Thursday, 2 May 2013

Savoury Flapjacks

Did you read the title of this post and think 'YUK'?  I have to admit that I did when I saw a recipe for them in a book recently.  When I think of flapjacks I think of sweet, chewy, syrupy, oaty treats...  but a savoury version?!  Just wrong.

Well I can only urge you to put your prejudices aside and read on. 

These flapjacks might better be called 'Cheesy Flapjacks' (does that sound any more appetising?!) and the recipe is taken from the brilliant 'Baby Led Weaning Cookbook' by Gill Rapley.  I tend to make a half-sized batch of these, but as Ted is beginning to eat more and more (and I love to snack on them too) I think I'll start making the full amount.  They are really useful portable snacks for babies, but if you don't have children to feed then please don't ignore this recipe, they're delicious for all ages!

Savoury Flapjacks

100g butter ( preferably unsalted if cooking for young children)
300g porridge oats
350g grated cheese (I usually use mature cheddar, but used 50% red leicester in my most recent batch which gave them an attractive orangey colour)
2 beaten eggs
200-300g of one of any of the following (grated): carrot, courgette red onion, sweet potato, swede or parsnip (the veg is an optional addition, but I usually grate in whatever veg I have in the fridge, just to make them extra-nutritious).

Preheat oven to 180 and lightly grease a Swiss roll tin (for a half-batch I use my 20x20cm silicon pan).

Melt butter in a pan over a low heat. Take off the heat and combine all ingredients in the pan, mixing well.

Press down into the tin using the back of a spoon or fork. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown (I usually find they need an extra 5-10 minutes, but that might just be my oven, or my own personal preference).

Allow to cool for 5 minutes then cut into slices and turn out onto a wire rack (although if I've cooked mine in a silicon tray I let them cool in that before turning them out onto a wooden board and cutting them into slices).

And my harshest food critic?  He approves!  Success.

Nettle Soup, take 2

One of the exciting things about being back in the UK is being able to go and forage once again!  We did try this in Brunei, managing to gather some mangos before the local monkeys got to them, but foraging in the jungle was always a little risky in my mind, so we didn't really dare.

But now is the season for one of the most satisfying foraging of the year, nettles.  We have a field ajoining our garden than is currently full of young nettles, and as they need clearing anyway we thought we'd kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and eat some of the ones we cleared.  OK, I say 'we', but this was Rob's job - he picked, washed and cooked them with delicious results.

We had made nettle soup before (as blogged about previously) but this time Rob used a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe, found on guardian online.  Personally I wouldn't have bothered with a recipe, but he wanted to so I didn't interfere!

It was delicious anyway.  The nettles just taste 'green', but healthy and nutritious, rather like spinach I suppose.  Ted enjoyed it too!

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

I realised with a jolt last week that I hadn't looked at Pinterest for weeks, months actually.  For someone who has been known to fritter away hours of the day 'pinning' fabulous cooking/decorating/craft/clothing ideas, this is quite a change... But I've decided that I can only maintain one internet addiction during Ted's nap-times, and Facebook has won that competition!  However, some 'pins' have stuck in my mind, and when I saw some lovely pink stalks of Hampshire rhubarb in the shops last week, I had a sudden recollection of a beautiful looking recipe that I had seen and pinned, so I bought them.

And here it is:

Not only does the cake look gorgeous, I love the way that this blogger (eat, little bird) has presented it, so appealing.

Anyway, I set about making it as soon as I got home.  The cake batter is extremely thick but I suppose that this helps to 'support' the thick layer of custard that you put into the middle.  I also stewed the rhubarb that I had leftover from patterning the top of the cake, and put a fruity layer in the pan on top of the custard.  I ended up using my dampened hands to mould the top layer of cake batter so I could just place it in the tin on top of the custard and rhubarb. 

It looked beautiful before baking...  but not quite so attractive afterwards!!

However, as we all know, it's the taste that counts, and this tasted...  OK.  If I made it again I'd definitely make a couple of changes: 

- Add an extra egg to the cake batter.  It's a very dense cake and I think some more liquid would loosen it up a bit and make the cake a bit lighter. 

- Not make the custard filling too thick.  I made the rookie error of using a giant tablespoon to measure out the custard powder when I was making the filling.  I should have used a proper 15ml measure.  My fault.

- Don't over-bake it.  Again, my fault, but in my defence it's quite hard to tell if it's done as a cake-tester will inevitably hit the custard filling and come up looking like it has uncooked batter on it.

My extra rhubarb layer was a good plan, as the sticks on top just aren't enough - but I love rhubarb!

I have just seen a variation of this cake on Facebook, where apple has been used in place of the rhubarb, with excellent results.  I think I will definitely try that in the Autumn when we are always awash with apples.

I'm glad I tried it, but will refine it a little when I bake it again.