Thursday, 22 September 2011

Almond & Poppyseed Shortbread

Inspired by Dan Lepard's Honey & Ginger Wafers in The Handmade Loaf, I've been experimenting. Now, that's not always a good thing but every now and again it creates a corker... 
These buttery shortbread biscuits are light and moist with a textual crunch and nutty poppy seed twist. They've gone down well at home and I'd love to know what you think, if you get a chance to make them too.

(By the way, they're nothing like Dan's wafer triumphs but we all take inspiration from somewhere!)

What you need...
200g plain flour
100g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 dsp poppy seeds
150g cold cubed butter
1 dsp warmed golden syrup

Set oven to gas mark 4

What to do...

Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the cubed butter. Rub it into the mix initially and then gradually kneed it all together to form a light, soft dough.

When all combined, roll out to approx 2mm thickness and cut out rounds. I use a wine glass as there's generally one to hand (?!). Makes approximately 20 biscuits.

Lay the biscuits onto a greased baking sheet and score the top with a fork then brush with warmed golden syrup and bake in the centre of the oven for 15/20 mins - you need to keep an eye to check they don't go too dark and/or that the syrup glaze doesn't burn.
Let them cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack. And then eat them. All.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Friday Night Dinner Party Project

This weekend has been busy.

Really, really busy.

Highlights include... parents arriving from France, dinner for 12, foraging for fruit, dancing 'til the small hours, manic house tidy, photoshoot for piece in Daily Mail, waving husband off on windsurfing course, collapsing on sofa. And, to top it all off, got at up five this morning to do the business slot on local BBC radio. 

Bit tired. 

And there's more to come as I now need to make something with the fruits of our forage - I'm thinking a little Elderberry Compote could be in order and have been fantasising about individual blackberry crumbles. Made and frozen now - then revealed in a Blue Peter 'here's one I made earlier' fashion later in the autumn.
But, let's go back to The Friday Night Dinner Party Project
We knew we'd have very little time on Friday to get things ready for a sit down meal for 12 - so we kept the menu simple. Soup, cheese and torte. Obviously it still ended up taking much longer than expected and I was slapping on mascara five minutes before people arrived but it was such a lovely evening that it was (always is) worth it.
For the soup I went for a favourite Leek and rosemary recipe from Moro East. I love that book. And that's why I wanted to share the bare bones of the recipe - hopefully to give enough inspiration to seek out the real deal from the brilliantly talented Sam & Sam Clark (owners of Moro). 
The recipe book follows the stories and recipes of the allotments torn asunder to make way for the Olympics and the incredible edibles that the community grew there. In some ways it's terribly sad and in others it's so inspiring it makes me yearn for an allotment of my own - though the reality of that would be weeds as far as the eye could see and stern words from the allotment committee.
The marvellous thing about this soup is that you cook it all and then add the stock. The potato is softened, the leeks are sweet and the blue cheese at the end adds a perfect creamy tangy touch.
Without giving away the whole recipe...
Trim the leeks (roughly one per person) and slice the white/pale green roots into rounds then roughly chop the darker green leaves and blitz them in a food processor - to waste as little as possible. Soften in butter and olive oil with the lid on then add finely sliced potato (roughly one medium potato for every two people), chopped rosemary, garlic and nutmeg and cook for 20 mins or so without the lid, stirring occasionally.

When it's cooked you can give it a quick blitz so it's as smooth as you like or leave it gorgeously chunky. Add hot vegetable stock (roughly 1/3 litre per person) and return to heat before finishing off with fresh flat leaf parsley.

Finally crumble a blue cheese over the individual bowls, Moro recommend Picos de Europa with Silton or Rocquefort as good substitutes but we went for a Yorkshire Blue as a delicious alternative.