We are in full happy hour mode here at the Inn hosting daily gatherings at 4:30 p.m. on our gorgeous screened-in porch. A challenge most hostesses experience – is how many guests will attend to plan the right amount of small bites. Enter what I like to call the “Nibble Tray.” It’s a simplified version of preparing appetizers on a grand scale. Reminiscent of the snack or hostess sets my mother loved to use, this easy entertaining concept keeps the focus on the hostess spending quality time with her guests and less time in the kitchen.
Use this magic formula of three – a small plate with three things, plus a glass of wine, and a bowl of mixed nuts.
I made a batch of cheddar and chive scones and cut them into smaller pieces so they were easy to eat in just two bites. I served them with small ramekins filled with red pepper jelly and Irish butter (use European butter please when you serve scones or biscuits. Good, high-quality Irish butter has a higher fat content so it spreads beautifully and has a creamier texture). Add a small bunch of grapes.
Now here’s how you elevate the plate – bring the outdoors inside by cutting a few clippings from your garden. I clipped a few hosta leaves and some pansies. Watch this video on Instagram to see how I put the plate together. Your guests will be so wowed by this small plate curated in such a creative and loving way – they won’t even miss the trays and trays of food. Plus, you’ll save money, and you won’t be stressed and sweaty when your guests arrive. Spend the money on good bottles of wine or bubbly. If you want a good nut mix recipe, I love this one from Barefoot Contessa.
Back to the scones, here’s an easy recipe for Cheddar Scones. The best part is you can add anything you want to. Have some chives from the garden – chop and add. Have green onion you want to use up, add it in. Olives and Feta Cheese are good substitutes, too.
Cheddar and Chive Scones
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 TBL Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBL chopped fresh chives
1/2 stick good quality cold butter
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded cheese; grate from a block so the cheese will melt better)
1 cup whole milk (do not use anything less than whole milk)
In a large mixing bowl add the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Gently whisk the ingredients together.
Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Add it to the dry ingredients and use either your fingertips or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour.
When the mixture is combined add the cheese and herbs. This is also the time to add any additional ingredients to the scones.
Pour in the milk and fold the dough together gently with a wooden spoon until it just starts to come together. Do not over-mix!
Turn the scone dough out onto a floured work surface and fold it over itself a few times, incorporating any of the dry bits.
Roughly shape the dough into a rectangle, 8″ long x 4″ wide. It doesn’t need to be exact. Use a dough scraper or a knife to cut the dough into 6 or 8 scones. Cut into smaller pieces if you want to make a bite-size scone.
Transfer the scones to a lined baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush milk over the tops of the scones and top with a little extra cheese.
Place the scones into a 420F° oven for 20-25 minutes or until the scones have puffed up and turned a deep golden brown.
Let the scones cool fully on the baking sheet before serving with butter.
These scones freeze well, too. Bake what you need and freeze the rest.
Let me know if you make the scones and be sure to tag @homewithatwist. Happy entertaining!