Summer is here or at least there have been some days which can unequivocally be categorised as ‘rather nice’ . Snacks to eat outside are needed.
The biscuits are from Agnes Jekyll’s Kitchen Essays, (first published in 1922, reprinted by Persephone books in 2001) which Alix and I are currently enjoying. The book depicts a very gentle life (chapters include ‘In the Cook’s absence’, ‘Thoughts of Venice from Home’, ‘A little dinner before the play’ and ‘Tray Food’) and is frequently, hilariously sexist.
This recipe is from ‘Tea-time and some Cakes‘ and is suitable for ‘the dyspeptic guest who never eats anything at tea’.
Brown flour biscuits
Half a pound of brown flour, 6 oz. Butter, a pinch of baking powder, another of salt. Rub together, mix with milk, roll out and cut thin wine-glass-sized rounds. Bake for 5 minutes in a hot oven.
From Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (Penguin, 1978). (I’m including the anecdote this time.)
Mash the base and leaf pulp of cooked artichokes with some good olive oil, a little finely chopped garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve on slices of wholemeal bread and butter, or use for sandwiches, or to fill small pastry boats, or as part of a mixed hors d’oeuvre.
When we first went to live in France, I remember someone telling me that babies on the farms were often weaned on artichoke puree. She was buying high quality minced beef for her children at the time, and ended the remark with a loud sniff. I thought, ‘lucky babies!’.
- I halved the quantities for the brown flour biscuits and still made 20
- The dough was quick to make although slightly harder to handle than white flour biscuit dough.
- I added the milk a little at a time and had to have a couple of attempts at rolling it out until it was soft enough to be rolled out thinly.
- I baked the biscuits at gas mark 7, which seemed hot to me.
- Ms Grigson’s advice on preserved artichokes is ‘Don’t.’ I , however, could only lay my hands on a 385g (drained weight) jar of artichoke bases. I used 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 2 large wedges of lemon and, I suppose, about 30 ml of olive oil.
Both looked anachronistically plain when complete and tasted lovely. The huge amount of butter to flour means the biscuits are light with a very fine texture. (If I were making them again, I might reduce the amount of butter slightly or add some oatmeal.) I worried that I had used too much garlic but after a night in the fridge, the flavour mellowed. Two cloves for this quantity of artichokes is still one for garlic-lovers only. If you like Hummous, you will rhapsodise over this combination.
I decided that they needed a little fancification (it’s a word!) so I added parsley, German white, crumbly cheese (I often find feta too strong) and pancetta, dry-fried until crisp.
Choked by Elly