Monday, 4 April 2011

Stem Ginger and Oat Biscuits

Call it being virtuous, environmentally friendly or just plain stingy, but I hate wasting food. Even the smallest portion of leftovers is tupperwared for the next day's lunch and the fridge is full of half-squeezed out lemons and an unholy quantity of opened and half-used jars. It's not just greed - although clearly that plays a major part - but a deep-seated feeling that wasting food is immoral, like you're tempting fate into starving you later in life. I'm also traumatised by past experiences of living with two boys who would buy, cook and fill the fridge with food, but fail to eat it. The emergency clearing out sessions ("ugh disgusting, was this a sausage? a carrot? a finger?") scarred me for life. 

So the knowledge that I've had an almost-full jar of stem ginger in my fridge unused and undisturbed for a few months has been nagging away at the corner of my subconscious and yesterday night I found the answer. Stem ginger looks so beautiful glowing in its jar of syrup that I bought a big jar for Jamie Oliver's rhubarb and ginger crumble, confident I'd find loads of uses for the leftovers. And then....didn't. 

(That rhubarb and ginger crumble, by the way, tasted delicious raw - raw crumble mix is actually one of my favourite things to eat, almost without competition - but once baked the ginger and oats totally overpowered the rhubarb, making me wish I'd just made a proper rhubarb crumble instead. Which I then did and very delicious it was too, using the recipe from Nigella's Feast which I wholeheartedly recommend.)

These biscuits are a more than worthy home for leftover ginger. Plus, they use oats! That means they're practically a health food. Or a flapjack...but I'm sticking to the health food story. This is a Delia recipe and incidentally, if you're a fan, I draw your attention to the "What would Delia Do?" cross stitch sampler. So faux-naif! So ironic vintage chic! So potentially obnoxious but, also, a valid question in time of kitchen need!

These only took a few minutes to make, and the end result is great - cosy, casual, crumbly. The mixture of ground and stem ginger gives a nice spicy warmth, with a bit of nuttiness from the toasted oats. However, I cooked them for the full 18 minutes and they ended up crisp all the way through, so I think cooking for 15 minutes to ensure a bit of central squidge would have been better. 

Something to remember for next time (after all, I've still got half the jar left to use up...) 

Stem ginger and oat biscuits
Makes 16 biscuits 
(I halved the recipe to guard against gluttony and honestly, I wish I'd made the full batch. They're dangerously easy to eat.)

- 8 pieces of stem ginger 
- 110g butter
- 75 g demerara sugar
- 1 dessertspoon of stem ginger syrup
- 110 g self-raising flour
- pinch of salt
- 110g porridge oats (I used jumbo oats because, again, I had loads which needed using up)
- 1 rounded teaspoon of ground ginger

Preheat your oven to 170 C. 

Slice two of the pieces of ginger into 8 little circles (to press onto the top of the biscuits later), and finely chop the rest. Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan over a low heat while you mix together the flour, salt, oats and chopped stem ginger in a bowl. Delia says to sieve the flour, I didn't bother. They're biscuits, they're meant to be rustic! 

When the buttery sugary goo has dissolved, pour it into the bowl and mix well until all incorporated. Roll into sixteen balls - roughly ping pong ball sized - and put them onto a greased or lined baking sheet with a bit of a gap between each. Squish the balls down slightly, top each one with one of the slices of stem ginger, and cook until browned and smelling good. As above, Delia says to cook for 18 minutes but I think that was slightly too much - I'd check after 15 and see how they're doing.

Transfer to a rack to cool, and I'd recommend trying one when it's warm. Just because.

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