Monday, 20 March 2017

Rosemary Shortbread Biscuits

Why do we only seem to use rosemary with savoury dishes like lamb?  It is a delicious herb, traditionally symbolising remembrance, with a wonderful scent.   I've just been tasting some rosemary ice cream, which one of my sons decided tasted like roast lamb (high treat from the Carnivorous One), and thought it could be delicious in sweet biscuits.  Given that lavender flowers are in short supply in March, necessity became the mother of invention...

Make sure that the sprigs aren't too ancient and/or battered, and also make sure that you snip the pieces small so that you neither end up with bits in your teeth nor chew through great stringy bits!

Rosemary Shortbread Biscuits
Rosemary Shortbread

5oz/150g plain flour
3 level tbsps rice flour – if no rice flour, use more plain flour
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/100g butter at just above room temperature but not melted
3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves snipped off into small pieces

Preheat oven to 170deg C/325 deg F and cover 2 large baking sheets with non-stick parchment.   Mix together the flours and the sugar.    Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients, plus the rosemary.   It will form a dryish dough, which you knead a little before rolling (this stretches the gluten and makes the biscuit stick together better).  

Roll out the dough between two pieces of non-stick parchment, about 1/4" .5cm thick.   Cut circles, about 2-3”, 50-75mm, and transfer using a fish slice to the baking sheet.  When you gather up the leftovers and roll them out again, try not to over-knead it, as the final result isn’t as good (what Mary Berry would described as “overworked” – you know the feeling!). 

Bake until firm and golden – the butter in the mixture will brown while your back is turned, so check it frequently after 15 minutes or so.      When they are done, dredge them with caster sugar.  

This quantity of ingredients made about 16 or so biscuits.    

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rhubarb Curd

The chickens are laying like crazy at the moment - they love this glorious spring weather -  so I have lots of spare eggs.   Deciding to experiment with different versions of lemon curd was therefore an easy one!  This is a rhubarb curd, made with the lovely scarlet spring rhubarb.   There are many ways of making this curd, but I found that cooking the rhubarb first, then pureeing the result and then making the curd worked best for colour.  I tested sieving it (the front one) and not sieving it (the back one).  Not sieving means little pieces of errant egg white and the odd stringy bit of rhubarb.  Sieving means a beautifully smooth curd, but less of it.  You takes your choice!

The curd is delicious on toast, in yoghurt or whipped cream, or simply spooned from the jar... It is naturally gluten free, though I suspect would be difficult to set if it were dairy free as well.

Rhubarb Curd

Rhubarb Curd

7oz/200g white sugar (3oz/75g of this goes in with the rhubarb)
1lb/400g (approx.) red forced rhubarb, cut into small chunks
2 fl oz/60ml water
2 eggs + 1 yolk, beaten
2 tbsp lemon juice
4oz/110g butter

The best way to make this is in a double saucepan (one with a separate chamber below for the boiling water), but a heatproof bowl (Pyrex) on a pan of simmering water works just as well, if a little more slowly. 

First put the rhubarb, water and 3oz/75g of sugar in a standard pan and simmer gently until the rhubarb has softened completely.   Puree this with a blender so that you lose all the stringy bits and the texture of the rhubarb becomes smooth.   

Now put everything into the bowl/double pan, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.   Carry on heating it, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has thickened – it coats the back of the spoon, and then becomes more difficult to stir.  This will take about 10-15 minutes. 

If you want to, strain the mixture through a sieve into small sterilised jars – you will only make about 2-3, less still if sieved.   Cover the jars as per jam – with waxed discs and cellophane tops.  Alternatively, as you will be using this up quickly because it is so delicious, cut circles of parchment to fit the jars, and then put the lids back on firmly.