Saturday, February 28, 2009

Moving On...

There are occasions when, after eating a slice of cake or a couple (or more) home-made biscuits, life suddenly seems more bearable, and perhaps this comes under 'comfort eating', so today am giving recipes that are very yummy, and make use of ingredients we have in store. Anything made from 'foods in store' can hardly be counted as expensive, especially when this is a good way to 'use them up' and gain a bit of pleasure even in these trying times.

Double Chocolate and Apricot Cookies: makes 20 plus
4 oz (100g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) cocoa
half tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) butter (pref unsalted), softened
4 oz (100g) soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 oz (100g) white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
4 oz (100g) no-soak apricots (or dried peaches), chopped
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together into a bowl. In another bowl, put the butter, sugar and egg and whisk together until well blended, then mix in the flour and stir in the chocolate and apricots, mixing everything together well.
Place teaspoons of the mixture on greased baking trays, leaving plenty of room between each to allow to spread. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 190C, 375F, gas 5. Cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a cake airer.

Coffee and Almond Shortbread Biscuits: makes about 20
4 oz (100g) plain flour
2 tsp instant coffee powder
4 oz (100g) butter, softened
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
2 oz (50g) ground almonds
1 egg, lightly beaten
flaked almonds
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and pale gold in colour, then sift in the flour and coffee. Add the ground almonds, stir together until well mixed and knead into a dough. Place in a bag and chill for 45 minutes.
Using a lightly floured board and rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4" (5mm) thick, and cut into rounds. Roll the trimmings to make further biscuits, placing them all on ungreased baking trays, allowing a little extra room to spread, brush each with egg and press a few flaked almonds on top, then bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 150C, 300F, gas 2 until pale brown. Cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes then transfer onto a cake airer. Store in an airtight container.

Several cakes/desserts have been posted on this site that use a vegetable as one ingredient, eg carrot cake, carrot flan, courgette cake, beetroot cake, and even tomato soup cake. So this next cake fits into the same category.
We should always remember that the veggies such as above are all sweet in flavour, as are parsnips and sweetcorn, so incorporating vegetables into a cake or dessert can get the that most anti-veg child eating them happily (just as long as they don't know they are there). If you have no creamed sweetcorn, just blitz cooked corn kernels in a blender or food processor.
Almond and Sweetcorn Cake:
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) ground almonds
6 oz (175g) unsalted butter, softened
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 x 298g can (10.5 oz) creamed sweetcorn
half tsp almond essence
1 oz (25g) flaked almonds
Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a bowl, then stir in the ground almonds. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then add the almond essence, a teaspoon of the flour and gradually beat in the eggs (the flour prevents the butter/egg curdling). Alternately fold in the flour and sweetcorn in three stages, then spoon the mixture into a greased and bottom-lined 8" (20cm) cake tin, levelling the top and sprinkling over the flaked almonds.
Bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for 65 minutes until the centre of the cake is firm when pressed. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to finishing cooling on a cake airer.

The next two recipes were originally intended for a children's party, but certainly the savoury 'pasties', made larger, would make a good nibble for an adult buffet. When using Cheddar in cooking, it is never worth using the milder, cheaper cheese for the flavour would hardly be noticed. Far better to buy a much stronger-tasting mature Cheddar and use far less of it, this way there would be very little difference in the cost of cheese used.
If it makes it easier, cut the pastry into squares and fold over corner to diagonal corner to form triangles.
Cheese, Apple and Sweetcorn Pasties: makes 15 - 20
8 oz (225g) plain flour
pinch salt
4 oz (100g) butter
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
6 oz (175g) mild Cheddar cheese, grated OR...
...4 oz (100g) strong mature Cheddar, grated
2 tblsp cold water
3 oz (75g) red eating apple
2 oz (50g) sweetcorn kernels
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Add the parsley and half the cheese, and bind together with the water (use less water to start, you can always add more if necessary). Put into a bag and chill for half an hour.
Leaving the peel on the apple, remove the core and chop the flesh finely. Place into a bowl with the sweetcorn and the remaining cheese. Mix well together.
Roll out the pastry to 1/8" (3mm) thick and cut into rounds using a 3" (8cm) cutter, gathering up the trimmings and re-rolling/cutting. Place a teaspoon of the apple filling in the centre, brush the edges with water and fold over to form a semi-circle. Press a fork around the edges to seal, and pierce a hole for the steam.
Brush with egg yolk and bake for 20 minutes at 190C, 375F, gas 5 until pale brown. These pasties can be eaten hot or cold.

This next recipe is a variation of the Scotch Pancake, or Drop Scone and apart from the glace cherries, the ingredients are pretty healthy. Instead of the cherries, used sultanas or chopped no-soak apricots and it would then become even healthier. As the recipe is intended for children, the drop scones are mini-size, so bear this in mind when you see how many the batter makes, as it would probably make only about 15 - 20 normal sized ones. Once cooked and cooled the scones can be bagged up and frozen.
Honey and Cherry Drop Scones: makes about 60 (F)
5 oz (150g) plain flour
half tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) glace cherries, chopped small
1 egg
3 tblsp runny honey
5 fl oz (150m) milk
1 tblsp sunflower oil or butter for frying
Sieve the flour and baking powder together. Rinse the chopped cherries in tepid water to remove all the syrup, and dry thoroughly in a clean kitchen towel before adding to the flour. Mix in the egg, honey and milk and stir together until well blended.
Lightly grease a large pre-heated frying pan and cook teaspoons of the mixture for about 2 minutes, until the top begins to set, then - using a fish slice or spatula - flip the scones over and cook the other side for 1 - 2 minutes until brown. Cool on a wire rack, covering with a dry kitchen towel if you wish to keep the scones soft, warm and moist.