Friday, December 17, 2010

Multi -Tasking

Particularly like this recipe as it uses porridge oats. The amount of butter used is more than expected for a biscuit, but this is needed to hold the other ingredients together, and does add a 'shortbread' flavour.
Because the mixture needs gathering together with the hands, flour them first or you will find it a bit messy, but certainly something children would enjoy doing. Once the mixture has been gathered together, it can be turned out onto a floured board, rolled into a thick sausage about a foot long, then this rolled back and forth over the work surface where it will gather up all the bits that have fallen from it whilst assembling the 'sausage'.
The mixture can be sliced and cooked immediately (it might also work if rolled into small balls, each then pressed flat with the back of a fork) or it can be chilled before slicing (my preference).

Apricot Cookies: makes about 20
7 oz (200g) butter, softened
6 oz (175g) light brown sugar
2 tblsp thin cut (or shredless) orange marmalade
2 tblsp boiling water
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
6 oz (175g) porridge oats
7 oz (200g) self-raising flour
6 oz (175g) no-soak apricots, finely chopped
2 oz (50g) flaked almonds or mixed chopped nuts (opt)
Cream together the butter and the sugar. Mix the marmalade and water together until the marmalade has dissolved, then stir this into the creamed mixture. Sift the spices with the flour then tip that - with the oats - on top of the creamed mixture and begin cutting it in with a knife until it resembles a crumble mix.
Time then to flour hands and start gathering the mixture together to make a firm dough. When compact enough, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll it into a thick sausage. Then wrap in baking parchment and/or foil and chill in the fridge.
To bake: slice the roll into discs (about 1/8th inch thick - the amount makes about 20), and place well apart (they will spread) on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 150C, 300F, gas 2 for about 25 minutes or until golden. The biscuits will be crispy round the edges but soft in the middle, so leave on the thin to cook for several minutes, then remove with a fish slice to avoid breaking. Cool on a cake airer (they will then dry out in the middle). Store in an air-tight tin.

Stock cubes can be used (for convenience) made up with the litre of water, but myself prefer to use home-made chicken stock. Don't chop the veggies too small, they need to be fairly 'chunky', and roughly the same size. Also the veggies can vary, use less of some, more of another, or substitute turnips, sweet potatoes, parsnips, courgettes, aubergines, bell peppers.... just make sure the total weight of veggies is the same as in the recipe, as if less, there won't be enough to feed six. When making a smaller amount, a good guide is to allow approx 2 oz (50g) couscous per serving.

Couscous with Spicy Vegetables: serves 6
1.75 pints (1 ltr) chicken or vegetable stock
1 onion, cut into eighths
1 tsp paprika pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
3 large potatoes, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
half a small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
12 cherry tomatoes
1 x 400g chickpeas, drained
11 oz (300g) couscous
salt and pepper
Put the stock into a pan with the spices and bring to the boil, then add the prepared vegetables that take the longest cooking time. Boil for 5 minutes, then add the vegetable that take less time to become tender. After a further 10 minutes all veggies should be al dente. Add the tomatoes and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Then drain and keep warm. If you wish, use some of this liquid to 'cook' the couscous. Or use fresh boiling stock.
Put the couscous into a bowl and add enough chosen boiling stock to come about an inch and a half above the grains. Cover and leave to stand for about 10 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed, then fluff up the grains with a fork. Meanwhile heat the chickpeas in a little water or stock, drain then stir into the couscous.
Tip the couscous into the centre of a shallow dish, and serve it surrounded by the vegetables. Sprinkle a little cumin or paprika over as garnish.