Baby in one hand, wooden spoon in the other

Monthly Archives: December 2012

"Ho ho ho! I've got something delicious in my sleigh!"

“Ho ho ho! Biscuit time!”

Look what Santa’s got in his sleigh! It wouldn’t be a party in our house without these biscuits. They are perfect with a glass of white wine (or two) and just the thing for any Christmas do. I make a batch whenever we are entertaining, be it a grown-up party or a kids’ one – they are universally adored.

They are deliciously cheesy and savoury, and the semolina lends them a fine crisp texture and extra bite. They are so easy to make, that once you’ve got your ingredients together all you really need to be capable of doing is pressing the button on your food processor.  Ta da!

Warning – they are melt-in-the-mouth delicious and very moreish.

Enjoy!

TOHC x

Ingredients

Makes about 30–40 biscuits

100g butter, very soft

50g semolina

85g self-raising flour

75g parmesan, grated

A good pinch of dry mustard powder

Salt and pepper

Pistachio nuts to top them with

What to do 

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C (160˚C Fan).
  2. Use the grater function on your food processor to grate the parmesan (takes seconds). Add the rest of the ingredients, except the nuts, to the food processor. Work together until combined to a soft dough.
  3. Remove the dough, and roll into a big ball. Roll the dough into small balls about 3–4cm in diameter and flatten each ball between the palms of your hands. (They are quite rich, so I usually make them smaller rather than larger.) Lay each biscuit on a greased baking tray.
  4. Top each biscuit with a pistachio nut. Walnut pieces, peanuts pinenuts and poppy seeds work really well, too.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for approx. 12 minutes until pale golden brown. Keep an eye on them – you don’t want them to burn. Cool on a wire rack and serve cold.  Try not to eat the lot before your guests arrive.

Preparing ahead: they freeze brilliantly, just defrost them – you don’t even need to reheat them or anything. They can also be made up to a week in advance and kept in airtight container. Alternatively, make the dough in advance, freeze it, defrost it overnight in the fridge and make them when it suits you.

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A few Fridays ago I tweeted an *extra Friday night tip*, on top of my usual daily tip for mums and dads, which said when you choose wine, make sure you go for ones with a screwcap because they’re easy to open one-handed – just grip the bottle between your knees. Which quite a few parents seem to have identified with (thanks for the comments!)…

Award-winning blogger Helen McGinn is an ex-supermarket wine buyer and all-round wine guru (check out her brilliant blog www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com where she recommends one great red and one very slurpable white every week plus shares insights on her life as a knackered mother) and she’s kindly offered to share her favourite screwcap wines with me to share with you every Friday. Hurrah!

So, without further ado, this Friday’s screwcap wine is:

Porcupine Ridge Syrah, £5.99 on offer, Waitrose  This one was named the ‘Spiky Pig’ wine by a friend because of the label (she missed that it was, in fact, a porcupine, as the name might suggest). Anyhoo, this is unashamedly bramble-fruited in character, with a whiff of the herbal. Proper cockle-warming stuff from South Africa.

I will be tasting this one ASAP!

TOHC x


One of the things I will be offering on my blog is interviews with other busy parents, to help you feel inspired, give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at how other mums do things and to offer tips and advice across a range of issues and topics that will (I hope!) interest you.

Jo Wheatley impressed the nation with her amazing baking skills on BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off and after winning the competition in 2011 went on to write A Passion for Baking (Constable, 2012), which is an absolutely lovely book – the photographs are gorgeous, the recipes make you want to get baking immediately plus there really is something  for every occasion – I really recommend it (currently loving the Lemon Drizzle Traybake). She also writes a blog, Jo’s Blue Aga – www.josblueaga.com which features some show-stopping cakes.

I particularly love the introduction to Jo’s book, where she talks about what baking means for her. In it she says, ‘Baking is about memories, old ones and ones yet to be made: a favourite auntie’s bread pudding; a nan’s apple pie; eating the most amazing croissant with a loved one […] a birthday cake shaped like a fort for a four-year-old … I could go on forever!’

This is how I feel about food and cooking for my family, too, which is why we try to sit down to eat together as a family at weekends in particular. Simple rituals like dipping soldiers into soft-boiled eggs or tucking in to homemade scones and jam are the things family memories are made of, and I cherish the (relative) peace at weekends (however, let’s keep things in perspective here; things are never *actually* quiet with two kids!).

Jo Wheatley A Passion for Baking

Now over to Jo:

Q: As a busy mum, how have you adapted the way you cook since having your children?

To be totally honest it’s been such a long time since I wasn’t a mum I can’t actually remember! Billy, my eldest, is now 25.

Q: Can you share some of the snacks you give your children?

I think snacks with oats and fruit are always a packed lunch favourite and help keep children going throughout the day. But to be fair, I’m more of everything in moderation, to totally deny children any treat will only make them want it more.

Q: Breakfast is often cited as the most important meal of the day, particularly for growing children – what sorts of things do you and your family like to eat for breakfast?

At the weekends it was always pancakes for my lot, in the week it’s Weetabix or porridge, or fruit depending on the season.

Q: What kitchen gadget could you not live without?

My KitchenAid. I love how it frees me up to do something else and can whip up meringues in moments!

Q: Who are your favourite cookery writers?

I love all types of writers and books – cookery books are my guilty pleasure – I have a tower of them next to my bed and a whole length of kitchen worktop full of them…

Q: I am all about embracing shortcuts in the kitchen – what shortcuts do you do to make life run that little bit smoother? Any tips you’d like to share?

I have a Wednesday Top Tip on my Facebook page Jo’s Blue AGA  where every week I share tips. This week’s was melting small amounts of chocolate in a microwaveable bag, then snipping of a corner – perfect for drizzling without any mess of washing up! I also have bits and bobs in my book, A Passion for Baking where I give other helpful little tips.

Thanks, Jo!

I hope you all enjoyed reading my interview with Jo. Look out for more interviews with other interesting mums coming soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss out.

The One-Handed Cook

x


A few Fridays ago I tweeted an *extra Friday night tip*, on top of my usual daily tip for mums and dads, which said when you choose wine, make sure you go for ones with a screwcap because they’re easy to open one-handed – just grip the bottle between your knees. And so Friday’s Screwcap Wine was born…

Award-winning blogger Helen McGinn is an ex-supermarket wine buyer and all-round wine guru (check out her brilliant blog www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com where she recommends one great red and one very slurpable white every week plus shares insights on her life as a knackered mother) and she’s kindly offered to share her favourite screwcap wines with me to share with you every Friday. Hurrah!

Helen says, “This Friday’s screwcap wine is Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2011, Marlborough, Majestic £9.49 (or £7.59 if you buy 2). Made by one of the most dependable and quality-driven wine producers in New Zealand. It comes with a big dollop of lime, capable of kicking even the coldest tastebuds into action. Put with a coriander-flecked Thai curry, and thank me afterwards.”

Cheers, all.

TOHC x



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