It didn’t feel anything like Spring on the 1st March when the Beast from the East was visiting, but things have calmed down a lot since then. The birds are singing, I’ve seen bees buzzing and daffodils are standing up to attention. As the sap is rising, what could be better than a bit of spring slaw to celebrate the event? Oh, it’s also a nice way to get you on track for a health-giving ten-a-day
I am an inveterate bunger of foods in the fridge and freezer without recording either the date or the contents. This means I am constantly baffled as to what I’ve stored and when it should be eaten by. With their datable lids, these new Joseph Joseph Dial storage containers put an end to at least one of these problems. I christened one with the leftovers of this crisp and delicious fennel salad. The date I put it in the fridge was 3 April 2016, so there.
For years I’ve raged against the invasion of the very American Halloween and associated trick or treating; in the UK, we have All Hallows Eve, from which Halloween is derived. Just five days later we have our very own Guy Fawkes Night, with its pagan effigy burning associations – OK Guy Fawkes was a catholic, but never mind. Well, finally I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat them you’d better join them! In fact I had no choice as this month’s We Should Cocoa theme is Halloween.
We have been drinking Pukka tea for many years in this household. They have a wide range of interesting organic teas that are ideal for non black tea drinkers like me. However, until I was sent some products from Pukka to review recently, I didn’t know that they did anything other than tea. Looking at their herbal website, I can now see they sell all sorts of interesting health products including Ayurvedic herbal supplements. I am particularly taken by their organic ghee which I’ve never seen for sale before. Well it seems you are never too old to learn. The other thing I noticed was that everything seems very reasonably priced. I was recently sent a pack of Pukka green tea with lemon, a jar of their own brand coconut oil and a bar of Divine 85% Chocolate.
This month the wonderful Dom of Belleau Kitchen has teamed up with Karen of Lavender and Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked. The plan is to combine his Random Recipes challenge with Karen and Kate’s Tea Time Treats. This is a grand plan as far as I’m concerned: having been away on holiday for the first part of September, I have even less time than usual to fit these challenges in, so two combined into one suits me perfectly.
The idea is to pick a book that you think most represents tea time treats and then pick a random recipe from it. Following Dom’s lead, I took the two baking books that had British in the title from my bookshelves: British Baking by Petyon and Byrne and The Great British Bake Off by Linda Collister. CT did his usual trick and randomly selected one of them. GBBO it happened to be and page 189 was the number he picked, giving me Fennel and Ginger Chocolate Tarts. I was intrigued by the idea of incorporating fennel and slightly concerned it might overpower the tarts, but very willing to give it a try. The pastry part of it, I was less thrilled about: I have yet to grow into enjoying pastry making.
This is how I made them:
- Weighed 30g spelt flour and 150g plain white and poured into a bowl.
- Threw in 100g of cold unsalted butter and cut it into small pieces with a knife (the book said to cut into pea size peices with two knives, but I didn’t understand what was meant by this and also didn’t have the patience to cut it quite that small).
- Rubbed butter and flour between my fingers until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Added an egg yolk and 1 1/2 tbsp cold water.
- Stirred this in with the knife, then brought the mixture together with my hands to form a ball.
- Placed this in the fridge for 1/2 an hour.
- Rolled the pastry out to about 2 mm and cut into rounds to fill four 9 cm tart tins and 4 foil cases of varied size (eight 9 cm tart tins would probably be just right).
- Pricked the bottoms with a fork and baked at 180C for 10 minutes.
- Ground a pinch of fennel seeds with a pestle & mortar (the recipe said to put them in whole, but ours were home grown and rather large and I preferred the idea of having them ground).
- Chopped 20g crystallised ginger into slithers.
- Melted 100g unsalted butter with 100g soft brown sugar.
- Simmered for 3 minutes then added 100g double cream.
- Continued to simmer for a further 4 minutes.
- Added 100g broken dark chocolate (G&B 85%) and stirred until smooth.
- Stirred in the fennel and ginger.
- Poured the ganache into the pastry cases and left to set.
- Served with raspberries.