Recipe 62: Neil’s flapjacks

April 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Posted in baking | Leave a comment

I think I have mentioned that my boss is gluten intolerant, which means that when we have an office bake-a-thon (which happens every once in a while in aid of charity) I always make something that he can eat – so that he can join in… A recent discovery in the special products aisle has been certified gluten-free oats – which meant that I could try out the flapjacks from my new Mary Berry book in a  Neil-friendly format. I have successfully made a chocolate flapjack (from the Green & Black’s chocolate cookbook) but I’d not found a plain flapjack that worked – but this looked good – to add to the gooey goodness – it  uses demerara sugar.

Making it: flapjack is simple, melting butter, sugar and syrup and then mixing it in with the special oats. Then the mixture is put in a tin (lined to make it easier to get out) and cooked for about 35 minutes at 140C. When I took it out of the oven I cut it into pieces while it was still warm… and it was seriously gooey…. and looking very promising. Then when they were cold, they were all packed up for the office.

Eating it: All that flapjack should be – gooey on the verge of caramel – perfectly cooked oats. Totally more-ish – I probably ate more than was wise… and Neil’s comment was “thank you…. I am not sure that I’d have got through today without them”

Next time: These are clearly a winner for the office – they were quick to make, easy to transport and went down a treat – so will definitely be made again. And given how much Neil appreciated them – I shall always think of them as “Neil’s flapjacks”

Recipe 61: Devil’s food cake

April 2, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Posted in baking, puddings | Leave a comment
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As it was a kind of birthday party, dessert needed to be a cake… not actually a birthday cake – definitely cake and ice-cream (my tastes are not always all that sophisticated!) And although I had a triumph a few months ago with the old-fashioned chocolate cake – I wanted to try out another contender for the ultimate chocolate cake. So this time it was the devil’s food cake from Kitchen.

Making it: the cake batter was slightly strange – very liquid – but straightforward. The icing was more complex  as it needed time to set before being put on the cake. But it was interesting to make – I melted sugar and butter and water and then added the chocolate and whisked while the chocolate melted. Then left it for just over an hour for it to get to a spreading consistency. It was relatively easy to ice – and I protected the cake stand from being coated in chocolate by using strips of baking paper around the cake base.

Eating it: it went down well…. there was definitely a luscious richness to the cake through using muscovado sugar – but to be honest – it didn’t beat the old-fashioned chocolate cake.

Next time: I’ll make the old-fashioned chocolate cake.

Recipe 60: slow cooked lamb with beans

April 2, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Posted in savoury | 1 Comment
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A seriously celebratory dinner party was planned (in honour of James – my late husband who would have turned 33 but instead is already enjoying the eternal party that is Heaven). Marking his birthday is one of the fun ways of celebrating his life with friends who also loved him: it is great to get together to have fun and remember that James was a brilliant person to have known (whatever happens in the adventure that is life – I will always feel privileged to have  been married to James).  Eating together is a great reminder that James is already enjoying Heaven – where according to Isaiah we will get to eat the best meats and drink the finest wine – and that one day we will get to join him there: because Jesus’ death in our place on the cross, taking the penalty for our sin.

So with that as the motivation – I really wanted to cook something utterly lovely:  homely but indulgent. I’ve had my eye on the slow-cooked lamb with beans from Nigella’s Feast ever since it came out – but never found the right opportunity – but for Saturday dinner the timings worked perfectly – so it was time to give it a go!

Making it: The beans had to be soaked overnight (necessitating a trip to Sainsburys just before they closed on Friday night), then boiled for 20 minutes. While they were boiling, the lamb was browned in the roasting tin (and after the billows of smoke generated last time I did that I had the extractor fan on and both kitchen door and window open to minimise the smell). onions, carrot and garlic were finely chopped and then softened in the tin. I then tipped the beans in to the roasting tin – added liquid (including some wine) and rosemary. The lamb shoulders were put on top and then it was covered tightly in foil and shoved in the oven. It went in at about 1pm… at a higher temperature for 3 hours and then turned down super low – filling the house with a wonderful roasting smell for the rest of the day. Then when we were ready to eat – it looked amazing when it came out of the oven.  I put the beans into a serving dish and then hacked the meat up – and arranged on top (I have to confess that this did not look as visually appealing as the tin when it came out of then oven)

Eating it: mmmmmmmmm…. the lamb was meltingly soft, the beans which had cooked under all those meaty juices were so rich and flavoursome. We all ate lots! A wonderful dish for a friendly feast – and because all the hard work was done hours before – I was a very chilled out host.
The left-overs were also pretty yummy the following day with salad (and hummus and pitta bread)

Next time: I think it should have had a little more salt – but that is my tendency to under-season more than anything else!

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