Monday, February 23, 2009

Start the Week

There are not as many 'main' ingredients in this recipe as first appears, as the last five have to do with the decoration and glazing.
Hot Cross Scones: makes 8
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
half a tsp mixed spice
3 oz (75g) butter, softened
2 oz (50g) light brown sugar
3 oz (75g) sultanas
2 oz (50g) chopped stem ginger or candied peel
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tblsp milk (or 3 of buttermilk)
pinch of salt
2 oz (50g) plain flour
1 - 2 tsp cold water
milk to brush surfaces
2 tbslp caster sugar
2 tblsp boiling water
Sift the flour and spice into a bowl and rub in the butter until like crumbs. Stir in the sugar, sultanas, and ginger or peel.
In a jug beat the egg, milk and salt together and add this to the dry mixture, stirring it together with a knife to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and gently roll out the dough to just about one inch thick, certainly no thinner than 2 cm. Using a 1 1/2" (4cm) cutter, first dipping it in flour, stamp out the scones taking care not to twist the cutter while doing so (twisting makes the scones rise unevenly). Gather the trimmings and re-roll to stamp out more. Any last 'clump' of dough can be baked as a 'tester' (cooks perks).
Make the crosses by mixing together the plain flour with just enough of the water to make a smooth dough.
Roll out and cut into thin strips and lay one strip north to south, crossing with another strip east to west. Brush with milk then bake for 15 minutes at 22oC, 425F, gas 7 until well risen.
Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar in the boiling water and use this to brush over the tops of the scones immediately they come out of the oven. Cool on a cake airer. Best eaten warm the day of making, or next day can be split, toasted and spread with butter.

Even in these belt-tightening times, there are still opportunities to serve something really special. All that has to be done is hunt for the right recipe. This I try to do all the time, and have come across this recipe for a 'terrine', which is the sort of posh nosh we would love to serve to guests, but what the heck - can we make one just using belly pork and chicken livers? You bet we can, especially if we follow the following tip: always ask for a bottles of wine of booze (assorted) for birthday/Christmas gifts and then you can make a dish such as this without having to break the bank.
Stretch streaky bacon rashers using the flat of a knife until really, really thin - this way they go further. The recipe suggests using 12 rashers and because of the above tip I have allowed just 6 - 8. Because these rashers line the mould, they could be omitted altogether, and the terrine made in a terrine dish Iusually ceramic) to be served directly from it - as with a pate. But as it looks so much more impressive when turned out and sliced, so why spoil the ship for a h'pth of tar?
Pork, Liver and Bacon Terrine: serves 8 - 1o
1 lb 12 oz (800g) minced pork (belly or shoulder meat)
6 oz (175g) smoked streaky bacon, finely diced
9 oz (250g) chicken livers, trimmed and roughly chopped
3 - 5 sprigs rosemary (leaves only - and chopped)
few sage leaves, finely chopped
half tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp of the spice mix (see below)*
salt and pepper
4 tblp brandy
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tblsp goose fat or lard
7 fl oz (200ml) red wine
2 oz (50g) shelled pistachio nuts or walnuts (chopped)
6 - 8 rashers streaky bacon, stretched very thinly
6 prunes, pitted
In a bowl, mix the minced pork, diced bacon, chopped chicken livers, and the herbs and nutmeg. Add seasoning to taste then stir in the brandy. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight to marinate, or at least leave for half a day).
Fry the onion in the goose fat/lard until just softened, then add the wine and continue cooking over a low heat until the liquid has reduced and the onions are sticky and 'jammy'. Leave to cool, then stir this and the nuts into the meat mixture.
Using butter, grease and line an 8" (20cm) terrine or loaf tin with slightly overlapping thin rashers of bacon, allowing plenty to fall down the outside. Half fill the mould with the pork mixture pressing it into the corners, then open up the prunes and lay these along the centre of the terrine. Put the rest of the pork mixture on top, almost overfilling the mould, and doming the top (to look a bit like a loaf of bread), folding the streaky bacon that lines the tin, over the top.
Stand the container in a small roasting tin two thirds full of water, and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 45 minutes. When cooked it should feel very firm when pressed in the centre (if you have a meat thermometer this should read 65C when pushed into the centre).
Cool, then cover with foil and place on a heavy weight (a board with a couple of cans of baked beans would suffice). Chill in the fridge for several hours then turn out onto a serving plate. If not eating immediately, wrap the plate/terrine in foil and keep chilled.
Slice with a very sharp knife for serving.

*The above uses a special spice mix called "quatre-espices" (four spices) that are not usually sold in a supermarket, although can be ordered from a specialist supplier. However, easy enough to make ourselves, so make up a batch and use to season terrines, pates and other pork and beef dishes.
four -spice mix:
2 good tblsps white pepper
2 good tsps freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
half tsp ground cloves
Mix all the ingredients together and store in a small airtight container. Keep in a dark place.

Fond as I am of biscuits, have had to cut down on sugar consumption, so it is rare a 'cookie' passes my lips. However, the following traditional Dorchester Biscuits makes I could eat. As the mixture just needs rolling into balls, rather than being rolled out on a board and cut to shape, this is one the children might like to make, and apart from the seasoning, the weights of the ingredients are the same throughput.
Mixed nuts can be bought in packs, already chopped, so this keeps little hands away from knives.
DorchesterCheese Biscuits: makes about 15 (F)
2 ox (50g) strong Cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz (50g) plain flour
tiny pinch of salt
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
pinch cayenne pepper
2 oz (50g) chopped nuts
Remove a third of the nut to use for sprinkling, then put the remainder into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, stir with a fork, then mix together with your hands to form a dough.
Remove pieces about the size of a walnut and roll into balls. Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet, sprinkle over the reserved nuts, then flatten the balls slightly.
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on a cake airer. Can be eaten warm or cold. To freeze: store in lidded containers and freeze for up to 2 months.

Another biscuit recipe is worth giving as it has a dual purpose - eats very well with cheese, or just as a biscuit in its own right. These biscuits also freeze, but as most biscuits keep fairly well in air-tight tins, never really see the point of freezing them, although once rolled and cut, they could then be frozen uncooked so that they can be lifted out and popped into an oven to cook WHEN THE OVEN IS ON COOKING SOMETHING ELSE.
Oat Biscuits: makes 16 (F)
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) soft margarine
4 oz (100g) porridge or rolled oats
2 oz (50g) plain flour
Put the sugar and marg into a bowl and cream together using a wooden spoon. When well creamed, add the oats and flour and mix well together. Using hands, lightly knead to a smooth dough, then using a lightly floured board, roll to a quarter inch (5mm) thick. Using a 2 1/2" (6cm) cutter, cut into rounds and place on two lightly greased baking trays (or cook in two batches). Bake at 160C, 325F, gas 3 for around 20 minutes or until just beginning to colour. Cool on a cake airer.

Because of the need now to save as much fuel as possible, the following recipe makes a biscuit dough that will keep chilled for some time in the fridge uncooked to be sliced and baked whenever the oven is on for something else. The uncooked dough could also be frozen. Apart from the sense behind this, there is really nothing like eating freshly baked biscuits still warm from the oven.
Frozen Cookie Dough: enough to make 32 biscuits
5 oz (150g) butter, softened
5 oz (15og) caster sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 egg, beaten
8 oz (225g) plain flour
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well together to form a smooth dough. Knead gently, then wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for about half an hour, then roll into a sausage shape about 2" (5cm) in diameter, and 8 (20cm) long. Wrap again in greaseproof paper and chill until firm enough to slice or freeze.
To cook, unwrap the dough then slice into quarter inch (5mm) thick rounds. Place on lightly greased baking sheets and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 7 for about 12 - 15 minutes or until golden.