What's on your menu this week? We have a lot of leftovers to work through. There are a few bites left of a variation on these maple-roasted Brussels sprouts (if you're interested, the recipe will be in the Banner this week—so good!), half a chicken and kale casserole (instead of rotisserie I roasted my own and added feta from Narragansett Creamery—and a pot of ham, kale, and bean soup I made last night while Sally and Alex were sleeping.
In between, we'll be snacking on these:
They are Darina Allen's Irish oatcakes, and they are a find. When my sister was here last week, we embarked on a search for the perfect oatcake. What we had in mind was not at all what you see up there—to my mind, that's a cracker—and we were looking for something more akin to an Effie's Oatcakes. Effie's are like a cross between a cracker and a cookie—sweet but not cloying, with plenty of butter and rough craggy oats sticking out from all the edges.
We hunted through Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking because she's Irish, and we figured the Irish know their oats. Her section on cookies had three options: flapjacks, oatcakes, and digestives. They all looked relatively similar, and they all looked like they could maybe be Effie's. So we tried all three.
Here's what I have to report. First off, flapjacks are Irish for Rice Krispie treats made with rolled oats. They are utterly delicious and very easy, as you bake them in a tray and simply cut them into squares. The dishes are incredibly sticky, but that's the worst of it. Digestives are Effie's—good with cheese, but also good with milk as dessert after dinner. (Check last week's Banner for the recipe.) And oatcakes—the ones we thought would be Effie's—are crackers. They are made with oat flour, not whole rolled oats, and they can be made depending on your mood and availability with either butter, lard, or beef drippings. They are unassuming, slightly bland, and inexplicably addictive.
So here are the two recipes—for when you're feeling sweet, and when you're feeling salty.
These are very similar to Rice Krispie treats, only they don't use marshmallows and you stir in rolled oats in place of puffed rice. They have the texture, though, and the very high edibility rating. This recipe makes about 24 squares.
1 and 1/2 cups butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pound rolled oats
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the corn syrup and vanilla, then stir in the sugar and oats and mix well.
Spread the mixture into a jelly roll pan (any rimmed baking sheet will do). Bake until golden and slightly caramelized around the edges, but still gooey in the center, about 30 minutes. Cut these treats into squares while they're still warm, as they crisp up as they cool.
OATCAKES (OAT CRACKERS)
When my sister and I first made these, we weren't sure we loved them. They needed a little more salt, we thought. But as we ate them, they grew on us, and I started to like that they weren't overly salty. They go equally well with strawberry jam as they do with smoked fish or sharp cheddar. That said, if you want a good salty cracker just sprinkle a bit of extra sea salt over the cut dough rounds before you bake them.
1 and 1/2 cups oat flour (ground whole oat groats)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted lard, butter, or beef drippings
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together the oat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the melted fat and enough water to make a firm dough.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour and oatmeal and roll the dough out as thin as you can get it. Use a biscuit cutter to make rounds and prick each round with a fork to make a nice pattern. (This will make them look nice and also help them bake without puffing up unevenly.)
Bake on a cookie sheet for 25-30 minutes, or until crisp and slightly golden. Cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container.
P.S. Hi from Sally.