Cabbage and Noodles

Cabbage and Noodles

Wotchers!

I have for you today a simple but ridiculously tasty dish that has become a firm favourite in this house, not least because it requires so little effort to make.

The combination of buttery, peppery, al-dente greens with buttery, peppery, differently-al-dente noodles is, as I have already mentioned, ridiculously tasty. Bonus is that it reheats well with a zap in the microwave, and so the initial chore of all the chopping is offset with easy side dishes/meain meals for several days.

It is based on the Eastern European dish Haluski. This version has been tweaked from the original and traditional method of making which was, if anything, even easier to prepare, involving just one pot to bring it all together. The original has everything fried in butter – delicious! – but a bit much for me, so I’ve opted for steaming the cabbage (to keep the glorious colour), cooking the noodles separately, and then just using a pan to mix.

This version is vegetarian, but it can easily be embellished into a simple main meal – although I can happily eat this as a meal just as is – with the addition of some protein: bits of bacon/ham seems to be the most popular, but chopped, cooked chicken, chorizo, hardboiled eggs are also simple to stir through the pan just before serving.

I have used white cabbage, savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts (because I love them) to add interest in both colour and texture, although using just one is fine. The noodles are actually fresh pasta ribbons: again, any shape is fine, and on reflection, smaller pasta shapes would make the dish easier to serve/eat.

Aside from my tweaks above, there seem to be a couple of other ‘rules’ when it comes to Haluski, which I can also vouch for with this version, viz.

  • Proportionally, have more cabbage than noodles.
  • When coating the greens with butter, have them ‘catch’ a little (brown at the edges) which will give a fantastic flavour boost to the dish.
  • Season generously with lots of black pepper.

Deviate from these at your peril!

Before we get to the recipe, a word or two about cooking cabbage – and indeed all brassicas.

  • Cook/steam for no longer than 4 minutes.

Yes, I agree, this does seem a ridiculously short amount of time, but it is genuinely all you need. Any longer, and you’re heading into the realms of school-dinner-boiled-cabbage-funk aroma that we all know, to our horror. The greens end up cooked, with a pleasant texture on the teeth,  and retain their glorious colour fantastically well.

Steaming is my preference, not only for the brightness of colour it is possible to retain, but it also prevents the vegetables from becoming waterlogged. Simply cut out any hard stalks (especially from kale, cavolo nero, Savoy) and shred the leaves finely, and halve or even quarter brussel sprouts.

Cabbage and Noodles

This is, essentially, a quantity-free recipe. Precise measurements are not required, and it will be all the more delicious – and quicker – without them.

1-2 onions
butter
cabbage/greens/sprouts
fresh egg noodles or egg pasta
black pepper
salt

  • Peel and chop the onions. You casn do this by hand and make the onion pieces similar in size to the greens, or you can thrown them into a food processor and blitz to a mush that will blend in with the rest of the ingredients. Both are fine.
  • Melt some butter in a large pan (because everything with end up being added to this pan) and fry the onions until softened and golden, but not crisp. Be generous with the butter, but don’t go overboard (some especially rich recipes I’ve read end up using 250g or more) – about 50g is plenty.
  • Prepare the greens by removing any hard stalks and shredding the leaves finely. Steam for 4 minutes and drain through a sieve.
  • Cook the noodles in boiling water according to instructions and drain through a sieve.
  • When the greens have drained, tip them into the butter and onions and toss gently to coat.
  • When the greens are evenly coated with the buttery onion mixture, add in the noodles and combine. Add more butter to taste. You want everything nicely coated, but not swimming in butter.
  • Season generously with black pepper and a little salt.
  • Serve at once.

The Week Long Chicken

Wotchers!

Here’s a little something I hope proves useful in these trying, lockdown times.

We get a lot of fast food leaflets through our door and I am always shocked, as I watch them tumble into the recycle bin, at the cost of the food they’re offering compared to the cost of the ingredients. Recently, I was very disconcerted to see that a single person southern fried meal cost more than an entire chicken at the supermarket.

I appreciate that the price includes wages/utilities on top of the cost, but it still seems very poor value for money, so I decided to see if I could present an alternative to demonstrate the versatility and frugality of cooking at home. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for a while: whether a whole supermarket chicken can be made to last a week.

This post is about the cooking of a large, standard, supermarket chicken – one chicken, seven meals. Great for the single person, but obviously, for even a small family, one chicken isn’t going to last a week. My hope is that one or two of these meal ideas might inspire you to make your chicken go just a little further than usual.

For the most part, these are recipes without recipes, with a sprinkling of suggestions. If you need clarification, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment.

Sunday – Roast Chicken & Stock

Method 1 – Oven

  • If you can afford it, roast two chickens in the oven at the same time. It’s more economical and you’ll have more cooked chicken to use/freeze.
  • Put the chickens on a rack over a large roasting pan. Or use the solid shelves that come with your oven, and put the chickens on the rack oven shelf.
  • Add about 1 litre of water to the roasting tin. This will catch all the meat juices and stop them gumming up your pan over the long roasting time, and be the basis of your gravy. During the cooking, it will also keep your chickens moist as the oven heat turns to steam.
  • Put your pan into a cold oven and turn the heat to 140°C, 120°C Fan.
  • Cook your chickens for 4 hours. They will be basted to a delicious tenderness by their own fat, and the skin will crisp to parchment thinness.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare your potatoes/stuffing/vegetables. Peel your potatoes and cut into even-sized pieces. Boil for 5 minutes, drain then allow to dry in the warm pan. When dried, shake the pan to roughen the edges, which will make for extra crispiness. Cauliflower and broccoli are simple to prepare and cook quickly and the combination of cauliflower and chicken gravy is sublime.
  • After 4 hours, remove from the oven, lift the rack off the tin and cover the chickens in foil. Cover the foil with a clean cloth. NB To keep the skin crisp, remove it and set aside before covering with foil. The chickens will stay hot for quite a while, certainly long enough to roast your potatoes/cook stuffing/steam vegetables.
  • Turn the oven up to 200°C, 180°C.
  • Put some lard or dripping in a roasting pan and put into the oven to melt/heat. Coat your roughened potatoes with the hot fat and roast for 45 minutes. Put your stuffing in at the same time.
  • Get a steamer pan ready for your vegetables.  Carrots can be peeled/cut into batons and cooked in the boiling water under the rest of the vegetables (give them a 5-minute head start, for 15 minutes total). French beans boil in 7 minutes/steam in 10. Broccoli and cauliflower also steam in 10 – put the cauliflower in the steamer pan under the broccoli.
  • Pour the water from the chicken pan into a saucepean, together with any bits that have fallen in. Taste  to see if it is flavoured well enough. If not, then add some bouillon or boil fast to evaporate some of the liquid. Serve as a jus or thicken with flour if preferred.

Method 2 – Slow Cooker

For one chicken

  • Get 1 large onion, 2 large carrots, 3 sticks of celery.
  • Peel the carrots and cut in half lengthways. Cut the celery in half across the width. Cut the onion in half, no need to remove the brown skin.
  • Arrange the vegetables on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add fresh herbs if liked.
  • Put the chicken on the top.
  • Put the lid on and cook on High for 4 hours, Low for 5 hours. No need to add any water. There’s enough moisture in the vegetables and chicken to keep it moist and make a very flavourful jus.
  • Finish as above.

Before bedtime, take a few moments to set up your stock so it can work it’s magic overnight.

Stock

chicken carcase(s)
1 onion
2 carrots
3 sticks celery
1tbs black peppercorns
2 bayleaves

  • Take off all the meat from the carcase(s) and set aside. Put everything else into a pan or slow cooker.
  • Chop the vegetables and put all the remaining ingredients into the pan.
  • Add sufficient water to just cover.
  • Cover and cook in the slow cooker overnight on Low, or cook on the hob on 1. The low heat will make for a clear, flavourful stock, and the brown onion skins will give it a great colour.
  • The next morning, switch off the heat and allow to cool until just warm.
  • Put a colander over a bowl and pour the contents of the pan through, to remove the bones and vegetables. It will need to drain for 15-20 minutes.
  • Repeat, this time using a fine sieve to remove smaller particles.
  • If you’re keen, repeat a third time, either lining the sieve with wet muslin, or using a coffee filter, to ensure your stock is crystal clear.
  • Allow the stock to cool completely, then chill in the fridge or freezer. When completely cold, remove the fat that will be resting on the top.
  • Portion out your stock and freeze. 500ml is a useful quantity to have to hand.

 

Monday – Cold chicken salad with baked potato

Chicken Salad with Baked Potato
This meal harps back to my childhood. We always had a Sunday Roast – chicken, beef, pork, lamb in rotation – and Monday was always washing day. This was back in the days before modern, front-loading machines, when the best we had was what was known as a Twin Tub. Bedding had to be soaked in a barrel, then thrashed about with a copper washing dolly, or what we used to call an ‘umpy-tump’ – because that was the sound it made splooshing up and down on the sheets. These were then rinsed and finally passed through the mangle. All of which is a huge digression, but my point, my POINT is…..Mondays were a bit busy, so there was little time for cooking meals. The quickest and simplest was to have cold slices of meat from the roast and a baked potato. Salad scattered with some chopped mint from the garden and a splurt of mayonnaise, and it was ready in no-time. Choose whatever part of the chicken you like, but the pale breast does both look and taste delicious.

 

Tuesday – Chicken and Veg Pie with crunchy stuffing

All the flavour of Sunday Roast Chicken – inna pie! Using the leftover vegetables and gravy means it comes together in minutes and the crunchy stuffing ‘crumble’ sets it off beautifully. Can be made without pastry as a ‘bake.’

cooked chicken – a mix of light & dark
chicken gravy
cooked vegetables from the Sunday roast such as carrots, french beans, etc.
frozen peas
leftover stuffing
baked shortcrust pastry tart shell(s)

  • Chop the chicken and vegetables into 1cm  dice.
  • Moisten with the gravy.
  • Freshen things up with a handful of frozen peas – no need to cook first.
  • Spoon the mixture into the pastry shell(s).
  • Blitz the stuffing in the food processor or chop coarsely.
  • Sprinkle over the top of the pie to give a savoury crumble topping.
  • Put pie(s) into the oven and turn the heat to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until thoroughly heated through and the topping is crisped and browned.

Wednesday – Chicken Sandwich

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a bit of a cop-out ‘recipe’ – A recipe for a chicken sandwich? I hear you exclaim. Well yes and no. On the one hand, no-one needs a recipe for a sandwich – bread, butter, filling, bish-bash-bosh, job done! But here I’d like to offer a few suggestions to take your chicken sandwich game up a notch or two, without having to resort to fancy-schmancy breads, etc.

  • Bread – Whatever you fancy. I’d like to suggest that you toast it, but only one side. I’ve opted for wholemeal brown and you can see from the picture that just the outside is toasted. This is to give crunch texture, something I’ve come to value more and more in recent years. It will also give a great contrast to the soft, creamy filling.
  • Butter – Actually, no. Better in this context to go with mayonnaise. I alternate between a low-fat mayonnaise, and making a dressing comprised of half mayo, half plain yogurt, with coarse-ground black pepper and a dash of lemon juice to add a little zing. Use either of these instead of butter on the untoasted side of the bread. Then, on each slice, add a light dusting of finely ground white pepper and a scattering of a pinch – literally between index finger and thumb – of salt.
  • Filling – again, choose whatever part of the chicken you like. I’ve gone for thinly (5mm) sliced chicken breast. You don’t need much to make a decent sandwich. Arrange the slices on one piece of bread and press the other slice lightly on top. Cut into quarters.
  • Put together a little salad and arrange on a plate alongside the cut sandwich and enjoy.
  • If you’re in need of something more substantial, try pairing your sammich with some Leek and Potato soup, made with your delicious stock.

 

Thursday – Chicken Tetrazzini

A bowl of Chicken Tetrazzini

Recipe can be found here.

If your supply of chicken is dwindling, add more chestnut mushrooms, whose meaty texture goes so well with the sauce. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, make a full batch of the sauce, because it is fabulous, and portion/freeze it for a quick meal later.

Friday – Berbere Chicken

Berbere Chicken

Here’s something a bit different. Berbere is a fabulous aromatic Ethiopian spice mix. It is available both in shops (Bart do a tin) and online and you can even mix up a batch yourself and have it be tailored to your own personal taste. If you can’t find any berbere, you can substitute your favourite curry powder or garam masala.

3tbs ghee
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
3 plum tomatoes
3tbs tomato paste
2tbs berbere
500ml chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste

cooked chicken

  • Peel the onion and chop finely.
  • Melt the ghee in a pan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion has softened and is starting to brown.
  • While the onion is cooking, chop finely (in a food processor if liked) the garlic and tomatoes.
  • Add 1tbs of berbere to the cooked onions and stir for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped garlic and tomatoes, tomato paste and stock.
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Use a stick blender or liquidiser to puree the sauce smooth.
  • Taste and add more berbere, salt and pepper if liked.
  • Add the cooked chicken and heat through. Serve with noodles and rice or mujaddara.
  • Extra sauce can be refrigerated/frozen for use another time.

Saturday – Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

As the end of the week approaches, you might be down to your last few shreds of chicken, so a great way to make them stretch is to make a soup. There is a very basic version, and then a list of additions which you can add according to taste/necessity.

2tbs butter
1 onion – finely chopped
2tbs plain flour
250ml milk
250ml chicken stock
1 tin sweetcorn – drained
cooked chicken – chopped small.

Optional Additions
bell peppers – seeded and diced
cooked potatoes – cubed
garlic – to taste, finely chopped, or garlic powder
ham/bacon – to taste
spring onions – sliced
fresh parsley – chopped
croutons
cooked vegetables – whatever you have to hand
celery

  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped onion. Cook until softened and translucent.
  • Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it thickens into a roux.
  • Add the milk and stock and continue stirring over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of cream.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes to cook out the flour. Taste, and if it tastes floury, simmer a little longer.
  • This is the soup base. If you like a smooth soup, you could puree it now, either in a liquidiser or using a stick blender.
  • Add the rest of your ingredients according to taste and simmer gently until heated through.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup

Spiced Squash Soup

Wotchers!

Here’s a wonderfully comforting soup, brightened with fresh ginger and chilli, to lift your spirits and warm the cockles of your heart.

It’s also fabulously easy and takes no more than 20 minutes ‘active’ time.

Winter soups can sometimes lean a little close towards cloying, but this strikes a very delicious balance between thick and comforting and bright and spicy. It’s also vegetarian and vegan, gluten and dairy-free.

To a large extent it is a “That’ll Do” soup, in that precise measurements don’t really matter, so let me bestow upon you the freedom to chuck in what you have to hand: keep the chilli seeds in for fiery spice, add more ginger/garlic to taste, etc.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
2tbs vegetable oil
2 onions
3 red chillies
3 cloves of garlic
8cm bulb of fresh ginger – 3-4 thumb-sized pieces.
2 tbs vegetable bouillon

  • Cut the butternut squash and sweet potatoes in half lengthways and place on a lined baking sheet, cut side up.
  • Put the baking sheet in the oven and turn the heat to 200C, 180C Fan. BONUS: while they bake, the oven will smell like cake.
  • Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • When cooled, scoop the seeds from the squash and discard. Scoop the flesh of both into a bowl. Discard the skins.
  • Peel and chop the onions and garlic. De-seed (or don’t) the chillies and chop. Chop the ginger (peel if you like, but I don’t).
  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables. Cook gently over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked squash/sweet potato and the bouillon.
  • Add water to cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Use a stick blender to blend the soup smooth.
  • For best results, puree the soup in batches in a liquidiser. Blitz each batch for two minutes. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  • To store: ladle into suitable containers and freeze.
  • To serve: Heat through gently. Taste & adjust seasoning.

Digestive Biscuit Cake

Digestive Biscuit Cake
Wotchers!

We end this short biscuit series with cake!

A cake made from biscuits!

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found online made with Graham crackers. I’ve never had a Graham cracker. However, many recipes online mention that Graham crackers can be substituted by digestive biscuits and I loooove digestive biscuits. Not really the chocolate ones – although I’m not saying I’d actually turn one down – but plain digestives, which sit perfectly on the cusp of sweet and savoury: amazing with cheese, divine when used as a spoon dipped into fruit yogurt (you’ve not tried it? You’re missing out. And now this nested, run-on sentence has reached such epic proportions I’m going to have to start a new paragraph!).

ANYHOO…

This recipe uses digestive biscuit crumbs as a substitute for most of the flour and the resulting cake is amazingly moist and tender, and also tastes of digestive biscuits.

Well it did once I’d tweaked it a little.

The original (which I tried as was out of respect….yadda yadda yadda) included vanilla extract, which seemed to overpower any trace of digestive biscuit. Then I tried it again, without the vanilla, and it was better, but still rather too nuanced for my tastes. So I decided to try and bring out more flavour by toasting the crumbs in a pan. The result was the best yet, but I’m still wondering whether baking in the oven might produce even more toasty, digestivy, goodness. However, on account of me getting sidetracked too easily (this was baked a month ago), if we wait until I’ve put this to the test, it’s going to be Easter, so I’ll keep you posted if/when I get back to it!

It’s lovely plain, but much enhanced by a sweetened, cream-cheese topping and a sprinkling of digestive crumbs for added texture.

Digestive Biscuit Cake

250g digestive biscuit crumbs¹
70g plain flour
2½tsp baking powder
115g butter – softened
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
160ml milk

  • Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Line a 20cm-ish square pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
  • Blitz around 300g of biscuits to find crumbs in a food processor.
  • Tip them into a dry pan and stir over medium-low heat until toasted and aromatic. Depending on the size and heat of your pan, this might take a while. Set aside to cool.
  • When cooled, measure out 250g of crumbs and stir them into the flour and the baking powder.
  • Whisk together the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, until fully combined. The mixture will appear very moist, but not liquid.
  • Put the mixture in the prepared pan and smooth over.
  • Bake for 25-ish minutes (depending on the size of your pan) until risen and browned. Judge doneness as you would a regular sponge cake.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream cheese topping

This is the simplest cream cheese topping. Other options you might like to try include this one or this one.
If you decide to fill AND top the cake, you might want to increase the recipe by 50%.

400g cream cheese
2-3tbs icing sugar
digestive biscuit crumbs

  • Whisk the icing sugar into the cream cheese. The cake is sweet, and you want this to be a contrast, so this really doesn’t need much sweetening at all.
  • Spread over the top of the cake and sprinkle the remainder of the biscuit crumbs as liked.

 

 

 

¹ A large (400g) packet of plain digestive biscuits will be enough for the cake itself, a crumbled topping and a few biscuits to enjoy while the cake it baking. I like McVities.


Maple Pecan Shortbread

Maple Pecan Shortbread

Wotchers!

Something a little more decadent this week – still biscuity, but with so much rich flavour it will have you swooning.

Beautifully crisp shortbread covered with a rich, maple syrup filling and topped with chopped pecans. It is so simple to make and so utterly delicious and moreish, you will be cursing me as you realise the entire batch is gone onna count of everyone being tempted to just one more bite.

This recipe has been adapted from sonething I found online. The original recipe was very heavy on the butter and sugar and the shortbread base, although rich, lacked crispness. Everything was over the top. However with a couple of tweaks, it has perked up no end, and is currently my bake of choice to take as a gift (provided they can be prized out of my vice-like grip).

I love the richness of the flavours in these squares. I chose to use dark muscovado sugar and Grade A maple syrup. If you think these might be a little intense for your tastes, switch to soft, light brown sugar and a milder syrup.

Another reason why I love these bars, aside from their amazing flavour, is the ease with which they come together. There’s no rolling and cutting of the shortbread – it’s not even a dough – you just press the crumb-like mixture into your tin and bake. The filling is mixed in one bowl in about five minutes, poured onto the cooked base and sprinkle on the pecans. Twenty-five minutes later and they’re done.

Come on and get your maple pecan biscuit on!

Maple Pecan Bars

Shortbread base
60g caster sugar
120g unsalted butter
150g plain flour
30g cornflour
0.5tsp salt

Filling
150g dark muscovado sugar
150g pure Grade A maple syrup (I used Clarks)
1 large egg
0.5tsp salt
30g unsalted butter – melted and cooled slightly.

100g pecans – roughly chopped.

  • Heat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Line a baking tin with parchment paper. I used a square tin with an internal measurement of 22cm. You could use anything of similar dimensions – sligtly narrower rectangle or 20cm round cake tin – whatever you have to hand. It should be at least 3cm deep.
  • Put the shortbread ingredients into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press flat.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until just starting to brown. Set aside to cool.
  • Reduce the oven heat to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Whisk the sugar, syrup, salt and egg until light and foamy (5 minutes).
  • Whisk in the butter, then pour the mixture onto the cooled shortbread.
  • Scatter the pecans evenly over the top and bake for 25 minutes until the middle is just barely set (has a little wobble).
  • Cool in the tin.
  • To get sharp, clean slices, once cooled, chill in the fridge for one hour before slicing into portions.
  • Store in an airtight container.

 


Chocolate Coffee Toffee Oatmeal Biscuits

Oatmeal Biscuits

Wotchers!

Here is the second and final recipe in the sub-series Delicious Biscuits With Unusual Stuff Added To Them and boy is there a lot going on!

We have CHOCOLATE!

We have COFFEE!

We have TOFFEE!

We have ROLLED OATS!

We have ICE-CREAM CONES!

*record-scratch* Wait, what?

Yes! These fabulously crunchy, chewy treats have a bonus texture of crumbled waffle cones mixed in.

They are similar to the Chocolate Chip Cookie of a couple of years ago, but this time with rolled oats.

I have adapted this recipe from one entered into a 2004 baking competition in the US run  by Quaker Oats. A winning entry as it happens, submitted by Paula Marchesi from Lenhartsville, PA. Aparrently 16 years is enough time for both Quaker Oats and the internet to forget whose recipe it is, because the number of versions ‘out there’ without attribution are numerous, and the Canadian Quaker Oats website even calls it “Our Chocolate Coffee Toffee Oatmeal Cookie recipe”.

It’s also interesting that Paula Marchesi from Lenhartsville, PA. pops up all over the place, with her recipes appearing on and in websites, bulletin boards and books, but with zero (that I can find) social media presence. So much so that now I’m wondering whether she’s a real person at all. On one of the recipes she claims to have been cooking for over 50 years, but all her recipes are rather modern. Curiouser and curiouser.

ANYHOO…

These biscuits are wonderfully chewy and crunchy, the sweetness of the chocolate and toffee being tempered with the aromatic bitterness of the espresso coffee. Be warned, though – with all the delicious additions, they are very much in the treat category. In fact they’re just a whisker away from being individually wrapped and sold in the confectionary aisle, so approach with caution. Or at a hundred miles an hour with an open mouth. Your call.

I’d love to be able to fill you in on their keeping qualities, but in this house they keep getting eaten up in no time.

Chocolate Coffee Toffee Oatmeal Biscuits

140g large rolled oats

115g dark or light muscovado sugar
115g unsalted butter, softened
30ml strong coffee (espresso strength) – cooled
30ml beaten egg (½ a large egg)
½tsp vanilla extract
100g wholemeal flour
½tsp salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g butterscotch pieces[1]
100g dark chocolate chips
3 waffle ice-cream cones – crushed

  • Toast the oat flakes. This is optional (the original recipe didn’t), but I think it adds a fabulous nuttiness as well as contributing to the chewiness of the finished biscuits.
  • Sprinkle the oats onto a baking sheet and put into the oven.
  • Turn the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes, until lightly golden.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the coffee, egg and vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour, salt, soda and cooled oats.
  • Stir through the remaining ingredients.
  • Portion out in 30g balls and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • When firm, arrange onto parchment-lined baking sheets and press flat. To get regular-shaped cookies like in the picture, press the balls of dough inside a small, round cookie cutter to keep the edges neat. These biscuits will spread a little in the oven, so leave 3-4cm between them.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes.
  • Allow to firm up on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If you want to neaten the edges of any biscuits that have spread themselves a little raggedy, do so now while they’re warm.
  • If you want to sneak a ‘taster’, they are amazing when still a little warm.
  • When completely cold, store in an airtight container.

 

[1] If you don’t have access to these, you could substitute with 100g of crushed Daim bars.


Peanut Cracker Biscuits

Peanut Cracker Biscuits

Wotchers!

Here we are at week two of my biscuit bonanza and the first of a very short (2) sub-series of Delicious Biscuits With Unusual Stuff Added To Them (might have to work on the title).

This is also a cookie that has been adapted into a biscuit, because crisp biscuits are best. (Spoiler Alert: Tune in next time where I completely contradict myself on this.)

ANYHOO…

I like this biscuit not only for its crispness – which is mighty – but also because it is not overly sweet, and has a definite saltiness to it onna count of the aforementioned Unusual Stuff added to it.

Firstly, there’s peanuts. Roasted. Salted. Chopped into smaller pieces (a faff, I know, but necessary to avoid the biscuits becoming HUGE and UNWEILDY. And an unwieldy biscuit is not a pretty sight).

Then we have crushed up salty crackers like these (available in the supermarkets).

The lack of fat and sugar in the crackers makes for little pockets of dry, crunchy dullness – MARVEL at how I am really selling this biscuit – dull in a good way, because it is against this plain background the rich roasty flavour of the peanuts can really shine.

The peanuts are crunchy, the cracker pieces are crunchy, there’s a delicious lick of salt aftertaste: they beat biscuits made with peanut butter hands down.

They’re perfect for a little salty-sweet treat. Go on, treat yourselves.

Peanut Cracker Biscuits

I like a really crunchy biscuit, but they might not be to everyone’s tastes, so I suggest trying a test bake of just one or two at the lower baking time. Be sure to allow them to cool completely before tasting and deciding, as they will firm up as they cool. If you’re happy with the crunch, stick with the baking time. If you like something a bit crisper, bake a little longer.

60g unsalted butter, softened
45g cream cheese, softened
150g soft brown sugar
2tbs treacle
½ large egg
90g plain flour
30g cornflour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
80g salted peanuts
2 x portion packets Doriano crackers

 

  • Chop the peanuts into pieces the size of a small pea. Chop the crackers into similar sizes.
  • Put the butter, cream cheese, sugar, treacle and egg into a bowl and whisk until smoothly combined.
  • Sift together the flours, soda and salt and add to the butter mixture and fold in.
  • Fold in the peanuts and the cracker pieces.
  • Lay out heaped teaspoons (15g or so) of the mixture onto some baking parchment and put into the freezer for 30-45 minutes to firm up.
  • When firm, roll into balls (about the size of a large grape/cherry tomato) and lay onto Silpat/parchment-lined baking sheets. These will spread a little, but not as much as the Scotch Cookies, so you can lay them with about a 5cm gap inbetween.
  • Wrap the base of a tumbler in cling film and lightly grease it with a little butter. Press the tumbler base onto the balls of dough to flatten.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes until nicely browned.
  • Allow to cool on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.