I turned 28 last Wednesday.
Woah, putting it down into words makes it sound so much a larger milestone that it really is.
For the first time in my almost-four years here in Buenos Aires, I threw a little small get-together with a few of my girlfriends.
It’s weird that I’d never had a party before here in Argentina, but only after getting our new apartment and getting to know more friends this year did I feel the desire to celebrate my birthday, apart from the occasional dinner and blowing of the birthday cake with Juan and his family.
I wanted the celebration to be casual, among close friends, with plenty of food prepared by me.
What I had in mind were simple cocktail snacks, and the menu included tomato and onion bruschetta; carrot and celery sticks with a delicious cream cheese dip; cheese and salami; and finally, for the star of the meal, homemade scones topped with slices of ham and cheese, and finished with cream cheese and freshly chopped chives.
One of my best friends here in Buenos Aires, Mechi (the girl who made Val and I the sweet corn tart back in August), came over on early Thursday afternoon, with ingredients to bake my birthday cake.
Once the cake – an elaborate combination of a brownie base topped with dulce de leche, whipped cream and Italian merengue – was done and chilling in the fridge; Mechi started chopping up vegetables non-stop to help me prepare the mis en place for the party. I think the fun part of any party preparation is cooking with someone else who enjoys cooking as much as you do, and the Mechi-Felicia team was definitely having a ton of fun.
Eventually, when all the chopping was finally done; we started making scones – buttery scones that had a biscuit-like outer texture with a soft and airy center.
This was a recipe I adapted from Juan’s mum’s recipe for English tea scones.
Replacing sugar for salt, I mixed chopped butter with flour, then added eggs and milk, and finally the pinch of salt. Using my hands to form the dough into a ball, I then sprinkled my tabletop with flour, then rolled the dough until it was about 1 cm in thickness. From there, it’s was as easy as ABC. We cut out round circles with a cookie cutter or the top of a champagne glass, and then placed the dough circles on a greased baking tray, before baking them for about 20 minutes until the tops turned golden.
When the scones had been baked and turned golden brown, we cut them sideways into half, then topped them with thin slices of ham and cheese.
In my opinion, the chives and cream cheese mixture which come next made the scones shine; generous toppings of cream cheese and fresh chives brought these scones to another level. Although all the ingredients were simple and not at all fancy, the delicious combination of homemade scones, ham, cheese, and chives was definitely worth celebrating.
We had these scones together with the other cocktail snacks for my little celebration. I realized that friendships, no matter when and where they are made, are what I’m thankful for this birthday. And like these scones; it’s the simplicity and sincerity of the friendships I have that make me feel so glad. I’m a lucky girl.
P.S. If you want to take good food photos, I strongly recommend Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography e-book, which is going for a 50% discount until 11.59pm Dec 2. 2013. Discount code is TFP50.
HAM, CHEESE & CHIVES TOPPED SCONES
(Makes 70 – Serves 6-8)
1) 450g of self-raising flour
2) 150g of butter, cut into small cubes
3) 3 eggs, beaten
4) 3 tablespoons of milk
5) 1 tablespoon of salt
6) 200g of cheese in slices, cut into small squares
7) 200g of ham in slices, cut into small squares
8) 300g of cream cheese
9) 1 cup of chopped fresh chives
1) Sift self-raising flour into a large mixing bowl
2) Cut the butter into small cubes and mix it with the flour, using two knives to mix the butter and flour together
3) Once the dough achieves a sand-like mixture, use your hand to compact the dough and knead very gently
4) Sprinkle a cool, flat surface with flour, and flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it reaches a 1 cm thickness
5) Pre-heat oven to 190 – 200 deg cel
6) Use a round cookie cutter (or a champagne glass) to cut out small circles of dough
7) Place dough circles on a greased and floured baking tray
8) Bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes or until they have turned golden brown on top
9) Once scones have cooled, cut them sideways into half
10) Mix chopped fresh chives and cream cheese together until they have integrated homogeneously
11) On each scone half, spread some cream cheese and chive mixture, then place a couple of slices of ham and cheese on top, then top with more cream cheese mixture and finally sprinkle with fresh chives