Category Archives: Biscuits
Blossom! All the trees around here are starting to burst into joyful exuberant bloom and I just love it. Nothing evokes springtime, optimism and bright beginnings quite as well as nature cloaked in a mass of petals. The tulips, daffodils and other bulbs are all lovely, but for me, it’s the blossom that really gives life a lift. So beautiful, these delicate petals and colours, and so fleeting too. You just have to stop and enjoy them as they last. So, blessed with some gentle sunshine this week, we are taking our aperitifs to the garden!
If you are like me, you’ll enjoy a little savoury treat with your drink. And these little cheesy, nutty biscuits are just the thing. The problem is only that they are so tasty and moreish (that’s a word from my childhood!) that it’s hard to stop from eating too many. Never mind, I have a robust appetite and it’s not readily ruined. These biscuits are quick and simple to make, and you can even prepare the dough in advance, shape it into a cylinder and freeze it. Then when you wish to bake the sables, just allow it to barely defrost so you can slice the little rounds and bake.
In this recipe I used a strong, sharp cheddar and pecan nuts. But like most things I cook, it’s all variable! Try a version with gruyere or blue cheese and walnuts, or parmesan and sesame, poppy, caraway, onion seeds, paprika…
I wish it weren’t so, but we tend to hibernate a bit during the winter months in England. I feel much more inclined to socialise and entertain when the sun is shining. Living most of my life in sunny climates, I never noticed this – it’s one of those things that we are aware of with the distinct seasons we have in England. So here’s to Spring, Summer to come, warmer weather, friends and fun.
As always, thanks for visiting and please do leave me a comment if you wish. I love to get the links to your sites and blogs too. Or keep in touch on twitter!
More soon. P.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Those of you who kindly stop by here regularly will have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet for a time. It’s been an eventful and difficult couple of months, I’ll say more in a moment. But first – a bit belatedly – heartfelt wishes for a glorious and peaceful 2011 to all. The new year brings a fresh start for us, and this year I feel that especially. So here we are, I’ve taken stock, and I’m so looking forward to this coming year - and feeling very thankful too. I’m starting my new year by sending out a lot of thank you messages. And what better way is there to say thank you than with some delicious homemade shortbread biscuits.
So where have I been? Well I’ll just say, in a nutshell, that I had a bit of a sudden health issue and as a result I had to have major surgery just before Christmas. All went well and all is well now, and that’s one (big) reason I’m truly thankful.
But it’s extraordinary how much that’s wonderful and positive can emerge from challenging events. I’ve been delighted and honoured by the kindness and friendship of people around me. When I came home from hospital, friends and neighbours in our village showered us with help and good wishes. Our cottage was absolutely brimming with cards and flowers (those pink ones above came from the two gorgeous old ladies who live next door). We were brought hot dinners and given lots of help with childcare. I felt so touched by all these kindnesses. We moved to this village from Barbados about five years ago and at first it wasn’t easy to settle. Over time we naturally made friends – however the experiences of the past several weeks made me really see how lovely this place is, this little village full of kind and caring people. Now I’m well on the mend, it’s time for me to send out some thanks for all those favours. It’s time to start baking.
I found this cute little biscuit stamper in my Christmas stocking and this is an excellent opportunity to try it out. I love it, and so does our little boy. We haven’t quite mastered perfectly stamped biscuits yet, but that’s what homemade is all about isn’t it?
While the biscuits cool down, we have the chance to take a walk in the crisp winter sunshine. It has been a lovely winter so far, lots of snow and frost. I’m a warm weather girl really, but even so I love the beauty of winter. The shapes of the bare trees, the muted colours and far reaching views. Then back home, into the warmth, and it’s time for a cup of tea and to start on those thank you cards.
As I haven’t been able to cook much for the past few weeks, my husband has had to get cooking. (Another thing to be thankful for?!) As the head cook of the house, I’ve been teaching him a bit as he goes along. It’s been quite good fun actually, so we’re going to keep up the cookery lessons! More about that next time.
In the meantime, drop me a comment if you like. I would love to hear from you. And if you would like to connect on Twitter, I always tweet on there with blog updates and other things in between. Thanks for visiting!
After my wonderful visit to the Irish Embassy last week – see last post – I felt inspired to do something with the lovely big bag of Irish oats that I brought home with me. What to make? For me it’s too hot for porridge at the moment – I’ll save that pleasure for the chilly mornings of Autumn. But it’s the perfect time for picnics and we always love snacks to take out on our travels. So I decided to make a big, crunchy slab of granola to break into bars just for that purpose. With summer camps and day trips galore on the menu, these delicious little bars provide a healthy boost of energy.
I’m crazy about nuts and seeds – I like nutty things to be really nutty, not just a scanty hint. That’s the great thing about creating your own food, you get to make it just how you like it! So my granola bars are a luxurious mix of oats, and nuts and seeds, blended together in a syrup of butter, brown sugar and honey and perfumed with vanilla. I try to go easy on the butter and sugar in the recipe so that I can feel pious in my indulgence. Is that possible?
Very Nutty Granola Bars
Like most of my recipes, this one is pliable. There is much latitude to vary the ingredients and make the bars just as you like them. You can use any nuts or seeds that you like. Or just seeds. Or add some dried fruit, sometimes I do that too. Even the grains/flakes can vary – you can just use oats, or mix with wheat, rice, barley…I found a bag of mixed grain porridge recently and I like to add this to the oats.
Here is my recipe as a basic guide.
150g light brown or golden caster sugar
150g of golden syrup or honey (or a combination of the two)
100g peanut butter, I use whole, crunchy type
350g of oat and/or other grain flakes
125g seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp, all good (your choice)
125g nuts, chopped – pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, all good as above
one teaspoon of vanilla essence
Heat oven to 180 centigrade and line a shallow baking pan (about 30x45cm) with baking paper.
In a large heavy pan, melt together the butter with the sugar and syrup and/or honey. When the sugar is dissolved, blend in the peanut butter. Remove from the heat and add all the dry ingredients and mix it all up well, along with the teaspoon of vanilla.
Turn the mixture out onto the baking sheet and press it out evenly. I cover it all with another sheet of baking paper and use my hands to press in evenly into the pan. (Then take the top sheet off before baking.) This makes it easier to cut into bars later.
Bake for about 20 to 2 minutes until golden brown all over. Allow to cool in the pan. Then cut into bars or squares as you wish.
Lovely with a bowl of hot chocolate or cafe au lait!