Wheat-free home-made Oatcakes and Digestives (served with some Irish flair)
Know a cheese lover? Here’s a great idea for a Christmas gift – a slab of cheese and some lovely home-made biscuits. I’ve made Oatcakes and wheat free Digestives. I’m serving them with a bit of Irish flair, as I had a trio of Irish goodies waiting to be tried and I wanted to see how flavours from a similar area complemented each other. You can find out more about Highbank Orchard Syrup, Crozier Blue Cheese and Flahavan’s oats below the recipes.
Home-made oatcakes (from HFW’s column)
95g medium oatmeal
95g porridge oats
black pepper – a good amount, to taste
a sprinkle of salt – I used Maldon smoked flakes
a handful of poppy seeds of other sunflower / pumpkin seeds
50ml extra-virgin olive oil (I actually think I’d use a flavourless oil next time)
Makes about 15
Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas 4 and boil the kettle
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the oil and a little at a time pour in boiling water, enough to make into a firm dough, but not really sticky.
Make the dough into a ball and leave to rest for 5 mins.
Dust surface with flour an roll out to about 1/2cm thick. Cut out with cookie cutter
Flour some baking trays and place the oatcakes on the tray (they’ll be quite brittle).
Bake for 20mins, then turn and bake for 10moins more
You could brush with a little egg of milk if you want them to brown, but you want them to look a bit rustic!
Home-made wheat free digestive biscuits
(adapted from HFW’s column)
125g Gram flour (you could use wholemeal plain or spelt flour)
75g medium ground oatmeal
125g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
65g soft light brown sugar
a generous pinch of salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
Makes about 15 (I used snowflake cutters!)
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3
Blitz everything except the milk in a processor (or rub in). It should look like breadcrumbs.
In a bowl add enough milk to bring to a firm dough.
Roll out between two layers of greaseproof paper (otherwise you’ll never get it off the surface). If it’s getting sticky, put back in the fridge for a bit.
Cut out, put on a greased baking tray, brush with milk and bake for 10-12 minutes, until pale golden and just beginning to turn brown around the edges.
Serve both biscuits with Crozier Blue and a drizzle of Orchard syrup.
Based right down in the south of Ireland, near Waterford, Flahavan’s mill a variety of organic oats, pinhead oatmeal, oatbran. Their “unique milling process cooks the oats twice which give Flahavan’s products their distinctive texture and taste” I have never had medium oatmeal before and was worried that as a porridge it would be textureless, but it’s got a great bite to it and a lovely nutty flavour. The oats are juicy, but slightly milled. This means they are do not stay completely intact on cooking but still retain more texture than another black-hatted brand (that’s a good thing in my book). Available in selected Tescos, Waitrose and Asda stores
Jane and Louis Grubb of Co. Tipperary have been making hand-made blue cheese since 1984, though family have been producing dairy products since the 1950s.They have two cheeses, the Cashel Blue which is made with milk from the farm’s dairy herd and the newer Crozier Blue – a ewe’s milk blue cheese made with a little help from the Friesland flock of Louis’ cousin. Their cheese are stocked by the likes of Paxton & Whitfield, Neal’s Yard Dairy, La Fromagerie and many more – a full list of stockists can be found here.
I was sent some Crozier Blue to try. I really enjoyed the extra tartness that the ewe’s milk brings to the cheese. It is lightly veined and is slightly paler in colour than a Stilton. It is also a little softer and creamier – making it easy to stuff into figs and wrap with bacon for a lovely Christmas Day starter. The piece I received started off with quite a mild flavour but over a couple if days it increased in potency, which I rather enjoyed, especially when pairing it with the Orchard syrup.
Journey slightly North East from the Grubb’s farm and you will find a 5th generation apple farm which has been completely organic for 12 years. They make something called Highbank Orchard Syrup . So, what exactly is it? The publicity says it’s “Ireland’s answer to maple syrup. It is indeed sticky and sweet, but it is much fresher tasting than maple syrup. I’d say it’s a cross between apple juice and honey. It is great drizzled over the blue chcese but also think it would be great for replacing the sugar the home-made digestives I made. I can think of countless uses for it – roasting carrots and parsnips, a tarte tatin, drizzled over some lovely strong game, a salad dressing with walnuts and smoked meats, tossed with winter fruits on top of a brown sugar meringue for a seasonal pavlova. The possibilities are endless. Me, I’ll almost certainly polish off my little bottle by having it with my morning porridge where it brings a lovely sweet zing to my breakfast.
There’s brief interview with a lovely lady from Highbanks here and they also make mulled apple juice for Christmas. At the moment I don’t know of any UK stockists, but you can buy online.
Thanks to all three companies for the lovely samples. I was not required to write anything and all views are my own. Now, go enjoy some cheese and biccies.