Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas means Biscuits?

I had a sudden urge to make Christmas biscuits of some form or another. I don't mean those really hard ones you hang on the tree, I mean something warming, crumbly and delicious. Probably heavy in chocolate. Below is the result, I think it turned out rather well.

You've probably worked out by now that at least 50% of my cooking is improvised. This is no different, we had wholemeal flour in so that's what got used and let me tell you, it worked. These biscuits are delicious. 

Britt's Chocolate Christmas Biscuits

You will need:
  • Wholemeal flour (but like I said, that's just what I had in, plain will do fine) - 300 grams
  • Caster Sugar - 150 grams
  • Butter - 250 grams (that's a full block)
  • Cocoa Powder - 40 grams (roughly)
  • Baking Powder - 2 teaspoons
For the topping:
  • Dark Chocolate - 150 grams
  • Baileys - 2 tablespoons (give or take) - optional
  • Cinnamon - a dash
  • Icing Sugar - very little
  • White Writing Icing (totally optional and difficult to control at that)

Put the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment.

Put the sugar and butter into the largest mixing bowl you can find and cream them together, then add the cocoa powder and do it again. When they're all combined rub in the flour and baking powder. The mixture will turn to crumbs, gradually gather it into a solid ball. If you find the mixture is too crumbly to stick together you can add a tablespoon or two of milk (it's unlikely you'll need much if any). If you've got one of those snazzy food processors or kitchen aids skip most of this step and dump the butter, flour, sugar and cocoa butter into the thing all at once but realise you're removing the joy from it. I could just be jealous of your kitchen gadgetry. 

Pull off a small ball at a time and squish slightly as you place them on the baking tray. I recently got some shape cutters, don't get excited, they're just circles, so I actually pushed the mixture flat (I don't have a rolling pin yet) and used the shape cutter, then repeated until I was all out of the mixture. 

You'll probably get 12 biscuits per a tray, cook them for 15 minutes. Leave them to stand for 15 minutes (you can use this time to cook the next batch as this recipe makes roughly 40 biscuits) on a cold surface or cooling rack. 

Once you've got all the biscuits you want and they're nicely cooled it's time to start on the topping. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Add the Baileys (optional but encouraged), cinnamon and icing sugar, I won't tell you how much, this depends entirely on your preference but use the icing sugar to get the texture slightly gloopy and spreadable rather than a runny mess. Spread the chocolate Baileys mix on to the top of the biscuits and leave to set, this can take a while depending on how boozy you went. You can also attempt to draw snowflakes with writing icing at this stage but it's not a deal breaker.

Now eat one.

Now another.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Mulled Wine

Loosely based on Jamie Oliver's Mulled Wine plan, but I stuck cloves in the oranges and chucked the whole thing in.

Crusted Lamb : Part 1

Ok, so I've got visitors tomorrow, and it's going to be a moroccan stew and couscous in the tagine, but cooked outside of the tagine I wanted to do a crusted rack of lamb as i'd seen one done on a cookery show recently.

Couldn't find a recipe was the kind of thing I was after though, a sort of haphazard sweet and savoury moroccan affair. Also, the recipe's online don't seem to agree on which order to sear, apply crust, and slow cook and if you can at any point refrigerate. So I took advice from Alison and Ian Mayor, it seemed wise.

My crust ingredients are...

Dry things for crustiness:

Almonds, Pine Nuts, Breadcrumbs, Black Pepper, Salt, Turmeric, Paprica, probably some other things that came to hand. I can't remember.

Wet things for sticking the crustiness to the lamb:

Olive Oil, Mustard, Sun Dried Tomato Paste, Harissa.

I've hammered all that together, seared the lamb on both sides, but mostly the fat side then applied a paste made mostly of the wet things. Then poured the remainder of the dry things on top. This is what it looked like:

It's now wrapped in clingfilm and waiting for tomorrow in the fridge. I'll let you know how it goes.

My intention, is to serve it with slices of orange, samphire and balsamic. Not sure if that's odd, but it's what i'm going to do.