Tag Archives: ginger

Cobble Cakes

A new guest post from Cluedo! Find her others here, here , here and here.

I’d like to propose a new unit of time decay just like carbon dating, with at least the same level of accuracy, but with the added advantage that humans can release as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as they want without distorting the results.

I propose to call the time RHKD, short for “rate of Hussarenkrapferl  decay”, based on a German biscuit delicacy* that my grandmother used to bake**

This RHKD seems an adequate measure to guage the popularity of biscuits in my house. Preliminary empirical data gathering seems to suggest that 45 Hussarenkrapferl last circa 24 hours, among 5 flatmates here, which would be a formula of t/n/g, where t is the length of time in hours the portions last, n stands for the number of biscuits, and g for the number of greedy buggers who gobble them all up without leaving me some gourmands who have access to them.

On an inverse scale then, the closer RHKD is to zero, the more delicious the biscuit. The current RHKD for Hussarenkrapferl in my abode is therefore 0.10.

All of this highly scientific discussion of rates of decay is necessary to highlight one of the key problems with the recipe that I made from the very strange book that is the Kitchen Garden Cook Book by Audrey Ellis from 1972. I say strange because it seems to assume that people with allotments have beehives from which they can source plentiful honey that is required for the many honey-based recipes. It is also definitively a book for time- and real estate rich, because the diversity of recipes included suggests access to a big allotment and an even bigger amount of time to grow and source and nurse all those flowers, herbs, vegetables and bees required to prepare stuff from this book. A bit of a far cry from the She Quicky Cookbook .

Nevermind. After leafing through the book for the umpteenth time to find something that didn’t require me to cook cabbage roses in sugar or trying to figure out what the hell nasturtium is (Editor’s note: this), I chanced upon cobble cakes, a relatively simple affair of butter, sugar, flour and cornflour, baking powder, almonds, candid peel, cinnamon, ground cloves and ginger and rum. As you can see from the pictures below, the recipe calls for icing, but as the whole thing was already quite a sweet affair, I didn’t bother with it. It is an easy recipe that shouldn’t present problems to anyone who knows their way around a food processor. 

Cobble Cakes recipe 1

Cobble cake recipe 2

There were a couple of substitutions: unfortunately, I made these cookies just before the start of the consumerismfest season lovely Christmas season, so I couldn’t find candied peel in any of the three supermarkets I came across that day, but I did manage to find a jar of minced meat. I put in a little less than the candied peel required to make up for the increased sweetness. I also had run out of cinnamon and cloves****, but did have ginger and rum.

The picture below shows c 25 of the cakes, and although grumpy timer cat seems to disagree, they looked and tasted really quite nice. Their RHKD of 0.6 however indicates that they are nowhere near as moreish as Hussarenkrapferl – they are just a bit too sweet, and you wouldn’t want to eat more than one with a nice cuppa.

cakes

It may be that the citric flavour of the candid peel makes a difference, so if anyone wants to have a go, let me know your results!

* Ok ok, they are just posh jammy dodgers

**  When she baked them, they looked like perfect little round darling donuts with a dollop of jam nestling in the little hollow that she had made with her dainty thumb. Mine look more like they’ve been steam-rollered by a very small troll living in my oven. Like jammy dodgers then.

***A variation of the formula is n/t/(g+bw), where b is brownness and w the number of weirdo flatmates who prefer darker/burnt cookies, which entices at least one w in my house to increase the rate of decay, but this may be a highly localised variation of the formula and shall therefore be disregarded for future reference.

**** AlthoughI think that the sock monster may have a herbal cousin who smokes all the stuff. We usually have at least 5 jars of flavourless cinnamon in the cupboard.

Beef as Bear Meat

I recently bought Mark Kurlansky’s ‘Choice Cuts: a miscellany of food writing’ published by Vintage in 2002 (from the Marie Curie shop on Green Lanes for £1). It’s a 450 page selection, with authors including Pliny the Elder, Ludwig Bemelmans, Wole Soyinka, and M.F.K Fisher (and of course, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin). Among the 19th and 20th century writers, there is a bias towards female food writers from the U.S. which I think is partly Kurlansky’s effort to boost the reputations of some authors overlooked in favour of European men. It’s full of great recipes in the various sections on meat, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and puddings, although I skimmed over some of the more verbose pieces.

I decided to only going to cook half of this recipe from 1393’s Le Menagier de Paris (translated by Kurlansky himself, although there’s another version here), as the majority of the steps are concerned with cooking a piece of beef so as to make the cut tough and bloodless (no, thanks – just a medium rare steak is fine). One of the most obvious  (and delicious!) differences between 20th and pre-20th century recipes is the use of spices. Before the advent of the electric fridge, seasonings such as garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper and lemon juice were used liberally, both to preserve food and to disguise the any fetid notes in the flavour.
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Boiled Carrot Salad

It’s a travesty that this is the first time we’ve made something by the queen of all things aromatic, Claudia Roden (a short bio of whom  can be found here), however to me the interesting thing currently about this recipe is what it represents in terms of time and cost.

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To make a Curry the Indian Way

Despite the fact that I really like Indian food, I don’t think I’ve made any Indian recipes for the blog yet, so typically I’ve now done two. The first is chicken curry, Britain’s Most Popular Dinner (according to every arm of the food industry with a finger in the pie of Indian food retail. Wait, hang on…).

I’m not going to go into how curry is not actually a dish and trade routes between England and India are hundreds of years old, because other people have done that already and better. (I found a fantastic concise history of all this on an old website, but then my virus software went berzerk, so you’ll have to make do with Wikipedia.)

Hannah Glasse was one of the first famous English women of domestic writing, pre-dating Eliza Acton by almost a  century (this is a cracking article about her).

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Double Apple Salad

Cooking means carefulness, inventiveness, willingness and readiness of appliance. It means the economy of your grandmothers and the science of the modern chemist; it means much testing and no wasting; it means English thoroughness, French art, Arabian hospitality’ These are Ruskin’s words, as true and inspired today as they were when he wrote them eighty-five years ago.’

So begins The Blender Book by Gwen Robyns, first published by Hamish Hamilton for Thorn Domestic Appliances in 1971.

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Breast of Chicken Coriander

I’ve made things from this book before, and although it seems a little unassuming they’ve usually turned out ok. I was making dinner for my neighbours and needed something fairly wholesome but filling. This recipe seemed appropriate. I used turkey instead of chicken.

 

 

 

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Shoyu Fried Chicken

Yeah, so basically if it has soy sauce and is fried I want to eat it. Plus meat. This is another from Practical Shoyu Cooking.

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Almond Ginger Cookies

After the simplicity of the butter cakes, I swung in the opposite direction with some biscuits where the  quantities of spice listed were borderline worrying – how much clove?!

Recipe
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup molasses
1 tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
3 ½ cups sifted enriched flour

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Tempura-type Pork

Despite the somewhat dubious results of my last attempt at cooking from Practical Shoyu Cooking I returned to it for dinner the other night. I’m not sure I’d heard of tempura pork before but using my usual method of choosing recipes depending on whether I can easily source the ingredients, this one leapt out at me (it’s a great system, one which stops me murdering people in Tesco).  I watched Dr Who whilst making this dish. I’m not sure why anyone needs to know this though.

The recipe:

Now, first off, I couldn’t find a leek, so forget about that. I also didn’t really chop the ginger and garlic that finely, so there was lumps of both. I like both and can handle them in large quantities so no problem there, but the lesser of heart might want to make the effort to chop properly (I was probably being distracted by Amy Pond at the time. Ahem).

I wasn’t sure if cornstarch was the same thing as cornflour. I used cornflour. My cavalier attitude to proceedings did not pay off here, as I attempted to mix the cornflour straight into the egg yolk. There’s a reason why recipes are in a particular order; this fact occurred to me quite soon after and I won’t be quite so slapdash in the future (Oh, who am I kidding? Course I will be. I never learn).  Anyway, my PROTIP here would be to mix the cornflour/ starch/ whatever into the water first AS INSTRUCTED. You will then avoid 15 minutes of trying to get the damn stuff to mix. At this stage I also added pepper after picking up the wrong sellar.

Also, don’t look at the bit saying ’4tbs of cornstarch’ and mutter ‘No way, that’s loads’. It may well be, but it’s the right amount. I ran out of cornflour and had to add plain flour until I had something thicker than milk to coat the pork with.

And then I started cooking. I could only find olive oil, which wasn’t ideal. I also opted for a small saucepan but lobbed loads of the pork in at once. After a few minutes the meat and batter had formed into a floating island of pork, terrifying and impressive in equal measure.

And you know what? It was delicious. Terribly unhealthy, certainly, but lovely. Like fried chicken but less greasy and with a soy undercurrent. I’ll cook this again, next time I’ll get the cornflour right, use different oil and a larger pan and it will be even more tasty.

Unimpressive photo:

Tempura’d by Alix

Gingerbread loaves

I have almost nothing to say about why or how I choose this recipe other than it looked like it would be flavoursome and that the cakes would not go stale  quickly. This recipe is from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium (1956 edition), section 3: Picture Cake Making, Children’s Cakes. A tempting illustration is provided by the book:
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