Are we counting down to Christmas yet? I am. In my house, that means practising various recipes to make sure they are up to scratch as Christmas gifts. And today is nibbles testing.
First off were some cheesy sesame biscuits, which aren’t yet in the oven (they’re doing that resting in the fridge thing, so beloved of pastry-type goods). They were ridiculously easy, and have persuaded me of the value of my food processor. I’ve owned the food processor for bloody years. It usually lives on a shelf, just out of reach, under the stairs. I last used it when I attempted one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals. He likes to use a lot of gadgets and I knew if I wanted to be in with a chance of having two courses served up within 45 minutes the food processor would be needed. I actually would have needed two, but that’s another story. It was delicious!
But back to the cheesy sesame biscuits. They are from my new favourite cook book: Ham, Pickles & Jam by Thane Prince. It’s a glory of a book – full of reminders of (mostly lost) traditional kitchen skills, like preserving with salt (gravad lax and preserved lemons in this section) and drying (oven-dried tomatoes and beef jerky here). Sadly most of the drying recipes require a dehydrator, so I may take a while before I get to testing that section.
Oh my, now that I’ve brought the recipe out again to type it up, I see I’ve omitted a key ingredient in the biscuits (how can I do this when there are only 5 ingredients?). Read on and you’ll see. And you’ll see my adaptation too.
Cheesy Sesame biscuits
- 4oz SR flour, or use plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Gluten-free is evidently best, so that is what I have used
- 3oz butter
- 3oz blue cheese ( I used a distinctly average dolcelatte from tesco’s but would like to try this with some oozingly yummy gorgonzola next time)
- 3TBsp parmesan, grated
- 2-3 TBsp sesame seeds
- Place all ingredients except the sesame seeds in the bowl of your food processor and whiz, using short bursts of power, till it combines to make a dough (I forgot to add the parmesan, thinking it was going to be part of the sesame coating at the end… ooopsie)
- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for an hour
- Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F / GM7 and grease or line a baking sheet
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll cherry-sized pieces of dough into balls
- Roll the balls in sesame seeds (or for me, the mix of sesame seeds and parmesan) and place on the greased baking sheet. Make an indentation in the centre of each ball with your thumb, or a teaspoon
- Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack
- Perfect with an aperitif!!! A nice wee sherry I think.
So… I clearly failed that recipe, but I suspect they will be tasty all the same. While the dough has been in the fridge (and I’ve made our Christmas cake, and lunch) I also made some spicy nuts. Also from Thane Prince, but to be honest I went a bit off-piste with this recipe too, which I think is the whole point of this one. But, if you want to make your own roasted spicy nuts, here you go:
Roasted spicy nuts
- 250g nuts (I used a mixture of cashews and blanched almonds)
- some olive oil
- 1 tsp raw egg white (not sure this is entirely necessary)
- 1 TBsp salt flakes – use the best quality salt you can find
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and finely ground
Preheat oven to 150C / 300F / GM2
- Drizzle some oil on a baking sheet
- Place the nuts on a single layer on the baking sheet
- Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, till a pale golden brown
- While they are in the oven, use a teeny tiny whisk and try to whisk up the wee bit of egg white, really just to break it down a bit
- And use a pestle and mortar to grind the salt and mix with the cumin. I went off-recipe and just threw some cayenne pepper in with the salt once I’d ground it a bit with the pestle and mortar
- As soon as the nuts are out of the oven, turn them in the egg white, which is meant to turn them glossy. I didn’t notice any glossiness, but it doesn’t seem to have done any harm, and I had a spare egg white from the biscuits I made yesterday, so that was ok.
- Once you’ve tossed your nuts in the egg white, throw the salt and spice mix over them and toss some more. The flavours will dry on as the nuts cool
- Keep in an airtight container, unless you are eating immediately with drinkies. More sherry I think!
I suspect that both of these will end up as Christmas gifts. Further copies of the book might too, if books are allowed in our homemade Christmas again this year.
Next weekend I’m baking a ham. Any suggested recipes or just general ideas for what to do gratefully received (and brutally altered to fit whatever I have in the cupboard and what mood I’m in).
OK… I baked the cheesy sesame biscuits and they are just scrumptious! They are light and crumbly, and have a great blue cheesy flavour, with that typical ‘back’ flavour that comes with a strong blue cheese. Make them! they are delicious, and would be even nicer with a wee glass of something to accompany them. Pictures will follow.
A few days later… and here is a promised picture. OK, I know I promised pictures, but you’re just getting one for just now.