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Archive for the ‘oats’ Category

Whiskey figs with oats

There’s something about a hot, steaming bowl of fresh oats porridge on a lazy Sunday morning that somehow sets the tone for the rest of the day. A good, long read of the Sunday papers, a walk in a park in the winter sunshine and a late afternoon nap, followed by a sightly too long, intricately woven Sunday Night Movie, with the wonderful Mr P’s fabulous toasted cheese and a glass of good red wine.

My mother used to make us oats porridge in the winter back home and it still remains an essential part of our routine here, steeped as it is in nostalgia and caring. Of course, we wouldn’t be indulged so much with such adult delights as whiskey and figs, but rather heap our bowls up with a slathering of butter and golden syrup. Our tastes being somewhat more subtle and grown up these days, the smokey, peaty flavours of a good whiskey or scotch paired with fruity figs takes that humble bowl of oats from chilly school morning to the glories of the Sunday breakfast table.

*As with all things cooking, the better the ingredient used the better the results. Don’t skimp on a cheap whiskey, use what ever your favourite nightcap version is; after all, you only use a tiny amount. Naturally, if you don’t do the booze feel free to leave it out.

**Try get dried green/white figs as the flavour is more subtle than the red or black mission figs. I like the softer ones from Iran or Turkey.

Figs in whiskey

Whiskey Figs with Oats Porrige

5 or 6 dried figs, quartered
about 1 cup water
1½ Tbsp good whiskey or scotch
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the back of a heavy knife
1 cinnamon stick

whole oats, not the instant kind, enough for 2 people
water for cooking the oats

cinnamon sugar to serve

– combine the water, whiskey, cardamom and cinnamon in a small, heavy based saucepan and bring to a simmer.

– add the figs and simmer over a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, checking that the pot doesn’t run dry. Top up with water as needed.

– when the figs are done, drain, reserving liquid, and keep warm.

– use the liquid from the figs along with hot water to make up the liquid needed to cook the oats as per the package instructions.

– top cooked oats with figs and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to serve.

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Crunchies1

Crunchies are something a lot of South Africans grew up with, like Hershey’s Kisses in North America, or hot, roasted chestnuts in Europe. Yet, I never ever thought that they were in fact a purely South African treat.

“What are those?” I was often asked when giving out Cookie Gifts last year at this time.
“Crunchies. You know, like your Mum used to make.”

Blank stares all around. Which is when I discovered, with a little help from my friend Google, that the reason most people here in Toronto had never heard of a Crunchie is because they’d, well, never heard of Crunchies. Hmm. This didn’t seem right to me when I had such marvelous memories of my own Mum baking batches of them for us kids every winter and every birthday. Yummy, the smell of bubbling golden syrup, the crunchy, chewy squares we were somehow allowed to eat so many of. We never thought of them as even vaguely healthy as kids, when somehow healthy meant things like broccoli and lentils, blech, and yet, as an adult, I can see why these were the cookies our parents were so keen to get us eating. Not that they’re made of lentils, mind you, but when you compare them to so many of the other choices out there, they’re positively angelic, and getting children to eat their oats porrige … well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. So here it is, North America. Go forth and Crunch for all you’re worth. You’ll not regret it.

Crunchies3

Crunchies

1½ sticks butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup (eg: Lyles)
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp bicarb
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups whole rolled oats (not the quick cook kind)
1 cup coconut
1 Tbsp orange rind, finely grated

– preheat the oven to 350˚F

– melt the butter with the sugar and syrup. Bring to the boil and as soon as it starts to bubble, add the bicarb and mix, removing from heat

– mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the butter mix, using your hands if need be to mix evenly.

– press the mixture into a greased roasting tin or swiss roll tin, getting the mixture to about ½ an inch thick.

– bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes before cutting into squares. Allow to cool for a further 10 mins before removing from pan.

crunchies2

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