Biscotti and roasted almonds

I have been baking biscotti this afternoon, getting ready for the Penshurst Farmers’ Market this Saturday, 7 October. These are pistachio and flaked almond flavour with mixed spice – try them with a cappuccino or a cup of tea, or with a creamy fruit fool.

They keep well in an airtight tin if you can keep them out of reach. I usually find they evaporate – how else would I explain the tin emptying so quickly!

As well as these biscotti, I will have wheat free oat and walnut biscuits (try with some blue cheese), gluten free seeded biscuits (great with cheddar) and gluten free very cheesy biscuits (great with a dry sherry or g&t before dinner). Also good as a pre-dinner nibble are the roasted almonds with smoked paprika.

The Farmers’ Market is open from 9:30 until 12:00 this Saturday in the car park by Penshurst Place – I hope to see you there.

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Summer days ……


This year, the summer holidays started very early in our household. We collected our youngest from university in mid-June and our eldest arrived home from working in Spain at the beginning of July. As no one had any holiday plans, I hastily arranged a family break in Portugal (warm, sunny and very relaxing) but this has meant we were back home at the end of July, having already had our break, with most other people still with their holidays to look forward to. Never mind, we thought. August at home can be lovely – warm, sunny, places to go. However, this has not been the case. 

After the deluge on Wednesday, Thursday had a distinctly autumnal feel to it. The plants in the garden look washed out and battered, as they tend to look in October just before the end of the season. The tomatoes on the plant on my patio are just not ripening. 

I have had a busy time baking cakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom – eight cakes and some flapjacks since our return from holiday. As these are freshly baked to order, there is no problem with having leftover cakes to sell. I have also started making more chutney as I delivered another order to Southborough Butchers last week which used up my stock. The autumn fruits are ripening much earlier than the last few years so I ordered two more huge boxes of jam jars ready to be filled with various chutneys – rhubarb & coriander made this week, plum apple & chilli, pear & apple, apricot apple & hazelnut and other flavours to follow over the next couple of weeks and spiced redcurrant jelly, apple & chilli and apple & mint jelly to follow. I have seen cobnuts, rosehips, elderberries, sloes and blackberries already waiting to be picked on my walks in the area. This must be at least 3 weeks earlier than the last few years. I even made a blackberry and apple crumble at the weekend with fruit picked that morning.

When I started ‘Too busy to make’, I hoped it would give me a chance to make foods that I enjoyed making and to sell them to people who would enjoy eating them. Since I have had the regular outlets, this has certainly proved to be the case. I am looking forward to a busy late summer and autumn, making foods to sell at Penshurst, at the Country Fair and Christmas Market at Chiddingstone, at Southborough Butchers and other local outlets.

And finally, savoury muffins

Finally, I have made three flavours of my savoury muffins – pancetta and olive, goats cheese and sundried tomato and onion and pepper. These freeze excellently and can be added to packed lunches. They also go well with soup in the winter.

These muffins have been made for selling at the Penshurst Farmers’ Market on 3 June. If you are in the area, come along and taste before you buy!

An experiment

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I have been making these cheesy biscuits for a few years – the dough can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until needed. Then I bake as many biscuits as are needed, topping them with different seeds or cayenne pepper. They are quite crumbly but have a strong cheese flavour and are great served with pre-meal drinks.

I decided to try making a batch with gluten free buckwheat flour to see if they were as good and yes, they are. The dough didn’t seem to stick together quite as well, but after 24 hours in the fridge I could cut the discs as usual and the flavour is certainly as good as the wheat version. The buckwheat version is on the left, the wheat version on the right.

 

 

Open house 

 

I am holding two ‘Open House’ sessions before Christmas so if you would like to try before you buy, then please come along to 72 Prospect Road, Southborough on

Friday 9 December between 4pm and 8pm or on

Wednesday 14 December between 11am and 1pm or between 4pm and 8pm.

I will have a number of chutneys, jellies, jams and marmalades open for tasting as well as some biscuits and cakes. Most will be available to take away but I can make more Panforte or biscuits to order.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Some of my chutneys and jellies are also available to buy at Southborough Butchers on London Road, Southborough.

Try before you buy

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On Wednesday 16 November, I will have a stall at the Nizels Golf and Country Club ‘Christmas Beauty Evening’, near Hildenborough in Kent.

I am planning to take along a selection of preserves, biscuits, cakes and savoury nibbles which can be given as Christmas gifts and many will be available for tasting on the night. I will also be taking orders if you would rather wait until nearer Christmas to receive your foods.

I am also hoping to sell my foods at other locations in the run up to Christmas so watch this space for further information.

Email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com or call me on 07787 963896 if you want to place an order or find out more.

 

 

Seeded savoury biscuits

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I have been experimenting with savoury biscuits this year hoping to find some that tasted good while not taking too long to prepare. There are two variations shown in the photo – the lighter biscuits on the left are made with spelt flour while the darker ones on the right are made with buckwheat flour. They both contain a mix of pumpkin, sunflower, linseed and sesame seeds. The texture is fairly crumbly as they are made with butter but the biscuits are strong enough to be topped with cheese and chutney.

The buckwheat version is wheat free and gluten-free while the spelt version is not but may be easier to digest than a wheat version.

I will continue to experiment with other flours, fats and seed combinations – watch this space!

A busy week- and a busy weekend

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Last Saturday, I went to Frant Primary School to sell preserves and Christmas food gifts at their Christmas Fair. It was my first opportunity to sell to the general public so I was interested to see how it went. I had 2 chutneys, a jam and a marmalade open to taste as well as samples of Panforte and Christmas cake. It was good to get such positive feedback and I was delighted to sell several jars and cakes.

Then on Sunday, I delivered an order to http://www.southdownscellars.co.uk for their hampers – oatcakes, almonds, biscotti, Panforte, chutneys, mincemeat and compôte. I hope the food will be enjoyed with the excellent wines.

There is still time to order a Christmas cake or a Panforte to enjoy at Christmas and I still have some jars of mincemeat if you want to make your own mince pies. Please email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com with your requirements.

 

 

 

Take one pumpkin ……

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This year, I decided to make good use of the pumpkin I bought for Halloween. First, I made a pumpkin and corn bread with semolina and chilli flakes – it has a slightly gritty texture and heat from the chilli and goes well with soups. Next I made a sweet pumpkin cake, similar to carrot cake, with grated pumpkin and sultanas and flavoured with orange. I decided not to add the sweet cream cheese topping, although i can see that would make it a delicious pudding. Then I washed the seeds and dried them out in the oven before tossing them with salt, smoked paprika and olive oil. They made a lovely crunchy snack. For supper, I prepared a spicy pumpkin soup with harissa and chickpeas as I had seen an interesting recipe in the weekend newspaper. Finally, I made a pumpkin and raisin chutney with spices and pepper which goes excellently with cheese.