Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Spelt and Seed Biscuits

I appear to have somehow ended up dating a man who doesn't have a sweet tooth. I mean- seriously?!

He knows I love to bake, and he appreciates basically anything I make for him- he's a massive foodie. But given the choice, he'd always pick a starter over a pudding, salted popcorn over sweet, and crisps over chocolate. 

So when my original Valentine's Day gift for him went slightly awry- I accidentally had it shipped to Devon, rather than my London address- I decided that I would bake something for him. Normally, I'd have done some kind of brownies- maybe with caramel and pecan, or chilli, or with a peanut butter swirl- but bearing in mind A's propensity to pick the savoury over the sweet, I decided to branch out slightly.

I actually don't do a lot of savoury baking. Pastry- yes, but I'm just as comfortable working with sweet shortcrust as I am plain. Scones- I'm a plain-with-cream-and-jam girl. But savoury biscuits are so simple, and these are so good, that I'm pleased A's weird tastes won out. And it was a double bonus that I had all the ingredients for these to hand, particularly considering I was suffering with a ridiculous hangover after a few too many drinks with my work colleagues the night before. 

These are excellent to the point that I'm now going to make them at every opportunity- they're going to become my new staple hostess gift, presented in a pretty jar alongside a hunk of cheese and maybe some chutney. Because you should absolutely serve these with cheese- preferably Mayfield or Delice de Bourgogne, which are our new favourites. The Mayfield works well with a fig chutney, but the Delice de Bourgogne should be left to sing on its own- and sing it does. Honestly, the stuff is incredible.

And a note on ingredients. I'm not usually wildly prescriptive- much more a "use what you have" kinda girl. But for these, whatever you do do not use plain white flour. It will make for the most boring biscuits ever, and it's just not worth it. Spelt flour is great, but if you have rye or even just wholemeal flour to hand, I'm sure they'd work well too. I'm now trying to think up variations too- I think wholemeal flour with chopped walnuts would be excellent, or maybe even adding in some sundried tomatoes and parmesan. Hmm.

Spelt and Seed Biscuits (makes around 20)

150g spelt flour
100g mixed seeds
85g salted butter
2-3 tbsp water

Rub the butter into the flour in the same way you would if you were making a crumble- that is to say, until it looks kind of like breadcrumbs. Stir through the seeds to distribute evenly. Then add 2-3 tablespoonfuls of water slowly to pull the mixture together into a dough.

Dust a (clean..!) work surface with a little extra spelt flour, and roll the dough out- you want it to be about half a centimeter thick. Then cut out into rounds (or stars, hearts, gingerbread men...), pulling the dough back  together and re-rolling to use it all up. 

Space out on lined baking trays (I got about seven on each- they don't spread much but do space them apart) and bake at 180C for around 10 minutes. 

Allow to cool, and either top with cheese and eat them immediately, or package into pretty jars to give as presents. They keep well for a few days in an airtight jar, if they last as long as that.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Happiness Is... (Vol. 96)

As I sat in the sun on Sunday, hands wrapped around a poorly made but still perfect cup of tea, I realised I'm in a very good place at the moment. I smiled up at A, who was squinting at me in the sun, and felt so full of life that it was hard not to clap my hands with the pure joy of that moment. 

Sundays should always feel like that, shouldn't they?

After a dreadful day at work on Friday, this weekend started with (too many) drinks with my favourite work colleagues, and rolled into a luxurious, relaxing weekend. It was absolutely exactly what I needed.   Life goes in peaks and troughs, and I'm aware this is a peak- but I'm very willing to enjoy it while it lasts. 

Anyway. This week, happiness is...

... the first snowdrops. On Sunday, we went for a long stroll around the Rookery at Streatham Common, and in the White Garden I spotted my first snowdrops of the year. I love snowdrops perhaps more than any other flower for the simple reason that they are the first real reminder that there is indeed a season other than winter. Here comes the sun indeed. 

... Sunday night period dramas. Did anyone else watch Indian Summers last night? QI mean, it's no Downton, but I think it will fill that void nicely.

... homemade eggs benedict. A is an excellent cook, and we appear to make a pretty good team in the kitchen too. On Sunday morning, we whipped the most incredible eggs benedict- toasted muffins, smoked ham, poached Burford Brown eggs, and homemade hollandaise. We were talking about it for most of the rest of the day. 

.... shared hangovers. After a night of excessive wine (and excessive cheese on toast when I got in) on Friday night, I woke up on Saturday feeling rather worse for wear. Fortunately, my housemate S had been to a work black tie gala and was feeling equally as dreadful as me. Well, they do say that misery loves company, and we both felt better knowing that someone else was feeling a bit grim too. 

... putting chocolate on my porridge. As a hangover treat, I made myself Leon inspired porridge, topped with banana, walnuts, and a good grating of dark chocolate. Well it was a Saturday...!!

... Oh, and giving this space a little refresh!! What do you think of its kind of updated look?!

What's making you happy this week?

Friday, 6 February 2015

For Desire

I see poetry (like literature, and art, actually) as a very personal art form. And by that I mean that in my opinion it doesn't matter if what you like is high-brow and intense, or something written or painted by a child, or straightforward and straight down the line- what matters is that you like it. Everyone else be damned.

I like impressionism and Sebastian Faulks, e.e. cummings and Kandinsky and Robert Lenkiewicz, Ian McEwan and Audrey Niffenegger, and, as you'll read below, Kim Addonizio. For Desire is just kind of summing up how I feel today- so, you get to share in this.

Much love. Have a fantastic Friday, everyone.

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look.
“For Desire” ― Kim Addonizio