Tag Archives: cooking

Hobnob biscuits: plain, chocolatey and giant

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately; it started off with apples and has gone on to trying and retrying other baked goodies.

Dry mix; Oats, flour & sugar - 8th November 2011

Dry mix; Oats, flour & sugar - 8th November 2011

I’ve made hobnob biscuits before, originally from a recipe found on the Creative Living Forum but since have googled it and found it in a few places, including a few vegan ones. They are very easy and do taste like the ‘real thing’. I have been experimenting with cooking them in a few different ways but the basics are this:


  • 8oz sr flour
  • 8oz sugar
  • 8oz porridge oats
  • 8oz margarine* or butter
  • 1tbsp honey or golden syrup
  • 1tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 tsp bic soda

*to make vegan hobnobs just replace the margarine with a vegan margarine

Method: Mix the flour, sugar, oats and bic soda (I don’t always remember the last of these and can’t say that I’ve personally noticed the difference) in a large bowl. Melt the margarine and honey along with the hot water, I do this over a pan of boiling water and then add this to the flour, sugar and oats and mix well. Whenever I see the melted mixture I always think that it isn’t possibly going to be enough but once it is in with the rest and you start mixing it is always enough.

Whilst you make the mixture pre-heat the oven to 180 Degrees C, I normally cook them when I have the oven on for something else but have found that they don’t work as well if the oven is too much higher than this so I just cook everything else at this temperature, roast potatoes aren’t that fussy after all. If you do have to cook something else higher than keep a very close eye on the biscuits. 

Grease a/some baking trays and mould the mixture into biscuit shapes just a tiny bit bigger than a two pence piece and place on a tray remembering to leave room for them to grow. It is much easier to shape the mixture whilst the margarine and honey are still warm.

Pre-baking - 8th November 2011

Pre-baking - 8th November 2011

Place the trays into the oven (with the biscuits on!) and wait until golden brown which takes roughly 10 – 15 minutes. When the biscuits are done they seem to stay a little soft and have a not-completely-cooked feel about them but are and will harden up once they are out of the oven and cooled so it is the colour you are looking for to tell if they are done or not. If you take them off the tray to cool, which I normally do to get the next lot in the oven, then make sure they are somewhere flat or they will cool to the shape of whatever you have placed them on, but really even the side-of-a-plate shaped ones are very tastie.

Golden brown buttons; of course after writing about leaving enough room between biscuits for the 'spread' the next batch I baked stayed in their neat little button shape - 8th November 2011

Golden brown buttons; of course after writing about leaving enough room between biscuits for the 'spread' the next batch I baked stayed in their neat little button shape - 8th November 2011

This makes approximately 36 biscuits.

The Chocolatey Version

For chocolate hobnobs bake as above and whilst they cool melt some chocolate, a 75g bar is enough for between 12 – 15 biscuits. When the chocolate has melted use a tea-spoon to spoon the chocolate onto the biscuits and spread out to cover the biscuit before the chocolate cools. I have used dark chocolate, but I’m sure milk chocolate works just as well. The dark chocolate doesn’t seem to set completely without putting the biscuits in the fridge for a while.

I personally like the plain biscuits better but am out voted by at least two to one.

The Giant Version

Do everything as above until the shaping stage. Then instead of making small biscuits grease a cake tin and spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the tin, bake until the same golden colour is reached and cool.

When I had a bad wrist instead of mixing everything in a bowl I put it all in the blender, well I don’t have a food mixer, and this chops up the oats and makes a much finer mixture which I think works especially well for the larger ‘biscuits’.

Chocolate Giant - 10th November 2011

Chocolate Giant - 10th November 2011

The large biscuits seem to stay a little moister and I suppose are similar to flat-jacks but not as heavy as flat jacks can be.

These can be covered in chocolate too!

I am yet to try adding chocolate chips to the mixture, and I’d like to work out a way of dipping biscuits in chocolates so as you end up with a half-and-half biscuit without have to stand holding it whilst the chocolate cools. I’d also be interested in how replacing wheat flour with either gram or chestnut flour works, and if anyone has already or gets to try these things before me please let me know how it works, but for the moment everything I’ve tried has been a hit.

Nettle soup

Especially for Shaz from Our Front Plot

Nettles - 2nd May 2011

Nettles - 2nd May 2011

Ingredients: 2 onions, chopped. 1 potato, peeled and diced. A bunch of freshly picked nettle tips, washed and roughly chopped. 1 vegetable stock cube, onion and celery seed, mixed herbs and a little butter and oil.

Method: Fry the onions on a low heat in the oil a long with the onion and celery seed and mixed herbs. When the onions are soft and just starting to brown add the nettles and enough butter to stop them sticking to the pan and cook until soft and well mixed. Add the potato and cook whilst stirring to stop the potato sticking to the pan. Add water and a stock cube and bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Whiz in a blender and serve.

School holidays

Lemon balm shooting back through - 18th February 2011

Lemon balm shooting back through - 18th February 2011

This week is half term and so a flat out week at work, not really much time for anything simple life-y but I am having a good week. We’ve been doing lots of outdoor cooking; on Monday we made bacon butties and fruit salad, Tuesday and today we have made naan bread pizzas and jacket potatoes and tomorrow we are going to try fruit salad trifles.

At the weekend I finally got chance to try out walking to the allotment and it wasn’t too bad, it took about 10 minutes one way and about 20 minutes another way. I also planted out some of the strawberry runners I potted up at the end of last year, they are in the front garden.

My hens have started laying again it is so nice to have home produced eggs to eat

And would you like squash with that?

I noticed that one of my Boston squash had started to get little patches of mould on it and so was time to think up ways of using it all up before what I consider to be last years biggest, in all senses of the word, success of last year went to waste.

I don’t think I properly recorded  how big the last one we eat was but this one weighted 8.7kg once cut up, to fit on the kitchen scales, and all the seeds removed.

Some of it was made into roast squash which is one of our favourites and Boston squash seem to have an ideal taste for it, not too sweet and a little nutty. Similar to Butternut squash I would say but much easier to grow going by last years results. Some more was made into ‘Cheesey Squash Wraps’ and some more made into ‘Creamy Squash Soup’ and even more made into ‘Creamy Squash and Garlic Soup’.

The Cheesey Squash wraps were based on some spicey cheese wraps that I have made a few times lately and have gone down a storm, these however got mixed reactions but I thought they were delicious and so did Rhys so shall be made again I am sure. I made them by mixing the leftover roast squash with some that had been softened up and mashed, as there wasn’t enough roast squash left to go round, with some grated mature cheddar and some mozzarella cheese and put into tortilla wraps and served with salad including carrot, apple, beetroot, cherry tomatoes and leaves with a homemade raspberry, honey and mustard dressing.

The Creamy Squash Soup was made by softening onions with black paper and mixed herbs then adding the chopped up squash and allowing it all to ‘mush up’ together, then add water, vegetable stock, marmite and soy sauce all to taste. The first time I made this soup I also added cream but this made it far too creamy for most of us so I left it out this time. To make the Squash and Garlic Soup I added two bulbs of chopped up garlic to the softened onion and cooking for a few minutes before adding the squash and I did add a pot of cream to this one at the end as the garlic completely changes the taste.

No photos of any of it as I was too busy eating it all but hopefully this year I will get good at taking photos of the food I make.

Leek and potato soup

Although I love food I can be a very picky eater. I don’t like dry food very much, but I do like fattie greasy food or sauces on everything. And I have ‘favourite foods’ which I will quite happily eat at every meal for weeks until my next ‘favourite food’ comes along, at the moment this is crispy roast potatoes with homemade gravy, it can’t be any gravy either. Homemade gravy only, where we make it from scratch, if not it just isn’t right… Needless to say living with so many other people I don’t get to eat this every night but I would be more than happy too.Some foods I am more picky about than others; soup is one of these. If it isn’t homemade, I won’t eat it. It doesn’t matter whose home, or even if it is in a home, but I don’t like tinned, dried, or packaged in any way soup… Tinned tomato being the exception to this rule.  

Pan of soup, eight people have already had their dinner from this - 21st January 2010

Leek and potato soup is one of my favourites, it is just so warming and filling and a comfort food I guess. It is also easy to make in large amounts too.

Ingredients (for making a big pan full): 3 – 4 onions, peeled and chopped, 6 – 8 leeks, washed and cropped, 10 – 12 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped,  butter, vegetable stock, black pepper, marmite and/or soy sauce all to taste. Cream or milk optional.Method: Added the onions, leeks and butter along with black pepper to a large pan and cook until onions and leeks are soft. Add the potatoes, either part boiled first or I don’t normally bother, and add just enough water to cover what is in the pan. Bring to the boil and add vegetable stock, marmite and/or soy sauce to taste. Cook until everything is soft and mushy and the potato is starting to break up. Blend and place this mixture back in the pan on a low heat. This should be a thick mixture, be very careful of it bubbling as it gets very hot and really hurts of you get burnt by it, so add water to thin it down to how you would like it. Add cream or milk if you are going to and heat through. Done!

Mushroom kechup

I finished making mushroom kechup with the mushrooms that weren’t eaten on toast the other day. It tastes a little too vingery really but is ok.

I VERY loosely followed a recipe for it from Food as Gifts by Jo Marcangelo which is a lovely book that I got from a LETS meeting a while ago.

Image003Ingredients: 2 ib (1kg) large, open mushrooms, 1 oz (25g) sea salt, 1 level teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 level teaspoon whole allspice, 10 cloves, piece of root ginger, 1 pint (600ml) vinger

1. Cut off the bottom of the mushroom stalks and discard. Break them up into small pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, cover and leave to stand for about 12hours. 2. put the mushroom mixture in a saucepan and mash up. crush the spices and add to the pan along with the vinger. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 30minutes. 3. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree it. 4. Pour into hot, sterilised bottles, leaving a 1inch (2.5cm) headspace, seal while hot with screw caps. 5. Put a thick wad of newspaper in the bottom of a large deep pan and then stand the filled bottles on this. Slacken the screw caps by a quarter of a turn and slowly bring the pan of water to the boil and simmer for 30minutes. Remove the bottles from the water, tighten up the tops, then cool and label. Store in a cool, dry place.

I didn’t weigh anything, I just used all of the mushrooms that were left, a good half a basket full, add what I thought was enough salt and ended up leaving it for over 24hours in the fridge. I left out the cloves as I couldn’t find any and the all spice was already ground. I left the mixture to simmer on the Rayburn and came back in from the garden almost an hour later, it really didn’t feel like an hour, and as it wasn’t meant as a gift and I think it will get eaten soon enough I didn’t bother with steps 4 or 5 but just put it in clean jars.

Allotment 28/09/09 – From plot to plate

I’ve spent the afternoon at the allotment, weeding, tidying and digging over and manuring empty beds.

PICT0143I also did some harvesting, the last of the runner beans as the plants have some sort of rust on them which has halted new flower buds so they have now come up, beetroot and courgettes which seem to be picking up again.

There are a few changes happening at the allotment, our plots are right on the edge nearest the car park so we have very good access to our plots but not everyone has so we have agreed to give up the top two beds worth of our plots so as a track can be put through to the middle of the plot so as other people can have better access and be able to have things like manure delivered, in return we are getting almost one and a half plots extra at no extra cost. There is enough room for another ten beds on top of the four that we will be losing so a very good deal.

PICT0153When I got home from the allotment I turned some of the produce into a tastie snack. Garlic courgette with cous-cous and grated beetroot.

Method (just in case anyone is interested): slice the courgette  along with the garlic, I used half a bulbs worth off garlic but do like the taste. Add to a pan along with some butter, simmer until soft and then add the cous-cous and mix well. Grate the beetroot and mix that in too and all done.

The courgettes, garlic and beetroot were all home grown, the cous-cours and butter were not but the butter will be from next May.