Semolina

semolina and strawberries

When I was a child, milk based puddings popped up regularly on the menu at home. Rice pudding, angel delight, custard and of course, semolina.

I haven’t eaten semolina pudding for decades, but always have a bag of the stuff in, as I add a little to shortbread biscuits.  More recently though I have joined the terribly fashionable crowd, and started buying semolina to shake onto my par boiled potatoes before popping them in the oven to roast.  I know, marvellous.  To be fair it does give the potato an amazing crunch if the fat is hot enough.  Goose fat, naturally.

Today, as we were shopping for a few bits and pieces, the wee boy asked if we could buy a block of jelly cubes.  As we hovered in the puddings section of the supermarket, I looked up and saw a box of semolina, so, out of curiosity, had a look to see how it was made.

During my childhood, semolina was always made on the hob, then put into a buttered dish with a few extra knobs of butter and nutmeg grated on top.  But did you know it tastes as delicious just cooked on the hob?  In fact, hot or cold, it’s quite the pudding.  It takes just three ingredients to make, 100g semolina, 1 litre of milk and only 25g castor sugar.

When I look at all the prepared puddings, such as low fat yoghurts, ready made jellies, etc. and how much sugar they contain, I am flabbergasted that more people aren’t substituting them for more home made milk puddings.  They are absolutely delicious.

Anyway, the wee boy and I have spent the afternoon in our pretend cooksTV kitchen, experimenting with semolina.  We have tried it both hot and cold, with and without fruit, with and without vanilla (much better without), with and without nutmeg (lovely either way) and with and without jam mixed in ( which most definitely reminded me of school dinners).

It’s been a fun afternoon, with more than a hint of nostalgia and a taste of home thrown in.  Perfect.

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Car Biscuits

car biscuits #2

As those of you who read regularly will know, once a week the wee boy and I have our ‘me and you’ day.  Sometimes these days are filled with places to go and people to meet.  Other times they are less busy which affords us the pleasure of doing something we both enjoy.  Baking.  So, by popular request, today we made car biscuits.

There is nothing special about these biscuits other than they are made together, over time and with love.

For those of you who may have the slightest interest, they are in fact, shortbread biscuits.  250g butter, 88g castor sugar, 275g plain flour and 25g semolina.  The semolina is not a necessity needed to make shortbread, but in my experience it gives that extra ‘shortness’ to the biscuit which I find irresistible.  You may, on the other hand, not enjoy such a ‘short’ biscuit in which case just replace the semolina with plain flour.

Mix butter and sugar together but don’t over cream.  Add the flour and semolina until the whole thing starts to chase itself around the bowl and become one.  Roll out on a floured surface until the mixture is half a centimetre or so thick.  Cut out and place on a butter and floured baking tray.  Prick the biscuits to stop them from rising.  Bake in a warmed oven, gas mark 3 until they look ready.

Take off the baking tray and place on a cooling rack.  Dip into melted chocolate.  Leave to cool.

The wee one has not, until recently, been that interested in using shapes to cut out but was quite insistent that we made cars from a cutter he had found in one of those ‘chuck everything in and put the lid on’ boxes.  And then there was the chocolate. We had actually bought some chocolate buttons from a stall in the market, but sadly they disappeared, slowly but surely, until we weren’t left with enough to dip a cornflake in, so ended up buying a cheap bar from somewhere else and just melting it.

Obviously with the amount of ‘quality control’ that was needed throughout the process, we were not able to dip all the cars into the chocolate, however, it’s quite nice to have a mixture.

Meanwhile the delights of stirring, adding, scooping and cutting have been glorious.

And the biscuits?

Delicious, though I say so myself.

Roast Potatoes

roast potatoes

I love potatoes, their versatility never ceases to amaze me.  And did you know the Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C.?  No, me neither until I looked it up.  We have a lot to thank them for. Moreover, they didn’t just use them for cooking, oh no, they were masters in the art of potato versatility.

They also did the following *:

Placed raw slices on broken bones to promote healing
Carried them to prevent rheumatism
Ate with other foods to prevent indigestion
Measured time: by correlating units of time by how long it took for potatoes to cook

Then there were various potato remedies:

Treat facial blemishes by washing your face daily with cool potato juice
Treat frostbite or sunburn by applying raw grated potato or potato juice to the affected area
Help a toothache by carrying a potato in your pocket
Ease a sore throat by putting a slice of baked potato in a stocking and tying it around your throat
Ease aches and pains by rubbing the affected area with the water potatoes have been boiled in

A pretty comprehensive list, I think you’ll agree.

However, tonight, we enjoyed our potatoes, roasted. Now I know everyone has their own way of roasting potatoes, but for me, there is nothing like a crisp crunch on the outside, with a soft, fluffy warmth on the inside.  I always par boil my potatoes, then drain them, put the lid back on the pan and give the whole thing a good shake.

I then sprinkle some semolina, a little tip I got from Nigella, and add a little salt before popping them into a tray with vegetable oil that has been heated up in a hot oven.  Gas mark 8.  They take about 50 minutes in my oven, yours may take less time.  Either way, if you don’t overload the tray, and turn them every so often, each potato comes out gloriously golden and crispy.

What more could a girl wish for on an autumnal Monday evening?

 

*Taken from http://www.potatogoodness.com