A while ago, I bought a book called Step-by-step baking, by Caroline Bretherton. I wouldn't say I need a step by step guide to baking, I'm pretty good at it. But it has the most amazing recipes. And really good pictures as well. I have never understood cooking or baking books which don't have pictures. How are you supposed to choose what to make if you don't have pretty pictures to look at? Are they seriously suggesting you should read the recipes themselves? And they are no fun to browse. Well, this book certainly did it for me, I have spent countless hours drooling over the pictures. For me, the way food looks is definitely part of the enjoyment. I know you wouldn't always think so from the pictures on my blog (I'm getting there though, I'm trying to shop for some nice new plates so you wouldn't always have to look at the rather aesthetically unpleasing beige ones I have...)
Anyways, back to my obsession with cooking and baking books. As much as I love to read blogs, sometimes you just want to feel the weight of a proper book. You can take it with you to bed and browse pictures of cakes before going to sleep. Or curl up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate and amazing pictures of cookies, macaroons or whatever. (As an aside, I now own 13 flavours of Whittard's hot chocolates. To be quite honest, I'm a bit disappointed with them, many taste very much alike. There are some gems in there, my favourites at the moment are white choc and rhubarb, orange and Rocky Road).
There are so many things in the book I want to try, there are recipes for making your own croissants and pain au chocolate which I will definitely brave at some point. Interestingly however, the first recipe I tried from this book wasn't even a sweet one, it was a savoury cookie recipe. That was quite a surprise to me, as I usually would go straight for a cake, cookie or muffin with at least three different types of chocolates. So here you go, a recipe I have stolen without even making any small changes to it.
Stilton and walnut cookies (makes about 20-25):
120g blue cheese
60g walnuts, chopped
Let butter and blue cheese soften in room temperature. Using an electric whisk, mix together butter and cheese until soft and creamy. Add the flour rubbing with your fingers so you get a crumbly dough (I can't be bothered to get my hands dirty, so I actually just mix quickly with the electric whisk). Add walnuts, egg yolk and black pepper and mix to form a stiff dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. On a floured surface, knead the dough lightly, then roll out to 5mm thickness, and cut out shapes with a pastry cutter. If you don't have one, use a glass, or just make small blobs out of the dough and flatten with your palm. You can also chill the dough as a log and slice it with a knife to make round cookies. Bake for 15 minutes, turn cookies and bake another 10 minutes (to be honest, I couldn't be bothered to turn them, I just baked for about 23 min, and they turned out perfect)
These cookies are a great savoury snack, and would be great with a glass of red wine. I have made a few batches, and they turn out better if you use a strong blue cheese, the Stilton I used for the first batch wasn't strong enough in my opinion. The second time I used Tesco Strong Danish Blue and the blue cheese flavour came through much better. However, when using a strong blue cheese, the dough will turn to a rather unpleasing green colour, but don't worry, the cookies turn beautifully golden in the oven.
Another point worth making is that for my second batch, I chopped the nuts in a food processor, and chopped them way too finely. I recommend hand chopped nuts, as the chunks are bigger and give the cookies a much nicer texture.
So with these two tips, chunky nuts and strong cheese, these make a perfect savoury treat. I served these to some colleagues who seemed to enjoy them. Like I said before, perfect to combine with red wine. Maybe go crazy and have some cheese on top, and a grape or slice of pear. Mmmmm....