14 October 2014

Anzac biscuits - a terrific emergency biscuit recipe

You know, I'm sure hubby wasn't planning on making biscuits today.  Not as far as I was aware, anyway.  This morning we went and got the bulk of the week's food shopping in, then came home and hubby put the shopping away while I had a shower. Then, I discovered that he was busily making biscuits - Anzac biscuits, which turned out to be the scrummiest, most naughty thing! SO many calories per biscuit, but so yummy with their coconut and oats.

Do I hear you asking "what is an Anzac biscuit and why is it called so"?  Both of which are very good questions.

Well I first tripped over Anzac biscuits in a supermarket (can't remember which one) which was stocking packets of them around about Remembrance Sunday time.  A percentage of the proceeds were going to injured servicemen, as I recall.  Well, being soldier's daughter, I bought a couple of packets for the charity point of view, hoping they'd be nice.  They were more than nice, they're a fabulous accompaniment to a cup of coffee, or chai tea, or even builders' tea.  They're the old fashioned HobNob, made before HobNobs were even a twinkle in their creator's eye.

As for why they are called "Anzac Biscuits", well Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) which was established in World War I.  It has been claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. So you can see the Forces connection.

It must have been a wonderful moment to receive a parcel from home which contained a package of these wonderfully, munchy, crunchy biscuits.  A little bit of heaven in an awful lot of hell.

Now from a current perspective, the speed at which hubby brought the biscuits together and baked them - probably around half an hour at the most - makes them one of the most agreeable "spur of the moment" or "last minute, Mother's on her way" biscuits to make.  The end result is certainly worth more than the time they took to make!

So, if you fancy some baking or you're cooking with your kids, give them a history lesson while they are baking and make some Anzac biscuits.  Your next cup of tea will thank you.

ANZAC BISCUITS   (makes 20)

Ingredients :

85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter, plus extra butter for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method :

1.  Combine all the dry ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl.

2.  Melt the butter in a decent sized pan (it needs room to expand) over a low heat.

3.  Add the golden syrup to the butter.

4.  Put the bicarbonate of soda into a small cup, add the boiling water and mix.

5.  Remove the butter mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 30 secs or so.

6.  Pour in the bicarbonate of soda mixture to the butter and watch it froth!

7.  Quickly mix all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients before you lose the froth and stir well until completely mixed.

8.  Make a flattened disc out of a spoonful of the mixture and place onto a lined baking sheet.  Make sure to leave at least 1" between each disc.

9.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 for 8-10 minutes, watching them like a hawk to make sure they don't burn.

10.  Put each biscuit on a cooling rack until absolutely cold.

Calories per portion (1 biscuit) : 118 (wince) - however, they do keep well in an airtight tin!  (Reference : Calorie Counter).

13 October 2014

Homity Pie - well, the low calorie version!

There has been a lot of interest shown on the Rhubarb & Ginger Facebook page, in the Homity Pie that I found on the Slimming World website and which I have now cooked twice.  So, I thought I'd open it up to a wider audience and blog the recipe.

Now, first thing I will say about this recipe is that the true Homity Pie is contained in a pastry case and is a vaguely Quiche-like "pie".  However, because this is the low calorie version, we've jettisoned the pastry case.  Don't let that stop you from putting the pie filling into a pastry case if you're not watching your weight, or want to present it to an audience other than the family.  I would recommend a shortcrust or filo pastry crust, as it could all get a bit heavy with puff or flaky.

So, what actually is "Homity Pie"?  Well, it has an interesting history - going back to wartime rationing, land girls and making use of what you've got available.  It is basically, mashed potato with added flavourings such as onion, leek, cheese, garlic, peas - whatever you've got by way of veggies, with eggs to provide a little rise and lightness.  So simple, but it works so well!

Both times I cooked it, I used it as an accompaniment to a roast chicken.  Well, sometimes you fancy something other than roast potatoes.  Not often, I grant you, but when you do - Homity Pie does the trick.  I could imagine it would go very well with whatever you want to add it to - sausages, chops, steak, braised beef, gammon - I can't think of anything that it would be out of place beside.  Well, discounting things like curry and apple crumble, of course!

The leftovers have been useful to accompany things like bacon, a fried egg, cold meats and pickles for lunch, too.  A quick turn or two in a dry frying pan to heat it up and draw off some of the moisture that inevitably accumulates and it is good to go.

Once again, another wartime recipe proves its worth in these times of austerity.  As with the rice pudding I recently posted, I do love a flexible recipe!  The ingredients of a Homity Pie are about as flexible as can be, the only essentials being the mashed potato, cheese and eggs.  After that, you can add whatever the heck you like by way of vegetables - however, I would recommend that any hard veggies like carrots are pretty much cooked before they go in.  Having your teeth bounce off a piece of uncooked carrot could easily ruin what was otherwise a great dish.

Cooks notes :  the original recipe (see Slimming World link above) is a really low calorie version, if you're interested in taking the recipe that far.  I have added mushrooms to my version of the recipe, which doesn't add much to the calories, but does add heaps to the flavour.  I have also used a full fat mature cheddar, as half fat cheese just isn't worth calling cheese, in my opinion.  I've also used olive oil instead of the recommended low fat cooking spray, as I'd rather know what I'm using - and anyway, olive oil is good for you!

So, the next time you're pondering on what carbohydrate to put with a meat, whip up a Homity Pie.  Your family will thank you for it.

HOMITY PIE  (Low calorie version)   (serves 4-5)

Ingredients :

400g potatoes, peeled and cubed
100ml milk
knob butter plus 10g butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
225g onions, chopped
225g leeks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 large chestnut mushrooms, halved and sliced
198g frozen peas
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
half a tsp dried oregano
2 eggs, lightly beaten
85ml of vegetable stock
160g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method :

1.  Preheat your oven to 220degC/425degF/Gas 7.

2.  Boil some salted water in a large saucepan and add the potatoes.  Cook on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, return to the pan and mash with 100ml of milk, a good sized knob of butter and some seasoning, but a good deal of pepper. Set aside to cool until needed.

3.  Add the olive oil to a frying pan and cook the onions on a medium high heat with a pinch of salt to draw out the moisture, until softened and transparent.  Add the garlic, leeks and mushrooms and reduce the heat slightly once they have started to soften.  Add the peas to defrost and finally add the stock to deglaze the pan.  Set this aside to cool slightly.

4.  Grate the cheese then add half to the mashed potatoes, along with the parsley, oregano and eggs.  Give a quick stir to combine, then add the vegetables and stock.  Stir through quickly, so as not to allow the egg to set. Spoon the mixture into your ovenproof dish and scatter over the remaining cheese.

5. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until risen slightly and golden in colour.

Calories per serving : 275 (reference : Calorie Counter)

Printable version

12 October 2014

Easy peasy rice pudding

Well hello one and all!  I'm sorry for abandoning you all for so long - I have no excuse, other than sometimes the demands of finding time for blogging in amongst everything else are just too much.  So, we'll skip lightly over that and be happy that here I am again!

Now then.  What has brought me back to you all?  Well, something unusual for me - a dessert.  I wasn't anticipating blogging it, so didn't take many pictures.  D'oh!  I will admit that I'm not a great one for cooking desserts.  They are largely really bad for you calorie-wise and often require cooking at the same time as the main course is being cooked.  Well once upon a time I could multi-task, but it would seem not so much these days.  ~shrug~  Can't be helped - it's just one of those things that are sent to try us.

However!  This dessert - the humble rice pudding - is one of those lovely things that costs very little, takes the work of minutes to prepare, then can be left to chuckle along in a low oven for hours until done.  Perfect.

Another reason for liking this rice pudding recipe is that if you follow the straight, as published, recipe you wind up with a delicious, creamy, comfort food dessert.  However, it shows all sorts of promise for being dolled up in all kinds of directions, if you want to.  For instance, you could simply add a little cinnamon and some sultanas for a bit of a different slant, or serve with some baked apple, or melt chocolate into it, or take it down a Chai route with the appropriate spices.  Maybe even swap out the cow's milk for coconut milk.  I do love an adaptable recipe.

Looking good at half-time!
I had been wanting to make a rice pudding for the longest time, but it wasn't the right time of year (best made in Autumn/ Winter) and I hadn't found a recipe that I was entirely happy with.  Some recipes have the most ridiculous amount of steps in them for what seemed to me to be the easiest of things.  Then I tripped over a "cook with the kids" feature in my local Asda's magazine, which included a recipe for rice pudding.  (See here : http://recipes.asda.com/Recipes/classic-rice-pudding).  It involved rice, milk, evaporated milk and sugar.  Well that sounded a whole lot more like it!

Having decided to make it, I then had an internal argument over whether to use cow's milk or goat milk.  The cow's milk won on this occasion, as I felt it was better to go with the recipe 100% as it was something new to me.  Save the tinkering about with it until I'd cooked it once!  I was just crossing my fingers that the sudden intake of cow's milk wouldn't affect my tummy adversely (which, it would appear, it didn't - thank goodness).

If you, like me, have memories of your Mum making rice pudding and the kitchen filling with the most lovely smell of baking milky nutmeg - then you just have to make this.  It took me straight back to being a young teenager again.  Yes, it is a wee bit heavy in calories at 272 (reference : Calorie Counter) for a serving (a quarter of the pudding) - but it could be a whole lot worse!

CLASSIC RICE PUDDING (care of Asda's Recipes)  Serves 4

Ingredients :

15g unsalted butter 
75g pudding rice 
50g granulated sugar 
170g can Carnation Evaporated Milk 
530ml whole milk
Pinch (or more, to taste) ground nutmeg.

Method :

1.  Using a little of the butter, grease the inside of the baking dish.

2.  Mix together the rice, sugar, evaporated milk, milk and a dash of the nutmeg in the dish.

3.  Place into a pre-heated oven at 150degC/300degF/Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

4.  Remove, stir the contents gently and dot the remainder of the butter over the surface.  Grate on the remainder of the nutmeg.

5.  Replace into the oven to bake for another 2 hours.  You may need to turn the heat up for the last 30 minutes if you prefer your rice pudding top to have a darker hue.  I turned mine up to 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 and the top was perfect.

The pudding can wait in the oven (make sure to turn it off!) whilst the family eat their first course.  It is also fabulous cold, the following day.

Calories per serving : 272

Printable recipe

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