In my second Maybridge Murder Mystery book, Murder Under the Mistletoe, my heroine, garden designer Abby Finch calls on her neighbours, the gossipy June and Beattie, hoping to pick up information on Gregory Tate, who wants her to give his garden a "make-over".
They are enjoying a pleasant evening with a very fine dry sherry and some cheese sables, which they press on Abby. She doesn't need much persuading!
~ ~ ~
“WE'RE just having a glass of sherry,” June said, leading the way into the oak-beamed living room where the wood burner was throwing out very welcome heat and their Christmas tree was providing a festive glow. “Beattie, a glass for Abby. She needs something cheering after yesterday.”
“Not for me,” Abby protested. “I’ve got a ton of work to do, I just wanted to make sure you weren't having nightmares.”
“Oh, we’re fine. Obviously, it’s a tragedy, but poor Edward has looked like walking death for months and we’d all like to go like that. No lingering,” she said. “Help yourself to Penny’s cheese sables.”
The golden cheesy biscuits had walnut halves embedded in them and Abby, unable to resist, bit into one while Beattie, who took no notice of her refusal, fetched another wine glass.
“These are so good,” Abby said. She was definitely putting them on the list to give Penny for the drinks party. “Have the police been to see you for a statement?”
“Harry called in this morning. Not that there was much we could tell him.” Beattie lifted the bottle from an ice bucket and poured out a generous measure. “It’s a Manzanilla pasada she said. “Try it.”
Abby obligingly sipped and groaned appreciatively as the icy cold sherry slipped over her tongue.
~ ~ ~
This is the recipe.
Ingredients – this is the basic recipe. I double it when I'm baking for the family but obviously you can easily increase the amount to suit your own needs.
100 gm butter
100 gm plain flour
100 gm grated cheese
A pinch or two of cayenne pepper to taste if you like a little heat
Salt and pepper to taste (if using a mature cheddar I don't add salt)
Finely chopped walnuts or walnut halves to top (optional)
A little beaten egg
Rub fat into the flour (I needed a bit more flour). Add cheese and seasoning and work into a dough. Roll into a sausage, wrap in greaseproof paper or film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Cut into circles no more than 5mm thick. (These were a little on the thick side, but still delicious!)
Brush with egg and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts or press in a walnut half
Pre-heat moderate oven (Gas 5, 190 degrees – I used 180 because fan) and bake for about 13-15 minutes until they're golden around the edges. Transfer for a wire rack to cool. They will crisp up once cool.
Variations on this recipe
You can leave off the walnuts and instead top with finely chopped rosemary and salt
You can liberally top with flaked almonds if you don't like walnuts
You can add about 30 gms of chopped unsalted pistachios to the dough - no topping needed.