Neither Tom or I are fond of food shopping, yet for some unknown reason we have never ordered our supplies online using one of the many delivery services now available. I finally tried this the other day, and of course made the mistake of failing to adjust the default units under which some items are measured. This rookie error resulted in the delivery of a kilo of taleggio cheese. I required just 100g to make a tart, and was now in possession of 10 times more than the recipe required. . . . Tom had a good laugh, and Bruce kindly offered to help out by devouring the excess, but, I reminded him (as I often have to) that dogs don’t eat cheese.
Unfortunately, taleggio is a substance with limited uses, and not really the sort of cheese you can just chow down on wholesale — it is quite strong and salty and very squashy. What to do?
Well, I just made taleggio scones for lunch, and they turned out so well that I thought I’d share the recipe!
There are a few key things to remember when making these:
1) stick the taleggio in the freezer for half an hour so that it hardens up
2) cut the taleggio into small pieces
3) do not work the scone dough in any way. Just bring it together and plonk it down on your floured surface.
Thyme and Taleggio Scones
(Makes 6 or 7 large scones)
6oz / 170g self raising flour
2oz / 56 g butter
3.5 oz / 100g taleggio
ground black pepper
sprig of thyme
5floz / 150 ml buttermilk
Put taleggio in freezer for 30 mins
Preheat oven to 180c / 350f / gas mark 4.
Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the thyme leaves and the ground black pepper.
Take the taleggio out of the freezer and cut into small cubes. Using your hand, mix it lightly into the breadcrumb mixture.
Add the buttermilk, and, using a butter knife, stir the mixture gently until it starts to come together.
Bring the mixture together carefully with your hands into a rough dough. DO NOT KNEAD, OR OTHERWISE WORK THE DOUGH!
Place dough on floured surface and lightly press to 1.5 in thick.
Cut out scones with pastry cutter.
Place on floured baking tray and bake at centre of oven for 15 mins, or until golden.
Well, that’s 100g of taleggio down, only 900g to go . . . .
There is no getting away from the fact that I’ve had a rough few days. Please try not to have a stroke, people: the long term health implications of it are really bloody annoying. Sometimes the process of recovery itself can add further problems to the myriad medical issues that follow a brain injury, and this has certainly been the case for me. This particular issue concerns the instability of my pelvis, and my general (in)ability to get about, and as well as being in quite a bit of pain this week I’ve been feeling rather angry and frustrated. Will this shit never leave me alone? Unfortunately, it probably won’t. The only thing for me to do is to properly face up to the fact that a stroke is, in effect, a chronic condition with which I am now living: however determined I am, my mobility is now going to be seriously compromised for the rest of my life, and I have to deal with that. Easier said than done, sometimes. I often find myself thinking of Patricia Neal and her hip replacements.
I’m not keen on myself when I’m maudlin, and I’m quite sure no one else is either, so I find myself with not too much to say today. Here are a couple of cheering things.
I love this so much I can’t stop knitting it. The yarn is the stuff I showed you recently and it is just. so. bloody. tasty. I am making some things from it which will be out in pattern form next month, so I will be able to show you the right side reasonably soon.
Tom baked hazelnut shortbread. When baking anything containing nutz, it is, of course, obligatory to sing several verses of the old Louis Jordan song, Nuts to You. At least it is round here:
“We’ve got walnuts, chestnuts – all the best nuts –
Every kind but donuts
Brazil nuts, peanuts, we will see nuts
Till we really go nuts.”
Where was I? Oh yes, Tom’s hazelnut shortbread. It is very good.
You will find the recipe on p. 948 of Nigel Slater’s Tender, vol 2, or below in an abbreviated variation, rendered without Nigel’s linguistic excesses (“large, unruly balls” being a notable feature of his original).
golden caster sugar 100g
skinned hazelnuts 60g
ground almonds 40g
plain flour 200g
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 160c.
Cream butter and sugar together till fluffy.
Toast hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until golden, then pound with mixer or pestle & mortar until coarse.
Add the nuts & flour to the butter & sugar and stir until the mixture comes together.
Take a teaspoon, and divide mixture into twelve blobs.
Place on non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 25 mins, or until the biscuits have risen and begun to colour.
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, before lifting from the baking sheet and dusting with icing sugar.
Enjoy while still slightly warm, with a nice cup of tea.
Thanks so much for your comments on the last post, which have really got me thinking about what one might term the cultural politics of macaroons (or ons). Clearly I have become far too bourgeois for my own good, since I was talking about the miniature meringues that feature in French / Italian patisserie, rather than Roy Cropper’s coconut confections, or indeed, Lees’ famous fondant delights. For this macaroon is the kind that Shandy said she once bought from a Fife bakery, being “amazed to find it was almost solid sugar.” It does apparently involve potato, and a recipe can be found in the Maw Broon cookbook Patti mentions. If you’ve never seen or tasted one, you are missing out: Lees’ macaroons are a singularly Scottish treat, they are coated in toasted coconut and chocolate (Belgian, according to the Lees website – ye gods!) and deliver an instant sugar hit. They are a favourite walking food of mine, which I suppose puts them in the same category as Kendal Mint Cake – but while mint cake somehow carries an aura of worthiness (the Everest-themed packaging?) there is nothing remotely improving about a Lees’ macaroon.
Anyway, from your comments, Tom has now collated information about the fancy, meringue-y style of macaroon, and intends to make some this coming week. (Perhaps he could flavour them with potato?)
Meanwhile, I have been having a horribly slow few days, after being hit with an evil bout of fatigue. I now realise there is nothing much one can do in these situations except roll with it, wait for it to pass, try not to get frustrated (I’m not so good at that part) and forget about doing the three-sets-of-exercises-plus-mile-long walk that form part of my usual daily routine. Actually, one can forget about doing most things that involve much effort or exertion, so I have been doing a lot of sitting still this week, expending my limited physical and mental energies on knitting. Above you see the fruits of my labours in the wrong side of my new tortoise and hare prototype. It just kills me how the stranding picks out the beasties in relief! You will note that I have not woven-in any strands at all despite the long repeats – this method works very well for me, as long as I am a) maintaining an even tension and b) using a nice, slightly sticky yarn like this wonderful natural-shade Shetland from Blacker Designs, which is a complete joy to knit with. I am now at the steeking stage – the qualities of the yarn mean that I can happily cut into my work and pick up stitches without worrying about unraveling – no crocheted reinforcements or anything!
The whole of the body is worked in the round with steeks at the neck and armholes – there is no colourwork purling, and indeed, no purling at all until one picks up the sleeves, which are set-in and shaped with short rows a la Barbara Walker. There is something a little heart-in-the-mouth about this construction – I’ve been unable to try the sweater on, or stick it on the dress form because the arms and neck are closed – so I will not know if it looks ok until I’ve finished the last sleeve. I am loving so many things about working on this design – the beasties, the braids, the yarn, the 20s/30s sporting style of this kind of sweater (which I somehow imagine being worn by Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby) – all are pleasing to me – and there is something singularly meditative and interesting about working on a garment whose theme mirrors one’s experiences while knitting it. For this week has definitely been one in which I’ve been trying my best to be the patient tortoise, but secretly wishing all the while that I was the hare.
Here is a peek with one sleeve done (no blocking or sorting out of ends as yet). I really want to finish the sweater so that I can wear it on Wednesday (my birthday). I shall be thirty-seven, and very happy to be alive.
I am foolishly excited. This is because we are going away for a few days this weekend. Guess where we are going?
that’s right! Islay and Jura! As wild camping is a bit beyond me at the moment, Tom has hired a camper van in which we shall zoom about the islands in comparative luxury. What fun! He will be running the Jura Fell Race and I, of course, will be having a much more sedentary time. I’m sure, though, that I can manage some low-level walking and know I will really enjoy just being in these much beloved places.
I am also pleased because the mini-manu pattern is nearly ready to go and will be released as soon as I get back from our trip. I realised that I had 175g of the lovely spring green “St Magnus” Orkney Angora yarn left over – more than enough to make a toddler-sized cardigan – so I thought I would give the yarn away with a copy of the pattern when it is released. If you are interested in this “prize” from my stash, just leave a comment here between now and next Tuesday, and I will enter you into the draw.
Finally, my sister brought me some home-baked Fat Rascals a couple of weeks ago. They were very good, and I immediately nabbed her recipe and made some myself. For those who don’t know, Fat Rascals are a sort of cross between a rock bun and a scone, with the luxurious addition of dried fruit, spices, and peel. They are decorated with a wonky ‘face’ formed out of cherry eyes and blanched almond teeth, and are familiarly purveyed by Betty’s Yorkshire Tea Rooms. I particularly enjoyed the smell of grated citrus peel and nutmeg while I was making these (is there anything more mysterious-looking than the interior of a nutmeg?) and the finished result was very tasty indeed. Please to note: if this recipe is followed, your rascals will have a pleasing dome-like appearance, rather than the unusual mushrooms that you see here. Their odd shape is because I baked them in the type of tray that is meant to hold buns in bun-cases. And this, in turn, is explained by the fact that I got up at the crack of dawn on Sunday on a baking whim, and found myself unable to get into the cupboard that houses the flat baking trays due to wonky arm and leg. It was 6am, and Tom was sleeping, so it had to be the bun tray. Ah, the vicissitudes of post-stroke cooking.
still tasted good, though.
4oz plain flour
4oz self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 oz caster sugar
1 small orange
small nutmeg, ground
half teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 oz currants
3.5 oz glace cherries
packet blanched almonds
Preheat oven to gas mark 5 / 375f / 190c
use a non-stick baking tray, or use some butter to grease a normal one.
grate the rinds of the citrus peel. Grate nutmeg and chop your cherries, (leaving 12 whole cherries for decorating later)
Rub butter into the flours, baking powder and salt.
stir in sugar, spices, rinds, currants, chopped cherries.
Beat the eggs. Add 2/3 of the beaten egg to the mixture (keeping last 1/3 to brush surface later)
mix to form soft dough. If mixture is too dry, add a little milk. If it is too sticky, add a little flour.
divide mixture roughly into twelve rascals and place well-spaced on baking tray.
cut your remaining cherries in half, and place on top to form ‘eyes’.
Add blanched almond ‘teeth’.
Brush with remaining egg.
Bake in oven for about 20 minutes (but check the oven, as they catch easily).
Eat warm, with butter.
Don’t forget to leave a comment if you want the yarn and pattern and also, do let me know what you think about the blog’s new appearance (I am overhauling things). You may recognise the header from the card made for me by Kowajy, which I love (I will get back to updating the correspondence archive next week) – but is the sashiko stitching round the edges too much / too twee? Do you prefer a cleaner look?
Edited to add: I got rid of the stitching. . .
See you after the weekend!