-O versions of their artisanal product, failing as they do to have any type of D.O.C protection for the name “cheddar.”

The truth is that any cheese can technically be called Cheddar if it is made by “cheddaring,” a process in which milk curds are ground into small pieces, cooked, and pressed into a mold. As a result of this lax designation, the taste, color, and texture between cheddars varies greatly. I prefer strong, sharp cheddars to the mild, plastic types even if the latter are admittedly great at achieving perfect melted-cheese texture. I also prefer pale yellow cheddars to orange ones for purely aesthetic reasons, though it’s true that some shameful producers use food dye to give their cheddar a carroty orange hue.

Cheddar is a versatile cheese. It melts beautifully, making it perfect for all kinds of baking and cooking. It’s also delicious when simply sliced and eaten with an apple. It must be because people love Cheddar so much that they seem intent on making it in record-breaking quantities. Starting with a 7,000 pound block made for a Canadian exhibit in 1866, cheese makers have continued to up the ante until the current cheddar record was established: a 56,850 pound mass of cheese made by the Federation of American Cheese Makers in 1989. Kraft is still selling the remains.

So go on and buy some Cheddar, whether it be English, Irish or made right up in Vermont. Just do me a favor and shred it yourself.

*You should be imagining a small picture of my dog in a cheese hat, adjacent to my name and address.

Cheddar Scones with Chive Butter

There is never enough cheese in cheese scones. Why is that? Is it because it would feel gluttonous? It’s not like you’re not already eating a scone. So just make that scone meet its sconey potential and load it up with cheese. That’s what I say. But sometimes no one listens to me and I have to just bake things myself.

These are seriously super cheesy. And they’re delicious. The scone is light and airy and pulls away into hot, melting, cheesy bites. It’s salty and sharp, the perfect dish for a boozy brunch. Chive butter makes a delicious accompaniment, though it’s not totally necessary. Making these scones is though. So do it. Just don't tell anyone how much cheese is in the batter.

On a side note, I have always wanted a cheese hat, and not just for my dog. So if you've got one lying around, send it my way.


For Scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons butter, cold, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 extra large egg
2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

For Chive Butter
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
2 teaspoons chopped chives

To Make Chive Butter:

In a small bowl, mix softened butter with chopped chives until well combined. Set aside.

To Make Scones:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Using an electric mixture, beat in butter until it is the size of peas.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk. Beat egg mixture into dry ingredients until just combined, about 1 minute.

Add grated cheddar to dough and mix until cheese is evenly distributed, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and kneed 6 times. Roll dough out into a 5 by 10 inch rectangle. Dip a sharp knife in flour, then cut dough into eight triangles. Brush each scone with egg wash. Put scones onto a baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with chive butter.


  1. Yum Yum Yum! I want to make these right now.

  2. Yes- scones are never cheesy enough!