Stem Gingernuts

A recent post on cheesecake made with a biscuit base, started a dialogue about biscuits. The lovely Tia mentioned that she enjoyed Ginger Nuts, a biscuit enjoyed widely in the UK with a cup of tea or coffee.  I said I would try to find a recipe (and I did find a Delia Smith one which was a huge disaster), then the equally lovely Evie from Pendle Stitches sent me over the recipe she uses to bake for her family.

Of course, I had to give them a go.  Result? Fabulous, better than shop made and even without the Stem Ginger (which I couldn´t get hold of) they were amazing.  Thanks Evie, these will become a family favourite here too!

Here´s Evie´s recipe, and like her I added extra ground ginger (another half a tablespoon).

Stem Gingernuts (From The Great British Book of Baking)

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger (I usually add a bit more because I love my gingernuts to have bite)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 pieces stem ginger, drained and finely chopped (this is ginger in a sweet syrup which you can buy or make your own)

Preheat oven to 170oC/350oF/gas 3.  Grease or line baking trays.  I just use parchment.

Sift the flour, ground ginger, bicarb of soda and sugar into a mixing bowl.  Gently melt the butter with the syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside until barely warm.

Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, add the beaten egg and the stem ginger and mix with a wooden spoon. When thoroughly combined, roll the mixture into 24 walnut-sized balls, using your hands.

Arrange on prepared baking trays, spacing well apart to allow for spreading.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until a good golden brown.  Keep an eye on them and, if necessary, turn the trays around halfway through the cooking period so that the biscuits brown evenly.

Leave the biscuits to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, or make a large pot of coffee and scoff the lot!

Boiled Gammon and Parsley Sauce

Some dishes, to me, are so typically English and bring back memories of food from my past.  Gammon is cured (usually wet cured in a salt brine) pork, from the leg.  It can be bought smoked, as an entire joint or as steaks.  It just can´t be bought in Spain, so I will have to work on a way to make my own.

Meanwhile, I picked up a few small joints of gammon on a pre Christmas shopping trip to the strange place that is Gibraltar.  A couple of hours´ drive from Malaga, it is a British Overseas Territory on the southern Iberian Peninsula.  I have to confess it´s not my favourite place as it seems to contain all that is bad about Britain packed into a very small area…but I don´t wish to offend and I am sure there is much more to it than I have ever seen on two brief shopping trips.

A trip to Gib, as it´s known to the Brits, allows us ex pats to stock up on things (particularly food) that we miss and either can´t get hold of or can´t be transported over easily by our visitors.  So, amongst many other food goodies, gammon it was.  I thought that Big Man would enjoy it as he loves pork and ham, but I knew it would be a new and interesting taste for him.

Gammon can be roasted or boiled and served hot or cold.  I decided to do a hot dish, boiled gammon with parsley sauce, which is a typical dish of comfort food from my homeland.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • One small brined gammon (about 750g)
  • About 6 carrots peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 2 medium onions peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • Water to cover
  • 6-8 medium potatoes boiled in their skins and peeled and halved to serve

For the parsely sauce you will need half a litre of home made béchamel sauce (infuse the parsley stalks in your milk before making it) and two tablespoons of parsley stirred in at the end. For extra flavour, use half milk and half stock (from boiling your gammon).

Simply put the gammon, onion, carrots, bay leaves and cloves into a deep saucepan and cover with water.  Don´t use salt – it will be fairly salty from the brine. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum that rises to the surface, cover and simmer gently for about an hour until the gammon is tender.

When the gammon is cooked, leave it to sit in the hot stock while you cook your potatoes and make the parsley sauce.  I used one cup each of milk and stock (which should both be cooled) , 2 tablespoons of plain flour, 1 tablespoon of oil and whisked everything together over a low heat until it started to boil and thicken.  This is my cheat´s way of making white sauce.  Finally I stirred in my chopped parsley and let it sit for a few minutes.

Remove the gammon from the stock and slice or chop (it will not slice easily when it´s warm, but I don´t mind chunks!).  I put some runner beans into the stock with the carrots and onions, bought them up to the boil and then strained the vegetables, reserving the stock for soup. Serve with the boiled, peeled potatoes and vegetables and enjoy the lovely steamy smells of gammon and parsley that will float up and fill you with a sense of comfort.