Mary Anne here. Most men tend to turn their noses up at the very suggestion of a “tea”, envisioning delicate concoctions that leave them largely unsatisfied. When I invited some friends, along with their spouses, to be critics for this menu, the men found themselves converts to the idea of tiny, unmanly sandwiches, as they devoured these Ham and Cheese creations.
Cheddar Cheese Biscuits with Smoked Ham
Makes about 40
Note: You’ll need your heaviest cookie sheet for the biscuits – preferably an insulated one to protect their little bottoms from over browning. If you don’t own this variety, simply stack two ordinary cookie sheets together and this will protect the biscuits as well. The biscuits can be prepared up to three days before and sealed and stored at room temperature in an airtight container or plastic bag. They also freeze well for up to 2 weeks.
Ingredients for the Biscuits:
4 cups all-purpose flour – from stock
4 Tablespoons sugar – from stock
2 Tablespoons baking powder (Not soda!) – from stock
2 cups grated, extra sharp cheddar cheese – $2.79
½ teaspoon cayenne – from stock
8 ounces unsalted butter, sliced – from stock
½ cup buttermilk – $1.99
Ingredients for the Filling:
¾ lb. smoked or honey ham, sliced ¼ inch thick and then chopped fine – $5.62
4 Tablespoons sweet pickles, chopped very fine (either Gherkins or the Bread and Butter variety.) – $2.99
2 Tablespoons Dijon-style mustard – from stock
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise – from stock
Softened butter to spread on the biscuits – from stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $13.39
Cost per Serving: $0.33
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, press the pulse button 2 or 3 times to blend the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
3. Add the grated cheese and cayenne; process for a few pulses until fully integrated.
4. Add the sliced butter and pulse until well mixed. Again, this goes very quickly.
5. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the buttermilk. (Use your fingers and hands for this part as the dough is dense and clings to a wooden spoon.)
6. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times.
7. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a ½ inch thickness. Cut the biscuits with a floured 2-inch cookie cutter and transfer to the un-greased cookie sheets. Pat the remaining scraps together and re-cut with the cookie cutter until the biscuit dough is used up. Remember, as with all flour-butter mixtures, the lightest of touch produces the lightest result, so be kind to your dough!
8. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely before storing.
9. To prepare the filling, carefully chop the ham and pickles. It is a tiny dice you are looking for here.
10. In a small bowl, combine the ham, pickles, mustard and mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
11. With a serrated bread knife, split the biscuits in half. Spread one side of each with some softened butter. Scoop a dollop of ham mixture on the unbuttered side and replace its top.
12. Arrange on a platter, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can assemble these several hours before and refrigerate, just remove them from the fridge about a half-hour before serving. Garnish the platter with either a cluster of fresh herbs or a pretty cut flower.