Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh yes!...

... black treacle AND golden syrup!

To me, this is always a sign of a good thing. In this case the good thing is flapjacks. Soft, treacly flapjacks.

I think it occurred to me to make flapjacks because I bought one from a shop the other day and it tasted so sickeningly sweet - all glucose syrup and margarine - that I couldn't finish it.

I like good pale flapjacks (the ones made just with golden syrup, butter, oats and sugar) - especially chocolate dipped or fruit filled - but I like treacly ones better. And I hear treacle is a good source of Vitamin B, so they're practically a health food.

This recipe is the one my mum used when we were little - it's child-level simple and it makes dense ginger-y treacly bars, perfect for lunch boxes, or afternoon snackage. A good addition is some chopped dried apricots for a little extra fruitiness and moistness.

Treacle Flapjacks

In a saucepan, melt 75g butter with 50g dark brown sugar, 1/2 tbsp of golden syrup and 1/2 tbsp black treacle over a low heat until all combined.

Mix in 50g wholemeal flour, 75g porridge oats and 2-3tsps ground ginger (and 25g chopped dried apricots - optional)

Squash into a shallow dish and bake at Gas 3-4 for about 45 minutes until it looks set and browned on top. It will still be a bit wobbly at this stage, but will firm up as it cools. Slice while its still hot, but let it cool and firm before removing from the dish.

(NB - I like Jordans Organic Porridge Oats the best - they are the only ones I can find that are proper whole oats, not mashed up little pieces.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The fall from innocence... (A tomato's tale)

Well, just imagine what you could do with these little bad boys! Aren't they superb all piled up like that? Handfuls and handfuls of ripe cherry tomatoes. And these ones they really smell like tomatoes, and they really taste like tomatoes; not the pale impostors you find on supermarket shops (my local Turkish shop, for its tomatoes and avocados alone, is one of the major plus points of living in Archway).

I feel a little bit guilty actually looking at them there, because here were these fresh ripe fruit, all bright-cheeked and eager. Just look at them!

And then, what did I go and do? I corrupted them, poor loves, with bucketloads of sugar and hot hot heat and bubbled them and boiled them so they were no longer unsullied and innocent, but sticky and broken and all in a heap.

Although, to be fair, they were going to end up meeting their ends via mine or someone else's greedy mouth anyway, so whether drizzled with balsamic, as part of a fresh greek salad or reborn as jam, I don't suppose they really minded anyway.

Yes, that's right, I said jam. And I suspect you might be a little sceptical. Tomato JAM?! You might even be wrinkling your nose up and wondering what the world is coming to.

Well, I saw this recipe in Vogue Entertaining and Travel you see. And it intrigued me. I couldn't work out whether it would be exquisite or grotesque or merely just mediocre. But the colour was superb, and the tomatoes were a bargain, so I thought I'd give it a go.

As it turns out, it's good, very good. But slightly disconcerting. There's lemon and pomegranate syrup in there too (the latter is my addition, the former in the orig.) so it's quite tangy and marmalade-y although not as bitter as a marmalade, not as pickly as a chutney, but not quite as jammy as a jam. So as you eat it you feel a little disorientated, as it won't fit in any gastronomic pigeonhole your tastebuds want to slot it in to.

But it's good on toast, and it's good in sausage sandwiches and it is fabulously red, so I think in the end it was worth it.

Tomato and Lemon Jam

- Chop 900g cherry tomatoes in quarters (I halved them, but then the skins are too big in the jam, so better to quarter I think)

- Put in a heavy-based pan with 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced, the juice of the other half of the lemon, 6 dessertspoons pomegranate molasses and 650g jam sugar.

- Bring to a boil and simmer until it reaches the setting point - to test this you take half a teaspoon of the jam and dot it on a cold plate. After a couple of seconds you push the edge with your finger. If it wrinkles, it's ready; if it's still just liquid keep cooking. For me, this took about two hours.

- Once done, bottle in sterilised jars (thoroughly cleaned old jars, put in a low oven for 10-15 minutes until hot)

- VE&T say it will keep for a couple of months in the fridge, but if the jars are airtight I don't see why it shouldn't keep longer unopened, like most jam.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fireworks and overwork

Numbers have even started invading my sleep now - I surface to wakefulness only to be shrouded in a sleepy mirage of financial statements and tax calculations. Three weeks to go until these looming shadows can be cast off...

Anyway, whilst exam madness has been brewing, sadly other parts of my life - little things like eating and sleeping and any kind of domestic chore - have fallen a bit by the wayside.

I've been almost hibernating from things I'd like to do, think I should be doing, like updating this blog. But, well, it's time to get things a little in perspective. What's more important in the long run - informing the world wide web about the variant of sausage I have been eating or getting to grips with weighted average cost of capital? Well, obviously...

I have got a few more interesting things to post soon when photos have been uploaded and so on and so forth, but in the meantime some pictures from bonfire night, and a cunning canape idea...

We donned hats and coats and decanted to the balcony for fireworks night - hoping to see the sky light up as it had been doing on the drizzly walk home. Alas, we got sound but no visuals...

Still, we had Imogen's superb creation of mini baked potato - I can't think of a better canape for a bonfire night - New potatoes baked in a medium-hot oven for 30-40 minutes until soft to a knife, then filled with sauteed leeks and cheese, secured with toothpicks and popped back into the oven for a little meltage.
And we had the aforementioned sausages, with a homemade condiment, which I will keep you in suspense about until I post again. We had winter Pimms (which is scrummy, but I think really you'd be better off just to do your own with brandy or calvados, hot apple juice, apple and orange slices and a couple of cinnamon sticks, cloves, that kind of thing.)

And sparklers!

Let's hope my brain is sparking too, come mid-December...
Oh, and by the way, it was so lovely to return to two new comments from hitherto unknown readers when I finally checked in here. Thank you! and thank you for reading all, old and new...