Sunday, July 13

The best spice biscuits ever

These are actually not just ginger biscuits, although that's one of the main ingredients. In fact they contain no fewer than eight spices if you make it the way I do, with your own homemade spice mix. 

The recipe is a Dan Lepard invention for Tamarind Spice Biscuits, but I pimp it thoroughly with my own garam masala, and I strongly recommend that you do the same. I can't guarantee they will be as gorgeous otherwise!

Firstly the ingredients for the garam masala are as follows:

1tbsp cardamom seeds (taken out of the husks, this is definitely the bit that takes longest)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cloves
A third of a nutmeg
5cm cinnamon stick, broken up

Grind them all together in a coffee or spice grinder till they are quite fine. I usually make double quantities and save the rest in an airtight jar for curries, dal etc.

For the biscuits you will need:

125g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
25g tamarind concentrate
1 medium egg
3tsp ground ginger
2tsp garam masala
200g chopped glace or crystallised ginger
250g plain or gluten-free flour
Three quarters of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Beat the butter, sugar, egg and tamarind concentrate into a smooth brown paste in a large bowl. Stir in the spices and the finely chopped ginger.

Mix in the flour and bicarb to make a thick mixture of putty-like consistency. Roll small walnut-sized balls and place them on baking paper on a baking tray leaving some space for them to spread.

Bake in the oven (gas 3, 170C/335F) for about 15 minutes. Leave them to cool for a few minutes then peel off the paper and cool on a wire tray.

I like getting people to try and guess what spices are in them. They rarely guess the black pepper.

Tuesday, July 1

North Downs Way; Farnham to Dorking

I never thought I would be the sort of person who would do long-distance trails, but I suspect I might start getting into this type of walking.

Nearly two years ago I signed up for a Meet-up group called 'Joined up hiking' which is dedicated to doing long-distance trails a bit at a time. Although they don't really do the well-known routes such as the North Downs Way, the leader does seem to enjoy seeking out the little-known paths (whoever heard of the Three Castles Path, for example?!) and the idea of walking the full length of a trail can be quite addictive.

In early May, Jon and I set out for two days on the first section of the North Downs Way - yes it was ages ago but I've only just got round to writing about it!

We were blessed with good weather along the way and since we did the first day on a Friday, it was relatively quiet.

We came across this interesting road bridge which looked like it had been widened in a rather strange way, with increasingly-wide brick arches built out from the smaller arch in the middle.

The river path into Guildford, our overnight stop, was delightful - quiet and calm, with clouds reflected on the still water.

There were plenty of glorious woodland paths like this one, and we seemed to be constantly surrounded by birds chirruping and flitting around, wonderful May flowers, and the scents of spring.

Ah, a stunning tree. I do like to photograph trees!

On the second day from Guildford to Dorking we seemed to be stalked by rain, but most of the time it hung over the adjacent ridge and the clouds skittered along a few miles away. There were a couple of times when we pulled on our jackets expectantly but the deluge never materialised till we were back in London that evening.

By now I bet the route is lined with teeny wild strawberries - lovely to snack on but you'd rarely have the patience to pick a bowlful!